Eugene Marathon Race Report
|April 30, 2012||Posted by Emily under Uncategorized|
And I don’t really know how. Hopefully you didn’t come looking for answers.
19.5 minute PR, minutes under my goal time, negative splits, marathon magic. 3:08.01. I might never get tired of typing/saying/plastering my wallpaper with that number.
(ps ignore the whole AG win, that’s a lie, I’m 27, some girl is going to be very happy when Eugene corrects that result)
I am still heavily immersed in disbelief and overwhelming amounts of happiness. So, bear with me as I try and talk about the race.
When I made the final decision to make Eugene my goal marathon a couple of weeks ago, I started to think realistically about my time goal. My PR going into this race was a 3:27 and I’d tried to break that stupid 3:20 barrier no less than 3 times. When I started this training cycle, 3:19 was all I thought about, and all I wanted. But recently, it started to become clearer to me that I’m a stronger runner than a 3:19 marathoner. While I didn’t want to blow my ultimate goal in pursuit of an overly ambitious time, I also didn’t want to play it safe with an easy goal. When choosing between something that’s easy and something that’s a challenge, I choose challenge.
So, I kind of secretly revised my goal to a 3:15. I told some running friends, my family, and anyone who asked about Eugene in the days leading up to it, but I mostly kept it on the DL so external race day pressure would be at a minimum.
The night before the race, my running friend told me I’d run a 3:14 the next day. I nearly killed him over cross country g-chat. How dare he take my already ambitious goal time and not appreciate what a HUGE accomplishment that would be. I dropped a lot of curse words, played the disappointment card, and told him I would be ecstatic with anything close to a 3:15 and please get on the same page as me, OR ELSE. I was confident I could do a 3:19 marathon, I was not confident in a 3:15 and I certainly didn’t think I could go any faster, but I was pumped to shoot for it.
Race morning, I woke up feeling perfect. My legs were ready, I was rested, I choked down as many carbs as I could handle, made with the perfect variety of peanuts
When we got to the race, I separated myself from the other girls at the start, pumped some tunes at a deafening volume (sorry, ears and hearing capabilities), and got in the zone.
I felt perfect and beyond ready to run a marathon.
When the gun went off, I let the racers around me sprint ahead and worked to settle into my own pace. The first couple of miles felt stupid easy even though they were clocking in faster than my 7:25 goal pace.
Mile 1- 7:09
Mile 2- 7:11
For the next couple of miles, I shit you not, I probably checked my garmin several thousand times. I could not get myself into a rhythm. Finally, with the help of a slight incline, I slowed my pace down to target speed for a couple of miles.
Mile 4- 7:25
Enjoy the sight of two perfect goal pace miles, that’s the last you’ll be seeing of it for the rest of this race report.
And then, as I was checking my watch for the 7,019th time, I spotted my friend Mason up ahead, scolding me via loud yelling for the garmin stalking.
“STOP LOOKING AT YOUR WATCH” quickly became one of the most frequently uttered (read: YELLED) phrases of the race.
Mason was hopping around the course, offering his stellar pace skills to a few of us PR chasing marathoners. When he jumped in with me, he dropped more than one of the aforementioned lines and probs almost nearly ripped the watch off of my wrist as I kept ignoring his instructions. I kept thinking he was running just enough ahead of me that he wouldn’t be able to tell if I did a quick twist and glance. But, nope, every time my stealth garmin moves proved to be no match for this man and his peripheral vision skills.
“STOP LOOKING AT YOUR WATCH!”
“But I can’t find my pace, I’m running too fast!”
“Okay,” he retorted. “But how do you feel?”
“I feel great.”
“So let yourself run a little fast.”
“But, but, but, what if I blow up because I ran a stupid first half.”
“Then you’ll fall back on the time you’re banking now.”
I glared a little at him, as I knew we were holding a pace closer to a 7:15-7:20 and started drafting the part of my race report in my head where I would blame Mason for forcing me to go too fast and ruin my race.
It went a little like “F Mason. I know I should have told him to slow down, but he should have known better, one week ago, he was telling me to run 7:30 splits and now he’s just cool with me busting out some 7:15s. F Mason. RIP PR marathon. F Mason.”
(kidding Mason…thanks for believing in me, you’re the best)
At the 10k mark, he glanced at the clock and said “Sweaty, you are at exactly a 7:15 pace.”
I glared back, “okay, great, M-Dawg, little fast, don’t you think?”
He pretended not to hear me. I’m onto him.
After getting me up a hill around Mile 8-9ish, he sent me on my way and went off in search of one of his other PR girls. I tried to stop stalking my watch, pretty unsuccessfully, and tried to slow down a little, also unsuccessfully.
At Mile 12, my ipod gave me the “low battery” warning. I had strategically front loaded my playlist with a mix of country songs to try and mellow out my pace in the early miles. Clearly, this was not a huge success. I dropped some f bombs and decided to turn it off and save the music for when I really needed it, silently lamenting the loss of my jams.
But as soon as I turned off the music, I was overcome with a wave of pure bliss. We had just started running on a beautiful path through the woods, and along the Willamette River. I went from thinking about nothing but my pace every 2 seconds, to being so grateful and so happy that I was out running a marathon. Running not just a marathon, but a PR paced, injury comeback marathon. At that moment, there was nowhere I’d rather be, and nothing I’d rather be doing.
Unlike most races, I was completely oblivious to my projected finish time, other than the fact that I was clearly below my 3:15 goal. When I hit the half, I was exactly at 1:35.
I thought about some people stalking my results back home, pictured them freaking out about what a stupid race I was running, and tried to send them mental reassurance that everything would be okay.
When I saw my half split, I was convinced I would positive split and could care less. As long as I hit that 3:15, I didn’t care if my race was a little stupidly executed. For the first time all race, I did some mental math to figure out what kind of splits I would need to run to hit my goal, and ended my midrace math session certain I could achieve that time.
For the next few miles, I focused on settling into a pace. I kept backing off, forcing myself into a zen zone, and absorbing the experience. I smiled like a giddy fool at every person who cheered or clapped as I ran by.
Around Mile 14, I stopped being convinced I would hit a wall. While I thought some drop in pace would be inevitable, I started chanting to myself “you ARE a 3:12 marathoner, you ARE a 3:12 marathoner, you ARE a 3:12 marathoner.” I thought about my training cycle, and how much I had improved, I told myself that 3:15 was just an arbitrary number I’d picked. Why do all runners aim for such round goal times? Maybe I should have been visualizing a 3:12.56 and not an even 3:15. Bottom line, I chose to believe in myself and stopped trying to back off the pace just because I went into the race with a different goal. I thought about all of the reasons why I could be capable of beating my goal time.
At Mile 16, I teared up like a sap as I ran through campus. I flashbacked to the moment I climbed up the last monstrous hill of my bike leg at Ironman Lake Placid, and cried, not because I was in so much pain from riding 112 hilly miles (though, I certainly was also that), but because I was so grateful and so overwhelmed by the people cheering me onto the top. That same feeling hit me as I ran past some of the amazing PNW women who were out cheering for us, and the families and marathon spectators lining the path. At that moment, I knew I was going to surprise myself with my finish and I was so frickin’ excited about it.
…arguably a little too excited.
After Mile 16, my legs were starting to feel like they were running a marathon.Nothing horrible, but some slight muscle fatigue definitely showed up to join the party.
As I entered into the single-digit-mileage-remaining-zone, the fatigue was a not issue.10, 9, 8, 7 miles seemed so manageable. And that last 10k? Man, was I excited to make that 6.2 miles my bitch. While plenty of people can train to be in the exact same physical condition I am, I know that my ability to stay mentally strong in a race is huge. I was ready to take my body, in whatever shape it was, to the finish line as hard as I could as soon as I saw the Mile 20 marker.
Shortly after Mile 18, I saw Amanda, one of my lovely HTC teammates out cheering. As soon as I passed her, it was game on. I started to focus all of my energy on that finish line. I stopped caring what my garmin said, and just ran strong.
From that point on, nearly all of my miles were clocking in at a sub 7 pace. I was pretty much totally oblivious to this, thank God, or else I probably would have slowed down a butt ton, but I thought about all of the races I’ve finished in my life, feeling way worse that I did at that moment, strong and without giving up.
Around Mile 22, I really started to feel like I was at the end of a marathon. My legs were tired, my breathing was getting heavier, and I was ready to be done.
After a long race of not calculating my potential finish time, I started to realize that not only was a 3:10 within reach, but so was a sub 3:10. At every mile marker, I did the math to figure out what pace I needed to maintain to get me there under 3:10.
At 22.5, I saw Mason again. He jumped in with me and my first words, not shockingly were “I think I can do this under 3:10”
He looked back and said “don’t ruin your 3:12 for a 3:10. You came here for a 3:15, remember that.”
I glared a little, said something along the lines of “yeah, yeah, yeah, give me nuun.”
According to him, at this point, he fell behind me a little to assess how strong I looked. He decided I absolutely had it in me to actually do it, and started to push me. He yelled at me, probably no less than 24 times to stop looking at my watch and kept telling me to take sips of my water.
And also demanded he look at his watch.
My exact words: “If I’m at Mile 23.27 with x total time of running, how fast do I need to run to get there under 3:10.”
Mason, apparently not as big of a fan as midrace mental math, just said “you’ve got this, Halnon.”
When we got to 24, I really started to struggle. Those final miles were hard. By 25, Mason was telling me I could walk it in and still be under 3:10.
By 25.5 he was telling me I was flirting with a 3:07.
My response, f bomb heavy as always, “I don’t effing care about a 3:07, I came here for a 3:15 and I’m about to run under 3:10. How the hell is this happening?”
My next line was something along the lines of “I am leaving everything I have on this course. This marathon has absolutely everything I came with and then some. Hope you’re enjoying my sweat, Eugene.”
I think Mason simply said something like “how is it you’ve never run a 3:20 before?”
Sore subject, Mason.
At 25.5, Mason dropped me to go and run more people in, and I took every ounce I had left to run into Hayward, circle that track, and sprint into the finish.
Apparently there was something resembling a hill here. I was oblivious to anything but my need to get to the finish.
Proof that I, or at least my butt, was at Hayward!
Final .2-6:59 pace
I crossed the finish line with a 3:07.59 on my watch. I knew the official results might be a 3:08. I didn’t care. I was beyond ecstatic.
Because, no lie, I left it all out there, I started to get that holy shit can’t breathe feeling right after I crossed the finish, at the same time, I started happy crying. I was walking around the finish area, hands on my head to keep my lungs open, sobbing. I’m sure the volunteers thought I was on my marathon death bed, and I was powerless to tell them otherwise.
The Eugene Marathon was the best race of my life. It still hasn’t really hit me. I exceeded every expectation I had for the race, for myself, and for my running potential yesterday. Thanks to everyone for the good lucks leading up to the race and for the congrats after the finish.
I am overwhelmed by how much I love this sport and the running community. From start to finish, this has been the perfect weekend. Based on how everyone did yesterday, I’m pretty sure there is something magical about the Eugene Marathon.
Eugene, Oregon: forget Tracktown, USA, you are for sure PR City.