Thursday, May 9, 2013

Race Recap: Eugene Marathon

I haven't been this anxious going into a race in a really long time. My nerves were shot and my brain was on overdrive. Eugene was my A race of the spring, but I was not feeling ready. And yet, I came to Eugene, Oregon prepared to give it my best effort. This would be my last full marathon in awhile and I felt pressure to do well (completely all my own doing). My training goal was to hit a 4:15 marathon, but the time to beat was 4:18 for a new PR. What do you know... I split the difference - somewhere between satisfied with a new PR, but yet not completely happy.

Pre-Race Activities in Eugene... read here.

We arrived at the starting line with ample time to take our turn in the portapotties, grab some pre-race photos and then line up in corral C. I was a big fat bundle of nerves. I plugged an earbud in and listened to This Is The Time by Billy Joel. It helped relax me and yet gave me focus at the same time.

Alma, Kim, me and Sally
I lined up behind the 4:15 pace group. My plan was to try to stick with them for the first half - mainly to keep me honest in the beginning. But their pace felt inconsistent to me, and running with a big pack got annoying. So after the third mile, I moved ahead to give myself some distance.
Mile 1 - 9:48
Mile 2 - 9:11
Mile 3 - 9:28

I decided not to carry my water bottle for this marathon. Instead, my plan was to grab from the water stations - small amounts but often. Staying true, I grabbed a cup within the 4th mile against my inner will. I was trying to run this race with my head rather than my heart. I tend to come to the start line with a great race plan... and then toss it all out while I run.

The first part of the race was kind of a blur to me, mostly neighborhoods. By mile 7, we ran by Amazon Park, which was a pretty change of scenery. The road had a bad slant, so I concentrated on my footing and trying to find the flattest area. Then suddenly, I smelled something horrible... It snapped me out of my focus to glance around. That's when I SAW it... the woman in front of me had crapped her pants!! Seriously, poop all down her capris! It took everything I had not to hurl. I sped up and got around her quickly. OMG, it really does happen.
Mile 4 - 9:34
Mile 5 - 9:22
Mile 6 - 9:23  **GU
Mile 7 - 9:25

Right at the mile 8 marker, we hit a significant hill. The steepness of the climb surprised me. There were quite a few spectators on the hill so that helped to keep pushing forward. By mile 9, we were re-entering the university area, right past the finish line. Man, I hate seeing or even hearing the finish when I have 17 more miles to go. Ugh.

The route crossed over the Willamette River and we entered a trail that led into a peaceful park setting. I noticed Kim and Sally up ahead, but lacked any kind of energy to try and catch them. I was having a hard time finding "my groove" in this run. I was all business and not enjoying it much. Very unlike me, but I just couldn't find my "run happy" mode.
Mile 8 - 9:27
Mile 9 - 9:44
Mile 10 - 9:38

At 10.5, we split from half marathoners and zigged along a nice wooded trail.  Shortly, we emptied out into a residential area. The next 5 miles were a boring stretch through neighborhoods in Springfield. At mile 12, I felt tired - which then wore on my confidence since it was way too early to be feeling this way. For the first time, I slowed to a walk through the water station to catch my breathe.  Then came the halfway point, and the math game began for the rest of the race. With the first half in the bank, I quickly calculated that my pace needed to stay just under 10 min/miles to keep the 4:15 in striking distance.
Mile 11 - 9:45
Mile 12 - 9:44
Mile 13 - 9:55  **GU
Half Split - 2:05:28
Mile 14 - 9:38
Mile 15 - 9:55

Shortly before mile 16, we entered into Alton Baker Park. I let out a big breathe, knowing that the worst of the course was behind me. The remaining miles twisted through parks and followed the shoreline of the river. It was pretty and peaceful, but then spots where a burst of spectators would remind me this was a race.  I tried to keep my pace just outside the comfort zone. However, by mile 18, the sun came out and the new heat compounded my exhaustion. I felt my legs slowing down, and before I knew it, the 4:15 pace group was passing me. Sh*t!
Mile 16 - 9:44
Mile 17 - 9:45
Mile 18 - 10:12  **GU

I tried to hang onto the pace group, letting them drag me along. At the mile 20 water stop, I dawdled longer than necessary. Before I knew it, it felt like the pace group sprinted ahead. I began breaking up the remaining miles up into manageable pieces. At this point, I focused on getting to the Owosso Bridge, where the course would turn back towards the finish. This of course, required a little climb to get up and over the bridge. My legs were hating life at that moment... and I turned on my music for the first time - mainly to block out the spectators on the bridge. "Oh, it's just a little hill. You can do it... blah, blah, blah"  I just wasn't in the mood to hear it.
Mile 19 - 10:12
Mile 20 - 10:19
Mile 21 - 10:03

I was now walking through every water station, eagerly looking for any reason to stop running. When I saw the 10:33 split flash on my watch, it kinda woke me up out of a trance. I've gotta keep this together! I was thankful that I took the time to tweek my playlist. The perfect song seemed to talk me forward, step by step.
Mile 22 - 10:33   **GU
Mile 23 - 10:01

With two miles to go, I got a sudden strain in my right groin muscle. It was downright painful and nearly stopped me in my tracks. Then a pain across the top of my left foot... Shoot, I was falling apart! I had a hard conversation with myself. This was it... 2 miles to go. "No doubt. No excuses. No fear." had been my mantra throughout the race... and I was using it in full force right now. I pushed through the pain, determined to finish this thing. The last few miles were so incredibly hard for me, and I'm positive my face showed it. Every time I glanced at a spectator, their face gave me this "you poor thing" look. I focused on the pavement ahead and stopping looking up.
Mile 24 - 10:23
Mile 25 - 10:10

By now, I knew the 4:15 goal is gone, but a PR was still within grasp if I didn't totally give up. My math skills were getting fuzzy, so I just pushed forward as hard as I could.  Empty the tank... Use it all up!  We ran past a softball game in progress. I don't even like playing softball, but at that moment, it looked like a lot more fun. Suddenly, we turned a corner and headed up a long incline. I recognized it from where we had parked earlier. Holy crap, I'm really close to the finish! I found some energy and pushed down the final stretch.

Thanks Kim for the great shot!
Mile 26 - 9:49
and change...
Right at mile 26, I heard and saw Kim and Alma cheering me on. Somehow they forced a smile out of me. The ending happened all too quickly. I came into Hayward Field, turned onto the track and gave all the speed left in me. Regrettably, I didn't even look around or soak in the magnificent atmosphere of this sacred track. I practically fell across the finish line... or so it felt.

Oregon - State #13
Full Marathon #5
Official Chip Time 4:16:53
~ 9:48 average pace ~
PR over 2012 Wisconsin Marathon by 2:03
Overall  #1617 out of 2565
Female  #671 out of 1221
Division 122 out of 210

I have mixed emotions on this race, which made it incredibly hard to make the time to recap it... and even more taxing to relive it. Yup, I just finished with tears.  Eugene was a mentally and physically tough run for me. I PR'ed and yet there was no jubilation at the finish or even a runner's high afterward. Instead, I couldn't shake the feeling of great relief. I was more pleased it was over than about a new PR. So I'm done with full marathons for awhile... back to 13.1 where I can run hard, have fun and not fall apart. Next up... the IronMom Half in Paducah, KY on May 11.


  1. HOW DO YOU DO IT?! i ran my first marathon and i've been out since March.. haha due to injury. CONGRATS!!!

  2. Congrats on a new PR. Marathons are so tough and any PR is a huge victory. Hope you had a good celebration with your family.

  3. What a great recap! Congrats on your PR and way to hold it together around Miss Poopy Pants. I think I'm going to crap my pants all the but I've never actually done it!

  4. Great job!

    congrats on the PR, it's well deserved!

    and OMG YES!! I hate when they have you run past the finish line. They do that with a 30k I do, you run past the finish at around 9km mark.... SO frustrating!!! ;)

  5. I want to run another marathon, but the half marathons call my name! I have run two fulls. I have my 5th and 6th half marathons this year, one in June and one in September. I think that is the perfect distance for me! Although if I get the opportunity to travel somewhere I would love to run another full. It just takes so much training time, time that I dont want to give up right now...maybe someday again!

  6. Oh and CONGRATS that is an awesome time! My PR is currently 4:45, and that was on a completely flat course!

  7. ok first ewwwwwwww, can't believe you saw that....almost can't get past that to say congrats :) I swear running is a strange sport somedays it is like flying and others like dragging your feet through mud. Glad you were able to pull out a shiny new PR!

  8. Wow, I have been following you for a few weeks on facebook, but this is my first recap of yours that I have taken the time to read. I want to tell you that you inspire me. Thank you for your honesty! We need to talk about these times, when we are not feeling good, when we wish we had not started. And then share the moments when we remember why we do this. I think your honesty will help lots of newbies, and seasoned runners alike. It reminds me of when I became a new Mom. I know some people told me that child birth would hurt, and I knew it from movies etc.. but NO ONE told me that for 3 days afterwards I would pee myself every time I stood up!! Is it all worth it? Of course!!! But now I lovingly tell my preggo friends, mainly so they will know that they are not abnormal. And just like childbirth, running/walking a half or a full.. anything can happen.

    I have never run a full. I have completed 6 halfs, two of which I puked during or after! Never thought that would happen to me, but it did! So now I am honest with myself to expect the best, but "prepare for puke!" :) Thank you again for sharing your story!

  9. CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are awesome!

  10. congrats!! i'm with you on the excited to get back to halves train! they're challenging yet don't crush you if they don't work out exactly how you want. plus you can still walk to sightsee if you're in a new place! :) can't believe that girl crapped her pants! OMG

  11. Way to go! What an amazing accomplishment. It was so fun reading your recap because since I grew up there I recognize all of the landmarks! :)

  12. Thanks for being honest! And congratulations! I am still struggling with whether to try a full marathon, & I still have plenty of time to think about it while coming back from injury. I do love the 13.1 distance though! I will try that again first, I hope!

  13. I'm sorry you didn't feel better about your PR. You really did an amazing job and what an accomplishment!
    Good luck this weekend. Can't wait to see your final outfit.

  14. Congrats on the PR. You ran a good marathon girl. We are our own worst enemy. Now time to enjoy your little ones, now that it is summer time.

  15. Congrats on the new pr...and on listening to yourself! You did awesome but your Jess pep wasn't there and thus...take a break from the full!! I have to love the picture of you on the track...the guy behind you is HILARIOUS!!!

  16. Congrats on your PR! It was funny - when I started reading this post, it could have been my own race recap with the goals involved. I cannot believe you were running behind a lady who crapped her pants. Seriously - who DOES that?

  17. Congrats on the PR!! I need to know....I know the poop happens but would you keep going??? I would have to stop....running with poop in my pants is something nightmares are made of!

  18. I think you're amazing, Jess! Great job! And I cannot believe that lady pooped and kept on running. If it happens, it happens, but get off the course, find a tree, a bush- something and clean up! That is disgusting to make the other runners be scarred by seeing and smelling that!!!

  19. Congratulations! Great pace the entire time! Your mile splits were pretty great! I hope to run Eugene one day!

  20. I felt the same way after my last marathon. Until Mile 20 I was on time for a 4:15 finish but I just felt off the whole time. I even didn't want to run anymore and walked a lot the last 6 miles. I still finished with a 2 min PR, but I was not happy. I decided not to run a marathon this year and decided to do 13 halfs in 2013. Love this challenge!

  21. Congratulations on a great race and a new PR! I totally hear the disappointment and relief, as that's how I feel about my last half. Now's your time to recup and enjoy a little off time before your fall schedule. You're amazing - a PR is awesome!

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  23. Congratulations on a job well done! You are such a motivation! Love the poopy pants story - I followed one of those last year in Pittsburgh and could not get away from her for several miles. I felt super sorry for her but good grief.

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  25. I think you did incredible! Great work! Something to be VERY proud of!!!!! love the pics and recap!

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  29. Congratulations on your new PR Jess!

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