Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Newport Marathon Review, Recap, and Reflections

Newport Marathon
June 4th, 2011
Newport, Oregon
Size:  Race capped at 900 runners.
Timing:  Gun/No chip.  Started a bit back from the front.
Goal Time: 3:15
Time:  3:30:17
Age group: 5/55 (the first three places were in my age group)
Overall: 13th woman/ 70th overall finisher men and women out of 673 finishers.

The Newport Marathon has a reputation for being flat, fast, scenic and friendly!  Since it is on the Oregon coast, one would typically expect it to be cool, cloudy and pretty perfect race conditions!  The biggest fear might be getting rained on!  I've always heard great things about this race...the volunteers, organizers, support, pre and post race organization, as well as the efficiently run water and fuel stations along the way. The only slightly negative thing I'd heard about this marathon is that in the past there were rumors of the course being short but they fixed that a couple years back.  Overall, this marathon was every bit as wonderful as everyone says it is!  Well run, beautiful, mostly flat with some gentle hills, and very well managed.  And I must say that my finishers medal from the race is the coolest medal I've ever received:

The only thing I wasn't prepared for or expecting was the unusual heat that graced us all on race day.  Instead of the usual cloudy, cool and many times rainy early June weather on the coast, I woke up to a luke warm temperature that felt GREAT!  I should have known that if I was comfortable in my shorts and tank at 5:30 in the morning then I might not be so comfortable 2-4 hours later!  The average high of 50/60 degree weather turned out to be high 70's but felt kind of like 90's to me.  But I have to say that the blue skies and sunshine were wonderful to see despite the negative effect they had on us marathon runners!  It was a nice break from our cloudy, rainy, cool streak here in Oregon!  The next day however, we were back to the typical weather of cool, grey,cloudy and scattered showers.  This made me feel a little bit like God was playing a fun little trick on all of us!  ha!  Look how happy I look before the race started...I was thrilled with the warm weather:

My awesome father in law before the race!  He took all the pictures and he and my mother-in-law even made t-shirts that said "Go Amanda!"
The truth is, yes it was hot and many of us suffered because of it but it wasn't the worst heat anyone has ever run in!  Many people run in heat.  All the time.  It was what it was.  This is part of the unexpected.  We push ourselves anyway and do what we can despite the unfavorable conditions that may arise.  It was still a good race and a great course and despite the heat, many still ran a great race!

I've got many thoughts racing through my head here with regards to my race experience.  Overall, GREAT race, GREAT learning experience, and a Boston Qualifier.  There were also some disappointments and missing of the mark type feelings that came with it.

The Positives.  What went RIGHT:

  • Felt fabulous at the start.  Strong, healthy, comfortable.
  • Took a risk and went for it.  Starting out faster than expected but in the back of my mind, I was okay with this and I was willing to take the chance.  I think this is part of learning, dreaming, and setting BIG goals.  Not always playing "Safe" is part of what helps us make our dreams come true and discover that the unexpected is POSSIBLE!  I took a chance.  
  • I kept going!  At mile 17 I wanted to QUIT!  I was overheating, thirsty as all get out, and hitting the wall big time.  But I kept going.  
  • I took care of myself and gently pushed myself but also allowed myself to stop and drink. I have never stopped in a race before.  NEVER.  But I stopped at ever water stop from mile 20 on.  I put my head in between my legs, poured water over my body, hydrated and loved myself.  
  • I had LOTs of positive talk at the end.  Every negative message of "you can't or You're dying" came with at least 2 positives.  I thought of my family, my friends, and so many of YOU!  I thought of your messages, mantras, and words of wisdom.  
  • I backed off of the GU when I knew it wasn't right for me.  
  • I ran my OWN race!!  This is key!! With every person that caught me at the end, I found myself catching my old thinking and squashing it with "This is YOUR race Amanda!  Don't compare yourself to them...run your OWN race!"  This helped a ton!  
  • I didn't beat myself up.  
What Was Less Than Wonderful!  Things to Learn From for Next Time:
  • I didn't start out at the 7:45-8 min pace that I had planned or at least told myself that I was planning.  
  • When my first mile was a 7:20 something I didn't slow down or pull back...I just kept going.  This could be seen as a positive risk or chance I took or a really silly thing.  Young Grasshopper learning here!  :)  I think this is something I needed to learn for myself so that next time I have the appetite for more strategy instead of just "going for it!" like a puppy.  
  • I underestimated the weather. 
  • I was so confused on what to do with my GU.  I ended up taking one at mile 6, 11.8, 17ish, and then I don't remember.  Next time I will try only taking 2 the entire race...In small amounts....half at mile 6 and half at mile 12 and so on.  This seemed to work for me with my first marathon where I ran a 3:22 with only one GU packet.  
  • I missed the 3:15 goal.  That's okay.  I still think I have it in me.  And I truly believe that I might have done it this time had I paced myself more wisely and prepared for the heat a bit more (mentally).  I'll get it!  And I'm still not counting that sub 3 hour marathon out for my five year plan!  Dreaming big here.  
  • I found myself really wishing I had some tunes on those long open roads when I was running alone.  In the past, my head has been so full of thinking that I've found it to be therapeutic to have the quiet time with my thoughts but next time I might reconsider this no music thing.  
  • Not knowing the course was a bit of a detriment to me.  If I would have known how close the finish line was then I might have dug deep enough to run faster than a 9 min mile pace at the end there to get a sub 3:30.  3:30:17 just didn't feel the best...ha!  I didn't want to push myself too hard at the end because I wasn't so sure I would make it without falling on my face!  There were people falling down all around me those last few miles.  Okay, only 2 or 3 people but it was more than I've ever seen.  Poor guys...grabbing their legs that were cramping and not being able to go another step when the finish line was only just up ahead.  
Here's the thing:  Should have, could have, would have blah blah blah...it was what it was and I'm happy with it.  I learned!  I'm stronger for it.  I Boston Qualified and I feel more determined than ever to go out there an try it again!  I am excited to be able to try this progressive pacing again and hopefully finish STRONG instead of barely hanging in there.  It would be way more fun to feel strength and confidence at the end rather than dragging, pushing and fighting for the last miles of the race.  No fun! But a great lesson!  

Early miles!  Way too happy for a 7:26 mile. Wish I would have stayed this happy and strong.  
So much support from my family!  My two year old ran right on to the course here at mile 13.

First race photo I officially bought.  I never even bought my pictures from Boston! Not sure what mile this is but it was already pretty hot so it might have been mile 10ish.  

I've been embarrassed to post my splits only because I can see how silly they look with how fast I went out and how much I slowed down.  At the same time that I might have gone out too fast and hit the wall because of it, I also don't know that I wouldn't do the same thing again.  For the first time in my life, I'm not afraid to put it all out there and believe in myself fully!  I'm willing to take risks that I have never done before.  And the fear that used to control my every race, every decision, and most parts of my life, is no longer there.  I think sometimes we have to take risks like this if we want to go for something BIG!  On another given day (a cooler one perhaps), I might have held on to that pace and surprised myself! I do think that next time I will try starting with a 7:45 mile though!  Here are the splits:

Mile 1: 7:28
Mile 2: 7:26
Mile 3: 7:25
Mile 4: 7:25
Mile 5: 7:34
Mile 6: 7:29
Mile 7: 7:21
Mile 8: 7:33
Mile 9: 7:25
Mile 10: 7:22
Mile 11: 7:34
Mile 12: 7:43
Mile 13: 7:38
Mile 14: 7:43
Mile 15: 8:15
Mile 16: 8:09
Mile 17: 7:59
Mile 18: 8:19
Mile 19: 8:21
Mile 20: 9:10--this is wear I thought I might just pass out and I stopped to cover myself in water. Wanted to Quit! But quitting isn't really in my vocab.
Mile 21: 8:54
Mile 22: 8:19
Mile 23: 8:40
Mile 24: 8:24
Mile 25: 8:56
Mile 26: 8:44
.2:  Forgot to stop my Garmin so I'm unsure of that last .2 but not very fast!

So this is how NOT to run a progressive marathon.  Flip this over and that would be more like it...Finishing with a 7:28 and starting with an 8...this will be my goal for next time!

The Joy of knowing that I FINISHED, Boston Qualified and can eat pizza and drink beer!

So Happy to be DONE!

I found that I was making some pretty big deals with myself at the end of this race. "If you can just make it one more mile then you can..." or "Just pretend this is a training run and give yourself the okay to run slower and take it easy..." and "If you just hold on to a sub 9 pace then you can still be sub 3:30..."  "Once you are done with this, you will NEVER have to do this again!!".  These were all some of the thoughts I was having.  I did tell myself that I would never train for and race another marathon again.  However, this didn't last long because 20 minutes after the race I was already plotting my next one.  I was similar with childbirth.

A marathon is never easy.  It isn't all about roses and sunshine.  It's a marathon!  If it was easy then everyone would be doing it.  The important thing is that we take every race and experience in life and we LEARN and GROW from it!  We use our "race residue" and life experiences to give us that push over the next hurdle in life and we keep climbing higher!  This is Life and I'm thrilled to be living it!



  1. What a great recap. You've obviously done a lot of thinking about it. It's so good to take the positives away as well as the negatives when you don't reach your goal. And don't feel bad about those splits - mine show a huge difference between the first and second half. Didn't help getting lost in an Arts centre looking for the loo.

  2. What a great post. Thanks for sharing so much detail about your experience.

    Very few people would be frustrated with a 3:30 finish and a BQ. I guess it all depends on what your personal goal is. In the end, we're racing against ourselves, aren't we?

    Oh, and now I know where all the speedy people from Oregon went for the weekend:)

  3. I am over the moon proud of you!!!! It was really inspiring to read your race experience and I'm filing it all away in my brain for when my race comes. Congratulations, enjoy that pizza!

  4. You did a great job and had a super time! Thanks for the recap and congrats on the BQ!! Oh, and I LOVE the blue glass medal. beautiful!

  5. I think you just wrote my new mantra- not playing it safe helps our dreams come true. Love this- I needed that little bit of reflection

  6. Great recap! Really, no chip time for a marathon. I didn't even know they had marathons without chips!

    Love the t-shirts your in-laws had. Meant to mention that before. How awesome to have them come to support you!!

    So, I know most of what you've recapped here so I won't make this comment so lengthy! Oh-but I love how you stuff those Gu's right in your shirt. I never thought of that. I usually pin two of them to the front of my shorts with safety pins and then peel them off. Then since I run with the Groovy Run shorts most of the time I put one in the back pocket. Never thought of stuffing them in my shirt! Great pic!!

    Again, great job of working this through. Not full of excuses, not full of justifications, just full of determination:)

  7. Awesome race recap! I was sooo soo hot! Congrats on an amazing race...I love what positive self talk does, and that for every neg thing you said 2 positive!! I'm stealing it!

  8. Until this year, my problem has always been that I ran races slower than I was capable off. Sure, I would feel tired at the end, but really very comfortable until mile 24 or so. Not how a race should be ran. This year I took many risks in racing, and they paid off. However, I think the marathon is trickier. You can fake it in a shorter race including the HM, but in a marathon if you start too fast and use up your glycogen, you are screwed. I can only imagine the agony of the last miles. But, they only made you stronger for your next race. I do admire how you go after your dreams. You learn so much about yourself in tough races and you never gave up. No doubt you have a sub 3:15, and a sub 3:00 after that!.
    Also, you look like such a triathlete with your broad shoulder and muscles, I think you would do great in tris.

  9. Reading your story and seeing your splits, I was placed right back in my first marathon…5 seconds per mile off your pace for the first half, though, and slightly more in the second half. Learning those same darn lessons!

    You are incredible and inspirational, Amanda. And you worked that marathon like nobody's biz. You are a BQing woman! And I have no doubt that you will attain your goals :)

  10. Embarrassed to post your splits?!?! Are you crazy, woman?!?! Those are some impressive times! You should see mine. Bahaha!

    You know, there is NOTHING that you can do about the weather. Apparently 60 degrees is OPTIMUM and anything over that, and your times are going to suffer. I found a chart on it before my race and tried to poo poo it... But it was in the 70s during my marathon too and well, yeah... It was pretty right on. I was hurting.

    And my bet is that with the heat and how tired you were... you would have ripped your ear buds out in frustration. Or maybe that's just something that I would do (did). Ha!

    Great job, Amanda. You look amazing in your pictures too. Wow!

  11. What a great support crew you had there!

    And I never understood how people can run without music. Even if you turn it off during the high points, but it's the quiet times during a race that would get me.

  12. A huge congratulations to you! Sounds like success to me for sure! And another BQ for you. Woohoo!!

    Lovely medal - and fabulous pictures. Our coast is definitely a great setting for race photos. I can't believe you didn't buy any from Boston! When I finished the Princess I bought EVERY SINGLE PHOTO! .... and then burned it onto a disc twice just to be safe!

    Way to go!!

  13. "Not always playing "Safe" is part of what helps us make our dreams come true and discover that the unexpected is POSSIBLE!" -- love that!! Great recap!

  14. Great great post!!!!! I think you are thinking this through in a very healthy way. I wish I could have though this clearly about my marathon. In hind sight I wish I could have given myself the permission to just run my first marathon with no time expectations but I also know it that quality that will help me reach my goals without quitting. I continue to learn from you in every post!!!! I am determined to be gentler on myself the next go around!!! Thx A. Xx

  15. You did AMAZING and your self talk is AWESOME! Racing after all is just a moment in time-not who you are but what that moment captured. And frankly it captured strength, grit and determination. All of which, to me, are far more important than shaving 15 minutes off a time. You go girl. On to your next moment.

  16. Great job. No, marathons are never easy, and you never know what you are going to get! Enjoy the high!!!!!
    Drea www.twomotivate.com

  17. Amanda, I tried to +1 this, but it wouldn't work for me.. :(

    SO PROUD of you for your HARD work and for not holding anything back. You have what it takes, and you learned some great things this race.

    Your photos tell a beautiful story filled with mix of emotions. Racers understand the full spectrum you went through. I am confident you'll be able to get into Boston if you want to!!

    Awesome medal! I hope to have one like it next year :))

  18. Woohoo! Congrats on your race! You did awesome!!! I am so happy for you!!
    I loved reading your race report and how you broke it down into things that went well and things that you learned. Awesome!

  19. I always say there's nugget I learn about myself with every marathon I do - you had many and a day that I get to learn more about myself is freaking awesome, yes?? Yes! Congrats again Amanda, this time for coming away with so much insight and knowing what now works and doesn't. That 3:15 is inside you, I know it is...never lose the faith!

  20. New reader! Love this re-cap. Everything you said is perfect.

    Great race! I am incredibly impressed. You did amazing and there will be so many more marathons ahead to conquer all of your goals.

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  22. I'm so unbelievably proud of you, Amanda. What an inspiration you are...especially to a gal like me in Denver who finally got off her butt for the first time in AGES this weekend. Thanks to you and your fabulous blog, I'm happily trailing again! XOXO, M

  23. Great race recap! While it does seem like you suffered a bit during the 2nd half, overall it seems like the race went great! a 900 person marathon sounds really small, I think that would be too small for me. It doesn't surprise me that you could have used your tunes, you must have been running alone a lot of the time.

    Your quote about marathons not being easy is so true! Great pic at the end with the thumbs up and your kids, enjoy the after race feeling!

  24. What a fantastic race report and what a great race you ran. Yes you went out fast and hung on for dear life, probably ran out of glycogen etc.but I think you learned a lot about how tough you are when you need to be. Really good to know and call upon in future races. My biggest breakthrough race was the result of me going out too fast and just hanging on for dear life. I was one of those zombies walking across the finish line with agonising cramps but I'll never regret it. You left NOTHING out there - all those months of training and you just WENT FOR IT. I am so impressed. Your 3:15 will come but you have succeeded in pushing yourself! Well done!

  25. Thanks for the great post. Congrats on another BQ- even if it wasn't the 3:15 you wanted, it was still a great time!

  26. Sounds like you ran the kind of race we all wish we could, even without the negative splits. Great job!!

  27. I know they aren't what you were hoping for but your splits are amazing!!! You qualified! The weather can be such a factor...minus the heat you would have rocked it even more!!!

    I would buy that race photo...you look amazing...look at those muscles!!!

  28. Congratulations! Great run and a great report as well! You are very fast! That is a very cool medal! Rest well!

  29. Wow I can't get over how what a muscle mom you are! Congrats on your race regardless of missing the PR.. we never know what will happen that day of the race and each one teaches us such precious things about ourselves and the sport. You're amazing!

  30. congrats on your race!! Your last thumbs up photo depicts post-race bliss:):)

  31. Your pics are gorgeous! You look fierce in the one official photo, I love it! I think the one where your little one jumps onto the course with your hubby is so sweet, you've got a great support system.

    Your accomplishment last weekend is an amazing one, and I am so proud of you for pushing through the discomfort. One day we will figure out how to master these marathons and kick their butts and not our own!

  32. i know you have 3:15 in you and a sub 3 as well!! I actually love what you said about going out at 7:30 and taking a risk. It wasn't unrealistic for you so that was the key...you went for it...and that is what I think we should all do. Your splits are amazing for hitting the wall...you can tell you were trying to hold onto it as best you could. Cant wait to hear what is next for you. Congrats, Amanda. You are a force to be reckoned with mentally and physically!! What a gorgeous medal, by the way!!

  33. Oh my gosh. I loved this post. You did so well. When I came to that last paragraph, I read the first sentence and literally said to myself, "if it were easy, everyone would do it" and then 2 sentences later- BAM- you said it. I was telling myself that a lot at the end of my last race. So true.
    That medal is AWESOME! Is it plastic or glass? Whatever it is, it's beautiful and different! Congrats again.

  34. congrats on another finish!!!! did you like running a smaller race? I have actually wondered if this would be better for me than the really large marathons to ensure i do run my own race.

    I say even with the slow down, holy COW you are fast!! congrats!

  35. You are truly amazing. The heat TOTALLY plays a factor in performance and is a shock to the system. But, it is a learning experience and to run that fast, BQ and still know you can do more is an easier lesson to take!! :)

    Love the pictures, can I have your body please?! I would've bought all the photos if I looked like that!

  36. Great post! And great race! Way to go! You should be proud!!! On your way to Boston!!!

  37. I have heard great things about the race. Known a few whom have done it and really enjoyed it. It also a rare Saturday one as well.

    Great job! You look very strong running it.

  38. loved this post.
    you are awesome. you know that already...but i'm sayin' it because i wanted to hear myself say it. congrats on the marathon...but more importantly, congrats on the next one that you're going to smash because of what you learned on this journey.

  39. also...i'm getting ready to cut my legs off.

  40. Great great race report!! Congrats on the BQ, even if the race wasn't what you hoped. And heat is the WORST. I'm so sorry you had to dea with that!!

    And that medal is AWESOME!

  41. waaaahooooo! BOSTON!!!
    I am with Jess. I would have bought all the pics!
    Love reading this report!
    no giving up ever...

  42. Congrats on your Boston Qualifying, that's awesome. And on racing strong. I love your insights and honesty with your own performance, I think that's what truly marks out a great athlete in my mind. You ran a great race (I would love to do a 10k at your pace, LOL) congrats!

  43. I'm so glad that you can see the positives and the learning experiences that came with the marathon! I would still kill for your time. And I know that you'll reach your goal of 3:15. I totally believe that you have it in you! And I loved that you just went for it! Big dreamers and big success stories are always risk takers and hard workers. It sounds like the weather just didn't play out. I'm always in awe of your positive attitude. Congrats and great job!
    Love ya!

  44. you didn't quit! that is a victory in itself. a 3:30 is still a strong run and you are definitely capable of that 3:15. you are so toned in that picture! i hope those gu's in your bra didn't chafe... eeks! :)

  45. Sorry I'm just now catching up ... GREAT JOB!!! WOW, great time! I know it's not what you wanted, but still ... WOW!!! And the medal is really cool, kinda see-through like a yo-yo! My splits used to look EXACTLY like this. I really turned it around and took a ton of minutes off of my time by starting my first few miles 1:00 to :45 slower than the rest. Seems to really give me a ton of energy at the end. Great job though!!!

  46. Like your second bullet says, you took a risk. A risk that was intensified with the heat. Sure everyone runs in the heat. They also run slower. I'm still gonna give you an A. Grasshopper.

  47. Even though you didn't quite hit your goal--you did great and I"m glad you've been able to see the positives and learn from what you wish would have been different :)

  48. Congrats on your BQ! Not going out too fast is a really hard lesson to learn and one that I've struggled with for a long time.

  49. This is a great race report and you're so good and breaking it down and getting the lesson out of your experiences. Love your attitude!

    It's great that your father in law took pictures and made t-shirts!

    That's a very cool medal you got!

  50. excellent post - taking what you can from the not so good and applying it to next time is always a good thing! you have a great positive attitude :)

    LOVE the medal.

  51. A www you did great. Heat bites plain and simple. Congrats on pushing thru those conditions!

  52. AMAZING!! You are so incredible Amanda!! Congrats on an AWESOME race :) P.s. can I have your arms please? Thanks...

  53. Awesome recap!
    Congrats again! You look amazing in the official photo you bought!
    I believe in learning from every race or training run. That's how you get better, stronger and faster. Though you are waaayyy faster than me :)

  54. WELL STINKING DONE, my lady! I'm ding-danged proud of you. Very very pretty medal too. Makes me want to come and run it. You're a rock star!

  55. Awesome recap!!! Love the list of pros and cons. I'm pretty sure I could list all those from each race too! Love the pic u bought too!!!

    And BQ?!?!? Sweet! And you'll get that 3:15, no worries. :)

  56. I am SO proud of you!!!! Just catching up on blogs now. You may not have run the race exactly how you wanted but damn you did great!! Way to go on the BQ. You can hit that time in Boston ;)

  57. Love the race report and good for you for going for it! Great job!

  58. Yours was a great recap to read just before I run the Kona Marathon (June 26). Congrats on a great finishing time!