Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sean Astin's Portland Marathon Race Report

Submitted by Sean Astin, @SeanAstin

Finished my 12th full Marathon. The weather in Portland was Perfectly Portland...Rainy and Chilly with occasional Wind. Loved it!!!
At the expo yesterday, I made the point that, "you can't fake a Marathon." It's so true. 26.2 miles is a no joke distance. You can suck in your gut for a selfie, but today, the Marathon knew exactly how much I weigh. It's one thing to know that I'm carrying an extra 30+ pounds. The road is...unforgiving. I've been a long distance runner for most of my life. Today, I had to pay the piper :-)))
I expected to run the race in 5 hours and 30 minutes. Pretty modest goal, but given my current body composition, the limited amount of training miles and my primary goal of arriving today uninjured (slow training miles) it was an experienced target.
My friend Jeff Galloway has a tried and true race technology for "average" runners...runners like me. I observed consistent Walk/Run intervals (30 seconds run - 30 seconds walk). Things were going great for the first 15 miles. I wasn't setting any land speed records, but my splits were consistent. Then came the 150ft climb to the St. John's bridge. My plan broke down. I had been occasionally breaking the intervals and would "run the course." Meaning, if I had a long downhill grade, I'd run through the walk breaks. The hill got me. I didn't want to walk the whole thing and drop my average mile per hour rate. So, I chugged up it. My legs were burnt out by the time I crested the not-very-big hill. Having dropped a few seconds (overall average per mile), I tried to hustle and make it up on the downhill. Errrrzzz (buzzer sound)... That mile compromised the rest of the run for me.
The good news was that I made lots of friends as I walked/ran through the beautiful Portland neighborhoods.
There is one really special moment to share. My Step-Dad tweeted some encouraging words to me before the race. He has maintained my Mom's @PATTYDUKE_ID handle. He signs his tweets with his name, to make sure that no-one mistakenly thinks that she is Tweeting from beyond. I've attached his tweet here. Basically, he said that my Mom was watching over me today and if I felt a nudge, it was her.
So, around mile 12 or so, I look up at the little mountain to my left. It was raining and clouds were kissing the pine trees on the hill. Wow! It looked exactly like the mountain behind my Mom's house in Coeur 'D Alene, Idaho. I mean...exactly alike. It is all the pacific north west, so, that makes sense. I thought about Mike's tweet. I looked to the heavens and thought, ok Mom, are you with me? I could use that nudge. I smiled at the thought and opened my heart to the possibility. Suddenly, shockingly, as if dropped by angels onto the course in front of me, 8 Scottish men, clad in their Kilts, blew their pipes. You have to understand, Bagpipes were my Mom's spiritual touchstone. We come from Country Cork or is it County Longfellow...whatever... Our Irish heritage (different country but just go with...she did). At my Grandmother's Funeral, Her Mom...she had a man play the pipes. She sobbed. We all did. At my Moms funeral this year, the service ended with a traditional BagPipe Player, leading the procession. BAGPIPES. RIGHT THERE AT MILE WHATEVER...12, 13...can't remember... On cue, right when I looked to the heavens to wink at my Mom and have her wink back.
I'm old enough now, and in touch with my spiritual core that I didn't question the dynamic for a moment. Just smiled, touched my heart and thanked God for that grace.
Then came the pain. Step by step, my legs became heavy, and the sharp shooters as I call them (pain spasms, not snipers) progressed. I smiled at 17 remembering that I choose this pain and a little chuckle goes a long way.
Someone saw me grimace and asked how I was doing. I told him that we don't speak of anything that may be going wrong until after the finish line. He smiled.
Around 20 miles this lady started screaming...proper, loud, tail gate at a Ducks Game screaming...AT ME!!! Her husbands favorite movie is Rudy. We took a selfie. Her friends and I took selfies. When you are chugging along at the pace I was running, lots of people come up for selfies. We dosey-doe'd with screaming gal for a mile or two. I don't know from where her energy sprang, after 5 hours of hard labor. "I just love running" she answered. At one point, she sees a friend and starts screaming again that Sean Astin is right back there...she was "winning" in our little pack. I trotted up to her and pointed my bony finger at her and said, "so help me, if you draw a bunch of attention to me and I don't finish under 6 hours, I'm coming to your house!!!"
I hadn't thought through that threat. She was like, "cool, I have beer." I finished at 5 hours and 55 minutes and 56 seconds. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to head over to their place. 
A nice gal whose name I can't remember now (shame on me...Christina, Kelly...can't remember)... She asked if she could run with me to the finish. Yikes, my legs were in so much pain, I think I was going to start fudging my intervals and now she was going to keep me honest? Ok, I said. And we ran the last least that much, maybe more. She was really nice and we talked about all kinds of stuff. I can't remember what, because I'm pretty sure I was hallucinating the last few miles.
Another gal came up after mile 25 and said that her Dad just died and he made her watch Rudy a lot. The three of us and this big dude, made up our minds to cross the finish line together. I think we did. The finish line picture isn't clear...they were just off to the right.

There it is. I'm back. I can't walk now, but I'm back. All things considered, it was another magical day of long distance running. Remember, Oregon is the Rose City. The Finisher Medal and the Event Coin (loving that new trend) have an elegant Rose. 
I'd offer special thanks to Les, the Race Director and everyone who welcomed me to the event. Thanks to the people of Oregon who came out and performed music, cheered, volunteered and made the whole day possible.
A lot of people responded, here on Facebook and on Twitter and Instagram, to my request for #Run3rd dedications. I read them before I raced, and many of them flashed through my heart as I raced.
Thank you all for keeping my #Run3rd inspirational DEDICATIONS campaign alive. I hope you ask your friends, family and social media peeps to make Dedications that you can hold in your heart when you run.
Today's Portland Marathon is actually my Long Training Run, just a month before the New York City Marathon in November. Hopefully, I'll heal quickly and train (TAPER) for the next few weeks.
Until then, I #Run3rd for YOU!!!
Much Love Always,
Also, not for nothing, if you remember that my Mom, Patty Duke was a champion for Mental Health issues, we are starting a foundation to continue her work... you can donate at

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