Thursday, June 5, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Eugene Marathon 2013

I am stealing this idea shamelessly from Lindz and recapping past races because I didn't blog when I ran these, and of course they need to be memorialized! Plus it's a good way for me to continue figuring out how to blog! (Oh... just write words. Got it!)

On that note, let's start with the Eugene Marathon last April! This was one of the best 'marathon weekends' I've done, where it was more than just to show up, chill, do the race. 

Background on my training for this race, since there isn't 4 months of blog-log to detail what I did. I followed the Hanson Marathon Method advanced plan. I ran almost every single workout as written, altering a few due to niggling 'is that a potential injury' or due to illness, because heck, it started in winter and of course I got strep. I completed the 18 week training cycle feeling strong, capable, and ready to really race a PR. 

And then there was the taper. One week out from Eugene, I was going downstairs in my house, and caught my heel in my sweats, falling down the stairs on my back side! Immediate panic ensued as I tried to catch my breath/assess my body. It ended up being just a big ol' bruise in my booty and sore back. Test run the next morning and it was painful when my butt jiggled every step (yes, it does that. Also, my thighs touch. Bam) but it was tolerable. I felt relieved. I ran downtown with my sister, her jogger, and was feeling optimistic again. Then, on the walk back to my car, I had put on flip flops, and it was raining. I was thinking to myself to be careful, it was slick. The very next step my feet slipped on the concrete and I landed flat on my back on the sidewalk! Thanks to my Oiselle spike bag I was buffered from slamming my head into the ground but the fall still snapped me. A passing car stopped to check on me, and offered to drive me home. I think I baffled them as I blubbered hysterically trying to explain that I was fine NOW but "I... have... a... marathon *sob sob hiccup gulp*" I iced my neck all day, and the next day. I got an emergency massage and a visit to my chiropractor revealed whiplash, and both guys seemed skeptical about my race. Two days later, I was on antibiotics for strep again as well. It was the taper week from hell. I was so confident, and this week took me down. I waffled from confident, to embracing any finish time, to the possibility of a DNF. I accepted all the outcomes. I let go of my BQ dream. I just planned to enjoy the trip. 

Friday morning I dropped kidlet off at school, letting him believe that he was spending the weekend with Papa and Lori while I traveled. I kept it a secret that he would be going on his first flight! Around lunch, I went to the school and snuck into his class to surprise him with a toy plane and a note telling him he was coming! He was speechless with excitement and then cried. It was so fun to kick off the trip that way. We got cupcakes and then headed off to the airport! 
Sea-Tac waiting to fly to Eugene
 We arrived in Eugene Friday evening to stay with my cousin Liesel and her family. I hadn't seen her in more than 10 years and was so excited to visit! We stayed in her beautiful home and I absolutely was ready to move there within 5 minutes of landing. Ben hit it off with the other kidlets, including Liesel's twin girls! She fed us an amazing meal of mexican lasagna and salad and we relaxed and hung out catching up. I ended up going to bed kind of early because of the travel and I was exhausted.

Saturday morning I was up early and had a yummy breakfast... seriously, I wanted to ask Liesel to adopt me... there was talk of needing a nanny later on in her year, and I was genuinely willing to be said nanny just to stay. She took me down to UO so I could go on a shake out run with Oiselle birds and bloggers. I was a little like a fan girl meeting so many women who's blogs/twitters I already stalked, and several new people who I now follow/read/fangirl. I was tempted to ask them all to autograph my Winona tank, but I contained myself .We ran on Pre's trail and chatted, shifting groups/paces to talk to everyone. It was so beautiful and surreal to be running around Eugene. Running town USA! It wasn't my first trip to Eugene or running on Hayward Field, but it was still incredible.
Working up some allergies on Pre's trail with the birds! 
Liesel picked me up when it was over, and we got ready for lunch. There was a lot of socializing and meetups among the other athletes, but I was content to spend the time with my family and keep from overthinking my race with all the other goal talk that was likely flying around. We got burgers for lunch and they dropped me at the expo. I was so lucky to stay with family who kept Ben occupied so that I didn't have to tote him around to boring things. I wandered around the expo, visiting with newfound friends I'd met that morning and shopping. I picked up a pint glass (because duh) and 'the stick'. Unfortunately I left the expo prior to seeing Lauren Fleshman speak, and I was bummed to miss it! Liesel retrieved me and we went to Vanilla Jill's and the Nike Store before going back to her house. From there we just relaxed and she sweetly made my pre-race meal of Chicken Marsala (from scratch, and it was amazing!). Her parents, my aunt and uncle, came for dinner, and I hadn't seen them in years either. It was so nice to see family. I ate as much as I could, prepped all my things for the next morning, painted my race nails, and headed to bed early-ish.

Race morning I was up early! Due to some last minute scheduling, Liesel had to leave earlier than I was up for a trip to Mexico, bummer! Her husband, the twins and Ben were planning to spectate the race. Unfortunately the text updates didn't work out well, and I was always ahead of them when they tried to find me. They were on Agate near. the finish but I never saw them on the course.

I had my coffee, oatmeal, and banana before the taxi arrived to take me to the start. The cabbies were so cool, 2 guys around my age, and we chatted away about the race and kept my nerves at bay until they dropped me at the start. I carried my Nutella toast with me for 30 minutes, ate one bite and finally tossed it. 

I saw some of the girls from the day before, but for the most part waited solo feeling a little lost and lonely. It was my 4th marathon, and not the first time I have been solo at a start line but it felt weird. I found fellow bird Sarah who was running in the Oiselle bridal outfit for the half and waited in the corral with her. The start is a blur, I believe there were words, perhaps a moment of silence for Boston, and Sweet Caroline played as we took off and the marathon was under way. 

From the get-go, I was concerned. In any race, usually the first mile involves reigning it in, feeling fresh, and being eager to race! I was sluggish, my pace was 20 seconds off of my goal pace, and it felt terrible. I tried to keep calm. I have never been a mantra girl, but had been reading Chrissie Wellington's 'A Life without Limits' the week before. "Ebb and Flow" ended up being the thought that carried me through the highs and lows of the day. It started on an ebb. Around mile 2-3 I had to stop and pee, before it got the best of me. I was watching my watch, trying to find a rhythm and struggling. I came through 5k in 25:31, slightly slower than planned but in such a long race, it was fine.

After that, I finally just decided to 'let it roll'. After following the Hanson plan, I had done week after week of goal pace runs and decided to just let go and run however my legs wanted. My pace dropped down and I felt the rhythm come together. There was always an underlying feeling of fatigue and heaviness which I later realized was from the effects of antibiotics on my hydration, as well as the injuries and setback from the weekend before. I hit 10k in 50:06 feeling solid. The 'hill' Eugene offers came along, and I felt fine on it. I saw the Oiselle cheer squad several times in the early parts of the race and felt a little more cheerful and upbeat! I had to check my pace every time I passed them because I would get giddy and pick it up. 

After 10, I know we dropped into some park paths and neighborhoods, but I can't remember much of the course. I focused on people ahead of me and reeled people in, still feeling like I was doing alright. I was taking gels every 5 miles as planned, and eating Honey Stinger chews in between, as well as drinking at every station. I hit the halfway point feeling good in 1:45.12. My pace was picking up each split and I started chanting to myself "you are a 3:30 marathoner, you are a 3:30 marathoner". Not long after this though, everything caught up to me.
Double thumbs up to K-Met and the Bird Squad around 16! 

As we hit the cheer squad around 16 miles I waved to the Oiselle girls and gave a thumbs up. As we ran past, and crossed a foot bridge (uh maybe? Or maybe I made that up) I suddenly felt exhausted. Maybe this was standard fatigue, but it seemed too early, and too heavy. I started worrying a little more, and around 18-19 miles, I was slowing and finally surrendered to my first walk break. I hit 20 miles in 2:41.47 (an average 8:06 pace, my goals still well within reach). I was struggling hard. I tried to run, and we were in the park where there was some shade, but I was not doing well. 
I was just ecstatic the photographer caught this priceless moment of death face. 
From 17 on, I couldn't take in fuel anymore, and after 20, I started throwing up. I would dump water on my head, and try to drink, but nothing was staying down. I was extremely hot and had chills at the same time. Girls with the same goal as mine began passing me. They offered words of encouragement, and I would try to hang on to each one as she passed, but was soon dropped again.

Kidlet finally spotted mom heading into the finish
Honestly, I remember little of the last 6 miles. I was becoming delirious. I was still trying to do math, clinging to my goal of breaking 3:35 and earning my BQ. My math skills were shockingly bad as I believed it was within reach until the last mile. I made it past our shake out run spot, back onto Agate. I saw the Oiselle girls and heard the roar of crowds in Hayward. I walked. My quad cramped so bad that it was walk or faceplant. And there's really no bouncing back from the faceplant is there? Somehow I pulled it together to turn into Hayward and kept telling myself "You don't walk on Pre's track. And you don't puke here either. Just hold it together. Just finish this thing." 
I look a lot stronger than I felt. Fake it til you make it? 
And I did. I forgot to put a hand over heart for Boston... but honestly, I think I had forgotten my name at that point too. I finished in 3:37.05. It wasn't the goal I set and I was very disappointed at first and definitely cried about it afterward, but as more time passed I came to accept what an amazing race it really was, all things considered. Given the fact that I had accepted a possible DNF, or a 4+ hour marathon, I ran much better than I expected. 
Lindsey, me, Amy, and Sarah. I trained with L & A all winter/spring and they ran great marathons (Lindsey's first!) and Sarah raced an awesome half!
After I finished, I found other friends from the weekend, some of whom had crushed their goals and others, like me, who had not had the day they wanted. I have learned from that day, and since, that the marathon is such a fickle beast. Most of them will not be perfect, or even great. The stars will not always align. Hell, most of the time they won't. But that's why we keep trying. I have had the 'unicorn' marathon where it is magical. Running in Eugene was amazing though, in the end. The weekend was perfect and I would gladly return and run again. (But maybe not in July. Put it back in April!)
Tired selfie at home with my medal. Proud of this race!

Who feels a little like a fan girl when they meet 'friends from the internet'? 

How do you overcome a tough week to try and race well?

Best city you've traveled to for a race?? 


  1. Love this :-) Glad you can look back at this race and be proud of what you have accomplished. I was really hoping to do the half in Eugene this April and was really disappointed when they changed it to July -- maybe they'll move it back someday? I also love that your son cried with excitement when he found out he got to go with you!

    1. I hope they move it back! July just isn't cool! Literally and figuratively.

      He's rarely ever speechless. I was impressed. And worried when the first thing he says on the plane is "do people ever throw up on planes?!" but he was great.

  2. "Most of them will not be perfect, or even great. The stars will not always align. Hell, most of the time they won't. But that's why we keep trying." And damn it, we will keep trying! You are incredibly strong for being able to push through that. I admire you and can only dream of becoming as strong a runner as you!

  3. I can't believe you puked and kept running! You are so strong!!!

    Also, I remember meeting you! I see myself in your picture up there from Pre's trail in the fresh green rundelicious. :)

    Did you use HMM and run the 3:30 paces?

    1. I thought that was you in the picture! I remember meeting you too! So many people that weekend!

      So yes, I used HMM and I trained slightly under the 3:30 paces. Most of my Thursday pace runs fell around 7:51 pace. Which isn't what I expected to race at, but my struggle there was that when I tried to run 7:58-8:02 range (for a 3:30 finish) I would spend so much time obsessing over my watch and my paces were very sporadic. When I stopped dwelling, I found I could run consistently at 7:51 so I just rolled with that. I was kind of aiming big for more like 3:27?! So I picked paces between 3:25-3:30 and was able to hit them consistently. But as you can tell from the post, it was the taper circumstances that I think played a big role in the outcome time, not the training. All things considered I still was able to run a strong race, and essentially 'auto-pilot' my pre-planned pace until everything else caught up with me.

      It's definitely an awesome plan. And running 6 days a week really isn't so bad! I wish I had blogged then so there was a recap of it. I know I definitely started feeling stronger as it went along, and I ran a half marathon 7 weeks prior to Eugene as a 'training run' and came within 40 seconds of my 1/2 PR while 'holding back' and running a comfortable effort vs race effort! Feel free to ask ANY questions about it!! :-) So excited to see how it works for you.