Monday, May 16, 2011

Eugene Marathon Surprise

Gail and I had run the inaugural Eugene Marathon a few years back. It was a pretty good course but running it once was enough for me. But this year Gail's co-worker Mary was running her first Marathon there and had asked Gail to run it with her. The RD's had changed the finish from boring to pretty interesting by being able to finish on the famous Hayward field track. That was enough to get me to run it again, plus I really like the bike path part that runs along the Willamette River. So off we went to Eugene.

Mary and Gail ready to rock!

Up early on race day we drove over and met Mary and her mom only a few blocks from the start line. We got lucky as it was a rare blue sky and cool morning. We have had nothing but clouds and rain all Spring here in the Northwest. Over at the start we hung out and chatted with folks. The set up was good with not too long of lines for the blue boxes. I was in the A corral but wanted to run with Mary and Gail for the start so we got about half way into the pack to start. We did the Slug cheer then off we went about 5 minutes after 7 am.

"OK it is just a tad cool"

Fathead steals all the sun.

It was pretty crowded at first with probably 5,000 runners. This included all the half marathoners too. You couldn't get a good rhythm until about the 1 mile point. Somewhere around there I left the girls and pushed it a tad. The course winds through some Eugene neighborhoods then follows a two lane road with a slight upgrade.

By mile four I was thinking this might not be much fun today. I just didn't have a good feeling about running. I was running about 9:10 pace, not what I thought I might do. I didn't really have a goal for this race until I could see how I would feel for the day.

Mile five I picked up the pace to 8:45 or so and pretty much held this until mile 10 when the only bathroom break of the day was needed. This was right back at the start finish line so there was no waiting. From here on we cruised into Springfield for some more city street running. I held the 8:45 pace except the aid stations when i needed 20 seconds or so to fill my water bottles. I was only eating a half bag of chomps and maybe a gel every 45 minutes but was hydrating about 25 ounces an hour.

At the half point I was at 1:58, which 2:00 hours was my goal and then I would see how I felt if I should push it up on the second half. Well, I was feeling real good with no pains at all so I decided to just try and keep the 8:40 pace or so going for as long as I could. If I bonk I bonk.

We were headed back west out of Springfield towards the trails along the river. We went by Autzen stadium and there were quite a few folks out cheering so that was fun. Back on the river trail I was really feeling it. I cranked the old man tunes on the iPod and pushed on. I started doing the math and figured a sub 4 might just happen today. That was cool and unplanned event. I passed Darin and the guy he was pacing, had a few words and I motored on.

Mile 17 I noticed I slowed just a tad. My watch would show 8:50's or so for the next few miles. Mile 20 came and went and I felt good. As usual this is when you start seeing the folks that have begun walking. I always feel sad because I have been there many times before. It sucks when you think you will have the gas to run the entire distance but come to find out you just can't or don't want to.

Mile 24 I really started smelling the barn. No one had passed me in probably 15 miles at least. I was doing the passing. I picked the pace back up to 8:45 but a woman passed me and I tried to keep close but she had little faster legs than me. When mile 25 hit I still felt pretty good and kept the same pace. But I think it was about mile 25.5 when I said "I think I am ready to be done." My pace slowed down by only a few seconds. As we came close to Hayward field the crowds got pretty noisy. Sean was there yelling "Go Fatboyee!!!" That was fun. We turned onto the track and had 200 meters left. I poured it on which is rare for me as I usually just trot it across the finish line. But I wanted to make sure when I crossed the gun time still said 3 hours and something. Not 4 something.

So many great runners have been here.

So I crossed in 3:55, an 8:58 pace for the day and a 1:58/1:56 negative split which means I probably don't run fast enough at the start. But that's the way it is with me. I just hate running hard at the beginning. This was my third fastest marathon with my best being 3:52 at Portland two years ago. Im pretty happy with this, being 51 years old and weighing in at a chubby 225 pounds.

Sweet finish line crowd.

I waited for Mary and Gail and luckily I got them videoed crossing the line at 4:30. They were both all smiles and in fact ended up with the exact same time. It was fun to see someone run their first marathon again, just like Staci did last month at Vernonia. This is a huge accomplishment and anyone who can do this is a champion.

Gail's 54th and Mary's 1st marathon

The finish line food was pretty lame for big expensive marathon. I give them a 2 on after race refreshments...boring! The aid stations were all good and plenty. The first half of the course was generic but the last 10 miles are great. The course is basically flat except for some minor uphill at the start and a few 2 block grunt climbs early on. You do a couple of overpasses too. Fun run but probably wouldn't do it every year unless it got cheaper. But for a first marathon I think it's and excellent choice. I sure had fun. Especially when I had Fatboyee on my bib. Folks would start to yell my name then quietly stop and they became embarrassed. It is a fun prank to do now and then.

This is what it's all about.

Well I got McDonald Forest 50k up next and my hill legs have gone missin' I think. Should be an interesting day.


olga said...

Man, you're making me feel bad about myself with your 3:58 and 225...I don't like you very much!

Sarah said...

Nice job with the sub 4 negative split! My marathon PR is that inaugural Eugene marathon. I may have to go back someday.