The Portland Century – Part 1

I’m writing this recap freshly showered, foam rolled, fed and wearing my compression tights. I have a few hours before my massage. When I signed up for the Portland Century Ride I had only one goal:

I’m not a fast cyclist. I’m pretty steady and consistent rather than speedy. I had no expectations of completing the ride in a certain amount of time. I just wanted to complete the 70 miles successfully. Michael and I woke up early Sunday morning, 6 a.m. early, and ate our normal breakfast before heading downtown to PSU. Michael was silly in his suggestion “we just bike from the house to downtown.” Hmm nah. If I’m going to do 100 miles it’s going to be on a course not commuting home. 😉

We parked the car and checked our bags at PSU and then we were off!

It was about 7:45 a.m. and 65 degrees–no need for arm warmers or warm cycling gear at all! Michael and I set out following the yellow signs. I almost bit it right off the bat. We were biking down the street from PSU when suddenly the street ended in a sidewalk. Michael went over the sidewalk with his bike and was okay. I knew I would not be okay and I slammed on my brakes–of course forgetting I was clipped in. I came “THIS CLOSE” to just falling over two blocks from the start. Luckily I caught myself and did not crash at the start of the race.

We rode through downtown in the quiet of early Sunday morning. They had part of Naito Parkway closed near the waterfront. We biked along the water and then up to the top of the Steel Bridge.

I’ve never ridden over the top of the Steel Bridge–just on the lower deck. It was a little nerve wracking being that high up. We got to the Rose Garden transit area–part of where we’ve been riding during our training! It felt comfortable and familiar.

The trail changed from the familiar after that. We biked up Interstate to Greeley-which is a very slow, long, gradual hill up passed the Adidas Campus.

I’ve never biked over in that area. It was really scenic. It winded around to Overlook/Willamette and overlooked downtown and the city. I wasn’t familiar with that area at all and basically just followed the guy in front of me.

The bike paths through the neighborhoods in North Portland ended when we got to I think Columbia and the route turned onto a path that wound through the area to the first Rest Stop.

So far I was feeling really good. I think the first rest stop was at about Mile 10.

Bike N’ Hike (a local bike store here) was one of the sponsors and they had a booth set up helping people fix bike issues–which made me feel pretty safe and confident that if something happened along the course I’d be okay. I honestly wasn’t that hungry at the first Rest Stop. Our breakfast was pretty big and filled me up. But I did eat a few donut holes…

There was a lot of options but like I said, I wasn’t hungry. I skipped the Larabars, bananas and bagels. Michael had a bagel with peanut butter on it and then we continued on.

The first half of the ride was the most comfortable. The weather was perfect–not too hot yet. We left the area and biked through winding roads in the middle of nowhere and finally looped around to Marine Drive! Familiar territory!

For most of this part, including the Marine Drive path, I drafted off a group of riders in front of me. They were going about my pace and it made me work less! Smart Lisa. I barely had to pedal. It was a nice break. After Marine Drive the route diverted. The 33 Mile Route people crossed Marine Drive to the 1-205 Path and the 70/100 Mile Route people turned left onto Marine Drive. This was a pretty long chunk in areas I wasn’t entirely familiar with it. This part was a bit hard–my lower back started to ache. I was worried and anxious about it but tried to put it out of my mind.

We made our way to Blue Lake Park– the second Rest Stop. By that time we’d done about 24 miles I think.

I got off the bike and used the port-a-potty (which was super fun when you’re wearing bib shorts under your jersey!), reapplied lots of sunscreen and stretched a lot. At this Rest Stop I ate two mini cookies, half a banana, 1/4 of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and some cantaloupe slices. I just wanted a little pick me up before we got to the hard part…

 To Be Continued….

QUESTION: If you are a cyclist, which part is more challenging: hills or sitting in the saddle for long periods of time?


Hood to Coast – Leg 36

I took that picture right after we dropped off Daryl at his last Leg. I don’t know if you can tell how exhausted and sore I feel from that picture, but trust me–I was. It was COLD at the last Exchange zone. When we had dropped James off at the Exchange before mine, it was hot and I was sweating from the sun. I was applying  sunscreen like mad, and I was worried that the two water bottles I had on my hydration belt would not be enough water. I was considering taking a small bottle of Gatorade and just carrying it while I ran. That’s how hot it was.

So I was completely surprised when we drove 7 miles to my last Leg and I was freezing! I wasn’t sure what to do. I figured I’d warm up when I started running. However, I was worried about the possibility of the beach being cold. I did not want a repeat of the hypothermia I had at Reach the Beach.

I used the bathroom twice while we waited for James. He thought his last Leg (about 7 miles) would be done in 60 minutes or so. I decided to quickly change to the damp clothes I wore for my second Leg since they were warmer. It felt gross and clammy, but I was freezing. Who has two thumbs up and is ready to kick ass? This girl!

I was worried about my running ability. I tried not to think about it. I tried to tell myself to just relax. It was hard.

I waited with Janell and Allen at the Exchange. James showed up ahead of his estimated time.

James arrived! By this time my legs strangely felt loose. I guess I was excited.

So Leg 36 was a little longer than my last, and had some elevation in it.

Once James tagged me, I took off. My legs felt okay and I surprised even myself!

The first part of my Leg was on an old logging road through a forest that had been clear-cut. The picture below was all I could find when I did a Google search. I wasn’t able to take many photos while running.

The old road was part gravel with lots of uneven ground and rocks. It was also uphill. And brutal. My ankle was was really hurting me and I was glad that I had wrapped it with an Ace bandage before I ran. I knew I’d need all the support I could get. I tried not to focus on the pains in my body and just run. I took a few photos once the trail ended and I got to the road. None of them turned out very well, but this is where I was running:

Once the log trail ended, I was on the road again and it was all downhill. My legs were hurting but I was running pretty fast downhill. I was also really hot. The temperature on Leg 36 changed 4 times. It started freezing, then was blazing hot, then comfortable, then cold. I had to take off my jacket as I was running because I was so uncomfortable. That took quite some skill: removing race bib, removing jacket, re-pinning race bib, trying to run while hold jacket. Annoying! But necessary.

My legs were okay as I was running downhill. I saw a professional photographer and tried to smile and not look totally retarded. 🙂 I was still going downhill.

Then the treeline cleared. I was out of the forest and running down the hill into Seaside. Seaside!!! I was almost to this spot, I knew it:

But I wasn’t yet.

I tried to inhale and smell the ocean but I couldn’t smell it yet. I kept running. The ground was finally fairly flat and I noticed that my thighs were locking up as I continued to run. My ankle hurt. My knee ached. I knew I was in bad shape. I ran passed miles of cars and vans stuck in traffic. I ran through the winding route through Seaside. I passed a parking lot full of vans and thought, “I must be close!” But I wasn’t. The route kept going.

Earlier in the day Michael had texted me saying he saw the bridge I’d run over to get to Seaside. I’d asked him how flat it was. He said it wasn’t. I had not expected to see this crazy pedestrian bridge! It was an upside-down “U” shape. Meaning straight up one side and then straight down the other. When I turned the corner and saw that bridge I almost started crying. I couldn’t believe it. I was so close and my running was resembling limping more than anything. I felt like I was dragging my dead leg behind me. Pull it together! DON’T CRY!

I glanced at my heart rate monitor to see how long I’d been running and was so disappointed…I knew I was running slow. I stopped the negative whining in my head, even as people passed me left and right, and told myself that at least I was running.

I kept thinking “I can do this. I am almost done. I am almost there. I’m almost to the finish. One more mile.”

I was so emotionally distraught.

I kept running.

I was NOT going to melt down and give up when there were only 2 miles left! I’d come so far! I can’t give up now. I can’t. I won’t.

The volunteers were all really supportive and nice, telling me “Good job” and “You’re almost there!” Complete strangers walking or sitting on the sidewalks in town cheered for me and told me to keep going. I could do this! Dammit!

I started to see sand on the ground in places. That meant was getting close. I saw the horizon and a clearing up ahead. I kept running/limping. And then I could see the boardwalk. The last MILE of Leg 36, running along the beach on the Seaside Boardwalk! I could see it!! I was almost there!