Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Ideal Athletic Day: Rowing Plus Marathon Pacing

Sunday was a banner day. My rowing team, Portland Women’s Rowing, raced in Portland’s Row for the Cure. Last year we’d had a disappointing row. With a new coach and an infusion of new rowers, we were looking for vindication. The water on the Willamette River was almost perfectly flat under an equally flat grey sky. No wind. It was our time to shine.

After a few jokes and talk of “Glee” in the starting area, we were off to a strong, steady start. And we stayed on it the entire race. We moved smooth and steady, pushing our puddles past our stern. I felt I was able to apply my power well, and my running-honed endurance served me well throughout the entire 5K race. We never caught the 8-woman boat that started 10 seconds ahead of us, but no need: With age handicaps figured in, we won our Masters division.

No time to celebrate, though. I swapped out my rowing unitard for a running skirt, and caught a ride down to the 24-mile point of the Portland Marathon. By then the sun was peering from behind scattered clouds. I cheered on the runners as I waited for my pal Jill to come trotting by. Jill and I met through this blog, and she was running Portland, her 10th marathon, largely on my urging. I wished I’d been able to pace her for longer, but 2.2 miles would have to suffice.

I spotted Jill with my good friend Ellison, who had paced her since mile 21. Jill had a grim look on her face, but was still moving relatively well. She had told us over plates of pasta that she wasn’t much for chatting during a marathon, so I tried to offer simple words of encouragement and pointers about upcoming terrain. Soon, though, I realized Jill needed more to distract her from the painful remaining distance. Yet my mind was a blank. I’m usually a chatty-Kathy on a run, but on Sunday I could only come up with a few short anecdotes. Ack!

It sufficed. Despite an ear infection and an injury or two, Jill ran her second fastest marathon ever, missing a PR by a mere 15 seconds. Later that day she emailed me words that was icing on the cake of a fantastic day. “I cannot thank you enough for your support the last two miles. I was totally done with that thing and had you not been there, I think I would have stopped and walked.”

P.S. Like our Moeben arm warmers? Check them out.


Jill said...

Um...a mere 12 seconds, not 15 :). I'll still rank Portland as a PR cuz the course is by far more difficult than the St. George Marathon I PR'd at last fall. Nevertheless, despite the fact I spaced my pb sandwich and thus only consumed about 100 calories total to aid my demise, I had an awesome experience. I learned, finally, to trust my training and not be afraid to go after the illustrious 3:40 I long for. I will get it, someday, when I get this fueling thing down and find another nice, downhill course - I have the Portland Marathon, and your support and encouragement to thank for making me go after and fight the hardest fight I've ever fought! Thank you, Sarah! You are as true and genuine in person as you read on your blog.

If anyone wants to read umteen accounts of my trails and tribulations leading up to Portland (along with the aftermath), here is my blog:

P.S. Love my pink arm warmers....they are incredibly, well, WARM! And pink :).

Awesome job on the rowing! Thanks for showing me around the rowhouse; maybe I'll one day join the Denver rowing club on the measly reservoir by my house. Or I'll at least give it a try before I sign up for a membership

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

I LOVE LOVE Moeben. Any idea what the etiquette is on pacing someone if you have not signed up for the race?? I am thinking of helping my buddy run a sub 2 hour half Marathon in Seattle....but I don't have the $85 to pay my way.. If I hop in after the start and get out before the finish am I OK?