Well, since it is race week once again (IMCDA703), I figured I should probably update the blog with my last race!!!
I ran my last marathon back in 2013, at the California International Marathon in Sacramento. At that race, I set a 42 minute PR and was within 7 minutes of a Boston Qualifying time. While I wasn’t attempting to qualify at that race, it definitely lit a fire, and I knew that a BQ time was my next marathon goal. The next few years were filled with just triathlons, but I was itching for a trip to Boston. I looked at a few potential marathons, but when I discovered the Eugene Marathon, I knew this was my race. “Tracktown”, the birthplace of Nike, the stomping grounds for Pre, and a finish on Hayward Field where Olympians are made, everything about the town of Eugene spoke to me. I was inspired.
Race day was Sunday, so Mom and I arrived 2 days early in order to sneak in a trip to the Nike Campus and Employee Store (thanks Sara!). The campus is ALWAYS inspiring, but was even more so with the anticipation of race day. We made a trip through the Coos Bay Gallery and soaked up Prefontaine’s energy, then bought all of the things at the Employee Store.
|I showed restraint - I promise!|
We made it down to Eugene in time for packet pick up, then the Twilight Meet on Hayward Field. It was incredibly cool to watch some of the best in the world compete on the very track I would be running on two days later. Just some more inspiration in the bank. (Ok – you might need to start a drinking game for the number of times I have/will write some version of the word inspired in this blog post…sorry not sorry – that was definitely the word of the weekend and there is no other way to describe how I felt from the moment I got off the plane.)
|Twilight Meet - Hayward Field|
Saturday was a relaxed day. Coach had an easy 30 minute shake out run on the schedule, so I decided to run the 5k with my mom :) LOVE running with this lady (who kicked butt and placed 2nd in her age group!). The 5k also ended on Hayward Field…not gonna lie, I started to get choked up as I entered the field, smelled the track, and ran towards the finish line. I felt SOOOO ready to race the next day. Later, we drove the course, scoped out my mom’s cheering spots (miles 9 and 21), and relaxed at our awesome Air B&B. Dinner was Thai food - my pre-race staple. I have been eating Basil Chicken and Rice for years now, and it has never let me down.
I had talked to coach earlier in the week about my race plan. My BQ time was 3:40 - for the past few years, runners had to have a time of about 2:30 under in order to guarantee a spot. But my real goal was 3:30 – a 12 minute PR…gulp! Since the marathon didn’t have a 3:30 pace group, coach told me to stick with 3:35 pacer for first 10 miles. Don’t even look at your watch. Then, at mile 10, I could start ramping it up, aiming for a negative split. This sounded totally doable – I was ready.
|Tour of Eugene|
The course starts on the University of Oregon campus, just outside of Hayward field, and is basically a T shape. First you run south for an out and back (about 9 miles), then you run east through some peaceful neighborhoods for an out and back to Autzen stadium and Alton Baker Park, then you run another out and back along the Willamette River to Hayward Field. The weather was beautiful and sunny, 57* at the start, 70* at the finish - just perfect.
On race morning, I was up around 5, had my egg whites, banana, bagel, PB and honey, prepped my handheld water bottle with protein/dextrose, my Chocolate Coconut Roctane Gus, and my Base Salt, and was out the door by 6. When we were up in Eugene last September for the Colorado/Oregon football game, we found a secret parking lot right next to campus with no parking restrictions for the weekend…it was a life saver and perfect for race day. We hung out in the car until about 6:30 before walking over to the starting line. It was quite chilly before the race, but I learned the trick of saving foil blankets that you get post race to use pre-race! Then you can just trash it before the start and don’t have to worry about discarding extra clothes!
|Ready to Go! #stylishspeed|
With about 15 minutes before the race, I ate a gu, drank my Beachbody energize and hit the port-a-potty. There were so many port-a-potties that there were no lines…best organized race around!
With a slight delay, the gun went off at 7:05am. I found the 3:35 pacer with his awesome balloon stick, and situated myself right on his shoulder. And off we went!
Miles 1-9 8:10, 8:00, 8:12, 8:09, 8:02, 8:08, 8:05, 8:13, 8:05
Stuck right to plan. Weather was perfect, pacer was right on point, a few seconds of variation between the miles, but effort felt the same. The only major “hills” of the race are at mile 3 and mile 8. After countless miles running up the hills of Quicksilver Regional Park, they felt like nothing! I was happy as a clam, just cruising along. This was the first race that I had planned out a playlist for, and my music synced right up to how I was feeling…so freaking happy! At mile 9, the course runs by the start/finish outside of Hayward field. This was the first stop that mom planned to be. As I was approaching, I noticed spectators lining both sides of the street and I started stressing a bit – we didn’t specify which side of the street she would be on and I REALLY didn’t want to miss her. Luckily I spotted her on the side that I was running on. She was looking at her phone, checking the tracker for me and didn’t notice me at first, but I started yelling and running right at her and the excitement on her face was a gigantic boost! I was completely on pace and feeling great.
|Kinda looks like I was photo-shopped...|
Miles 10-16 8:03, 8:00, 8:08, 7:58, 7:56, 7:51, 7:49
After seeing my mom, my next focus was on getting to Autzen Stadium, home of Oregon football at mile 16. This course was really easy to break down into 3 manageable chunks, so all I did after reaching the river was count down the miles to the stadium. I’m really glad we had driven this section of the course the day before, because I wasn’t paying ANY attention during the race! My playlist was exactly on point, and I was in the zone. I thought I had broken away from the pace group after mile 10, but there was a group of about 5 or 6 runners who were sneaking into my peripheral vision around mile 12, and I realized that I needed to drop the pace, so I just started repeating my mantra of #headdowndowork and chugged along to the stadium
Miles 17-21 7:48, 7:52, 7:58, 8:12, 8:07
|Hi Mom!!!! Only 5 miles left!|
After the last hill of a freeway overpass, I hit the stadium and set my next goal – seeing my mom at mile 21! After the stadium, the course joins the bike trail along the Willamette River. It’s shady, mostly flat, and super pretty…BUT it’s a concrete sidewalk path :/ Since I had done most of my long runs on the trails, I hadn’t worn my race shoes for more than a 90 minute run. Well, my feet could tell. They could feel every pebble and seam on the path…grr. I didn’t end up with any blisters, but I was definitely on a Cinderella search for long run shoes after the race. So my new mantra became - “5 miles to mom” “less than 5 miles to mom” “4.5 miles to mom” until I saw her screaming and smiling face as I was coming off the bridge. I literally repeated each phrase to the cadence of my footsteps for those next 5 miles.
Miles 22-25 7:57, 8:06, 8:07, 7:58
Mentally, these were the toughest miles of the day. It was getting hot, my calves were on the brink of cramping, and I just wanted to be done. My pace slipped a little bit, but I knew that I was so close! Then, at mile 25, Shipping Off to Boston by The Dropkick Murphy’s came blasting through my headphones, and kicked my butt into gear! I knew at that point that I would reach my goal of safely qualifying for Boston. But I wasn’t going to let my goal of running 3:30 slip through my fingers without a fight! Plus 3 of the women that I thought I had dropped came running by out of nowhere, and I wasn’t going to let them go!
Mile 26.2 (.4) 7:41, 3:04
|No Mercy - it is a race, you know!|
Unfortunately, I still haven’t figured out how to run the tangents, and with all of the weaving through other runners that happens in a big race, my Garmin had been beeping the mile splits a bit before each mile marker on the course, so I knew that I was going to run a bit over 26.2 miles…it ended up being an extra .2. (According to my Garmin, my pace was 8:01 - which would have been 3:30.11 - now I have my next marathon goal set!!) But I gave that last mile and change everything I had left, even running a girl down in the finisher’s chute. I was going to squeeze every last second out of myself. As we hit the entrance to Hayward field, my mind flew back to my 400 meter days in high school, and I threw down one hell of a finishing kick. Even though I didn’t hit my secret 3:30 goal, I was absolutely ecstatic about my day.
|Negative Splits - hey oh!|
Overall Time: 3:31.47 – 8min30sec PR and I’m going to Boston!
|The hat and jacket have been sitting in my closet, waiting for the day I qualified!|
As I wound my way through the medals, water, food, I saw my mom at the end of the runner area crying and cheering – honestly it makes me tear up even now! I couldn’t ask for a better cheerleader and I am so so so lucky to have her by my side!
|Poured all kinds of #heartandcourage out on the course!|
We feasted on pancakes (which I am now addicted to and are my pre-ride fuel every Saturday), then walked back to the car – granny style. Back at the Air B&B, our host had put a bag of ice in the freezer for my ice bath – she absolutely rocked and the place was a gem – so I got my recovery started before we ate some more and drank some beer. We ended the day with a late night ice cream run at Prince Pucklers…soooo good.
Monday we had a late flight and managed to squeeze in one more bucket list item – a trip to Multnomah Falls. I’ve made 3 trips up to Oregon in the past 2 years and finally was able to make it here. We took a nice and easy recovery stroll to the top of the falls, then continued our recovery feasting on a delicious pizza at Dove Vivi before heading back to normal life.
If you stuck with this report to the end, God bless you – it was a beast! But this was one of the best weekends and I couldn’t be more proud, so it’s definitely something I want to remember. Huge thank you to Coach Muddy for guiding me every step to this endurance sport journey, Dave Ledesma for massaging my tired muscles to get them race ready, Alex Harrison at RP for getting my diet on point to race my best, the whole Coeur Sports crew for the most comfortable gear and oodles of inspiration, my #tripletsforlyfe, my husband who supports and understands my crazy addiction, and my mom for being the best Sherpa and race travel buddy around.
|I will definitely be back to this race - absolutely in love!|