Race Recap: Portland Marathon Half!

Hello, Portland!

This was my first time to Portland. In fact, my first time ever to the Pacific North West area, which was one of the reasons I chose this race. Ever since I started really getting into running about two years ago, I’ve decided that my favorite thing ever (ever, ever!) is to run in new places.

So, I loved Portland. I’ll just start with that. The sense of community is amazing, and this definitely showed during the race as well. Friendly faces, kind volunteers, just an overall “nice” vibe. Even my Uber driver on race day was so nice and chatty that we took a wrong turn (I didn’t mind the extra time in the warm car)!

Which brings me to race day. I could blab on about the entire trip – biking around Waterfront Loop, eating about a million delicious food items, my awesome thrift shop find (boots!), the ease of public transportation… BUT! Let’s stick to it… πŸ™‚



So, I woke up at 4:00 am on race day. I know that, to a normal person, this sounds far from an enjoyable hobby, but I love early mornings (once I have my coffee!). So I have my coffee, scroll Instagram, slowly get ready (I like giving myself plenty of time to dilly-dally, which is my actual profession). I had already “scheduled” an Uber driver to pick me up at 5:30 so that I could get downtown before the recommended arrival time, 6:00 am. The Uber driver was extremely friendly and had the car nice and warm. It was 40-50 degrees at this point, which is FREEZING for this Texan.

Pre-race, in my ill-fitting “throw-away” jacket! All smiles!

I brought a “throw-away” jacket to wear and toss when I warmed up, and I’m glad I did. I had lots of spare time and wasn’t miserable. I even hung out in an AWESOME running shop (called “Foot Traffic”) that was so incredibly kind enough to open extra early for people like me who like warmth, an actual restroom, and browsing running gear.

So, the time came to get to our corrals – I was in corral “A” (the first corral, closest to the front). I’m not sure how they assigned corrals and I’m really not sure how I ended up with the speedsters, but I was happy to start towards the front! I warmed up a bit, just skipped around and kind of pretended to know what I was doing compared to the speedsters. I noticed a woman with only a tank and shorts on who was practically hyperventilating she was so cold, so I gave her my throw-away jacket. I felt fine and was just ready to start at this point! Hooray for adrenaline! I put on my tunes, secured my mittens, had a little chat with the fellow next to me, and waited for my time to cross the Start line!

Excited for the race to start!

The race scenery was great and there were lots of people cheering – not the entire way, but a good portion of the Start and Finish and some spots in between. You had the option to personalize your Bib, so everyone was shouting your name and it was awesome!!! It took a few people to shout “Go, Jenna!” before I realized they weren’t all mind readers… oh yeah, my name is on my Bib… πŸ™‚

There were a few unique bands along the way, pirates, and lots to look at. I heard the course changed and, in previous years, you went over an amazing bridge, so I did miss out on that but I truly enjoyed the course. Time flew. I will forever remember every view, friendly face, and pirate I encountered.

I started off thinking I’d aim for an 8:20 minute mile average for the course of the run. So I started with that. But with the cool weather and the adrenaline, I felt great! I didn’t want to burn out, though, so I stayed close to 8:10-8:20 for quite a while. Soon enough, I was about half-way and felt great. It felt easy! Training under the scorching Texas sun is paying off?!Β So I stepped it up a bit and aimed for 8:00/mile. Then I continued to feel great – just gliding through, each mile passing before I knew it – so I stepped it up to sub-8.

That last mile, I passed many struggling runners who may have started too quickly. So THIS is what negative splits should feel like! This was my first time to really “get” the whole – “start easy, have fuel in the tank for later” thing. I DID have fuel in the tank and really stepped it up at the end. The last tenth of a mile I sprinted past two guys!. It felt AMAZING. This run felt like the definition of finishing strong. I ran MY race. I focused on MY pace and didn’t let anyone effect that. There were times when people around me were going a lot faster than I was, and I just stayed calm. There were also times when people around me slowed down to a pace that was not to my potential, but I did not let that slow me down.

The finish line was great – I grabbed my medal, took a photo, then walked on down to the goodies – a long sleeve tech-tee, and some really sentimental and unique items which I loved including a pendant, commemorative coin, a seedling (so cool!) and a pretty rose! I just loved everything! Including the donuts, bananas, yogurt, and about a million other snacks. πŸ˜‰

I learned so much during this race. I learned that saving some fuel for the last stretch is AMAZING and totally worth it. I learned to run MY OWN race – focus on myself and focus on enjoying my surroundings. I learned that running in cool temperatures is SPECTACULAR. I learned that I love Portland and I love running.

Finishing this race strong gave me a new confidence. I am more determined than ever to work hard and push towards my goals. I PROVED to MYSELF that I can be the runner that I want to be.

As for statistics and numbers, my official finish time was 1:45:16 which was good for 87th overall, 20th overall Woman, and 6th in my age group! I am happy just to run a strong race, but extremely happy with the numbers (for a pretty large race!) as well.

Thank you, Portland.



Thank YOU for all of your support and, of course, Lifelong Endurance for setting me up for success. It’s amazing what can happen when you trust the process and put in the WORK!

23 thoughts on “Race Recap: Portland Marathon Half!

  1. Great job on placing!! I am from the DFW area… Have you heard about the New Years Double (www.newyearsdouble.com)? Half or full marathon on EACH day. I may sign up for the eve half or full.. you should look into it if it fits your schedule!! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!!! I was actually looking into that! It sounds really neat! I don’t have anything major planned after Dec 10 😏😊 I think I’d want to do a double of some sort/both days 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow!!! That’s amazing. Best of luck on your 100 miler. You’ll do great. I am not, I’m doing the BCS marathon (half) on that same date, December 10th but hope to do Dallas next year! Are you doing Dallas?


      2. Thanks! The 100 is in Houston, and actually on the same weekend as Dallas and BCS. I’ve done Dallas a total of 3 times. This year they will finally go around White Rock Lake again, bc the last few years the course was kinda crappy lol…

        I currently live in El Paso btw, will be flying into San Antonio that weekend. If conditions for the 100 is absolutely horrendous, I might drop down to a 50 miler or marathon, or consider doing BCS (that’s one race I haven’t done yet!) or Dallas…

        I’ve heard many great things about BCS! you will enjoy it πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh awesome! Great to hear. I’ve heard good things as well. Can’t wait, I’ve never been to College Station. I hope the weather is nice for you for your 100 miler in Houston! I’ve heard good things about Dallas as well so I definitely plan to do it sometime!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on a great race! Glad you enjoyed your first trip to the PNW…really enjoy Portland too and ran a RnR half there a couple years ago. This marathon has a great reputation and is definitely on the “to-do” list for me as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations Jenna!!! You had great photos. You are a beautiful runner! It feels so great to finish strong!! I’m glad that you found that running in cooler weather has its benefits! You were wise to research cold starts to races and purchase a throw-away jacket!! That is great that you were then able to be a blessing to someone with it! I haven’t ventured out of Indiana for races though I’ve run at five half marathon venues. I’m sure it adds even more meaning to a race when you travel out of state. Are you used to “hills”? Is the Portland race considered hilly? Kentucky and southern Ohio are out-of-state races for me, but they have a lot of hills. I don’t think they would be enjoyable for me. So, I might try Michigan or Illinois. You had a fantastic time!!! I was finally able to run a sub-2 hour half last weekend, something that I thought I would never be able to do a year ago. Is there a time that you are shooting for, for your next PR?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!!! Congrats to you on sub 2-hours! I don’t run hills often but Portland wasn’t overly hilly. I LOVE out of state races. You’re right, it just makes it that much more memorable. My ULTIMATE half marathon goal is in the 1:30’s πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations! I love how your recap is so process-focused. You emphasize the pacing strategy and running your own race more than the actual finish time, which is so important. You look so strong in the photos too! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth! It’s funny, right before I published this I realized I hadn’t even added the part with my finish time and place! I went back in and added it in! I’m SO happy with my time, but like you said, even happier with how it felt!! Thank you and I hope all is well! Great job on the Army 10 miler and finishing strong despite the heat!!!


  5. Congrats on an awesome half! I have a friend who lives in Portland that I got to visit May 2016… it is such an awesome city and just beautiful. I tell everyone pics cannot do the pacific northwest justice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! You’re right! It’s a great city… beautiful, and I love the unique and genuine people and just overall vibe. And a lot of really good food!!! πŸ™‚


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