Hockinson runner’s pro marathon debut Sunday in NYC

Sarah Porter starred at Hockinson High, Western Washington




Sarah Porter’s first trip to New York City was not a pleasant experience.

The Hockinson High School graduate placed 24th in her professional running debut at the New York Mini 10K on June 11, a race run in oppressive heat and humidity.

photoSarah Porter


When she returns this week, the weather will be much cooler and the race much longer.

Porter — a 12-time NCAA Division II All-American in cross country and track and field at Western Washington University — will make her professional marathon debut Sunday in the New York City Marathon.

Did you know ?

• The start: Elite runners, including Sarah Porter of Hockinson, will start with the first wave at 6:40 a.m. Pacific time Sunday. TV: Live coverage from 6-9:30 a.m. on Universal Sports, digital cable Channel 303, with a replay from 5-8:30 p.m. Channel 8 will show highlights from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• This year: About 47,000 runners are expect to start the marathon. Prizes are $130,000 to the male and female champions, or $200,000 if a previous champion wins again. The total guaranteed prize purse is $750,000 plus time bonuses. More than 8,000 volunteers will staff the event, with 2 million spectators along the course and an anticipated global audience of 330 million.

• There’s an app for that: The ING New York City Marathon Mobile Spectator App is available at the Apple App Store and Android Market. The basic version is free, with a premium version available for $2.99. Both versions will show the live broadcast from New York local television. The premium version allows users to track up to 10 specific runners.

• Online: www.nycmarathon.o...

“At least I’m familiar with (running in the city), but unfortunately, I hated it,” Porter said of the Mini. “I absolutely hated that course when I ran it, but I think the reason why I hated it was because it was really humid and muggy, and I was just miserable.”

While the Mini is a 6.2-mile race in Manhattan, the marathon covers 26.2 miles through all five of the city’s boroughs, crossing four bridges along the way.

About 47,000 runners of all ages and expectations will participate, including 43 in the elite women’s race.

Porter, 22, has been training for the past two months with coach Pete Rea at the ZAP Fitness Foundation facility in Blowing Rock, N.C., in the Appalachian Mountains near the convergence of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

While she is running similar mileage as she did during her last two collegiate seasons, about 120 miles a week, there are differences in her training now.

“I think the biggest difference is that I don’t race as much,” Porter said. “I raced once this fall, and I didn’t realize how much I like to race until I haven’t gotten to do it a whole lot, even little local like (Clark County Running Club) races. I haven’t been able to go out and do it.”

But she has confidence in Rea’s coaching methods, including running interval workouts — alternating hard and easy effort or varying lengths of time — and at altitude.

Porter learned that what she is doing is preparing her well for races, even though she did not have a handle on her preparedness.

“With that kind of workout, I get done with the workout and it’s like, ‘I have no idea how fast I am right now. It felt hard. I hope it was hard. I hope I ran fast,’ ” Porter said.

Porter was to arrive in New York on Tuesday for a few days of pre-race events and being a tourist — “See plays and live it up for a week,” she said — but unlike what is typical with distance runners, she is not quite easing into race day.

She will “drop down to 90 miles this week, just to maintain my fitness,” she said. “I’m not doing anything hard, just go running every day. Then the day before the marathon, I’ll probably run an easy 8 or 10 miles.”

Porter ran a Seattle-area marathon previously, but that one was “just for fun” and she plans to run “an awful lot harder” on Sunday. A potential pitfall looms as runners cross the East River the first time from Queens into Manhattan.

While the Queensboro Bridge is also known as the 59th Street Bridge, Porter said Rea told her that she will have to be careful not to be feelin’ too groovy when she enters Manhattan and its cheering throng of spectators.

“That’s one of the things that my coach has warned me about,” she said. “Mile 16 or 17, I’m going to come cruising down this bridge right into Manhattan — and for the next 2-mile stretch, there will be like 700,000 people cheering. He said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t go too fast through Manhattan, because even seasoned pros make that mistake.’ The thing is that I’ve got to not get caught up in the ‘rock and roll’ experience of the marathon and just realize that it’s still just running. It’s still just putting one foot in front of the other.”

Putting one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles will eventually lead to the finish line, and Porter will have a time.

She is not particularly concerned about what that time will be.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Porter said, relating a conversation she had with Rea. “He said, ‘I want you to go out there and whether you run half an hour faster than you expect or half an hour slower, just have fun and enjoy the experience.’ I think my goal is to get to the end of it feeling like, ‘OK, I gave it everything I had, but I also really enjoyed this experience and I want to do it again.’ ”