Thursday, June 20, 2013

Race Report: Rock 'n Roll Portland Half Marathon

     The Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland half marathon was half number four on the year for me.  We made our way out to the left coast late Thursday afternoon direct via Jet Blue.  A quick hint, no one is in the security line at the airport on Thursday at 5PM! 
     We checked out bags and breezed through security to grab a bite to eat.  Terminal C is much improved from the days when I traveled constantly and one of the upgrades is the addition of Boston Beer Works. Unfortunately when we arrived I found why everyone wasn’t in the security line, it was because they were all at the bar!  After a couple of minutes waiting around two seats opened up at the bar and we settled in for some food and Back Bay IPAs.
    The flight got off to an in auspicious start, the plane arrived but they kept us from boarding. Then a statie with a dog made its way down the jetway followed by a medic and an empty gurney.  This can’t be good.   A few minutes later the medic made his way back up with the still empty gurney followed by the officer and lassie.  A short delay later we started to board and were on our way about an hour late. The flight was uneventful and we landed in Portland. 
     Once in Portland two strange things happened.  First is by some shift in the time/space continuum our bags were off loaded and spinning their way around the baggage claim even before we got there.  OK so maybe that’s not strange but you have to admit that it is on the frequency of Haley’s comet.  Second is when Julie checked her phone and saw Hertz had assigned us a rip roaring white four wheel drive half ton pickup.  Yeeeeee hawwww.  Still not strange?  OK, how about this then?  When we got out to try and exchange our car, there had to be at least 30 or so identical white pickups waiting to be driven out of the lot.  Seriously who needs that white pickups many in a major city?  After a quick chat with the checkout lady we found a cruze and were on our way to grab some sleep.

     The next morning started early since Julie wasn’table to sleep in, so we headed on over to Voodoo Doughnuts which is open 24/7.  Voodoo is pretty famous (see man vs. food) so it has a line around the corner pretty much all day long, but the biggest advantage of a 5:45AM arrival is that line wasn’t there yet.  Julie and I each got two dougnuts, a maple bacon and Apple fritter for me and a the ol’ dirty bastard and voodoo doughnut for Julie  We also grabbed a mediocre cup of coffee and sat at the picnic table right outside to enjoy them.  No sooner did we start to eat, we were joined by the person hired to clean up the area around the tables, and I don’t think he really cared that we were sitting there as he swept under our seats and on top of our shoes, all while complaining out loud (to himself) that the concert lineup sucked.  I think my doughnut would have gone into the trash if I wasn’t holding on to it!

     Once breakfast was done we checked out of our hotel and drove 90 minutes west to Cannon beach.  The drive takes you through two state forests and allows you to see every shade of green imaginable amongst towering old grow trees. 

Once at beach you are greeted by a giant sea stack named haystack rock. Sitting at the base are tidal pools housing star fish, muscles, sea urchins and more. I walked along the shore taking in the scene while Julie attended a conference call for work (safety never sleeps but does have some fun animal attack advice). Despite the grey day and misty conditions it was well worth the visit. We grabbed some lunch before heading back to meet up with Julie's cousin Sue.

Back in Portland we checked into a new hotel right down the street from the start and finish line, and walked around down town to do some sight seeing. We made our way around town and finally settled on McMenamins, one of the many breweries in town, for dinner.

Saturday morning started at Voodoo again but this time we made our way to Stumptown coffee roasters to grab a cup of joe. According to National Geographic Stumptown is one of the four best places in the world for coffee, I thought it was OK. After the coffee we made our way back to the hotel to meet up with Lauren who was driving down from Seattle and head over to the expo.

The expo was a lot of fun with a lot of the same vendors we've seen in the past and some new ones. The ladies met up with the swirl girl people who they talked to in Nashville about helping design some new shirts, and we all visited the Chobani truck to try some new flavors. One of the new kids on the block was half pop which is just what it sounds like, half popped popcorn. When did this become a thing? It's either popcorn or its corn, no need to add in a tough, in between version unless you like things caught in your teeth. 

After the expo we hopped in the SUV and headed out to Multnomah falls.  It's only a 1.5 mile hike up to the top, but for half the people it seemed like that 1.5 miles might as well be a
marathon.  There was little traffic on the way up an the view from the top offered some great views of the Columbia river gorge.  Nothing like taking it easy the day before a race!

Back in Portland that night we headed to Veritable Quandray for dinner.  Roasted goat cheese and artisan cheeses?  Yup, I was in heaven in this yuppy paradise.  The tables were tight but the menu offered up tons of gastro pub favorites and it allowed us to stay close to the hotel for an early night before the race.

Race day was greeted with an early morning knock from room service.   We put out the "bring us breakfast at this time" door hanger which in a previous life was used to deliver unwanted bananas an chocolate chip cookies to unsuspecting co-workers (you're welcome Jen and Dave), but this time it was actually used for its intended purpose.  The "we'll have it here on time or it's free" guarantee was met with about 90 seconds to spare and we were bathed in bacon egg and cheese sandwiches.  The breakfast of champions. 
Heading down to the start line outside our hotel, it seemed a bit sparse.  The announcer soon confirmed this fact as he announced the attendance at just over 10K vs. the normal rock 'n' roll race of 30K.  Bonus for us as there we no lines at the pot-a-potties.

We jumped into coral 11 and I started right in front of the 2:15 pace crew.  The race started down the river way with a down and back before heading over the Hawthone bridge.  This was my first race where I was live casting via runkeeper and this is where JR confirmed it was working.  Right after the bridge as I approached the 6 mile marker I was caught by the 2:15 pace team.  I was pushing myself hard so I had no thoughts of sticking with them the rest of the way but I was able to do a good job until I  started to head up a bit of an incline and when I say a bit I mean about a mile of uphill.

I realized that right here, this is one of those moments where I could dig deep and fight to stay on pace or just go have another race.  I'm sure this is where you all think that this is where I lose it and start walking up the hill just happy to finish.  Well you're wrong (suck it), I powered up the hill and slowly put some distance between myself and the pace team.   

I crested the top of the hill and was into mile 7 and I'm on pace for a PR.  (Did I mention you should suck it?)  I was tired but after out pacing the pace team I though I was going to really make Portland mine and then about a half mile later the pace team appeared on my left.  I'm not 100% sure but I'm pretty sure they were all wearing roller skates and going down hill, or at least that's my rational for them blowing by me so fast I thought a big rig got onto the course.  So much for a PR.  
Atop the incline the course weaved it's way through a mix of small business type of restaurants and coffee shops (it is the Pacific Northwest after all) and residential neighborhoods before turning back towards downtown where were were greeted by another bridge, this time framed by a young lady with a sign that simply read "Fuck Yeah" (sorry I deleted this picture).  I couldn't agree more.  Back into downtown Portland and down the river way the course was lined with spectators as the finishline appeared.

I grabbed my medal and headed back to the Marriott before they kicked us out...literally...even with Julie being a gold member they weren't really interested in giving us a late checkout, and with a red-eye back to the east coast that night our fellow passengers would greatly appreciate us taking a shower before getting on the plane.  
Eventually I was joined by the rest of the crew and after showers all around we headed to Deshutes brewery for some dinner.  It was packed with post race participants and Thorns (the local women's professional soccer team) fans before they headed over to the game so there was a bit of a wait but truly worth it.  I was faced with the choice of two big burgers and when I ask our server for a recommendation, he threw me a loop and recommended the elk burger one I wasn't even considering but it was a good choice if not the giant, juices running down the face kind I like to smother in buffalo sauce, I normally lean towards after a race.

From there we headed over to the rose test garden, which is where the nickname "city of roses" comes from.  It's the largest in the world and definitely worth a stop if you're ever in town.  It has all kinds and colors of roses and is actually pretty interesting even if you're the casual gardener like me.  We made our way of the to Shakespeare garden and found a quiet spot under a large tree.  If I hadn't had a plane to catch I might still be sleeping there, but alas we did and we had to go.  

We dropped Sue off at the hotel said 'goodbye' before we made a quick stop at REI to pick up some supplies for our Seattle return in three weeks time.  I thought thought the TSA would frown upon me trying to carry a can a bear spray onto the plane back to the west coast, so we left it with Lauren before she headed back home.  One back at the airport I picked up my required Portland shot glass and a Rouge Voodoo doughnut bacon maple ale.  Hey I liked the doughnut I'm sure I'd like the beer (I didn't) before heading back to Boston.

Overall the race was great, wonderful course in a great city, with my only regret being that I didn't get to try any of the food carts that are sprinkled across the city.  Next time Portland!




Segment Pace

Overall Page

















Overall: 5,108 out of 8,062 Division: 365 out of 434  Gender: 2,163 out of 2,732


  1. I just spent my Thursday morning before work reading this and my only question is .... YOU DIDN'T LIKE THE BACON MAPLE ALE??!! I expect a PR out of you the next time I join you for a half marathon.

  2. No it was not very couldn't taste the bacon so it was like there was just a hint of syrup mixed in with the beer