Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hotter Than... Old Port Half Marathon Race Recap

The Old Port Marathon started off so beautifully.  I arrived at the Ocean Gateway Terminal, the main pier in downtown Portland where the race started, just as the sun was rising over the docks.  

Probably wins for best Packet Pickup view ever.
 I spent some time stretching and warming up along the tip of the pier, feeling the cool ocean breeze and enjoying the salty spray of the waves as they crashed upon the dock.  I was ready for a great race!

I loved the red tug boats... so quintessential Maine!
 As the start of the race took us straight down Commercial Street, a flat two miles along the water, straight through the heart of downtown Portland, I was feeling pretty good.  I knew the hilliest part of the race was ahead of me at mile 3 in the Western Promenade Park, but I tried to stay in the moment and enjoy the beautiful views.

I kind of wanted to stop for some shopping and a coffee...
 And then the hilly part came.  And just as the narrator in the race preview video said, the hills were so steep that you could walk faster than you could run.  I actually saw some people have to STOP walking to take a rest midway up the hill.  It was unbelievably steep, and the hills seemed to never stop coming!  By the time I left the Western Promenade around mile 5, I couldn't even feel my quads and gluts.  

Definitely time for a coffee break after all those hills!
 As I ran back down Commercial Street toward the Eastern Promenade and a loop around the Back Cove, the sun was really starting to pound down.  The views of the ocean were absolutely stunning, but the lack of shade along the ocean-side paths made the heat stifling.  As I reached the Back Cove, I could feel myself getting more and more dehydrated as the miles passed by.

Too hot to appreciate the beautiful views
I knew the trail around the Back Cove would be 3.5 miles before the course turned back toward the finish line, and trail had mile markers every quarter-mile.  I counted down each one of those mile markers, which seemed to get increasingly further apart as I circled the bay.  Luckily, after the Back Cove loop, there were 3 water stops over the last few miles of the course.  I stopped at every table, drinking in as much water and Gatorade as my parched throat could swallow.  Finally, I reached the finish line - my legs feeling remarkably good, but the rest of me feeling unbelievably awful.

The awards were actually buoys - so cool!
After finishing, I managed to make it all the way to the line of Port-a-Potties before throwing up every last drop of water and Gatorade I had drank over the past three miles.  If there is anything more miserable than being hot, sore, tired, and violently ill in a 3x3 Port-a-Potty used by hundreds of other sweaty runners, I have yet to discover it.  

On the drive back up north, I had to pull over twice, throwing up things I didn't even remember eating on the side of I-95.  It was pretty fantastic.  Not.  By the time I got back, I was so dehydrated and dizzy that all I could do was pass out on my bed, still in my gross running clothes, that had acquired white streaks stained with salt from sweat dried by the hot sun.  After a long nap, I alternated between chair and bed for the entire afternoon, slowly drinking glass after glass of water, and trying to help my pounding head and churning stomach recover from their ordeal.  It wasn't until dinnertime that I started to feel somewhat human again.

A well-earned victory photo!
Finally, around 7 pm, I was able to get some solid food down, and muster a half-smiling attempt at a victory photo with my medal and race shirt.  At least the medal and the shirt were good-looking, because I certainly was not!!

All in all, not my best race.  Dehydrating then over-hydrating and getting violently ill really detracted from the beautiful ocean views and seamless organization of a race in one of my favorite cities.  But would I do it again next year, for my third consecutive Old Port race?  Without a doubt.  Hopefully next year, I will be smarter about my fluid intake... lesson learned!!

Have you ever over-hydrated during a race?  What are your hydration tips for marathons?  


  1. Yes, it was a great packet pickup view. I loved my photos from that part too! I took several tug boat pictures. Hmm. People stopped while walking. I didn't do that. Yay me! Wow. Your after race was awful! Yuck! I would do it again too.

  2. Great pictures! Sorry the heat was so miserable! I can't think of anything worse than throwing up in a port-a-john. I know how you feel. I am constantly battling the heat down here and last week it definitely got the best of me. The award buoys are awesome!