How the other half… runs

12 10 2010

Cyclists live in one world. Runners in another. And never shall the two meet. Because that creates tri-athletes, which is not good for athletic fashion anywhere.

But this past weekend I spent a good deal of time immersed in the runners’ world. It’s a frightening and painful place indeed. And not one I ever see myself joining.

It was Katie’s marathon weekend, in Portland, Oregon.

I think she got the first glimmer of the idea of running the Portland Marathon when last we were there, on our honeymoon last September; she saw the banners on some of the streets in the Pearl District and said “hmmmm.”

We love Portland. It’s got great neighbourhoods like the Pearl and Nob Hill. It’s got great beer and lots of interesting restaurants. It’s got a creative, laid-back vibe. And perhaps most importantly for Katie, it’s got great shopping with the added benefit of no sales tax!

Signing up for the Portland Marathon would be the perfect excuse to return and take advantage of all those, especially the shopping.

And so there I was Sunday, standing on the curb along 4th Avenue in downtown Portland, in the dark and pouring rain, my belly burbling with a mixture of excitement, fear, anxiety, worry, and pride. A year to the day after Katie had overcome injury to complete her first half-marathon, the very unofficial Claustrophobia Half, 18 weeks of training, early morning and late night runs, strict diet controls and another injury scare were coming to a head as Katie shivered in the starting corral somewhere up the block.

The police drum corps across the street pounded out a tympanic rhythm that barely drowned out my own thumping heart.

I had no doubt she’d finish her run. She’s wired that way; when she gets a goal in her head nothing will deter her. But at what price? She’d been having aches and pains in her knee and legs as her training culminated, so she’d taken it easy in the two weeks leading up to Portland, cutting a couple of runs short and not going on any of her “race pace” tapering runs. She had the fitness, but would her body betray her?


Katie continued her rehab by elevating her hurting legs all the way to Portland.


Plus, a marathon is just a really freakin’ long way to be pounding your feet and ankles and knees and legs; 42 kilometers on a road bike is a warmup, but running that far is a deathwish as far as I’m concerned!

Katie had a really great crew of supporters to cheer her on; her parents came down en route to their winter place in Arizona, our friends Rich and Shona came down with their sons, and our trucking friends Greg and Marlaina bobtailed down from Seattle to be there in spirit even if we weren’t able to meet up with them until after the race.


Katie's support team included her parents, who drove to Portland en route to their winter place in Arizona.


The weather during the run was miserable, rain, wind, cold. Tough enough to be a spectator in those conditions; we could at least kill some time and get warm and dry in a nearby coffee shop, then a galleria. I can’t imagine running for four or five hours in that.


This is what non-marathoners do while waiting for their marathoner friends to finish running.


But she did it. A little slower than she’d hoped to, and not without moments of pain and doubt.

Seeing her round the corner to the home stretch filled my chest with pride and admiration. Katie is now a marathoner. She will always have that. And that is pretty damn amazing!


Katie rounds the last corner to the finishing stretch.



Part of Katie's pit crew, the dalmonte's, cheer to the line.



Katie Bartel. Marathoner. And in a lot of pain...