I've already written twice about Portland, so it's obvious that it was a great race for me. Yes, I said great. My time was good, but my experience was great.
Since I live north of Seattle, this was a destination race for me, and my mom and I drove down to Portland to make a long weekend of it. I had to work for a while on Friday morning, so we left around noon. Almost the first half of our drive was occupied with looking for a Starbucks off the freeway so we could get lunch! I was kind of obsessed with having a Starbucks breakfast wrap for lunch. They were having a special promotion for a few days in which you could buy a wrap for $2 if you bought a beverage as well. Yes, that's only 99 cents off (less than the cost of the drink), but considering that I would buy a drink anyway, it seemed like a good deal. And I really like their breakfast sandwiches.
I didn't want to drive off the freeway into Seattle, so by the time we located a convenient Starbucks (and it wasn't all that convenient), we were in south Tacoma. We each got a spinach, egg white, and feta wrap. And I bought us a pumpkin scone to share...all in the name of carb loading, of course.
We got to Portland around 4:30 and there was no rush hour traffic, so it was a quick and smooth arrival at the Benson Hotel. We got to our room and proceed to lay around for a couple hours until it was time for dinner. I had bought a Groupon for the London Grill (fancy hotel restaurant) for two prix fixe dinners, and that was our Friday night dinner. I'm not sure how good a deal the Groupon was (it was quite expensive), but I assume that the London Grill was not trying to rip us off, so that we did get a legitimate deal on the dinner.
Our dinner included a little salmon tartare appetizer (really an amuse bouche) with a glass of sparkling wine, a starting course of sweet onion soup, a main course of grilled flank steak with wild mushroom bread pudding and Hasselback potato, and dessert of caramel creme brulee. It was a little diversion from the strict "carb" type of dinner I would have otherwise have chosen...but we had a Groupon! We supplemented the carbs by eating two baskets of bread.
I had a good night's sleep and woke up without an alarm on Saturday. This was great because who knew how well I would sleep Saturday night!
Saturday morning the weather was partly cloudy, partly sunny...exactly what one would hope for on marathon day (Sunday). The weather forecast still showed a chance of rain on Sunday, but at least we had good weather to traipse to the expo! Last year it was raining already on Saturday. And everyone knows what happened on Sunday!
After a cup of tea, I headed out and picked up our breakfast at Starbucks...beverages and breakfast sandwiches (today we opted for the turkey bacon and egg wheat on whole wheat English muffin option). Before leaving, I regretted that I hadn't brought some ketchup along (this sandwich is really good with ketchup). However, I had an idea...I scanned the hallway for abandoned room service tray and happened to see one with a sealed, untouched ketchup still on the tray! I whisked it back to our room.
Later in the morning we headed south on Broadway to the packet pick-up and race expo at the Hilton Hotel. I quickly obtained my packet and then the fun began...the shopping. I really enjoy the Portland Expo. For some reason, it is one expo where I always find lots to buy! As I did this year. In addition to some body glide and Gu (I was down to one flavor so I got a few supplemental packets), I got a couple of official Portland Marathon items, plus a few other shirts from local running stores. I walked away with a big bag.
I also ran across the display for the race pace leaders. I was thinking about running with, or near, either the 4:00 or 4:10 pace groups (depending on how I felt). I asked which corral they would be in, and both pace groups were starting in D. I was assigned to C (because of my always optimistic time estimate of 3:55). I eventually (not at that moment but later) decided to move back a corral and start in D so I could be near my goal paces. It's not like I had "earned" my place in C other than by thinking highly enough of myself to give a rather unrealistic estimated time. (Of course I still put 3:55 on my Eugene registration form....Hope never dies!)
The other thing I did at the expo was register for the Eugene marathon next spring! In early October I got my rejection for the London Marathon (which is on April 22). I had already made a back-up plan, however, which was the Eugene Marathon on April 29. By the time I made this decision, the earliest registration period had ended. At the Portland Marathon expo, however, they were offering the same pre-October rate. So I went ahead and signed up. Eugene is on the books!
I found my mother in the hotel lobby and we headed off to get lunch. This time I had a Living Social voucher, for two combo lunches (sandwich, chips, cookie, drink) at the Bridge City Cafe. We finally found the cafe in the food court at Pioneer Place. What a great place! Super sandwiches and amazing cookies. We got one turkey and cranberry sandwich and one veggie sandwich and split both. For our cookies we got a chocolate chip and coconut cookie (I want coconut in all my choc chip cookies!) and a lemon cookie. They also put two regular chocolate chip cookies in the bag with our sandwiches. Every sandwich comes with a cookie and I don't think the kitchen knew that we had already ordered ours. (Extra cookies! Yea!)
We carried our lunch back to the hotel and ate while lounging in the room. Have I mentioned the heavenly Tempurpedic mattresses? I am in a dilemma whether I like those mattresses or the Davenport Hotel pillowtop mattresses the best!
Later we forced ourselves out of the room and walked to Nordstrom so I could try to spend my Nordstrom Notes. I was hoping to buy my favorite Lancome moisturizer but wouldn't you know, it's been discontinued. I liked the substitute they suggested but when I learned it was double the price I just couldn't stomach that and I decided to pass and keep using some stuff I already had at home. I then thought about buying a purse but even in their "regular" "not designer" handbags they were selling lines like Coach, and again, I didn't want to spend that much money.
I finally ended up buying a pair of sunglasses with reader inserts (yeah, like bifocals) so I could wear sunglasses and read at the same time when I had my contacts in. My eyes have fully succumbed to presbyopia and I really need some kind of reading glasses to see small print. I can adjust if I am wearing glasses (by taking off the glasses), but with contacts I am completely stuck. These kind of sunglasses are a little hard to find so I was happy to buy a rather glamorous Kate Spade pair at Nordstrom!
Then it was back to the hotel for more lounging before dinner. (Hey, I was resting my legs for the marathon!)
We had dinner reservations at Pazzo Ristorante in the Vintage Plaza Hotel across the street. Shortly before dinner time I realized that I hadn't secured my coffee for the morning! I could make coffee with the in-room coffeemaker but I preferred to advance purchase an Americano at Starbucks, add my cream, and drink it cold in the morning. I just walked to Starbucks first then met my mother at the restaurant.
Pazzo Ristorante was really busy the night before the marathon. We got seated right away (I had a reservation) but the whole dining process took a long time. Luckily there was bread....
We started with a salad that had dates and roquefort cheese on it. Really tasty. I think dates are good pre-race fuel! My mother gave me some of her dates as well.
We munched on bread while we waited a long time for our pasta to arrive. We both had butternut squash ravioli. I couldn't possibly consider anything else! I also ordered a side of braised kale. It was so good...I could have eaten twice as much. Although possibly that would not have been a good idea.
It was probably close to 9:00 by the time we got back to our room. The rest of the evening was pre-race prep. I took a shower (and soaked in the tub a bit to loosen up my legs), and laid out my clothes and race gear.
I modeled my bib and fuel belt.
I set three alarms for 4:45 (my phone, the room clock, and a wake-up call) and did a little reading before trying to sleep.
I didn't really want to go to sleep because that meant morning would be here soon and I would have to run a marathon.
**************This has been so long that I am going to stop here and move on to the race in another post!