So I started early in the morning from LAX to board my Alaska airlines flight from LAX-PDX. It was a standard morning, except for the fact that I would be flying a new airline! I got up and drove to Fox Auto Parks, where they have a very cheap and easy system of parking. There is something that I don’t like about handing the keys of my car, but it’s only 6.95/day and the shuttle run pretty regularly. Anyway, I headed to T6 and got ready to check-in. It proceeded as normal, except when I tried to get a boarding pass it directed me to the ticket counter, which I was not willing to do because there was a line of almost 50 people! Well, fortunately there was a line for First Class, MVP gold and partner elites, which fortunately American Airlines is one and I was able to get my boarding pass and was on my way!
When I got through security, I had a whole debacle with losing my ID (see previous post), however once I got through I was excited and ready to go to the famed Alaska Airlines Board Room. I really wanted to go here because I had heard so much of the pancake machine and it was early morning so I figured I could get some pancakes. Well I couldn’t find the board room at first because there isn’t immediate signage except a big sign on the wall. It’s very subtle, but there. When I got in I was able to check in using my Priority Pass which comes free with the American Express Platinum card! And here it is:
Pancakes were so-so, but it was cool to be in a new lounge, that had a self-serve fountain machine. Something that is truly lacking in the Admirals clubs, with the exceptions of San Francisco and Chicago. Anyway, flight was uneventful and I arrived in Portland no problem.
Upon getting to the airport I needed to get to the Country Inn and Suites portland. They are currently running a promotion where you stay one night and you could get one free. And because I got in so early (9:00 a.m.) I decided to book a day room early. Basically I booked it for a friday night and called ahead of time to make sure they didn’t give away my room. Then I checked in at 9:00 a.m. with the intention of checking out at noon. Note: If you do this please make sure that you call ahead of time or they can give away your room and mark you as a no-show. Well I did this and when I arrived they for some reason had marked me as a no-show even though I called ahead of time! Luckily they did not give away my room and I still got the room credit. So I went down and had free breakfast, which was as good as free breakfast can get. And then took a quick power nap. At about noon my friend arrived so I met him at our other hotel the Radisson Inn and Portland International Airport. All in all I was able to book both of these rooms using a points and cash rate for about 10,000 for both nights and together they cost about $120. Now, this is awesome because I also received 85,000 club carlson points for future use, which could be good for almost 2 hotel nights anywhere in the world! Well worth the $120!
Well the purpose of this trip was to run the Rock ‘n Roll Half marathon and so we took the train downtown which only took about 45 minutes after taking the shuttle from the hotel to the airport. Got downtown and did the check-in thing at the race. Now I forgot socks, but luckily at race expos you can literally forget everything, shoes, clothing, music and they will sell just about everything you need except the endurance to run the race! Well we tasted all of the food and decided that we were really hungry and needed to go to a food place so I googled brewery and we decided to walk to the first place our phone guided us. It brought us to this delicious brewery called the Burnside Brewing Company. They were in a sort of industrial neighborhood which we were afraid of at first, but eventually when we got there we were at ease. The food and beer were amazing. I was able to order a burger, cooked rare of course that was fried in duck fat and oh my gosh was it amazing. We were also able to sample 9 beers that they had on tap. Now the best part of Portland and Oregon in general is that there is no sales tax! It’s almost like being in europe. If something is listed as $9 you pay $9 plus tip, but that’s awesome! I kind of wanted to move there when I heard this!
A wonderfully delicious rare burger cooked in duck fat!
A Sample of Brews from the Burnside Brewing Company
After the food gorge and drinking, which I do not recommend before a race! We went to the infamous Vodoo donuts, which lived up to expectations. They are a place known for their crazy donuts and they are very well known locally especially for their pink boxes. There was a line out the door for nearly 1/2 hour. We of course waited and wondered what all the hype was about. I got a dozen to bring back to some friends in LA and one of the highlights is the bacon-maple bar, which sounds disgusting, but really just works. Other standards are the Vodoo Donut (pictured below) as well as various novelties.
After that we decided to walk around downtown carrying our donuts, visiting places like Powell’s Books and just enjoying the parks. It was a little difficult because we would get stopped every few minutes or so by people asking us, where did you get those donuts, or can I have a donut. One guy even offered to trade his dog for the box of donuts! I felt so bad for the dog. Well after that whole afternoon of walking through the markets and such, we decided to take the train back and get some rest before the race. We got back and figured we had to be up at 5:00 a.m. so we did a quick dinner in the hotel, which was terrible by the way and headed straight to bed.
On race day we got there pretty early, in fact a little too early, and did the usual race stuff, walked around, used the bathroom, which I learned is key before a race and got ready for the race. The weather was perfect running weather. It was cool and a little misty so it wasn’t hot and you were constantly kept cool. Now I don’t know what happened when the race started, but there were just so many people near me and I was getting flustered so I just kept running. I later learned that the crowd was about 11,000 people and 75% women, so naturally I ran faster than I usually do. By the time I hit the 2 mile mark, map my run told me I had been pacing at about 9:00/mile. I felt good so I decided to see if I could keep going. I did, by the 5K marker I was still pacing at 9 and felt good. Note: I was originally planning on jogging this race, but with so many ladies in the crowd and the good weather I decided to push myself.
By mile 6 I was feeling really comfortable and was pacing at about 8:55, so I said why not, keep going? In fact it was at this point I passed the 2:00 pacing crew. Now they were in a corral ahead of me so I figured if I caught up with them that I could at least finish in under 2:00! So I passed them and in fact decided to take a GU, something I had never done before. I was even warned against doing it in a race because it can tear up your insides if you have never done it before, but I was starting to run out of energy and so I took the risk to try and get a new Personal Record (PR). At about mile 7.7 there was the GU, I grabbed a strawberry bananna and some water and surprisingly felt good. So I pushed and by the time I reached mile 10 I could see the end in sight. The only problem, my legs were not happy. I was slowing down and the 2:00 pace crew had caught up with me. At this point I said I had to finish on time, so I kept my pace with them even as tiring as it was. At about mile 12, I made a small push and decided I could run the rest. I said goodbye to the crew and started pushing, unfortunately I pushed a little too soon and had to jog the last 1/2 mile, but I did it a new PR, slightly under 1:56 and a story for me. I was tired, but not dead, which unlike the Pasadena race meant I could still walk and enjoy life. Matt and I quickly grabbed our finishers medals, and free goodies, which Portland totally beat Pasadena on and we took a picture and headed back to the hotel. We luckily caught the train when we did because we got back to the hotel at 11:15 and needed to leave by noon (to not only check-out, but to also board flights!)
Overall it was a great weekend. One of the reasons why I love travel and my new-found hobby, running. It’s good to have a running friend so we can explore the city the day before and then run a race. Matt’s faster than I am, but I’ll catch him one day. We’re 2 races down, 8 to go in our quest to become Rock Idol’s and there’s always the Berlin Marathon later this year. I love how my hobbies can help distract me from graduate school and still provide some resemblance to real life!