I ran the Eugene Marathon this past Sunday and it was a blast. The mostly flat and scenic course helped me eke out a new marathon PR, besting my previous marathon time by about 9 minutes. Kirsten and I drove down to Eugene the night before and stayed in a hotel rather than attempt getting up really early to drive down the day of. It was really nice because the hotel was only a couple blocks from the start/finish line. Kirsten ran the half marathon and did really well.
The race started on Agate Street, right in front of Hayward Stadium and first took us on a 9 mile out and back. From there we headed east out to Springfield, then looped around and joined a trail system that followed along side the Willamette River for several miles. Finally, at around mile 20 we crossed back over the river and headed back toward Hayward Stadium.
I hadn’t banked a lot of miles prior to this race, and most of those miles were slow trail miles to boot. So, I wasn’t expecting a PR – but I did feel pretty good running my 9.5 minute pace for the first 12-14 miles. Based on that I kept the pedal down as long as I could, but as expected the wheels started to squeak around mile 18 (its always the evil mile 18).
I had some pretty bad pain coming from my right big toe. It always seems to cause me grief, so I taped it up pre-race thinking I might dodge a bullet. Nope! It became pretty clear that I had some serious blister action that wasn’t going away. Somewhere along the river I jumped off the path and sat down on a bench. I quickly shed my shoe and 2 layers of socks (Injinji toe socks, covered with a thin Coolmax sock). I fetched a tube of Lidocain creme out of my pocket and quickly daubed my blister. Within a minute I was back on the trail and hoping the pain would diminish. Nothing changed for about a mile, but before I knew it the excruciating throbbing had mostly subsided. I could definitely still feel my blister, but with more than 6 miles to go that stuff really saved me.
Around mile 22 I was really feeling out of gas. I had been pushing gel and salt caps every hour, along with both Gatorade and water at most every aid station. I was hoping to push that wall out an extra mile or two – but it didn’t seem to help much. The last 4 miles or so were mentally and physically challenging. I occasionally saw runners trying to stretch away cramps. I saw a young girl puking (for the 3rd or 4th time) and felt really bad for her. I was just pleased that my condition hadn’t degraded that far. I did some walk/run alternating a few times but I hated knowing that my good finish time was slipping away. Soon thereafter I saw the top of Hayward Stadium looming off in the distance and knew it would soon be over.
As I turned up Agate Street and toward the stadium gate I could hear some cheering and cowbell (more cowbell). I shuffled through the gate and onto the track toward the finish. I had been looking forward to this part for more than 4 hours. Not only finishing – so that the pain would end, but also enjoying the privilege of running in the footsteps of some legendary athletes. As I rounded the last turn and heard my name called – I raised my arms briefly and crossed over the timing mats, ending my third full marathon with a new PR.
I was very pleased to realize that my legs felt pretty good post-race. In my previous 2 marathons (both in Portland), I was completely destroyed after crossing the finish. So, maybe this is progress and my body is finally getting conditioned for this type of torture. Swathed in a foil wrapper and feeling like a day-old Costco hot dog, I shuffled over to the food tables and began to nosh. The bag of Famous Amos cookies hit the spot, then I grabbed a plate of pancakes. On the way out I grabbed a couple of bananas as well. Luckily the hotel was close by so I managed to walk a few blocks and had time for a quick shower before the noon check out time.
All in all it was a great race. I think the RD, organizers and volunteers did a fabulous job. Barring any injuries I expect to be back next year with a fresh assault toward a new marathon PR. Congrats to Kirsten for completing her first ever “road” half (she ran the Timberline Trail Half last year). She got herself a nice PR and is look forward to Helvetia soon.
Marathon and Half Marathon results are posted here.
Gear used: Nike hat & shorts, Injinji socks, Zensah compression leg sleeves, Oakley glasses, Adidas Supernova Glide shoes (brand new – not broken in), GU gel, Saltstick caps, Zoot race belt, Amphipod Race Lite Go Pocket.