As Good As Ever – the Portland Marathon, Portland, OR (October 4, 2015)

This was my third Portland Marathon and it remains one of my favorite races, if only because everything seems to run smoothly and like clockwork. You can easily tell that this race has been around for a while, 44 years to be exact, and the events surrounding the busy weekend are well-attended and supported by the city and its citizens. I’ve written about the course and logistics in my previous posts (see ‘Visiting the City of Roses’ October 5, 2014 and ‘The Portland Marathon’ October 7, 2012) so I won’t dwell on the things that haven’t changed but instead will concentrate only on those that have.

One of the things I noticed was the lack of a speaker series this year. In previous years, there was a full complement of talks on a variety of race-related topics, including a rundown of what to expect on the course, possible health issues, and Jeff Galloway’s run-walk method given by Jeff himself. This year I could find no mention of any lectures or discussions at all, and that was kind of surprising to me. The closest I could find to a course description was an elderly gentleman standing by the course map and giving a brief summary of what to expect.

The expo seemed to have a lot of new local vendors, including Umpqua Oats (I bought several individually sized containers), some locally produced one-serving containers of humus (I bought several of those too), and Sweet Spot Skirts, colorful all-cotton reversible skirts that are designed to be worn over racing gear (yes, I bought one of those as well).

There is always a lot of great stuff given to runners and walkers at this race, and this year was no exception. However, late finishers missed out on the roses that were usually handed out to people as they crossed the finish line. I didn’t really mind not getting my rose, since I knew it would not last very long, certainly not the 3000 mile trip home, and in previous years I had always given the flowers to the hotel desk staff. I was grateful that I received a tree seedling, charm and token in little velvet bags, my finisher’s shirt, and a Tyvek jacket, plus a glorious medal.

In the corrals, I had noticed that there were lots of different colored bibs for the marathon and wondered aloud what each color signified. No one could really answer my question, but at the end of the race I realized that the bibs were color-coded to the color of the finisher shirt we had requested when we had signed up for the race. Now I remembered! I had chosen blue and sure enough my blue bib entitled me to a blue shirt, correct size (ladies medium) and all.

The weather was close to perfect, perhaps too cool at the start for me (in the low 50’s) but breezy and warm as the day progressed. I enjoyed all the entertainment, including the pirates, belly dancers, and bagpipe players, and even the climb up to the St. Johns Bridge did not deter me from enjoying the day fully. Crossing the bridge is my favorite part of this race – Mt. Hood in the distance and the skyline of Portland typifies the Pacific Northwest for me.

The only problem I had during this race was a slight cramping in my right hamstring, a vestige of the same tightness that surfaced during last week’s marathon in Inverness. That was a strong hint to slow down a bit, and slow done I did, but my pace was still good enough to finish in 6:16.

Well-done Portland, once again.

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