(#17) Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland – Part 1 (Inclines, Baby & Trying a Pacer)

Sunday, May 20th, 2012
Runners going uphill at Rock n Roll Portland half marathon 2012

This photo doesn’t do it justice. This was one of the small hills – around mile 10!

Everything is a hill! So, much. incline.

At the beginning of the race, I decided to stick with the 3 hour pacer and see how long I could keep up with her. (I knew it wouldn’t be the whole way, but figured I could hold on for a while.)

While waiting in our corral (for 30 minutes) before crossing the start, a few of us were asking about the strategy Maryalicia would take. She said that since the first half of the race was uphill (first half only – ha! So we thought…), she’d take it easy. Her plan was to run negative splits.

I am not a negative splits kind of girl. I know that sometimes they make logical sense, and more power to those people who can do them. I’m sure I probably could train myself to do them if need be. Right now, I find them incredibly stressful.

We did the first mile in a little over 14 minutes. (That’s right – over 14 minutes!) I’ve had plenty of 14 minute (and slower) miles in my life, but I like to do my first one around 12 minutes (when I’m trying to push myself in a race). Already I felt behind, which was stressful. I was chasing minutes from the beginning.

I will say the pacer was right when she said that if you do the first mile slowly, you’ll be less tired as you go. I usually start to slow down after the first 5k, but I felt pretty consistent and less tired through probably mile 6. Of course, it’s easier to feel less tired since we’re going slower than normal. That whole speeding up thing is when I don’t do well.

I ended up running sort of ahead of the pace group in miles 2 – 5, because I was stressing myself out about the 14-minute mile. Maryalicia blew past me uphill in mile 6. (I knew it would happen. She was strategizing better than I was, and she was better trained.) All of her runners had fallen off! Not one runner was with the 3:00 pace group anymore. I ended up seeing people from the group later in the race, which was fun.

As I was going up one of the many hills, there were a couple of cars sneaking around one of those roundabout things. I didn’t think too much of it, figuring they were some kind of special exception vehicles – race vehicles of some kind, or someone going to an emergency. After all, we were on a closed course. It couldn’t be normal traffic going through, could it?

waterfront in Portland at the Rock n Roll Portland half marathon 2012

Good morning, Portland.

Yes it could! I didn’t find out until I was running downhill (finally!) in mile 7 or 8ish when a cop stopped me! I had a nice pace going; I was still chasing minutes from earlier in the race. Out of nowhere in the middle of what was looking to be a 12-minute mile, a cop put his hand up right as I got into the intersection. I had to stop dead in my tracks, super confused.

He started letting cars through the intersection! What is happening here? I crept up right to the edge of the intersection. Both police officers were all, “Ma’am, we need you to stay back.”

I contemplated running anyway. The cars were moving quite slowly. I’d seen runners completely disobey stops before on courses that were supposedly closed. I didn’t know the rules of this situation – if I could get in trouble, or get ejected from the race. I also didn’t want to get run over by a car just to save a minute from my time.

A lot of people complained about the stops after the race. Some people were stopped 6 times! People in the 2-hour range got stopped, so it wasn’t only happening to us slower people.

Around the next mile marker, I thought, “Forget this” (as far as caring about my time). I definitely wasn’t trying to PR on this super hilly course, but I was trying to push myself for at least a good-ish time in comparison to my other ones. When the cop stopped me, I was already 2 – 3 minutes behind where I wished I was. Once he stopped me, I knew I wasn’t going to be finishing in a better range than usual.

The traffic stops became a game for me for the rest of the race. I may not have been chasing a time anymore, but I did not like stopping. Anytime I was coming up to an intersection, if I saw the officers starting to shift towards us to say stop, I’d yell out “no, no, no!” sprinting on through.

How do I finish? I’ll continue tomorrow in part 2.

4 thoughts on “(#17) Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland – Part 1 (Inclines, Baby & Trying a Pacer)

  1. Michelle Fitzgerald

    Hi Aurora! This is Michelle. We walked from the hotel to the gear check area and talked. I wanted to look this up today so I could start following! It was very hilly! I looked at the elevation maps and the course had a 338 foot climb. I think most of that seemed to be in mile 4! And I agree with the craziness of the traffic. I was in the two hour block and got stopped 3 times. Not cool! Can’t wait to read more about your runs! For me, the next stop is Seattle Rock N Roll. Good luck on the 52 weeks of racing! I thought I was doing good with 1 per month!

    1. Aurora De Lucia

      I’m so glad you said hello here on the blog!

      You are doing great with 1 a month. That’s still a huge, awesome goal!

      I’ll be at Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle as well. Hope to see you there!

  2. Maryalicia Verdecchia

    Great job on #17. Sorry I lost you, but finishing is all that matters to this penguin! Can’t wait to read the second half and thanks for the friending. I look forward to following your journey.

    ‘Waddle on’ John Bingham


    1. Aurora De Lucia

      I was sorry that I lost YOU! You were the one telling me at the beginning that if only I started slow and stuck with you, I could do it. And maybe I could’ve. But I was stubborn, and silly, and nervous about having to make up time in the end.

      I may not have phrased it the right way in the blog, but I knew you had a smarter, more logical plan. I knew you’d pass me, and you did (and you should’ve, of course).

      You had amazing energy! And I probably should’ve just listened and stayed right with you. (I still would’ve lost you, anyway. I’m not fit enough for a 3 hour half with all those inclines.)

      (I mention you again in tonight’s post. I thought it was awesome that you were still around at the finish!)


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