Race Report: Portland Rock ‘n‘ Roll Half Marathon

A little known fact about this Floridian currently parading as a Texan is that I’m actually an Oregonian. Did ya get all that? I was born in Portland, Oregon and lived there for 18 months before my family moved to Frankfurt, Germany. And in case you aren’t following – yes, I’m a military brat.

After Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas last fall, I was so excited about adding to the RnR runcation experience and looked into other cities I could raIMG_0567ce and visit. Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland was the right time of the year, gave me the opportunity to visit the city I was born in but didn’t know much about, and visit my extended family that lived close by. So plane tickets were purchased, hotel reservations were made, and off we went! We flew into Portland Saturday morning and headed straight to expo. Ohhh RnR expos…you have an undeniable and incredible knack for getting a good grip on my wallet! I went a bit nuts with the branded merchandise (tank top, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, 2 hats, drinking glass, and a magnet…#sorrynotsorry). I also picked up The Stick, a massage stick that looks like a torture device but actually helps in muscle recovery quite a bit.

Our hotel was about half a mile from the start and finish areas near Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park. It was really nice not having to worry about transportation to and from the race. The weather was a perfect 54° F with partly sunny conditions. I went into this race pretty blind and didn’t study the course. Since I wasn’t familiar with the city, I figured it wouldn’t really help me that much anyways.

The first few miles led us up Naito Parkway and over the Broadway Bridge. We ran through east Portland and beautiful neighborhoods (Irvington, Kerns and Buckman), through stunning Laurelhurst Park, down Hawthorne and across the Hawthorne Bridge to finish downtown near the waterfront. My favorite parts of Start bannerthe course were running through the different neighborhoods and gorgeous Laurelhurst Park. There were more spectators along this course than other half marathons I’ve done. My favorite band along the course was the Unit Souzou Japanese drumming band near mile 5. I still regret not stopping to get a video of them – they were awesome!  I loved that there were the specific cheer sections with local groups, but also a lot of residents chose to be outside their homes and businesses during the race to cheer. It felt like there was great community support for this race. While the course was beautiful, it was very hilly. My Garmin recorded 700 feet of elevation climb over the length of the course, but it felt like much more than that! I wish RnR would put the elevation map on their website before the races so runners could physically and mentally prepare for the climbs.

The boyfriend and I decided to stay together during this race so we could enjoy it together. He’s a foot taller than me and naturally has a longer stride, so I have to work to keep up with him. We stayed together until around mile 8.5 when he said he felt like he injured his Achilles. We walked about ¼ mile and chatted about what he was feeling and how he wanted to complete the race. We decided that I would continue ahead while he backed off the pace.

Goal: Have fun and run the whole race. Dig in on the hills.

Date: May 17, 2015

Location: Portland, OR

Distance: Half marathon; 13.1 miles

Conditions: 54 °F, 4 mph wind and 77% humidity at race start. Partly sunny.

Total time: 2:34:36

Pace: 11:37 min/mile

Overall: 4388 out of 5865

Division: 466 out of 636

Gender: 2482 out of 3642

Outcome: This was only 3 minutes behind my recent half marathon PR! With all of the hills and the walk break around mile 8.5, I actually performed better than my recent PR. I wasn’t even feeling challenged in a cardiovascular way until mile 9. Interestingly, my heart rate shot up about 70 beats per minute after I took off by myself when we separated.  My knee ached from miles 4 through 9, but I actually said out loud “mind over matter” and was able to turn my attention to the course scenery and not focus on my knee pain.


We crossed the finish line on the infamous PDX airport carpet, which has its own thing going for it. I had no clue a carpet could be so appealing, but check it for yourself and let me know if you can explain its mystique. The entertainment stage was set up next to the waterfront and was done very nicely. Portugal the Man was the headliner for this race. I wasn’t previously familiar with this artist before discovering he was the headliner, but his show was pretty good. I missed most of it though because I was watching the finish line waiting for the boyfriend to come hobbling down. Then the Hit Machine came on afterwards – and dare I say – they were more rocking than the headliner! Several racers even got up on stage to dance their hearts out with the band. I wondered how they had the energy to shake it after just completing a half marathon – but more power to them! I had so much fun and stayed at this post-race until the very end.

IMG_0598 (1)Finisher badge

Probably the most exciting part of this race was that my mom trained for and completed her first 10K! I’m so proud of her! We spent the rest of the week enjoying Portland and Dallas, Oregon (outside of Salem) spending time with my family.