I approached the start line of the Portland Marathon Sunday morning feeling rested, fueled, and very uncertain of what the race had in store for me. I have been training steady since the 50 miler but haven’t incorporated any speed work and have backed off about 15 miles a week. I had no idea what my body would be ready to do. Trails are certainly different than the road.
I began in Corral B with the 3:40 pace group but started dreaming big and moved up to the 3:35’s (my Boston Qualifying time) early on in the race. Pace leaders in the Portland Marathon pace you by effort. Some miles are a little faster than others so that when you reach the big hill at St. Johns bridge (mile 17ish) you can slow it down some, even out your effort and pick up speed on the downhills. The group carried me at a solid 8:07 pace until just after the bridge, but I felt myself slowing little by little as they maintained and picked up speed.
“You finish… what you start,” some homeless man yelled at me from the sideline.
Even though I was getting further away from the group I was determined to keep them in sight. At mile 22 I still had time to finish in 3:35. It was going to take everything I had left but it was certainly doable. That hope lasted about a mile. Just after I hit 23 I realized I was slowing even more. I kept doing the math and while my pace needed to increase for me to make it, my legs were slowing. I wanted it so badly.
So, I tried. I pushed myself extremely hard the last 2 miles. Up over the Broadway Bridge and through downtown. I made the turn onto Nato Parkway and 800 yards from the finish line my Garmin hit 3:35. Just like that my goal of qualifying slipped right through my fingers. I was fast, faster than I have ever been in a marathon, but simply not fast enough for a BQ.
3 minutes. 180 seconds. 800 yards from accomplishing one of my biggest goals.
While I am extremely proud of my 11 minute PR and I am overjoyed with breaking 3:40, there’s a tiny bit of sadness and disappointment I can’t seem to shake. My efforts on Sunday were so big. My discipline has been so finite. I have worked so unbelievably hard. I know what it takes for an “everyday, average runner” like me to get there. I started this journey to Boston years ago and this is the closest I have gotten.
I guess it’s circumstances like this one that make you want something even more. It’s going to take another race or two or three but I am even more determined to get there now. 3 minutes. 180 seconds. Those last 800 yards…
You finish… what you start. I intend to do just that.