82. Portland Thanksgiving Day 4-Miler, 2015

It’s Thanksgiving again, so it’s time for a couple thousand people to go running through the streets of Portland, Maine. Haven’t done this one since 2012, and I was glad to be back.

It was a pretty standard race, just like last time. We were encouraged to park in the One City Center garage, but I declined because the runners go right in front of that. If you want to leave before the very last person crosses… well, you can’t. So I parked on the street, out of the course’s way. No ticket of course, because it was a holiday and I wasn’t holding anybody up.

Classic Slip in the Garmin Department

I’ve screwed up a few times in the past and I thought I had learned all of my lessons. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. Although I made sure that my car key was in a zippered pocket (because I lost a key once), I wasn’t very vigilant about my Garmin watch.

Garmin finally finds me
It finally found the satellites after about a kilometer into the race.

Yep, that’s right. I didn’t hit the button. I had plenty of time, but I still didn’t remember until about 30 seconds before the race started. Since the day was so cloudy, it took several minutes to find me, forcing me to take a picture as I hit the button and note the time later. I just edited my Garmin Connect entry to correct my time and put a note to explain the incomplete map.

How to Find Yourself

But enough of my screw-up. The race was pretty sweet in general, and the temp was excellent. If you stood anywhere near me at the start then you might find yourself in this video. If not there, then you can still find yourself crossing the Finish Line if your time is between 37 and 40 minutes. That stuff is at the end, so just skip around until you find the spot you’re looking for.

I have some pretty good photos of the crowd, so be sure to check the gallery. If you’re planning to do this race next year, there are just a couple of things that you should know before you sign up.

Three Bits of Advice

First, there are no port-a-johns. I think you can go into the high school, but aside from that you’re on your own. Some folks had keys to their jobs, so when I found folks coming out of a building with relieved looks on their faces, they couldn’t direct me to a restroom. Have a bathroom plan of some kind, even if it’s just running to the nearest Starbucks.

Second, be sure to pick up your packet before race day. Fleet Feet in Portland is a pain to get into due to the small parking lot, but the people inside are very organized. Pick an odd time to get your stuff and you’ll be all set for the race. I showed up with my bib in place, so I just had to park the car and walk to the Starting Line.

Third is the parking issue I mentioned above. The parking garage is inside the loop of the race, so you can’t just show up a half-hour before the race if you want to park there. You have to show up way before the kids’ race, then stand around and wait to be early for the regular race. I went into more detail about this last time, and the circumstances haven’t changed.

All Things Considered

I’m probably a bit biased since I haven’t done a reasonably-sized race in a while, but I really enjoyed this one. The entry fee wasn’t crazy and I was able to buy a shirt for ten bucks. I could have gotten one for free if I had been one of the first people to register, but the registration was only twenty dollars. Normally I would have expected to pay thirty dollars with a shirt included, so this felt like a low-cost option instead of a problem.

It’s finally happened, I guess. After a few years in Maine, I’ve gotten used to the fact that races here aren’t organized quite as well as they were in Boston, Vermont and especially back home in South Carolina. (To be fair, SC has the advantage of an eleven-month running season.)

I’ve even gotten over discovering at the last moment that there was a race right here in Bath that you can only find out about if you read the local town free paper’s website or ask someone at a local store. Search the Internet all you like, but in Maine you have to drive to each individual town and ask people who live there whether or not they have a race this year.

Okay, so I guess I’m not quite over that yet…