Portland is one of my favorite cities to run. Not only is it scenic, the mystique and lore of running inOregon is unparalleled. My childhood hero’s, Bowerman and Pre, hail from these parts, and I found myself lost in reminiscences walking to the start of the Portland Marathon.
The race itself went well. I met many terrific folks along the course. It’s a new experience for me to run 26.2 miles while talking to people the entire way, but I’m getting more adapt at breathing between sentences. Some people have asked if it’s distracting, or if it slows me down. Yes, it slows me down, but it’s not distracting. I’d rather spend an extra ten or fifteen minutes on the course answering peoples questions and sharing a laugh or two than not talking to others. To me, it’s the right thing to do, it's what's in my heart.
My time today was decent, and I felt composed crossing the finish line. 3:45 seems to be about the pace I can comfortably hold and still feel fully recovered the next morning. The plan moving forward is to run the “live” Sunday marathons at a more natural clip, around 3:45, and then go at the group pace during the recreated marathons, which tend to be a bit more relaxed. Again, the Endurance 50 is about inclusion and camaraderie amongst all participants. The aim is to unite individuals in a supportive environment, to connect and share the running spirit together as a team.
Temperature crept up during the latter parts of the race today, and there was plenty of suffering going on the last few miles. I passed one older gentleman that was clearly having a rough go of it. He was hunched over, drenched in sweat, and barely shuffling along. I felt so sorry for him and offered some brief words of encouragement. He responded with a muted reply, but I couldn’t quite understand him. “I’m sorry, Sir, I couldn’t hear what you said.” He repeated himself, and I still couldn’t catch his words, though it sounded like something about perspiration or something. I moved in closer, “Could you say that one more time?” I thought I might be annoying him. “You…are an inspiration,” he said to me.
I lost it. To have this brave soul—a person in tremendous pain, a person who was giving it his all and struggling his hardest to reach his goal of making it to the finish line—call me an inspiration was too much. I lost it, and tears rolled down my cheeks.
Dear Sir, whoever you are, it is you who is the inspiration.
As my Dad is fond of saying, “It’s not how many times you fall down that matters, it’s how many times you get back up.”
And today in Portland, I watched a man get back up.