Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let's finish this Eugene thing!

I'm heading to Portland tomorrow for the Rock 'n' Roll Half, so I think it's time to finish with the Eugene Marathon before I get yet another race under my belt.

I left off at the end of the day Saturday.  Sunday morning I set my alarm to wake up a little before 5 a.m., so I could eat breakfast two hours before the 7 a.m. start. I had my usual pre-race breakfast of whole wheat English muffin with Justin's Maple Almond Butter (my fave) and marionberry jam, plus some of the Americano that I had stashed from the night before. Since we were staying a short walk away from Hayward Field, I had plenty of time to lie around and read before I had to get ready to go.

My race outfit was laid out already--Lucy tank top, Asics shorts, and a thowaway sweatshirt from Goodwill. I pinned my bib (with embedded chip) onto my fuel belt. Sometime between 6:15 and 6:30 we left to walk the short distance to the start.  The race started on the side of Hayward Field that was near the Law School. On the way over I stopped at the porta potties on the opposite side of the track, which had no lines at all!

I had been assigned to Corral A because I (optimistically) put 3:55 as my finishing time estimate when I registered in October 2011. However, since I saw the 4:00 pace group at the front of Corral B, I moved myself back. I didn't even want to run as fast as the 4:00 group, but I didn't want to start ahead of them! I had considered running with the 4:15 group, but I never saw the 4:15 pacer. I figure I was ahead of them in the first half and then they probably passed me during my second half bathroom stop.

Above--Law School in the background. Below--entrance to Hayward Field. I would see this again 26 miles later as I entered to finish the final .2 mile!
I really wish I had finished writing this more quickly after the race happened, because as time passes my memory becomes less clear. I feel like it is all still fresh in my mind, but as I try to write about it, details become fuzzy....

The weather was perfect, cloudy and probably in the lower 50s to start. I was wearing a sweet grey sweatshirt from Goodwill. I told Rod I would toss it when I got too warm. He offered to take it before the start, but I told him I wanted to keep it on for a few miles. I know the thought of me throwing it away bothered him!
There I am at the start. I had the 4:00 pacer in my eyesight and I kept up with him for about two minutes, then happily let him go. I had no intention of burning myself out by trying for 9:00 miles at the start.

The first eight miles or so was essentially an out and back south on Amazon Drive and then back toward Hayward Field. Although the course is depicted as flat, the road inclined and declined periodically which made it more interesting to me than pancake flat would be. My first mile was a bit impacted by congestion and warming up my legs, but was pretty good at 9:45. I then sailed through the next seven miles at a happy 9:30-ish pace. (9:28, 9:25, 9:30, 9:33, 9:23, 9:32, 9:31).

The "hill" that everyone mentions was after the 8-mile point, as we ascended 19th a bit and approached my B & B. I wondered if Rod would be outside watching for me, or inside eating breakfast! I had planned to take off my jacket at mile 5, but I kept it on for a couple miles longer, then carried it toward the B & B. I figured I could either leave it with Rod or perhaps throw it in the bushes and retrieve it later. Rod was in fact there on the street corner, and snapped my picture before I ditched my sweatshirt at his feet.
I had probably slowed a little on the "hill," but we got to go down the other side, so that was great. What wasn't so great was my need to use the bathroom. I don't expect to get through a marathon without a stop, but I don't like to do it so early on. But the need was feeling rather urgent, and somewhere in mile 9 (just before the 10-mile point) I saw a big bank of potties and ran off course for as quick a stop as I could manage (I am not the speediest stopper). That made mile 9 clock in at 10:52 (though my "moving time" was 9:34).

Mile 10 - 9:44 (back on track). We had moved into one of the park/running trail segments, near where the half marathoners would split shortly before the 11-mile mark. Suddenly I saw a girl stumble and fall in front of me. I decided to stop and help her. I stood with her as she gathered herself together, and encouraged her to resume running and offered to run with her a bit. I felt like we stood still for a long time, but my split for mile 11, including the stop, was just 10:17 (9:31 moving time). I asked her if she was running the half or full. When she said half, I wished her well and sent her on her way at the split.

The next few miles went smoothly enough, though I left my 9:30 paces behind. Miles 12-14 were 9:54, 9:48, 9:46. My half marathon split time was just a few seconds over 2:07:30, right on track for a 4:15 marathon. That was pretty encouraging, seeing that I had lost more than two minutes in my two stops. If I could avoid further delays, all I had to do was average 9:45 miles. (So much easier said than done.)

Unfortunately, the bathroom need came upon my again, and in mile 15 I once again jumped off course to a potty. I had actually been looking for one for a couple of miles. They were fewer and farther between once we left the half marathoners behind. Luckily for me, I didn't have to wait (though I did have to go through some bushes to get there). It cost me, though--mile 15 - 11:28 (9:55 moving time).

Even though my pace was slowing and I had those stomach issues, I really wasn't suffering too much. Mostly I was playing mind games, setting goals to run to instead of looking at the big picture of 26.2 miles. My touchpoints were 5K, 5-mile, 10K, 10-mile, half marathon, 15, 16, 18, 20...and every single mile thereafter. I always think I'm going to "push it" after mile 20 (then reevaluate!). Miles 16-21 - 9:54, 9:57, 10:09, 10:12, 10:09, 10:10.

I had planned to take Gu at miles 8, 13, 18, and 23. Because of passing the B & B, and then the first bathroom stop, I didn't take my first Gu until mile 10. I took another at mile 15. I think I took my third and final one somewhere after mile 20. I was feeling a tiny bit nauseous, and just took little bits of it periodically. I had also been drinking Nuun out of my water bottle, but started in the upper miles taking water periodically at the water stations. It helped wash down the Gu and it was a change of pace.

The sun had come out sometime after 10 a.m. and I put on my sunglasses. I could feel the warmth but never got uncomfortably warm. It did get warmer in the afternoon and I was glad not to be running then!

I didn't really manage a kick in the last 10K. In fact, my slowest running miles (as opposed to the miles with stops) were miles 22 and 23. I think I was letting myself cruise a little, with a more realistic plan to push myself in the final 5K. Mile 22 - 10:22, mile 23 - 10:35.

Since we ran into Alton Baker Park at Mile 16, we had been running along the Willamette River. We ran on one side up to mile 21, then crossed over and back along the other side until about mile 25.5. As I was in those final few miles, I could see other runners still on the opposite side of the river. I was so glad not to be them!

Somehow I did manage to find another gear and pick up the pace for the last three miles. Mile 24 - 10:01. Mile 25 - 10:02. Mile 26 - 9:25 (my fastest since mile 6!). The last mile was so weird--we seemed to be running through a field, alongside warehouse or box cars or something like that (can't remember clearly, except for the grassy area surrounding our running trail). Then we were back on Agate Street and approaching the gate to Hayward Field. Onto the track, for .2 miles at a blazing 9:03 pace (yes, my "sprint" was at 9:03). I crossed the finish line just as my watch passed 4:21 (the time clock was a few minutes ahead, and my chip time was 4:21:09).

I wandered into the finishers' area and tried to find Rod. Although I hadn't seen him (I was watching the finish line, not looking into the stands), he had been in the grandstands and took a picture of me on the track. But he couldn't come down into the finishers' area because it was fenced off.  Luckily he did see me as I was walking toward the exit and we met up outside it.

We walked the quarter mile or so back to the B & B, then he went off to get us pizza while I soaked in a cold bath, then showered and changed. Here is the picture I sent to my mother (pre-bath) to prove that I had survived....
In addition to the cold bath, I fueled myself to ward off leg cramps by eating a banana, a couple handfuls of salted pretzels, and a dill pickle that I had packed along in the ice chest for this purpose. I don't know if it made any difference or it mattered, but I did not suffer any leg cramps!

Later that afternoon, after some yummy thin crust pizza and rest, we walked back to the U of O campus so Rod could try shopping at the Duck Store again. Since I had done my shopping on Saturday, I just went on to Starbucks and drank iced tea at a table in the sunshine. This was one of the first opportunities all spring to sit out in the sun! (Our weather had been quite dismal.)

Later that evening we went back to Agate Alley and I had the exact same burger and sweet potato fries as I had on Friday night. Once again, delicious.

On Monday we drove home and that was the end of the Eugene Marathon trip!

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