At 6:30 a.m., Mom and I walked the two blocks from our hotel to the starting line of the 39th Portland Marathon. Typical to the rainy Northwest, a light drizzle was dripping from the darkened sky onto the brims of our hats. As we stood shivering (Please start the race soon! Please start the race soon!) in our classy garbage bag raincoats, a stiff wind blew down the street. The strong gust shook slimy leaves onto the stream of runners and I begin to wonder what in the world I had gotten myself into. It was one thing for my Mother, a woman who rips up 20 Saturday training miles on a weekly basis, to be out here gearing up for 26.2. But to me, a busy college student who (honestly) probably spent more weekends eating Honey Nut Cheerios than putting in training miles, the task of running my first marathon seemed extremely daunting. "Five, four, three, two, ONE!" the announcer yelled and suddenly, completely unperturbed by the wet and the chill, the crowd let out a gutsy roar. "Bring it on," one frighteningly buff, tattooed man gritted next to me. It was then that I realized I had just joined a whole new group of crazy-- the marathoners.
Because Portland is a city that prides itself in being eclectically eco-friendly, all aid stations were equipped with Ultima Replenisher ("a mineral supplement") and organic "Liquid Gold," by GloryBeeFoods (proudly based in my own Eugene, Oregon) gel. The course promised a multitude of musical entertainment, Portland style, including empowering drummers and several high school cheer leading squads. With my name on my number's tag, I was greeted to constant "Let's go, Ellie! Looking strong, Ellie!" which kept me going. I can't say whether it was the double caffeine shot of espresso goo around mile 13 (probably) or the joy of splashing through puddles (probably not), but after the first 13 miles I felt so great that I decided to negative split. And I did just that.
I finished my first marathon in 3 hours and 50 minutes, my magnificent mother pulling in a mere 9 minutes behind me. Had she not run the Lake Tahoe Marathon the weekend before, she probably would've beaten me. At the finish I was given a rose from the "Rose City" and, like the frugal college student I am, I stocked up on several free Voskos Greek Yogurt containers. After Mom and I met up at the end and walked through the (yes, still) drizzling rain, I felt not only a deep sense of accomplishment but also a deep connection with my Mom. Upon reflection, I still think you have to be a little insane to run 26.2 miles in the rain on a Sunday morning. However, if you can do this, you might also just be crazy enough to make it through college. Feeling empowered, I can't wait to run another!