For about a week leading up to the 2014 Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon, my health started to deteriorate (most likely thanks to my germy little girls). What started off as a head cold started to travel downwards and take up residence in my lungs and throat. My normal breathing became labored and phlegm-filled in my last few runs leading up to race day. But I knew I was going to run regardless of what I felt like on race day. And was I glad I did.
My parents were in town this past weekend and my dad accompanied me to the race. He has been my cheering section for previous races, including the 2013 Eugene Half Marathon and 2013 Foot Traffic Flat Full. He is always so excited and proud of his “runner” that it ends up getting me a little amped up too. I am almost 30 (1 month away…gulp), but I still have the desire to make my dad proud of me and he still has the ability to get the best out of me. I definitely needed his encouragement to get out of the blocks and immediately begin the trek up near OHSU.
I had been looking forward to the race course, as it had originally been a reverse of the Shamrock course. When it changed over to follow the same path as the Shamrock, I will admit I was a little disappointed. I am always on the lookout for new runs, new paths, and new courses, so a change of pace would have been nice. But regardless, I knew there was more to the race than just the hills.
Almost immediately, my mind and motivation gave way to heavy legs and straining lungs. Coughs bubbled through my throat and I mentally had to apologize to those behind me for hacking spit on the ground so I could actually breathe. I typically don’t pack my own water on half marathons, but was happy that I thought ahead far enough to do this. I was grateful for my hydration belt over this first 4 miles.
I actually became surprised how fast the hill section went by. I didn’t exactly crush it, but I remember coming down the final decline and was shocked that it was over. I could have sworn there was an additional climb – but I wasn’t complaining. The long downhill to the Waterfront was very odd this go around. In the Shamrock, I was surrounded by a bunch of other people during this final stretch to the finish. In this race, it was eerily strange to be running essentially by myself on closed major roads in Portland. As I neared the halfway point, my energy was starting to feel zapped despite the downhill stretch.
That was when I ran into Andie Proskus. You guys may have seen her at a few races or from the interview that Teresa did with her. I decided to take a little break and chat with her. She was about a mile or so into her 5k and was looking happy and strong. She said that she was excited to be registered for her first half marathon. I wished her luck and told her I hoped to see her at the finish line. Her spirit gave me some energy to push through the last 6 miles of my day.
The back-end of the half was both pretty neat and increasingly crowded. City races can be pretty neat as the continual turning from one street to the next can be fun and exhilarating, especially for those (like me) who aren’t from Portland. I recognized some of the streets from the Bridge to Brews 10k, but the continual turns kept me on my toes. During the city running, half marathoners started to combine with the 10k and 5k runners. Some may have found this difficult as it significantly increased maneuvering, but I found it welcoming for some reason. I just needed something to carry me through the final few miles while I strained for a solid breath amidst the stuffy lungs. Running with people did this for me. It gave me some motivation to press on and set some mini-goals of picking out a runner ahead of me and trying to pass them. Basically I was trying to keep my mind off of the lack of oxygen I was receiving with my breathing any way I could. And it worked!
I managed to avoid the majority of the rain and grabbed a Lagunitas beverage (holy crap, they gave you two free?!) and burrito before parking myself under the covered Starbucks area above the square. My body was tired and my lungs achey, but my time ended up being better than I expected. Terrapin exceeded my expectations for a second straight race and made the morning of my newly coined “Sicko de Matto” day a success!