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Eugene Marathon

April 30, 2012

Running in the footsteps of legends

Eugene has practically become my second home since meeting B. I’ve traveled here a lot in the past 5 years we’ve been together visiting his childhood home and family. Every time I’m in town, I always make sure to check out new running routes and trails, which isn’t hard because Eugene is a runner’s paradise and subsequently dubbed Tracktown USA. The spirit of running is shown throughout the city, from the beautiful parks to the amazing running community. Oregon is definitely one of my favorite places to run. After Mt. Hood 50 last year, I knew I had to come back to run another race in this state. When the Eugene Marathon registration came around, it was a no brainer for me to sign up. I wanted to run it last year, but Boston to Big Sur was the same weekend.

My in-laws graciously hosted me for the weekend and even though it was a short trip, we managed to get in in quite a bit!

Starting with pre-race fueling…yes, we pretty much ate around town the entire day. Carbo loading at it’s finest

Must get in my Mexican fix before a race @ Steelhead Brewery

My in-laws fully support my froyo addiction @Xtreme Frozen Yogurt

Pizza @ Mezze Luna

….and if that wasn’t enough food for the day, we ended with this

Pretty sure my stomach thought I was running Zion 100 the next day instead of Eugene Marathon.

Mexican food, pizza and ice cream #PRDiet

I love small town races because there’s less pressure and stress during race day. It was easy to find parking at the Start/Finish and I got there 30 minutes before the race started with plenty of time to hang around and relax. The weather couldn’t have been better, a cool 60 at the start and only getting up to 65 by the time I finished. Thought the Oregon Track Club shirt was fitting for this race.

See you in a couple hours!

I jumped into Corral A and since there was no 3:30 pace group, only 3:25 and 3:35, I lined up somewhere in between them. I PR’ed in Santa Barbara by following a pace group for most of the way until I left them after the halfway point, but the leader caught up to me (with only one person with him) around Mile 25 and pushed me hard to the finish so I could come in under 3:30. Since there was no leader to follow, I knew I had to run my own race and pace myself. Thoughts of catching up to the 3:25 group plagued my mind the first couple of miles. I wasn’t really running with the group, but I always kept the red balloons in sight. I don’t know why I thought I would be able to do a 3:25, but I knew the course was flat and fast, except for a couple climbs. Since this is my only road marathon for the year, I wanted to make it a good one.

We started the race just outside historic Hayward Field where the US Olympic Trials are held and finished on the track.

Mile 1 7:49 Too fast

Mile 2 7:34 Still too fast, I’m going to regret this later

Mile 3 7:49 Slowing down, but still faster than I would have liked

My shins were really sore the first couple of miles which worried me a lot. I had taken the day off on Saturday and ran an easy 5.5 miles on Friday, what was going on? There was NO excuse not to do well in this race. I thought about how I haven’t been going to track lately which led me to my PR in Santa Barbara and how many races I’ve had this month already. Already, my mind was giving up and we were only a couple miles in. I could tell by the look and feel of my legs that they weren’t fresh even though it was a relatively low mileage week for me.

I came in through the 5K mark at 24 minutes, a 7:44 pace. I usually like to start around 8:15 pace to warm up and knew this fast pace would catch up to me later. My legs took a while to warm up and the course had more ups in the beginning that I would have liked.

Mile 4 8:11 Climbing up a hill

Mile 5 7:59 Going down the hill

Mile 6 7:58 Feeling good, maybe I can PR today

Mile 7 7:59 Sore shins went away, thank goodness

Mile 8 7:56 That pizza was really good last night

Mile 9 8:00 Finally my “goal pace”

Mile 10 7:56 Still feeling great, thumbs up to the in-laws

We ran the first 9 miles through south Eugene around Amazon Park and the University of Oregon. Amazon Park is very familiar to me because I run on the wood chips all the time when I visit. It was nice being familiar with different parts of the course and having so much support out there. For a smaller race, the support was HUGE. Not like Boston huge, but the streets and parks were littered with people everywhere along the course. It’s amazing how many people came out to cheer for the runners. I finally started to feel better around the 10K mark and came in at 49 minutes, holding onto a 7:57 pace. This was a pretty comfortable pace for me and at Mile 10 is where I saw my in-laws cheering for me on the side. My legs were starting to feel good, the sore shins went away and I chugged along. First, the half marathoners split with the full marathoners so there was less people around me. I wasn’t so worried about getting passed because I knew a lot of the people who were passing me were running the half and I don’t like to run in a crowded group either. Secondly, during this section, we had our first glimpse of the Willamette River. We crossed over the Knickerbocker footbridge and turned down the canal path toward Springfield. We ran on a path swerving in an out of shaded forest trees. It was almost like running on trails in the mountains, so quiet and breathtaking, this was paradise indeed.

Mile 11 7:54 Finally broke away from the half, couldn’t be happier right now

Mile 12 7:59 Stomach side cramp, uh oh.

Once we got into residential area, my legs weren’t feeling so hot anymore. We headed towards Springfield where we ran by Island Park and Springfield High school, passing by University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium and the baseball park on Leo Harris Parkway. The sun was coming out through the clouds and it was getting pretty warm. I thought I was still holding onto a sub 8 pace, but when I looked down at my watch, I was taken back by the 8:30 pace. I got to the halfway point at 1:44:25, but knew it was because of my faster start that allowed me to slow down a bit. I saw my in-laws again at Mile 16, I tried my best to look happy and cheerful, but my legs were just tired and all of the sudden I was getting sleepy! I made sure to eat my energy gels (one at Mile 8 and another at 15) and salt pills and hydrate with water and Gatorade along the course.

Mile 13 8:08 Slowing down, legs are getting tired, but still on pace to hit 3:30

Mile 14 8:20 How am I only going 8:20?? Feels like Sub 8’s

Mile 15 8:17 Crap I really need to use the bathroom, but there’s a line

Mile 16 8:04 Forget it, I’m holding it in

Mile 17 8:16 Maybe the pizza and Mexican food was a bad idea

Mile 18 8:13 Goodbye PR

Miles 13-19 is where I felt myself letting go and wanting the race to be over. I felt my pace slowing, although, now that I look back at my Garmin data, my slowest mile was only a 8:20. It felt like I was going a lot slower than I really was and had no hope of picking it up. I’m not sure what happened, but from mile 19-26, my legs and speed were back. It was the weirdest thing, like I had woken up and was ready to race. Maybe my endurance really kicked in during this point when most people were fading. It might have been the change in scenery as we returned to the Eugene bike paths where we ran along scenic river trails and in and out of six parks or the fact that the race was almost over. We cruised by Alton Baker Park, Owens Rose Garden and Skinner Butte. I’ve run on most of this bike path before and it’s one of my favorite running routes in Eugene. The scenery is always changing and everything is so green.

Back in runner’s paradise, I ended up passing around 50 runners during this last final 7 mile stretch. I was feeling great and every time I would leave an aid station after hydrating with Gatorade and water, I would feel so energized. What was in those drinks? The crowd support was scattered all over the parks making it really fun. Even though I had more to give, I didn’t want to really start pushing it until the very end. I was scared of my injury flaring up, which I alleviated with a Tylenol around the halfway point and general cramps. I decided to not take my last gel because I was scared it would give me stomach problems so I tried to get in my calories through Gatorade which worked. When the last mile came, I knew I had more in me to pick it up so I started to speed up a bit and once I saw the barricades leading into Hayward Field, I knew I had to give it my all during this final stretch.

Mile 19 7:59 Finally back on track, no more stomach issues.

Mile 20 8:02 Riding out the high, feeling pretty comfortable right now

Mile 21 7:52 Endurance kicking in!

Mile 22 7:55 4 more freaking miles to go I can do this

Mile 23 7:51 Hey passing a few people who I haven’t seen since the start of the race

Mile 24 7:51 Thank God I ate that pizza last night

Mile 25 7:47 Hammer time

Mile 26 7:32 I think I’m going to puke on Hayward Field

Mile 26.2 6:57 Final push!

Hitting the track with spectators in the stadium was so surreal. I thought about this moment for a long time how it would feel to finally run on this historic track. Somehow ending on a track gets me really excited. Not sure if it’s the familiarity of the being on the track or having so many people cheer you to the finish. I crossed in 3:29:52 and promptly collapsed in the medical volunteers arms. I ran a good race and am really proud of kicking it in the last 7 miles. I don’t think I have ever dropped my pace that much so late in the race and even though I thought I ran a lot faster than Santa Barbara, I was actually a couple seconds off my PR.

It still baffles me how I was able to run a faster time on a much hillier course in Santa Barbara. The only reasons I can think of is that I went to track pretty regularly leading up to that race, there was a 3:30 pace group to really push me at the end and I didn’t have the injury I’m dealing with now. Also with Zion 100 looming over me in 2 weeks inhibited my desire to go all out. Looking back and seeing how my legs are feeling pretty good 2 days after, I could have gone faster the last 10K. I was feeling good and comfortable, not really pushing myself to the very end. However, I was scared of cramping up like I did the last mile of American River or making my current injury worse. Eugene was my last long run before Zion, so I wanted to make sure I ran a good race, but didn’t wear myself out too much.

Overall, I’m super happy with this race seeing how I was so excited to run in Eugene. I got to see so many beautiful places during the course and I’m already looking forward to making this an annual trip!

I already have a few Oregon trips lined up for the rest of the year: Hood 2 Coast in August, McKenzie River 50 Miles in September, Silver Falls Trail Marathon in November and Thanksgiving at the Oregon Coast!

Overall 441/2346

Women 81/1065

Age Group 15/192

Finish: 3:29:53

Checkpoint Time of Day Chip Time Chip Pace Gun Time Gun Pace
Start 7:01:31.56AM
5K 7:25:30.70AM 00:24:00 00:07:44 00:24:23 00:07:51
10K 7:50:31.47AM 00:49:00 00:07:54 00:49:24 00:07:57
Half 8:45:55.78AM 01:44:25 00:07:59 01:44:48 00:08:00
20 Mile 9:42:38.35AM 02:41:07 00:08:04 02:41:31 00:08:05
Finish 10:31:23.73AM 03:29:53 00:08:01 03:30:16 00:08:02

After the race we walked around University of Oregon for an hour (finally got some Duck gear!) and headed to Hendrick’s Park where I contemplated buying a house that was on sale and walked around for another hour. I was pretty pooped by the time we got home.

Can I move here?


Paying homage to Pre

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Mitch permalink
    May 1, 2012 3:43 pm

    Thanks for a splendid account of a splendid weekend! Congratulations on an excellent run and best wishes for Zion. Jim and Kim

  2. May 1, 2012 4:55 pm

    1. Congrats on a great race. It’s neat to see how you were able to get back in to the race both mentally and physically.

    2. Your race report and a few others really make me want to run Eugene. I’m not a big fan of running near the ocean because the sun and sand are usually too bright for me (even on an overcast day), but running near shady lakes or rivers sounds wonderful.

    3. That food looks delicious.

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