Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rock 'n' Roll Portland Recap

Rock 'n' Roll Portland was an ideal weekend getaway. My boyfriend booked a surprise massage for me on Friday morning, and it was the perfect way to relax and start the vacation. On our way south we stopped in Mount Vernon for brunch. Then we drove straight through until we reached our hotel in Portland. I had my much anticipated sushi dinner at a random restaurant picked from Yelp and it was delicious.

On Saturday we had kolaches for brunch. They were good, but not as good as in Houston. Someday I'm going to have to run the Houston Marathon just so I have an excuse to go and visit all my favorite food spots.

Next up was the Expo. Packet pickup was a breeze - no lines at all. It's been over a year since my last Rock 'n' Roll race (Philadelphia 2010) and I'm so happy they've started offering women's cut shirts. (Now if only Disney would make the switch as well.) I can't remember if Brooks was a partner yet in 2010 or if it was still Sugoi, but this was definitely the first time I've seen the Brooks Run Happy Cavalcade of Curiosities. The carnival-like set up was a fun addition to the Expo.

I'm a fan of second (and third and fourth) opinions, so I did a gait analysis. It was a really neat set up where they used tablets to enter your info, capture the video, and show you recommendations. I even got a follow up email afterwards with images and a link to my video.

In the official merchandise area, we had a laugh at the Brooks fitting rooms:

The mirrors also had cute sayings:

Wow! That makes you look really fast!

I bought a commemorative pin for my collection, then we went to check out the rest of the Expo vendors. I picked up some BodyGlide and made the rounds collecting free goodies like Clif granola bars, coconut water, Larabars, Sport Beans, and Cascadian Farm granola. It was one of the best hauls I can remember getting from an Expo.

After leaving the Expo we decided to check out the Portland Saturday Market, which turned out to be in the same location as the race start. There were already signs and rows of port-a-potties set up in preparation for the next day. I was glad to have a chance to scope out the area. The market itself was more interesting than I expected. We didn't buy anything (aside from a sweet potato cupcake for me) but I liked looking at the variety of arts and crafts.

My boyfriend spotted one of the famous pink boxes and we realized that Voodoo Doughnuts must be close by. Like good tourists, we went and waited in line. Eventually we left with our own pink box full of treats.

There wasn't anything else I particularly wanted to see or do, so we just grabbed some dinner before heading back to the hotel. Based on another Yelp recommendation, we visited the Good Food Here street truck pod. Almost all the trucks had something that sounded good, but I finally settled on a pork meatball banh mi from Lardo. Oh my goodness, this sandwich was so flavorful and delicious... easily the best thing I ate all weekend.

Back at the hotel, I had a donut for dessert. The concept - yeast donut topped with chocolate, rice krispies, and peanut butter - was better in theory than in execution, but at least it satisfied my sweet tooth. I laid out my things for the race, then spent the last couple hours of the night relaxing and reading A Game of Thrones.

On Sunday morning I woke up around 6am and noticed that it was gray and cloudy outside instead of sunny as I'd been expecting. I made a last minute decision to wear capris instead of shorts, and grabbed a couple of the hotel towels to bring along with me in case it really started pouring. I let my boyfriend sleep in and drove myself downtown. I have to say that I really enjoyed the set up and location of the race. Personally I didn't run into any issues with traffic, closed roads, or parking. Also the start area didn't feel congested or crowded at all. Sure, there were the usual port-a-potty lines, but aside from that there was plenty of space to move around. There was no feeling of being herded along.

Before the race

I was assigned to corral 2, but decided to move back to corral 3 since I wasn't going to be racing the race. And if things went well, then it's nicer to be the one passing than the one being passed. I started out thinking I was going to run at a 9 min pace, but I ran the first mile in 8:45 and only got faster from there. I felt comfortable, but was constantly worried about hitting the wall. I guess I need to be more confident in myself because I actually ended up running a negative split. It also helped that the major hill was in the first half of the race.

Speaking of hills, there were a lot of them but overall it wasn't too bad. The major hill around miles 5 and 6 was long, but not that steep so I was able to run the whole thing. I was pretty annoyed at the two spectators at different points on the course who were yelling "this is the last hill" and "it's all downhill from here" when it really wasn't. People, unless you absolutely, 100% know for sure from running the course yourself, please just stick with the generic "lookin' good".

Overall I think I ran a strong, consistent race. I felt great the whole time. If I had wanted to, I could have pushed myself harder, but I wasn't out to set a PR. I just wanted to enjoy the race then get back to marathon training. I did pick it up a bit at the end once I finally realized that I wasn't going to hit the wall. Also I must have done an awesome job running the tangents because my Garmin was exactly at 13.1 when I crossed the finish line.

Time: 1:46:21
Pace: 8:07
Overall: 923 out of 11017
Gender: 298 out of 7733
Division: 49 out of 895

Everything about Rock 'n' Roll Portland was so well-organized from start to finish that I really can't think of anything about the race that needs to be improved or changed. Personally I probably won't run it again because the five hour drive is just a little too long. If I go that far south again I want to try a different race. But I would definitely recommend Rock 'n' Roll Portland as a great race worth running.

I didn't stick around very long afterwards because I wanted to get back to the hotel and see my boyfriend. I refueled with the chocolate milk that was handed out after the race, and the rest of the donuts.

I have to say that while the Voodoo donuts were good, and I give them points for creativity, they really didn't wow me enough to go back. Kind of like Doughnut Plant in New York. I'm glad I went once to give it a try and say that I've been there, but it's not worth waiting in line for overpriced donuts when I have access to a fabulous local donut shop.

Anyway, that basically wraps up the weekend since there's not much to say about the drive home. Rock 'n' Roll Portland is done and now there's just one month until I go for double the distance in Seattle.


  1. Sounds like an overall great race. I know what you mean about the donuts, so many of those places aren't that great once you actually try them.

  2. i heard some crazy things about the hills in this race, your time was amazing!

    I was in portland over cinco de mayo weekend for a race there and also went to voodoo doughnuts. I much prefer "cake doughnuts" so the voodoo ones were okay. Like you said, good to say I went, but not worth standing in line again for.