Race Recap: Portland Marathon 2012

Boy ohhh boy. I am in a world of pain right now with sore quads, calves, feet, hips, you name it… from running the 41st Portland Marathon yesterday, October 7th, 2012.

I am happy to report that great things occurred this weekend and I am so excited to recap you my epic weekend from the beginning.

Friday Night — New Clothes & Carby Lunch
So happy! I placed an order for new Oiselle goodies as a gift to myself for training for my second full. I’ve been longing for some new gear and knew exactly what I wanted: Big Run L/S Tee, Stripey L/S Scoop Neck, and another pair of Roga Shorts.



At lunch with my coworkers, I began the carboload with Thai Fried Rice with Tofu from Phuket Thai Restaurant. So delicious! Size of my head and I ate almost all the food. Yum.


Friday Night — Carbs at German Bar
On Friday night, in Seattle, we decided to meet up with some friends at one of our favorite bars, Feierabend, the German pub in South Lake Union. I was not planning on drinking anything but when they said that they had gotten back the Franziskaner beer back in limited portions, I just had to have some. That, along with a giant German pretzel, and the earlier Thai lunch kicked off my carboloading for the race.


Saturday Afternoon — Roadtrip from Seattle to Portland
On Saturday morning, Joe, the pup, and I left Seattle for the roadtrip down to Portland at around 11am. While at Starbucks, I got one of their delicious Chicken Sausage Breakfast Wraps and opted for a Venti-sized ice water. My mission was to stay well-hydrated throughout the day. Mission accomplished.


The roadtrip down to PDX was made much more enjoyable with a newly-reactivated SiriusXM radio. We’ve been quite tired with the same songs that the local stations play on repeat, so having tons of commercial-free radio stations was awesome. We were singing along the entire way down.

Arrival in Portland — Police Sighting & Cafe Yumm Love
Once we parked in front of our hotel, Hotel Fifty, directly across from Portland’s Tom McCall waterfront park, we were greeted with the sight of armored police hopped onto a van. Odd. Is this normal in Portland or anywhere? Hadn’t heard of any riots, just the Portland Marathon. Us runners are not that dangerous.


View from our hotel room:


The first course of action in Portland was to venture over to one of my very favorite eateries Cafe Yumm. You know I have this crazy obsession with their Yumm Bowls as evident from my blog post How To: Make a Delish Homemade Yumm Bowl. Even though I make them at home, I never hesitate to eat it whenever I’m down in Oregon.


The Jazzy Yumm Bowl is so delicious.


Trip to the Portland Marathon Expo & DT PDX
After we finished our “snack,” we ventured over to the Portland Marathon expo to pick up my bib. The expo was held at the Hilton Hotel and luckily was close enough to walk to. My first impression of the expo was “Wow, this is it?!” as I thought the expo was limited to the race packet area which had very minimal merchandise, vendors, etc.


Luckily, I was wrong. There was an expansive area on the floor above.


While at the expo, I stopped by the Eugene Marathon booth. I’m so excited! Eugene, Oregon is my hometown and we’ll be running the half next year on April 28, 2013. This will be the first race that my parents will be able to spectate at.

My fiancé Joe, besties, and many runner friends will be doing either the half or full, so it’ll be one giant run love party! Track Town USA, we’re coming for you!

Here’s the medal from this year’s race that was on display.


After the expo, we had a couple hours to kill before our reservation for dinner.

Prefontaine and I hung out for a moment. Oregon represent!


Also just had to show off my race bib. How cool is this? Love when races allow personalization of the bib. My name was prominently displayed, making it easy for spectators to shout out and cheer for me.


See my tee? I am absolutely in love. It’s the Oiselle Oregon tee from the Born + Raced collection from 2011. As soon as I saw this online I just had to have it. How appropriate that this tee represents me so well. Several people at the expo commented on how awesome this shirt was.

Pre-Race Carboload Dinner
Our dinner reservation was for Mama Mia Trattoria, just a few blocks from the hotel in downtown Portland. Joe and I had eaten here for our carboload dinner the night before the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland half this past May.

I was so excited for not only the food, but the company! My besties, Becky and Christy, and Christy’s hubby Chris met up with us for dinner. It was great catching up with them. Becky and Christy are crazy runners like me (they’re training for the NYC Marathon) and totally helped get me into race mode.

For dinner, we started with some fried calamari and bread with olive oil. Both were delish. My entree, which I had in May, was the spaghetti topped with two giant Painted Hills meatballs. My appetite just wasn’t there… it never seems to be the night before a race, but I tried to eat as much as I could. Everything was delish.


Always love hanging out!



With my belly full, we bid each other farewell and headed back to the hotel to get to bed early. “Early” for me meant 10:30pm for a 4am wakeup call.

Race Outfit & Race Fuel


My race outfit consisted of the the following:

The fuel that I packed into the vest included four Gu’s in Chocolate Outrage and Mint Chocolate, Picky Bar in Smooth Caffeinator, and Clif Shot Bloks.


Portland Marathon Pre-Race
On Saturday morning, bright and early at 4am, I woke up to fuel myself for the race. Bagel, peanut butter, and chia seeds is my go-to breakfast. Took me about 15-minutes to eat this… just wasn’t hungry. Along with the bagel, I drank a couple glasses of water and a cup of coffee.

At 6:30am, I was packed up, dressed, and ready to head out the door. I was four blocks away from the Corral C entrance and made it there with plenty of time to stretch. On my way down the hotel elevator, another racer told me that he was doing his 50th marathon. Wow, I am just so inspired by these accomplishments. That helped ease my pre-race jitters.

The Marathon
At exactly 7am, the announcer started the National Anthem and involved all of the runners in singing. It was heartfelt and really amazing to see everyone come together.

I was in Corral C and had been using one of the official Red Lizard pace group wristbands for a 3:50 finish. There were pace groups for 3:45 and 3:55 so I started in between them, hoping that I could last for at least the first half of the race. From my experience of the last full, I went out way too fast the first few miles. This time around, I wanted to be smart and follow the recommendation of the pace group. What’s great about this wristband is that it’s adjusted for hills.


At about 7:05am, I was crossing the start line, ready to rock the race. My strategy going into the race was to follow the pace band exactly. To my surprise, I was able to consistently hold the paces as prescribed on the band with little difficulty. I didn’t feel tired out, didn’t have any weird aches, for the first half of the race.

Check out the course map here:


By mile 17, the notorious hill leading up to the St. John’s Bridge, hit me so hard. Most people I saw had slowed to a crawl or a walk. I was determined to get up that hill without any walking and I succeeded. Throughout that entire incline, my legs were burning the worst pain. My legs were reduced to a shuffle and I tried to swing my arms more for further momentum.

Luckily, I made it up the entire elevation to the start of the bridge without any walking. That was a huge success in my book. Unfortunately for me, as soon as I got to the top of the bridge, I had the worst cramp in my right calf. That was absolutely horrible. I had to stop off to the side and try to stretch and massage it out. Probably took a good 30 seconds before I could continue on.

The running down the St. John’s Bridge was not too bad, but by then my body had started to feel the effects of the first 18 miles.

The temperatures had started creeping up during the race and went from ~40 degrees up 25-30 degrees during the course of my race. I began drinking more and more Nuun from my vest, but began feeling dehydrated. What I really needed was salt. Unfortunately, none of the aid stations had salt packets but I did have a couple of pretzels along the way.

10 minutes pre-race, I had downed a Gu Roctane gel. During the course of the race, I had two additional Gu and the package of Shot Bloks. I didn’t have any of the gummy bears along six of the stations for fear that it’d be hard to chew or cause me to fall. Based on the SD full, my tragic fall at mile 15 was caused by a pretzel distraction and fatigue. It still haunts me.

Luckily at mile 21, Becky and Christy surprised me and jumped onto the course to run with me the rest of the way. The first thing I blurted out was “I am going to die! I can’t do this,” but their support, encouragement, and presence helped push me through.

Christy ran ahead of me and Becky ran behind me to ensure that I was pushed but didn’t fall behind. There were a few times that I just needed to stop due to pure exhaustion and pain. At one point my entire right leg from quad to ankle forced me to stop. My quad muscle was bulging with a cramp.

Despite all these ailments, I kept pushing on. A lot of the last few miles were downhill and I tried to take it steady. My pace had gone dramatically slower since St. John’s Bridge going to high 9′s and 10′s. I was starting to feel down that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my inner goal of a sub-4 marathon but still managed to not give up and walk.

Towards the last couple of miles, we hit an uphill along a bridge (killer on my legs as the sudden elevation incline was painful) but we were sooo close! Becky and Christy kept encouragingly through. This incline was killer.

Credit: Becky

The last mile of the course I kept thinking that I was close to the sub-4 goal but realistically would finish at a couple minutes over. The girls kept pushing me through.

The last 0.5 miles, I kicked it into gear. We had reached the Naito Parkway area and was in the home stretch. I needed to give it my all, despite any pain, any doubt, and any desire to stop and rest.

The last 0.25 miles were brutal. My Garmin showed that I about 0.15 miles more than the course and the finish line was not in sight.

Turning the corner I saw people cheering, ringing cowbells, cheering my name. There was yet one more corner that I turned before I saw the finish line… so close yet so far away. I looked down at my Garmin and had 1 minute to finish that last stretch. I knew I could do it. With all my might, I sprinted down as fast as I could, crossing the finish line with an official time of 3:59:38. I did it!! I achieved my sub-4:00 marathon goal!

Crossing that finish line, I was flooded with so much emotion. I was so proud of my achievement, of running my 2nd full Mary in a matter of 4 months, of NOT falling, of having amazing friends give me the best encouragement ever, of an amazing fiancé to always travel with me to races, and of not giving up. I am so thankful.

The Numbers
The elevation of the course was crazy at mile 17. That was what killed me. At about mile 2.5 there was also a large elevation increase. Total elevation gain: 1,525 ft. Total elevation loss: 1,325 ft.

Marathon Elevation

My splits were fairly close to the Red Lizard pace group wristband, but all went downhill after mile 16 as St. John Bridge approached. But, overall pace for the marathon was still 9:09 min/mile (official time) and 9:06 min/mile based on the total 26.32 miles clocked on my Garmin. Good enough for sub-4!


Total non-movement: 2.5 minutes due to all the cramping and issues (re-tying my shoelace, etc.)

After the race, Becky and Christy were so sweet and gathered up food and beverage for me, held my hydration pack, etc. My legs were so in pain; I can’t even describe it. We met up with Joe who was on the other side of the fence and had videotaped my finish and was so proud of me!!

The finishers area was really well-organized. They handed out medals efficiently, had an array of goodies like chocolate milk, mini bagels, chocolate candy bars, chips, etc. I had water, some chocolate milk, a sip of OJ (bad idea), and a small bite of bagel. I was in pain but not hungry.

Walking down the stretch to leave the area and meet Joe was so painful on my legs. I even needed to stop and lean up against a wall to ease some of the pain. Wanted to sit, but wouldn’t be a good idea.

Alas, we made it to the end and met up with Joe. There, we relished in my achievement and took some pictures! Becky, an Oiselle Team Runner, and Christy, surprised me with a gift of the Oiselle Big Marathon Tee. It was the perfect gift! I wore it the rest of the day.


I absolutely love my fiancé and besties.




After the race, Joe and I hobbled back to the hotel to shower up, pack, and head over to brunch. It took me forever to get back to the hotel, but once we got there we grabbed a couple bags of ice from the hallway freezer and I iced my poor legs on the bed. No ice bath as the hotel bathroom had a standup shower.

Brunch was held at Meriwether’s Restaurant in NW Portland near the NW 23rd area. Clarissa, Becky, and Christy met us for brunch. Thanks, girls!! We had so much to catch up on and had lots of crazy running conversations.

I had a mimosa and a delicious Farmer’s Scramble.


I wasn’t too full as we had a mission. The girls took us to Salt & Straw, a popular place for farm-fresh, handmade ice cream. Seattlites, if you like Molly Moon’s… this may be even better.


There was a long wait, but on a hot sunny post-race day in Portland, this was exactly what I needed. Joe and I got the Freckled Woodblock Chocolate while the girls shared an ice cream flight. While I wish I was double-fisting ice cream cones, one was for Joe. 😉



We said our goodbyes and made our trip back to Seattle. My legs were still in pain but the ice cream and sugar overload helped subside it temporarily.

Back in Seattle, we had dinner at Laredo’s Grill in Lower Queen Anne. Chips and salsa were calling our name, as we’re the Al Pastor Tacos. Yum!


Portland Marathon Swag
This marathon is known for so much race swag! Cool, quality race swag. They also gave away a rose to each finisher and also fir tree seedlings, but as I have nowhere to plant it I didn’t take one.

Here’s just a recap of some of it:

Souvenir Technical Tee


Finishers Tee


Pendant (for a necklace) & Commemorative Coin




Marathon Finishers Medal



Day After Marathon
I am still in awe of my goal achievement! And also reminded of how my legs hate me. It’s still very painful to walk around, especially getting up from couch to standing. Luckily, today I had the day off and got to rest up quite a bit.

For lunch, I met up with Joe for lunch and not just any lunch! I picked him up and we headed over to New Hong Kong Restaurant in the International District. While there, we feasted on all of our favorites including steamed and baked BBQ pork buns, shu mai (pork dumplings), har gow (shrimp dumplings), and lo mai gai (sticky rice with chicken wrapped in a leaf). Dim sum is so so good and perfect for a day-after-race brunch.


I also got to sport my new Oiselle Classic Marathon Tee, part of my gift to myself for marathon training. How appropriate is the tee for my day? I think I was able to avoid some funny looks and questions about why I was walking so awkwardly. Definitely the marathon shuffle dance. Look at my tee, I’m a marathoner!


Last Thoughts
I am so proud of myself for doing Portland as my redemption marathon. I also had a lofty goal in my mind (sub-4:00) that I achieved. Redemption was mine.

Having amazing friends and a supportive fiancé helped me through this entire marathon and throughout the training process. Having people who understand and encourage your crazy race habits is key.

If I do another full marathon next year (Chicago?!), I will make sure to bring my own salt packets and definitely make sure to bring Body Glide. This was the first race I had forgotten to bring or buy Body Glide and I definitely suffered a couple painful chaffing areas.

Make sure to have fun!! Marathoning and the training process is so rewarding, but doing so many races in a year can take a toll. Make sure to incorporate other cross-train activities, rest, and enjoy it all.

Thank you all for your support!! Looking forward to continuing my running and racing journeys into the next year. The races I have lined up are RNR Vegas Half in December, Surf City Half in February, Eugene Half in April, and Hood to Coast in August. Ahhhh!

19 thoughts on “Race Recap: Portland Marathon 2012

  1. YEAH!! Congrats girlie, you did SOO awesome! And I want every single thing you ate over the weekend too please :). My brother just moved near the international district and we have been looking for a recommendation on a dim sum place so we will be checking that out ASAP. AND…you should most definitely do Chicago next year!

    • Thanks, lady!! I’m still feeling the aches, but should be good by tomorrow.

      Joe is like… another marathon?! We shall see. 😉 You should do Eugene! Or at least the half, it will be so fun!

      That dim sum place is massive. Let me know if you want to go some time with me. 🙂

  2. Hey Sarah! I just found you (and your blog) via twitter. Congrats on your sub 4 marathon- that is AWESOME! It looks like Portland put on a great race. I have been really wanting to try Oiselle clothes, too. I think the Roga shorts might be my first purchase. Eugene will be my first full marathon- I’m excited but nervous to train for 26.2!

    • Meghan, so awesome! Hopefully we will meet up in the near future. 🙂

      Portland was an amazing experience and definitely redeemed my experience at RNR San Diego in June (tripping at mile 15).

      You will absolutely LOVE Oiselle apparel! The Roga shorts are now my go-to, I don’t even know what I will do with my older apparel.

      That’s so awesome that you’ll be running your first full in Eugene. You will do amazing! I used Hal Higdon’s marathon training plan for both fulls and have been satisfied. Lots of plans out there, though.

    • Hey Liz, thank you! 🙂 Congrats to your husband on his first marathon!

      The pace bracelet was located at the expo on the 2nd floor, directly outside of the large room that had all the vendors. I would’ve missed it, but saw some people wearing the Red Lizard pace leader shirts. I’d definitely recommend the pace band at future races; it was my first time using it and I found it to be very helpful.

      The Occupy Portland protest.. ah, that’s why the riot cops were out. Thanks for letting me know!

  3. CONGRATULATIONS! Sub 4 is AWESOME! I did Portland in 2010 and it rained THE WHOLE TIME. It was miserable. And i love that finisher shirt – its way better than the all black one they had that year. I want to do Chicago next year!!

  4. The elevation gain that you quote is probably 4x what the actual elevation for the race. This is due to your GPS device’s signal quality and surrounding structures affecting it’s accuracy. Having run Portland 4 times (including this year) I’d say that it was in the ballpark of 400′ of elevation gain. My Garmin watch gave similarly way-too-high altitude numbers for the marathon.

    • Thanks so much for the comment! I thought that number was ridiculously high as well, though wasn’t sure if the Garmin was adding up the elevation gain from the hill leading up to St. John’s Bridge, subsequent bridges, and the other small rolling hills. Does it aggregate each elevation gain rather than accurately displaying the net elevation gain? The elevation loss appeared to even out.

      But, nonetheless, great information to know about the Garmin and this race. So thank you! 🙂

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  8. Thank you for writing such a comprehensive recap! I’m running PDX next weekend and your review was really helpful. LOVE all the Oiselle — I wish I got those violet rogas when they were available!

    • Dori, SO glad that the Portland Marathon recap was helpful! I would say to prepare for the significant incline up to St. John’s Bridge for sure. Have a game plan ahead of time going into this with the bridge in mind. Other than that, it’ll be super fun and I hope you have the best time!

      The Violet Rogas are fun for sure. 🙂 I’m sure that Oiselle will have some new colors cookin’ up for the upcoming seasons! I’d love some more pink/violet gear.

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