Tips from the Champ, Part Deux: Eric Griffiths Preps You for Portland
|Eric Griffiths, now of PRC's racing team, breaks the tape at the Portland Marathon, 2010.|
There are two key factors I believe are essential to consider when selecting and preparing for your next marathon: terrain and course support. Having run the Portland Marathon in 2010, I would like to offer you my two cents on these factors as they pertain to our hometown marathon.
First, the topic of terrain. As you probably already know, Portland is not a flat course. The first thing that comes to most people's minds on this topic is the huge ascent that takes you to the St. John's Bridge. I was also most concerned about this going into the marathon two years ago. But I found that, after running the marathon, the most imposing hill was not an uphill, but a downhill.
Two reasons for this: partly the timing and partly the length. Although the St. John's Bridge comes at a tough point in the course, at 17 miles or so, the nearly mile-long downhill near the Adidas campus at about 22 miles can completely finish off an already hurting set of legs. When I won in 2010, I had gone out conservatively and was able to use this hill to my advantage, whereas the runners around me were flailing. My advice to prepare for this would be to add in some long downhills in the longer runs you do in preparation for race day. Better yet, if you live in or near Portland, run the course and include this section on North Greeley Avenue. I ran this section multiple times in my preparation. Since it is so close to the marathon, this may not be reasonable this time around (maybe next year). I would advise you to be very conservative the first half of the race if you have not included hard running on downhills in your buildup.
The second issue I would like to discuss is course support. Overall, the Portland Marathon is a very well organized event. But like any huge event, not everything goes smoothly. This became an issue for me at about 16 miles. There was an aid station that was supposed to have energy gels. When I came by, they were not prepared and I had to go without. I had already used the two gels I had brought with me; I had to go without. Lesson learned. Luckily I was able to get to the finish line without imploding, but believe it would have been a smoother ride had I had that energy gel. Now I always have 5 gels on me when I start a marathon no matter what. You can get running shorts with holster pockets to make carrying gels easier.
The other advantage to carrying your own gels is you get to choose what kind. I am pretty particular about gels. Some are much easier to ingest than others. If this doesn't bother you, then don't worry about it.It is more important to some than others.
Hope this helps and good luck in your marathon!
Eric Griffiths runs on the Portland Running Company Racing Team. He won the Portland Marathon in 2010 in 2:28:42. Get your gels and your shorts with lots of pockets at PRC.