Okay campers, this is the REAL deal! We have got a marathon happening here in downtown Portland! After picking up Dana at the airport we went to lunch it up on 23rd Street, and by the way, if you have never been but are planning to come to Portland, 23rd is a must-do. That and the Pearl and Hawthorne and Sellwood and all the other cool, eclectic, steller Portland neighborhoods that go on ad infinitum. Grew up here, moved away from here, but love it love it love it here.
With lunch rapidly consumed we headed to the Hilton Executive Towers to get settled into our room (17th floor and oh, what a view!) before heading over to the Hilton Hotel kitty corner where the Expo is being held. The official goodies and ventor freebies are sweeeet. Participants get a high quality nylon clinch bag in dark blue with the Portland Marathon Logo, plus really nice 11x17 color posters, a full-color souvenir program filled with personal stories, race details and a really thorough mileage breakdown of what to expect throughout the race. In addition, the bag was filled with all the usual stuff and by the time I finished making my round of the Expo it was splitting at the seams.
- Handfuls of Listerine Breath Strips - So we don't offend any of the spectators with our obscene GU breath?
- Packets of Extra-Strength BenGay Pain Patches - Do they know something I don't know?
- Snickers Energy Bars - Can you honestly say that without a smirk on your face? It gives me a major flashback everytime to the old Paula Poundstone routine, "When it comes about oh, two p.m. and you'e got that nagging hunger pokin' at ya, pokin' at ya..."
- Foil packets of powdered hydration drinks, sun block lotion, and anti-chafing creme
- One packet of raw brown sugar - Is this the Pillsbury Bake-Off or a marathon?
- Sample copies of half a dozen magazines from Walk About to Prevention, and enough paper and cardboard advertisments to line the entire 26.2 mile course end to end four times.
In other words, I'm in marathon-junk heaven! In addition I've already managed to lay down about 50 bills on a set of 2006 Marathon pins, a stack of "Walker Girl" bumperstickers, and a sleeveless black tee shirt with the "Quitting Is Not An Option: Portland Marathon" logo. For the uninformed and unexperienced among you, walking ain't cheap, but it sure is fun!
By the way, one of my favorite sights at the Expo? Watching a bunch of folks standing around an energy bar sample table, tasting teeny-tiny bits of flavored bars pierced through with toothpicks. They were listening to the "Energy Bar Specialist" with such serious intention, and the toothpicks with nutty-chewy-fruity microscopic tidbits were held motionless inches from their lips in eager anticipation. It all seemed so familiar, so deja vu-ish and then I made the mental connection. Last week's wine tasting adventure. Swirl, sniff, taste. There was something a little pretentious about that whole wine class by the Bay experience. Today's energy bar taste-off in a hotel basement was just downright funny.
Almost as funny as Phatgirl registering for the Clydesdale / Bonnydale division. Those would be the divisions for the slightly rotund, men / women. That I'm in the top weight division (women 180+) comes as no shocking revelation and while it's a little goofy I reasoned I stand a good chance of placing in my division since I can't imagine there are going to be hordes of Phatgirls out there, and placing, my little running and walking babies, is placing. Details are unimportant.
Oh, and by the way, you can spot who is in Portland to be in the marathon a mile away. First clue. Their universal marathon apparel. Running shorts, sports cap, running shoes, and a finishing tee-shirt from some other marathon, triathalon, ultra-marathon, 10K race, or 5K fun run representing every corner of the country and beyond. Second clue. A water bottle. Third clue. Freak-ishly healthy, svelte-like-a-model women and muscular, lean-as-the-other-white-meat men. I'd hate them if I didn't admire them. Jealously consumes me. But why talk about being thin when you can talk about dinner?
Dana and I ended the evening with a really wonderful one up at the Chart House Restaurant, formerly known as Hillvilla to us long-time Portlandians. The restaurant has a suck-the-air-out-of-your-lungs view overlooking the city with the Williamette River in the foreground, evergreen trees covering every speck of land not taken up by the city scape, and Mt. St. Helens and Mount Hood in the background against a blue sky that faded to pink as the sun set. Stunning as always. The third most breathtaking sight of the evening, after Dana and the scenic view just described was my dinner. I ordered something called a Crab, Mango, and Alvocado Stack and that's what it was, exactly. A perfectly cylindrical pile with chunks of alvocado on the bottom, mango salsa in the middle, and an overly generous (if there could be such a thing which there can't!) portion of fresh crab on the top, surrounded by a thin pool of olive oil flecked with bits of fresh basil. They didn't muddy up the flavors with a lot of seasonings or goo but allowed each layer to express it's true self simply and deliciously. The combination was fresh, light and about as yummy as anything I've ever eaten, a virtual love fest on a plate.
Back to the marathon. The half-marathon I participated in this summer from Napa to Sonoma had a field limited to 2000, but at the Portland Marathon there are 2500 registered W-A-L-K-E-R-S alone. Total there are 7000 runners and walkers with an additional 4500 volunteers. I can't imagine what the start is going to be like apart of claustrophobically crowded, but one thing I know is that the mojo is going to be thick and I'm gonna grab all I can and hope it carries me to the finish!
11:20 p.m. I'm taking the ice off my foot, the hot laptop off my lap and heading to bed where a cozy comforter and my favorite pillow from home await me. But first, another episode of Grey's Anatomy...