So my first bit of post hike advice is…DON’T sign up to run a marathon right after the hike! I know that advice might seem obvious, but I wasn’t the only thru hiker in Portland to make this naive mistake. I had assumed that after hiking 2600mi, running 26mi without wearing a pack would be no problem…well…let the humility begin!
|Seeing Topsy Turvy at the finish.|
I went into the marathon not knowing if I’d even finish. I had tried a practice run the weekend before, and let’s just say that my legs and pavement were not a good match. I’ve ran many marathons before, and have been wanting to retire from long distance running for awhile. I figured this would be a good way to run my hometown of Portland for the first time while avoiding the training that I have come to loathe. I really do love the spirit and magic of the marathon and I thought you all would enjoy how this one tied into my trail life. It really is more than just a run!
It started with a perfect marathon morning. I LOVED the first half of the marathon (13mi). I felt the adrenaline of running with thousands of other runners who each had inspiring stories. My music was great and I was on a great pace. I wasn’t sure how far I’d make it, so I told my friends and family not to worry about coming out to cheer. At mile 4, I was surprised to see my dad standing on a corner cheering! That was a great surprise and motivation! Around mile 6, the course does a u-turn and runners are able to see those running ahead or behind them. I saw Alex(Stag), who was running ahead of me and yelled over to him as he ran toward me. After I yelled, a person in the crowd on the other side of the street yelled, “Hey! It’s Wired!” That was so surreal to me. I was off the trail, seeing people I hiked with, and being noticed as Wired. Just crazy!
When I got to the halfway point, I suddenly felt my leg muscles seizing up. Hiking the trail did build my muscles, but not in the way a runner needs. This point on the course is where it heads away from the city and I’d have to decide to either commit or go home. Just as I was contemplating this, I saw my neighbor, Megan (running her first half marathon), walking towards me on the sidewalk. I had just babysat for her the day before while she attended a funeral. The funeral was for her friend who had died of cancer. For months, Megan had raised money to fight cancer in her friend’s honor, and her friend died the week before the marathon. It’s stories like these that make a marathon special. Well, Megan had made a wrong turn onto the marathon course and was headed home after reaching the marathon’s halfway point by accident. I talked to her about my legs and was tempted to go home with her, but chose to move on. Seeing her was inspiring and it was fate that we both needed to see each other at that moment.
I told myself I had to run to mile 20 before I could consider walking. I had a good pace going and chose to walk the final 6mi because I was having pain in my legs and feet and I didn’t want to cause a real injury. When I got to mile 24, I saw my friend Shelli, who was running her first marathon and I was so proud of her! We ended up finishing right near each other and sharing that time with her made it all worth it. She was amazing, and I found out the next day that she had foot pain and the doctor told her that she had broken her foot. She ran on a broken foot! Now that’s hard core! Way to go Shelli!!!
|Me, with first time marathoner, Shelli.|
Also, in the last mile, I heard someone call my name from the crowd and it was another PCT hiker, Turbo! I got to catch up with him a bit after I finished. Such a small world!
|Me with Turbo.|
As if that wasn’t enough, I also was reunited with Topsy Turvy and Data Muffin after the finish. They are a PCT couple from Portland who I knew before the trail. We overlapped just a bit in the beginning, but they were always a few days behind me. So great to see them, and Topsy Turvy even ended up getting a personal record for the marathon. She is usually a walker, and ended up jogging and doing great!
|Way to go Topsy Turvy!|
To top it all off, I was also able to see Free Fall after the finish. Free Fall was a southbound hiker (and presentation coordinator of PCT kick off) doing a section that I ran into in Washington. We have since become friends and he was volunteering at the finish. It was great to see him there. So, after all that, I finished with a 5:12. Over and hour slower than my usual pace, but I’m glad I didn’t quit. My mantra of the day was, you did the PCT, you can do this! In the end, you can see it wasn’t the time that I’ll remember, but all the stories within the race. My advice is, I don’t recommend doing a marathon after a thru hike…but it was SO worth it!