Running the Portland Marathon

Running our First Marathon

Sunday, October 5, 2008, my sister and I ran our first marathon. That's right - ran ! We both finished the race after a month of injuries and dealing with diabetes and asthma. We are exhausted and excited! The 37th annual Portland Marathon was held in Portland, Oregon on a rainy fall-like day (the first time it rained on the event in 25 years). Over 9000 runners participated, which made it difficult to get across the starting line, despite the "wave" start. And yes - Jeanette and I were part of the exuberant group for the Portland Marathon this year!

Jeanette was just back from an injury several weeks ago and our primary goal was just to finish. We hoped for a time of four hours, 30 minutes. Fairly respectable since we have both been running less due to overtraining earlier in September. Jeanette brought her friend, Chelese to coach us and cheer us on. Chelese is a Team in Training marathon coach, and provided us invaluable information for the days leading up to the race, the race itself and the days following. Thank goodness Chelese was with us!

In case you didn't know, or aren't impressed enough, the official distance for a marathon race is 26.2 miles!

Picking up our numbers for Portland Marathon

Source

Training for the Portland Marathon

My sister and I "officially" trained for the Portland Marathon for over three months. In actuality, however, both of us were in training much longer than that. Jeanette started running in November 2007, and was on a training schedule for a marathon in June 2008. While she ran a half-marathon (13.1 miles) in March, she decided she wasn't ready for the full 26.2 mile distance in June.

As for me, I've been running for more than 20 years. I started running often in college, and completed a number of shorter road races - my favorite distance is a 10K (6.2 miles). Years later, I went to law school, got married, started a family, etc., etc. I kept up my running, but never thought that I could do a full marathon distance, particularly after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2003.

After all the anticipation and wondering, we are finally ready to reveal our experience of running the Portland Marathon. Not only that, but if you think that you can never accomplish such a goal.... well, think again. We worked hard and overcame a lot of hurdles. Neither one of us would have ever believed we could run 26.2 miles straight. But we did!

Days turned into weeks, which turned into months. We had some ups and downs along the way as we prepared to run 26.2 miles. Each of us had injuries and had to take some time off from training. About 6 weeks before the race, we were not sure we were going to make it.

Still, once October arrived, we knew that all those miles had to count. So, off to Portland we went - ready to run the race.

Steph Running at Mile 24 of the Portland Marathon

The morning of the Portland Marathon - ready to go run!
The morning of the Portland Marathon - ready to go run! | Source
Steph at approximately mile 18 of the Portland Marathon
Steph at approximately mile 18 of the Portland Marathon | Source

Two Sisters Run the Portland Marathon in 2008

I've been waiting to publish this hub on running the Portland Marathon until Jeanette wrote down her own experiences running the race. Well, its now nearly a month post-race, and I think its time to just go ahead with my perspective. I guess I'll have to vouch for my sister!

We started out in Portland on Saturday - the day before the race. Jeanette, me and our coach, Chelese, went to the Portland Marathon Expo first. We picked up our numbers, browsed lots of goods, and basically got really excited! Jeanette and I both bought silver charms that say Portland Marathon on one side, and 2008 on the other. Chelese advised that we should not sample any of the treats, drinks, etc., because that would be contrary to what we normally eat and drink before a big run.

After the Expo, we went across the street for the Pasta Feed. Being Diabetic and on insulin, this was a new experience for me. I wasn't sure how "carbo-loading" would work for me. Nonetheless, we ate heartily. Jeanette, Chelese and I got back to our hotel room by 8:00. We set everything out for the next morning and requested a wake-up call by 5:45. The race would start at 7:00 a.m.!

Jeanette at approximately mile 20 of the Portland Marathon
Jeanette at approximately mile 20 of the Portland Marathon | Source

The Morning of the Portland Marathon

Bright and early, the phone rang in our hotel room. I am much more of a morning person than Jeanette, but even for me - it was early!! Two minutes after the call, we dragged ourselves out of bed. I peeked out the window and saw that it was drizzling. Although I've grown up running in the rain (being a Seattle native), I really didn't feel like spending half the day in it!

I tested my blood and got more bad news. My blood sugar was 250! Normal range is 80-120. That meant lots of insulin and no breakfast. I took a big shot and then waited 1/2 hour to have an energy drink (with sugar and caffeine). Jeanette, Chelese and I walked the 8 or so blocks toward the starting line. It was still dark outside when we got there. Fortunately, the rain had stopped. The biggest issue for us was to find our spot in the 9000 other people. It was supposed to be a wave-start, which means the fastest runners go first. Unfortunately, we couldn't get any closer to the start than the 5-hour finish pacer group. When we heard the air horn go off, our blood really started pumping!! Three horns later, it was finally time to start moving and run the Portland Marathon!

The first mile was VERY slow. Lots of people and crowded streets. By 1/2 mile in, we passed a super drum group. Everyone was cheering! I had the hugest smile on my face! By about 1 1/2 miles out, things barely started to break out. We were trying really hard to get our pace. Not too much longer - by about mile 3 - we were cruising. There was an uphill segment of about a mile, and it was already time for a bathroom break! We were totally cruising and loving life until mile 6. That's when things turned interesting.

Steph Finishing the Portland Marathon

Jeanette was in a lot of pain at the end of the marathon
Jeanette was in a lot of pain at the end of the marathon
Steph crossing the finish line!
Steph crossing the finish line! | Source

Running the Marathon

Poor Jeanette was recovering from an IT band injury in September. She had done really well in resting and not running very much during the last two weeks before the Portland Marathon. Jeanette was going to a specialized massage therapist and seemed to be on the mend. Well - at mile 6 - her leg started acting up. We walked a bit, then ran again. Repeat. And again. Things were not looking good for my blood sugar, either. Instead of going down like it usually does, it was going up. And I didn't wear my insulin pump. After 7 miles of walking, then running, then walking again, Jeanette finally talked me into leaving her behind. I was heartbroken and worried. She wanted me to start running harder so that my blood sugar levels would go down. The rain had started again and I was very worried about Jeanette's leg. She told me that it was buckling. Last thing I wanted to hear about was that she was found in the middle of the street somewhere!

Finally, just after mile 13, I decided to go ahead. I knew that I would see Chelese after mile 16, and Jeanette's husband would be there too. I was stressed, but also relieved to start running again. Two miles later, my blood sugar was down to 80 and I was able to take some Gu.

I ran the rest of the way after leaving Jeanette. When I got to mile 18, I saw Chelese and Jeanette's husband. They took some photos and I pulled over to give them the update. I heard later that when Jeanette got there, Chelese ran the rest of the way with her. Very happy to hear that.

How to Get Through 26.2

Everyone talks about "hitting a wall" during a marathon run. For some, it comes around mile 20. Chelese referred to the last few miles of a marathon as the "Bite Me Zone." Well, I was so proud of myself, running along. I got to mile 20 - feeling good. Kept on for another few miles. Still doing great at mile 23!! I thought - gosh, maybe I should be an ultra-marathon runner? Then, I hit it. The last 2 miles were excruciating. In my mind, I was telling myself it was only 2 last miles, but they were longer than ever. My hips were aching. My knees were aching. I distracted myself by using my little Flip videocamera to record the final milestones along the way (mile 25, then mile 26, then crossing the finish line).

When they announced my name at the finish line, I was overcome with emotion! My finish time was a bit slower than I had planned (4:37), but with all the walking I did with Jeanette, I figured I may have finished closer to 4:20 or so.

Me and Jeanette post race!
Me and Jeanette post race! | Source

Steph Post-Race After Running the Portland Marathon

My Sister's Experiene Running the Marathon

Jeanette finished about 20-25 minutes after me. She had walked/run the entire rest of the Portland Marathon. She is nothing if not determined! We reconnected and then limped back to our hotel room. Unfortunately, Jeanette got sick about an hour after we returned - probably a result of taking ibuprofen on an empty stomach. Poor girl was sick all night! I played around on my laptop a bit and eventually crashed also. The next morning, we were both even more sore! We did some stretches and carefully gathered our belongings for our drives back home - 3 hours for each of us.

When I arrived home, my kids had made some amazing signs for me to congratulate the accomplishment! Check them out in the slideshow below!

Would I do it again? Definitely! I plan on running the Portland Marathon next year. In the meantime, I have my eye on a marathon race in Redding, California in January!

Have I inspired you? Did you enjoy the overall series about the Portland Marathon? Please let me know in the comment section below. Thank you!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My kids made Welcome Home signs - even our next door neighbor helped out!
My kids made Welcome Home signs - even our next door neighbor helped out!
My kids made Welcome Home signs - even our next door neighbor helped out!

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Comments 43 comments

desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 7 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! REALLY ADMIRE YOU RUNNERS! SO TICKLED TO READ THIS FINAL COLUMN ABOUT YOUR MARATHON DAY!!!!! REALLY REALLY HUGE CONGRATS!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Awwww - thank you Desert Blondie! I am loving your excitement. I am so glad to have finally published the hub about our experiences at the Portland Marathon. It was incredible! :)

Steph


naturesencore profile image

naturesencore 7 years ago from Chicagoland

Congrats to both of you determined ladies! You both set the example for all womankind.

I've thoroughly enjoyed following your stories, and now I marvel at your accompliments. If only we could all be so determined to obtain our goals, fighting to the finish despite all adversity.

Way to go the distance . . . and literally, too! WOW! 26.2 miles! We're all immensely proud of both of you over here in Chicagoland.

Angela

http://angelamccoy.blogspot.com/


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Angela, thank you so much for your supportive comment! It is true that running a marathon is much like accomplishing other big goals in life. I feel energized by completing the Portland Marathon and it has boosted my self-confidence! Whatever your dreams are - go for it!

Cheers, Steph


solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 7 years ago from london

Stephanie, you are both heroic sisters! Such a determination, so much pain, so many sacrifices to finish that Portland Marathon 2008. Of course you have highly inspired me with your wonderful hubs about marathon training!


Write On! profile image

Write On! 7 years ago from United States

Congratulations gals! What an accomplishment. I imagine now, that you feel you can do, and overcome anything! I can only boast a 5k myself. Even with that - I thought I was invincible! LOL

We are all so proud of you both:-)

Write On!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

@solarshingles, thank you! The experience was definitely life changing. I always wanted to run a marathon, but a voice inside said "you can't do it." Now that we both completed the Portland Marathon (and I must give Jeanette a great deal of credit for pushing me on), I am happy to say that the silly voice inside is much quieter. :)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

@Write On! You should definitely be proud of running a 5K race! Hey, that's how I got my start.... and years later... who knew that I would actually run the Portland Marathon? Thanks for the uplifting comment!

Steph


Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

the piece I've been waiting for, at last. Thanks. Great job. You girls made it.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Benson - I was thinking of you as I finally finished this up! Thank you again for all the support along the way.

Steph


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 7 years ago from MA, USA

A big congrats to you! Watching you cross the finish line and hearing your name being announced on youtube was the icing on the cake! And Steph....have you inspired me? Of course you did......YES, YES, YES, YES, YES! lol. It was a lot of fun. Thank you for sharing this experience with me.


jacobworld profile image

jacobworld 7 years ago from Ireland

Good one - congrats


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Dottie - thank you for being one of my biggest fans all through the training! I truly did think of you all as we were slogging away the miles (it was indeed a soggy, sloggy day for the Portland Marathon). I am so glad you enjoyed the Hub series!! :)

Steph


Juliet Christie profile image

Juliet Christie 7 years ago from Sandy Bay Jamaica

I admire you and your sister very much. running 26. miles is really something to be proud about. keep on running.


Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

Steph,

guess what. My wife, our two boys (aged 16 and 14) and I, will be doing the coming HK marathon together in Feb 09. Training starts this week.

wish us luck.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 7 years ago from Australia

Well Steph having read your hub and written this comment I have to go and do my 30 yard warm down . You know how it is with us athletic types?

Seriously though I admire you for your courage and determination to complete such a major feat, and keeping us informed at the same time. Great effort!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

@Juliet Christie - thank you! We intend to keep on running. Since the first week after the Portland Marathon, I have been logging about 30 miles a week. Jeanette is still injured, but is seeing a doctor tomorrow (finally). The next time I run a marathon, rest assured, you'll read about it here! :)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

@Benson, good luck with the HK Marathon!!  I am so inspired that you'll be running it with your wife and boys.  My oldest is 11, so maybe in a few years, he can run with me too.  He enjoys sprinting more than distance running, though.  I'll be thinking of you during your training.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

@agvulpes - don't get too winded! :) Seriously, I have so much enjoyed sharing our experiences in training and running a marathon. It has been a learning experience on a number of levels.


KT pdx profile image

KT pdx 7 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

Wow! Congrats! I've done 10k, but that's the most so far. I've been wanting to check out being on a Team in Training program, though. Congrats again!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi KT - I presume you're from Portland with "pdx" in your name. Yes, until 4 months ago, the farthest race I've run was a 10K. Team in Training is everywhere, so you should be able to find a group easily. If you raise enough money, you can have travel and lots more paid for. Good luck and keep us posted!


2patricias profile image

2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

I think this is the first Hub that made me cry! I feel so pleased for you. All your hubs about training made me understand how much effort and determination you put into this. Sincere congratulations.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Oh my gosh, now you made me tear up!!! I so appreciate the genuine support I got from you, 2patricias, and many other hubbers here. It was indeed a big effort to run a marathon, and my true pleasure to share it with you.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 7 years ago from London UK

Excellent job and a really great accomplishment!

The only real incetives ive had to run in my life is when there are police officers behind me!!,,,, long stories and along time ago!

Grand job to the pair of you!:) ((((applause)))))


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Compu-Smart! You've been a great "cheerleader" through the entire Portland Marathon process. Someday, you can tell me your stories... LOL!! :)

Steph


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Steph, I got teary eyed when I read the welcome banner from your kids. It is so nice to feel all the support and love from people that matter the most. YEY!!! congratulations! After weeks of training and exciting plus difficult experiences, you finally did it! This has been a remarkable adventure. Hope your sis is okay now. Sending you guys lots of love and light. Till the next marathon! :)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Oh Michelle, the banners were so wonderful! I still have the one up on the door from our garage into our house!! Thank you so much for your well wishes and thoughts. Jeanette emailed me a few days ago to say that she was finally able to run 4 miles the other day. We are both excited to do the Portland Marathon again next year! :) Best, Steph


Write On Target profile image

Write On Target 7 years ago from North Carolina

Great Article! Love to see you like challenges and take them head on. Done many triathlons myself and know how grueling what you do can be! Feel the need to take a nap now after reading your article(lol)- Sympathy fatigue I guess :-) Keep going!


lowlycook profile image

lowlycook 6 years ago from Deep Asia

I once ran a marathon, too. It was just a 7-k marathon. You have great strength! More power to you!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Sometimes a single mile can feel like a marathon! Kudos to you. :)


sprint57 6 years ago from canada

i just came across your blog. Better late than never, well done. i hope you've been keeping it up. inspiring story, well done.

http://pedometer-watches.net


tiptonite profile image

tiptonite 6 years ago from Leicester, England, UK

Hi Steph...great hub! A good read. My brother lives in Portland and he keeps going on at me to run the Portland Marathon!...maybe one day! ;)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks tiptonite - you know, there is now a 1/2 marathon option at Portland, too. Both races are full this year, but think about it for next year. Best, Steph


tiptonite profile image

tiptonite 6 years ago from Leicester, England, UK

Yes...will definately consider that for the future!

My bro lives in Hillsboro.

Nigel


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

You would totally rock this race - its mostly flat and fast. Limited hills. Temperate time of year. Hillsboro is about 15-20 mins. from downtown Portland, so if you can stay with him, you're set! ;-)


tiptonite profile image

tiptonite 6 years ago from Leicester, England, UK

Sounds perfect then! Already going to look at it for next year! Can't beat a flat and fast course.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Sounds perfect - I might be doing it next year too! Fun to coordinate :) best, Steph


tiptonite profile image

tiptonite 6 years ago from Leicester, England, UK

Yes it would be fun. The half may be good prep for the New York which I maybe going for as well! :)

Nigel


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Definitely! The races are probably about a month apart, so the timing would be good. Let me know! cheers, Steph


Ironracer profile image

Ironracer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Congrats on the marathon! I enjoyed reading your journey. What's next? You mentioned an ultra and an Ironman in a previous hub :) Cheers.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks - running a marathon tomorrow! The Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. If I can break 3:50, I'll qualify for Boston. This might not be my marathon to do that, but its definitely in my plans for the future. ;-)


JBMarcus1 5 years ago

rUNNING bOSTON mARATHON TO rAISE $$$ FOR cANCER rESEARCH ... tAKE READ .. cheERS

http://hubpages.com/health/2011TrainingJBM


stessily 4 years ago

Steph, Congratulations to both you and your sister for completing the Portland Marathon. It sounds as though you are good at realistic goal-setting; you probably would have completed the run within your projected time if you hadn't slowed down to accommodate your sister. It also sounds as though you have diabetes under control; I've heard that sufficient exercise and proper diet make huge differences in living with diabetes.

I especially appreciated this tip: "Chelese advised that we should not sample any of the treats, drinks, etc., because that would be contrary to what we normally eat and drink before a big run." That sounds like good, basic advice; it's amazing the havoc which can be wrought by consuming atypical food before a race.

Well done.

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