2015 Rock’n’Roll Portland Half Marathon!


Hello friends!  Sunday, May 17th marked my TENTH Half Marathon – and my first time in the US state of Oregon!  (Remember my very first 13.1 HERE?!)  So without further adieu…here is my recap of my first race as a 2015 Rock’n’Blogger with the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon series!  If any of you have ever run a Rock’n’Roll race, then you know they are like no other – very organized, tons of crowd support, and a post race finish festival concert!  I had a really good experience when I ran my first RnR in New Orleans (2012) – so I was pretty excited to get to experience this new race in a new city with the hubby!


Race Goals!

Goal A: 1 hours, 58 minutes. This was my stretch goal, a strong 9:00/mile pace.

Goal B: 2 hours, 2 minutes.  This was my realistic goal – a “more comfortable” 9:18/mile pace, allowing for some cushion on those hills!

Goal C: 2 hours, 6 minutes.  This was my “it’s not my best running day – but I just ran 13.1 miles” goal.  If I could maintain a solid 9:36/mile, then I could reach this time!

Pre-Race Activities!

We flew into Portland Friday afternoon and arrived at the hotel by 2:30 PM.  Although check-in wasn’t until 4, the hotel allowed us to check-in early.  We decided to walk over to the expo, about 1.4 miles away.  The sky was dark with thick clouds threatening rain, but we were told this was typical weather and would likely not rain at all.  We walked past Union Station, across the Steel Bridge, and up to the Convention Center.  The expo had only been open for a couple of hours and was not very crowded, so we walked right in and picked-up to our packets, then the t-shirts, through the Brooks shop with Rock ‘n’ Roll themed merchandise, and then out to the vendor booths.  It was all very organized, and we were in and out in under an hour.  One thing I loved seeing was a huge countdown clock when you entered the expo…it made it all feel so real!  The hubby was lucky…he escaped out of there with only his bib and race bag.  I, on the other hand, got pulled in a little and ended up buying a new pair of Brooks Adrenaline shoes…and maybe a Rock’n’Roll Portland magnet.  Because…why not!?  I did, however, resist the urge to buy an entire suitcase full of new running outfits.

On Saturday morning, we walked from our hotel to the start line (1.5 miles) to see how long it would take us on race day. Quick and easy – no issues.  We then got the bright idea to drive the entire course, you know, just to psych ourselves out a bit.  I was driving, the hubby was navigating, and suddenly we both became 5-year old children…our vocabulary limited to two to five letter words.  “Easy and flat.”  “Turn.”  “Bridge.”  “Steep.”  “Oh man.”  “OK…”  “Catch our breath here.” “Holy crap.”  “Hill.”  “More hill.”  “Still.”  “Down?…nope!”  “Sh!t.”  “What did I do?”  “I might die.” “Ah…the end.”

Saturday night, we made good use of our hotel kitchenette and prepared our favorite protein/carb dinner while sipping on some Gatorade.  We’re very exciting…I know.  The best part of the night was when we decided to psych ourselves out EVEN MORE by searching for past bloggers who were lamenting their choice to run the race due to the hills.  For example – “Second, anyone who says this course isn’t hilly is a LIAR.”  And “Clearly mile 11 was the pit of the despair.  It wasn’t even uphill, I think it was even partly downhill. it was straight up JUST despair.  I got myself through Mile 10 and half of mile 11 by just promising myself that if I made it to the next aid station I could walk through it.  And walk through it I did.”

All very encouraging.


Race Day!

We set our alarms for 5 AM, ate our waffles, and were out the door by 6:50 AM. With a 30 minute walk to the start area in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, that would leave us with approximately one hour for bathrooms, gear check, and warm up.  We headed straight to the portapotty area, thrilled at the lack of a line since it was still so early.  Then we walked over to gear check, back to the portapotties for a bit of a wait, and with 10 minutes to go, over to the starting area.  We were assigned to Corral 4 – and were comfortable seeing the 1:45 pace group in front of us and the 2:00 pace group behind us.  I have NO IDEA what was going on with my phone…but it refused to pull-up RunKeeper (what I use to track my pace).  I think it was confused that we were no longer in Canada…  So in the last 10 minutes before the start, I re-started my phone twice, but to no avail.  I got my playlist ready, and decided that I would be creative and take a snapshot of my “stopwatch app” at every mile marker. The race started about five minutes late (honestly no big deal for the size of this race!), but then they played the national anthem, pumped up the music, and we were off!

The weather was playing games with us, again threatening to rain, though in the end I think I the clouds just wanted to hold on to their sprinkles.  Although the humidity did made for some crazy, curly, SWEATY hair and sticky shirts, the overcast skies allowed me to be fairly comfortable during the race.

Even though there were thousands of runners, they released the corrals like clockwork, and the first two miles were really manageable!  We were actually nervous about having to weave and slow down in the beginning, but had no issues with the wide streets and *mostly* honest runners about their time (although there were a few race walkers that we immediately came upon and passed…but hey…to each their own.)  Just after Mile 2, we headed up and over the Broadway Bridge.  It got a bit crowded on the bridge, but they strategically placed two photographers here, just in case you were starting to scowl.  You immediately beamed as you ran by, temporarily forgetting that you are one little sardine.  I used the next mile to mentally prep myself for the hill in Mile 3 – you know, the hill that almost made me pee my pants the day before?!  The. Hill. Not just any hill, but a small hill, twisting into a great big one, leading up to another small one!  This monstrosity lasted for a full mile.  Fortunately for the runners, this section of the course was OWNED by a huge cheering section – there were costumes, noise makers, signs, and plenty of hands to high-five!!!  These are people who voluntarily get up at obscene hours because they understand the special kind of crazy that is running past their doorsteps. Mad props, guys – you made my race.

I think my hill work has been insufficient, to say the least, because that hill kicked my butt. I did the best I could, but dang it was a tough hill!  In the end, it was manageable, I survived by only adding 45 seconds to my pace, and all was right in the world again.  I got back down to my previous running pace again, trying to make sure the 2:00 pacer never passed me.  And then the miles were flying by.  I realized that I was just focused on me – and quite enjoying the race.  Miles 4.5 – 10 were all rolling hills…but not nearly as monstrous on the pavement as what I had envisioned in my head.  There was another hill waiting at Mile 8, but I felt like a Super Mario Brother getting STAR POWER every time a spectator cheered for me, a child high-fived me, or I stepped on a “You Ate This Hill For Breakfast” chalk message.  I was having fun – still staying mentally positive even though my pace has lessened a bit.  Mile 10-11 was literally all downhill…and it was fabulous to just let loose!  This section was also fairly populated with spectators, but there were also LOTS of restaurants smells.  Instead of my normal “I want to eat the world” mentality, the smells actually made me sick to my stomach…so I couldn’t wait to get past it all.  Although flying down this hill was great for keeping me mentally charged (dropping my average by 30 seconds compared to the previous two miles), I think it trashed my legs for the final two miles.

The end of the flying spree leveled off into a slightly commercial/industrial section, winding its way to the Hawthorne Bridge.  As you come around the corner just after Mile 12, you look up and see people running on the bridge…and think…how the hell am I going to get up there?!  In reality, it was just a small ramp (~19 feet of elevation)…but I somehow missed the mile marker for Mile 12 and was really confused on my time.  To make matters worse, just past the start of the bridge, there was a DJ with some encouraging music and he announced…welcome to the LAST MILE.  You guys…runners math is real!  For the life of me I couldn’t remember where Mile 12 began, and so I had no idea if I was going to pull off a sub-2 hour finish.  However, there were more photographers placed at the farther end of the bridge, so my frown turned upside down.  As you come off the bridge, you do a small steep loop around the block, and suddenly you can see the finish area!!!  There were hundreds of spectators and a huge MILE 13 sign.  I booked it with everything I had left, which – let’s be honest…after a decent 13 miles, wasn’t much, but put my glasses on top of my head, put on a smile, and ran my heart out.

My splits were approximately { 8:23, 8:19, 8:42, 9:31, 8:42, 8:56, 8:49, 9:00, 19:02 for 2 miles…~9:31, 9:02, 19:54 for 2 miles…~9:57 }.


So how did I do?

This was an incredibly good race for me!  Not my best time, that’s for sure, but mentally speaking, this race was easy for me.  The miles flew by and my thoughts remained positive!  I think taking a full week off before the race in order to heal my side pain had worked wonders.

Time: 1:58:50
Overall: 1,438 / 5,863
Gender: 532 / 3,641
Female 30-34: 106 / 636

So how did the hubby do?

Amazing!!!  Freaking Amazing – he literally ate those hills for breakfast – and achieved a new Personal Record (PR) by 1 min, 23 seconds!!!

Time: 1:50:10
Overall: 729 / 5,863
Gender: 543 / 2,222
Male 30-34: 113 / 380

NVK Splits

Best Moments

Below are some of my favorites from the race:


There were tents with fun music and EXCELLENT course support along the way. One of the best courses I’ve ever run (out of 10) for spectator support.  The course itself was interesting – running over two bridges, and through the neighborhoods, although I have to admit that while I was in the zone between miles 4.5-10, I didn’t see much of anything else along the way, so I’m assuming it wasn’t a particularly ‘awe-inspiring’ course.  My only suggestion is that they could hand out a bag like some other races do for your post-race goodies so that we can take the wonderful finish items they’re handing out.  The only suggestion the hubby had was how narrow the first bridge was…if you got stuck behind a couple of people, there really was not room to squeeze by.  Also to note –  the aid stations seemed plentiful, although I carried my own water.  Oh yah…and the bib is HUMONGOUS (not a fan of this).  But to end on a good note, there were about a billion photographers on the course – always a plus.  At least one of them should be able to capture a pic of me that doesn’t make me look like I’m struggling through life.

Overall, I’m excited for another Rock’n’Roll race – I get to pick two more!

Post Race

At the finish, I was offered my medal, along with a bottle of water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, and food items – but it was so hard to grab all these things without a bag!  I figured I ran for the medal, so I should grab that first and drape it adoringly around my neck.  Then I grabbed a water, Gatorade, bagel, and a bag of Half Pops (popcorn kernels…which were delish!)  We weaved our way through the finishers chute, and out to the park.  There were THOUSANDS of people around.  We stopped under some trees to finish the bagels and stretch out a bit.  Then we headed back over to gear check to grab our things.  We walked around for a bit, taking pictures here and there (the Main Stage, the Brooks Inflatable Man, the PDX Carpet at the finish line!)  We were exhausted, and still had to walk 1.5 miles back to the hotel, so in the end we didn’t stay more than an hour.

25 Challenge

In my quest to run a half marathon in half the states….I have now completed State #4 – Oregon!  (Original Post HERE)  I also hit a milestone half marathon – #10!

Half Marathon #10!

Half Marathon #10!

photo via: fellow RnR Blogger - Andrew Rich

photo via: fellow RnR Blogger – Andrew Rich


If you want to read more from the #RockNBlog team, here are some options:

Andrew Rich’s photo essay (that’s where I got the awesome Medal-on-Carpet shot above!)

Sue @ Do Things Always (with VIP access)

Want to run a Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series race?  Use code SHOESTRINGS for $15 off registration!


Until the next race…




2 thoughts on “2015 Rock’n’Roll Portland Half Marathon!

  1. Pretty sure the mile 12 marker was missing entirely. I didn’t see it either. This course was so much better than last year’s!

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