We left around 8:30 a.m. on Friday to head for Eugene. It's about a six hour drive from Marysville/Everett (less if you ask Rod). I drove for about two hours then handed the car keys over to Rod. I felt a little bad about him doing almost all the driving but really, he prefers it. That left me free to read magazines and my iPad and doze a little. We made two bathroom stops at rest areas on the way and split a sandwich that Rod had brought along.
We arrived in Eugene around 3:00. First we stopped at a gallery in downtown Eugene to touch base with the owners who are friends of Rod. (He had lived with them when he was in law school 20 years ago.) We looked at some of the artwork and made plans to have dinner at their house Saturday night. Rod offered to make spaghetti, a good alternative to trying to get into a restaurant on the night before the marathon.
The gallery was located very near to the Hilton downtown, so we then walked over to the expo and number pick-up. I quickly got my bib and after a little confusion, found the marathon race shirts as well. I didn't really get a chance to fully get into the expo because I felt the pressure of being there with someone who didn't want to check out every little thing and browse the merchandise. (This also happens with my mom, who gets tired, but she is happy if I find her a chair where she can wait.) I didn't really have a huge shopping urge anyway, especially as I had already bought three shirts from Run Pretty Far at the Whidbey expo a week before (they were in Eugene too). I kind of wanted an official race merchandise shirt of some kind, but again, there was a damper on my shopping. So I left with only my race shirt, and in a little bit of a snit. (This also could be because I was hungry. I got one bite of a Clif bar sample but again, the company was not as amenable to grazing as I might have been alone.)
From there we went to check into our hotel, the Secret Garden Bed and Breakfast. This is a nice old house very near the campus, extremely convenient to the marathon start and finish. It has pretty rooms and decor and was a good place to stay for the race, despite some organizational problems which put a little bit of a damper on our stay.
Our plan was to make an easy hike up to Spencer Butte before going to have dinner. I insisted on fuel (for both of us), and whipped out granola bars (from Whidbey!) and bananas. I may have consumed a few pretzels as well.
Spencer Butte is a small mountain (I think I can call it a mountain) on the outskirts of Eugene. There's a great view of Eugene and miles surrounding it from the top. There are about three ways to hike up it, of varying distances. We chose the trail from the Fox Hollow Trailhead, which is two miles each way. There is also a trail from Willamette Trailhead (don't know whether the total distance is more or less) and a newer trail (new to Rod, since he lived in Eugene) which is the easiest, just a mile each way.
The weather was great, partly sunny and in the 50s. We had driven down through constant rain, and even as we approached Eugene we thought it would be raining there, but the clouds parted and the skies cleared for our arrival. (It never rains in Autzen stadium....)
The first mile and a half up the trail is a pretty moderate trail, mostly uphill with some rollers. It's a well maintained trail without a lot of obstacles. In the last half mile it gets steeper and rockier, and then the final quarter mile or so you are pretty much climbing over rocks with patches of trail. It would be very easy for a seasoned hiker but it was definitely more than a leisurely walk. I hoped that doing it on Friday would allow my legs to rest from the effort by Sunday morning.
When we scrambled to the top, Rod perched on a big rock that was really the top, but I didn't want to go quite that high. I stayed a couple feet lower and still had an amazing view. In addition to all the views of Eugene, there were also big hawks cruising around. This might be related to the "Raptor Center" we passed along the way.
I was concerned that the trip back down might be hard on the legs, but it was okay. I did end up with muddy shoes (I wore a spare pair of running shoes--of the three pairs I brought) as well as mud on the legs of my jeans! The next day Rod said he was pretty sore but I felt okay. By Saturday evening I could feel some tension in my glutes and inner thighs, but I was okay on Sunday morning, thankfully.
We headed back to the B & B ready for dinner. Instead of driving somewhere, we walked a few blocks down 19th to eat in a local cafe, Agate Alley Bistro. Agate Alley had a varied menu with a lot of tempting options. I regret that I never got a chance to try their signature dish, Pumpkin Enchiladas...it sounded so good, but I really wanted a burger. I had the Agate Alley Burger with bacon and Tillamook cheddar, a side salad and sweet potato fries with a yummy maple dijon dipping sauce. (Spoiler alert--I had the exact same thing for dinner after the marathon too!) Rod had the lamb shank which he said was fine, but he felt the tomato sauce was a little ordinary.
One of the things I often say when I travel to a marathon a few days before the event is, "I'm so glad I don't have to run a marathon today (Friday) or tomorrow (Saturday)!" On Saturday we did some things to entertain Rod. We were lucky enough to be in Eugene for the Ducks' Spring Game! Yea! (All of the Oregon players were divided into two teams, the Fighting Ducks and Mighty Oregon, and they played each other.)
After breakfast Saturday morning we picked up Rod's friend Dick and caught the free bus to Autzen Stadium. The game started at 11 but they opened the gates at 10 for festival seating. We were near the front of the line and found seats directly above the 50-yard line. The game itself was about two hours long. I thought it was two quarters, so you can imagine my dismay when, after two quarters ended, they went to half time! However the second half was just two 10-minute quarters with the clock running, so it went pretty fast. We were done by 1:00.
We dropped Dick at his gallery and headed to lunch at a little restaurant not far from the University bookstore (I can't remember the name). I had a veggie sandwich that was very tasty and a cup of tomato cheddar soup, also very good.
Then we went to the bookstore. Otherwise known as the Duck Store. I must say that it is interesting how we had to fly through the expo with very little time for me to consider buying anything, but we were able to spend hours (more than a single hour, anyway) in the Duck Store perusing every item in the clothing section at least once, plus the sale and clearance racks two or three times. After all that, Rod couldn't decide on anything he wanted but I left with three tee shirts in hand.
Finally we headed to Safeway to buy groceries for dinner. While Rod shopped, I picked up an Americano at Safeway to save for Sunday morning. I had to ensure I had my pre-race coffee! We went back to the B & B to rest a bit then over to Dick and Lynn's house to cook and eat.
That is, Rod cooked and I ate...pita chips before dinner (carbs) and a healthy serving of spaghetti with meat and mushroom sauce. We also had fresh mussels caught by a friend of Lynn (I only ate a couple, just to be cautious), salad greens from the farmer's market, and wheat bread made by Lynn. Here's our splendid table..note the giant bowl of spaghetti. The meat sauce bowl looks so small, both because of of perspective and also because the rest of the giant pot was in the kitchen.
Then Lynn brought out a plate of sweets from the Sweet Life Patisserie. Oh dear! I had a sliver of cheesecake (about 1/4 of a small piece), a sliver of Key Lime Pie, and half of a chocolate torte pastry which was to die for. This put me over the top full, which I would have prefered not to be, but I figured it would wear off by 7 a.m. Sunday morning.
After dinner we sat around on Dick's vintage contemporary leather furniture and Dick and Rod chit chatted. (By vintage contemporary furniture I mean furniture that is not so old as to be antique, but it was contemporary style furniture from the '30s, 40s, etc.) We left at 10, a little later than originally planned, but that was okay.
Back at the hotel, I laid out my clothing and gear, set out my morning food, and headed off to bed. And it looks like I will be writing a separate post about the race itself!