Posts Tagged ‘full marathons’

So many profile frames to choose from. aka: the 2017 Portland Marathon

Date: 10/08/17

Location: Portland, OR

Distance: 26.7 (actual)

Time: 5:12:52

I’ve been putting off this race report because I don’t know where to begin. So much was packed into this experience that I could go in so many different directions with this post.

It could be a lighthearted recap of a fun weekend where I got to spend time with really great friends–in person and virtually. It could also be a tribute to one of my dearest friends who passed away from cancer. It could be a reflection on the loss of my stillborn daughter. It could be a triumphant comeback story where I recount my journey back to running after being in the emergency room less than a year ago due to a pulmonary embolism. It could be a post honoring my aunt, uncle, and friends who are all living with cancer right now. It could also be a post lamenting the end of a thirty-year friendship–where so many of our shared experiences involved running. It could also be a post about one of the many horrible current events in the news. Puerto Rico. Las Vegas. Santa Rosa. Racism. North Korea. Sexual Assault. So much.

It’s October. Breast cancer awareness month. Yep, that’s affecting someone in my life. Check. Yesterday was World Thrombosis Day. Check. This month is also devoted to stillbirth and infant loss. Check. Current issues? Check. There are profile frames for all of those causes.

Check. Check. Check. Check. In a rather superficial, sardonic way of looking at things–so many profile frames to choose from this month.

In truth, so many reminders of struggle and loss.

So why did I run a marathon?

Why do I run in general?

Because in a world where so many horrible things are happening that are beyond my control, this is one small part of my world that I CAN control.

I can’t bring Angie back. But I can let memories of her fill my thoughts as I register for a race she first convinced me to do eight years ago. I can be thankful for the many memories of her that came to me during the race.

I can’t bring Melanie back. But I can allow my thoughts of her to give me strength as I complete the same race that I did with her eight years ago.

I can’t change the fact that I had a blood clot that took up a third of my lung and completely compromised my physical strength for weeks. I can, however, celebrate the fact that I didn’t die and I’ve recovered to a point where running a marathon is possible.

I can’t keep people I love from having to deal with cancer. I can, however, keep them close in my heart as I knock out training miles or when I’m nearing the end of the race and thoughts of their struggles and strength somehow help to put my own, lesser, challenges into perspective.

I can’t change the fact that a decades-old friendship has completely derailed. I can’t change how I contributed to that. I can’t take back my actions. I can, however, do my best to learn from that experience and work to become a more loving, forgiving, and gentle person than the one I was yesterday. Maybe the running miles we shared in the past are somehow contributing to the miles that strengthen me today.

I can’t change the horrible, tragic things that are happening in the world. So much hatred, sadness, and uncertainty. I can, however, lace up my running shoes, get out the front door, and let my breathing and strides create a place of meditation, reflection, and clarity.

I’m grateful that I can run. So I do.

And for those of you who were hoping for a race report, here’s what I can offer:

I loved the race. In true Portland fashion, though, it rained. Light mist during miles 10-12, torrential downpour during miles 13-15. I was also completely focused on the man I saw getting CPR at mile 15. Thankfully, I learned later that he was revived.

Running across a bridge is always fun. The new course crosses St. John’s twice.

My feet and quads started feeling sore at about mile 18. Then they were KILLING me from mile 20 on.

I shuffled across the finish line after five long hours and so many mixed emotions. Feeling grateful, proud, and in control over one small thing in my life.

I crossed the starting line and I crossed the finish line because I said I would and I did.

THAT I can control.




2009 Portland Marathon

Date: October 4, 2009

Time: 7:03:18

Here are portions of the race report I posted on my Facebook account…


After months of planning, training, and anticipation. It is now over. (For now).

As most of you know, several ’86 BSHS grads (Jen, Angie, Todd, Heather, Nicole, and I) decided to celebrate our collective triumphs over life’s challenges (and perhaps deny our middle-age status) by completing a marathon. A friend of Angie and Jen’s also enthusiastically joined us as did Heather’s husband, Bill, who joined us later in the process. Among our beginning group, Jen was the only person who had completed a marathon–the rest of us considered a marathon as a far-reaching goal–something we hadn’t previously ever considered. Could we really do it? Could we?

This wild plan all came together thanks to Facebook, conference calls, and Google calendar (Google calendar is where we collectively logged all of our training workouts–definitely kept us accountable to each other). We checked in with each other–one way or another–on a daily basis. So, as you can imagine, our conversations included much more than discussions about our training efforts. We have been through a lot with each other over the past few months and have rebuilt lifelong friendships.

As life reminds us, we are not in charge, and some of us had to change our initial plans about this race. We were all disappointed to learn, fairly early on, that Angie’s GIST cancer had returned after three years of successful treatment using Gleevac–a drug developed by the research lab at OHSU. Two months ago, Angie had another extensive surgery and was placed on new medication as she embarks on the next phase of fighting her cancer. (There is so much I could say here about her beauty, her strength, and her determination…). Suddenly, Angie’s plans to finish the marathon were forced to change. For awhile, we were all just hoping Angie could be in Portland with us. As it turns out, she completed the first 10K portion of the marathon–we are all thrilled for her. After having just had surgery, this was quite an accomplishment and a testament to Angie’s strength.

Nicole’s plans also changed. As the weekend of the race drew near, Nicole also had to make a change in plans so she could focus on providing support to her family as her brother is dealing with health issues as well. Even though she knew she wouldn’t be participating in the race, she continued to email us her consistently positive messages of support (so appreciated).

I, too, had to change my plans. About a month prior to the race, I was quite surprised to discover that my husband and I are expecting a baby. That was certainly a shock, but happy news nonetheless. Still–that would certainly put a kink in my plans. After a doctor’s consultation, I was advised to not run the race, but it would be okay to walk it since I had already been training and had completed so many of the longer training runs. At first, I was really disappointed about not being able to go for my “sub 5:30” goal, but I was still very happy that I could still plan on participating. Plus, my real motivation was to spend the weekend with the whole group–walking, running, or whatever.

The race itself was really a minor part of this whole process. It was simply the motivation for us to work out, check in with each other, and look forward to a wonderful weekend of catching up. Those things were far more significant.

Long story short…Angie completed the 10K portion of the race and the rest of us all completed the full marathon. Jen and Anne ran; the rest of us walked. The race day was cold but clear. No rain! The course was beautiful and crowd support was great. I can see why the Portland Marathon is so highly praised.

I walked with Todd and Angie for the first 10K, then stayed with Todd until about mile 14. That was very enjoyable. Surprisingly, my feet started hurting at about mile 8 or 9. Never happened like that before. My knee, which always gives me trouble starting at about mile 7, never hurt at all! But here I was, having weird foot pains. To be honest, I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I had been running during my training, but decided to walk during race day. That was confirmed when, at mile 14, I started jogging and my feet felt good. So, Todd waved me on, and I felt hopeful that I had found the solution to my pain.

I spent the next six miles jogging and walking alternately, thinking that I had found my strategy for the rest of the race. I was certainly upset when, at about mile 20, my feet started hurting whether I jogged OR walked. Bummer. So, I spent the last six miles of the marathon in complete pain–my ankles, arches, and tops of my feet were KILLING me. At that point, I was glad I was alone. I was cursing under my breath, didn’t have the patience to even listen to my iPod, and just FORCED myself through the last part of the race. I was passed by numerous old people (that means even older than I), and I was even passed by a woman using a cane.

Thank goodness for the finish line–it took FOREVER to get there–but it was the most welcome sight ever. By this point, Heather and Bill had caught back up to where I was and we crossed the finish line with Angie and Jen–and were cheered enthusiastically by Suze (another HS classmate who lives in Portland). That part was great, as was being able to eat some real food. After 7 hours of gu, gummy bears, energy drinks, and water, the chocolate milk, fruit, chips, bagels, and cheese made a welcome feast.

Todd wasn’t far behind and after he crossed the finish line we all spent a few minutes thinking, “Wow. We really did this.” But instead of feeling euphoric, I think we were all just wanting to get out of there, get off of our feet, shower, and eat.

The evening was spent icing our aches and pains, eating real food, and not moving off the couch. At Todd’s house (where Angie and I were staying), even after watching a move, we were all in bed by 8:30.

Feelings are bittersweet–we all feel like we accomplished something amazing and we are all so proud of each other. But now what? After this race being such a focus for so long, what do we do now?!

Not sure another marathon is in my future (ask me in about a year), but I am curious to see how I would do if I wasn’t pregnant…someday, perhaps.

We are all pretty much in agreement that this race was a great idea and worth doing again. Maybe a half marathon? Portland will hold its inaugural half next year, along with the full. Plus, we are considering other destinations. Maybe we could include even more friends in our next journey. That would be something else to look forward to!

In summary, every single one of us is richer from this experience. We reconnected with old friends, we learned more about ourselves, and we are less afraid of the next challenges life will throw at us!

For all of our friends and family who cheered us from the sidelines, who posted on our FB pages, and who donated to GIST research–you have no idea how much your well wishes and support meant. Thank you so much!


It’s strange for me to go back and re-read this post–knowing now what I didn’t know then.