After running this race last year and enjoying the course and the city of Eugene so much, I was excited to head back again this weekend to run it for a second time. Jen had decided to run the full this year after debating between this and another race, but since I had already picked a marathon this was going to be a training race for me and hopefully a good indication of my fitness with five weeks of training left to go.
Saturday morning I got up and got in a short easy run before we packed up the car, grabbed a bagel and coffee, and hit the road. When we got to Eugene we hit up the expo, grabbed a sandwich downtown (I’m a big sandwich fan and am always looking for a good sandwich shop), bummed around for a bit, then went to our hotel to check in. After that we walked over to the University to scope out the start (they had changed it a bit from last year) and then walked over the river to find a spot where I could hopefully catch Jen at around mile 16/17 of her race the next day. Then it was back to the hotel for a nap followed by race day prep, picnic style dinner on the bed (chicken, pasta salad, and bread), then some reading and bed.
Sunday morning I was up at a little after five to have some coffee and toast, get ready, and hit up the rr a couple times before walking over to the start. Since our hotel was a four minute walk from the starting corrals (we timed it on Saturday) we were able to stay in the room until around 6:40 which was great. When we got over to the start I did a couple short warm up jogs then Jen and I got into the corral together before we wished each other good luck and lined up in our respective time zones.
Going into the race I my main goal was to have an average pace in the mid 6:50’s with an A+ goal of breaking 1:30:00. Leading up to the race I had been telling myself “remember not to go out too fast” and for the most part I stuck to that (although I did go out a bit fast and had a moment of “this is happening!” before reigning myself in.
The three miles are basically flat with a few downhill sections mixed in so I spent this time getting into a groove and constantly reminding myself that I was likely going a bit fast and needed to reign it in a bit.
Miles 1-3: 6:46, 6:43, 6:44
The next two and a half-ish are basically a slight incline capped off with a steep pitch at the end before the course turns and comes back down the incline one block to the west. During this section I knew that I had started pushing my luck with the miles in the 6:40’s but I felt like I had caught myself before doing any real damage. I was certainly glad to see the turn and the beginning of the decline after the climb.
Miles 4-6: 6:54, 7:02, 6:46
After the six mile mark I felt like I was getting into a good groove but at the same time I could feel myself starting to get tired and knew that it was going to take some mental effort to hang on and keep pushing. It wasn’t that I was ready to give up, I was just running fast and started to question myself and wonder if I could keep it up for another seven miles. When I hit 6.55 I shook out my arms, took my Gu, and knew that I was halfway done and that I could hang in there. After rounding a corner at mile eight and running by the water stop I saw Alisa holding her sign and cheering which was a nice pick-me-up before I had to tackle the biggest hill of the course. I kicked it down a notch and was surprised when the hill didn’t seem nearly as daunting as it did the year before. I don’t know if I had just built it up in my head or if I was just in better shape or what but it really wasn’t that bad. After reaching the top I used my strategy from last time where I didn’t push too hard downhill and let myself relax and recover until I hit the bottom. The rest of the mile was uneventful and before I knew it we were at the nine mile mark.
Miles 7-9: 6:53, 6:51, 7:09
The rest of the race was basically an exercise in perseverance and trust in my training. What really seemed to help me was thinking back on my speed work at the track and remembering how it felt running that fourth mile at 10k pace or my sixth 800 at 5k pace and I knew if I could do that I could hold on and make it through these last miles. There were a couple people who had passed me in mile ten that I managed to pick off over the last three miles and that gave me nice short term goals to focus on. When I got to about 12.6 or so I looked at my watch and thought if I was going to break 1:30:00 I needed to pick up the pace and push hard. Right after that another part of me said, in a very sarcastic tone “Sure, you go ahead and do that, just start running faster”. I pushed as hard as I could but when I hit the stadium I knew I was going to fall just short of breaking an hour thirty, but I was also very happy to be taking a sizeable chunk of time off my PR from the Mercer Island Half marathon in March.
Miles 10-13: 6:51, 7:04, 6:53, 6:51
After I was done I downed a couple bottles of water and ate a pancake then hurried over to the hotel to change, grab the camera and a water bottle for Jen, put on sunscreen, and hurry over the river to catch Jen at mile 16.5. I made it with about five minutes to spare and was able to get a few good shots of her as she ran by. I ran with her for a short bit to pass off the water bottle and let her know she was looking strong, and then I took a couple more pics and watched her run off to finish the race.
You can check out her report on her blog to get the full details and also to hear about the exciting conclusion. She ran great and I was really proud of her for tackling her eight stand alone marathon.