Bunchgrasser’s World

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Posts Tagged ‘Eugene Marathon’

2010 Eugene Marathon = New PR for me!

Posted by bunchgrasser on May 4, 2010

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.

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2009 Vernonia Half Marathon – Race Report

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 8, 2009

vernonia-half-bc_img_02431I made a last minute decision to run the Vernonia Half Marathon this past Saturday, April 4 and I’m very glad I did. I was simply looking for an organized race to gauge my fitness level in preparation for the Eugene Marathon next month. The Vernonia Half was roughly a 30 minute drive from my home, not terribly expensive and had a fairly small number of runners participating (around 160).

I had never run this race before, and as I understand it was cancelled last year due to serious flooding in the city of Vernonia. I arrived about an hour early on race day and in spite of the 30 degree temperature outside, the sun was promising to break through the fog eventually. Vernonia is a smallish city tucked into a charming little river valley. Driving through the city takes you back to a time when Main Street was still the center of commerce. Absent entirely were strip malls and other evidence of modern suburbia.

I easily found parking less than 100 feet from Anderson Park, where race day registration and packet pick-up was located. In less than 5 minutes I had my race bib pinned to my shirt and was ready for the 9:30am start. I’m normally used to long lines and crowds, so this was a refreshing change. I warmed up with a slow jog around the block a couple of times and then crossed over the river on the footbridge to the Vernonia High School track which served as the start line for this race. After milling around for a few minutes, we were given a verbal start and the small group of runners were off!

The first segment of this point-to-point race was a two mile out-and-back to the lake on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. Then we crossed back over the footbridge, past Anderson Park and continued away from town. The Bank-Vernonia State Trail is an old, converted railroad bed that meanders through scenic woods for most of the race. The trail was paved for roughly the first half of the race but turned to gravel somewhere close to the midpoint. There were several rough areas that were newly graveled and also a couple of large mud holes that were downright hard to navigate. I really enjoyed the Zen-like, peaceful run on the paved trail through the woods. The cool air, shade and mossy green colors were a stark contrast to your typical urban half marathon course. The latter half of the course was definitely a trail run which offered its share of challenges. Not really mentioned in the race description were the two short, but steep, quad-burning hills that slowed me down to a walk. The first hill was located near the middle of the course where you cross the main highway. The second hill is in the last quarter mile where you switch from the trail to the highway for the last uphill push to the finish in LL “Stub” Stewart State Park. There were several water stations along the way (3-4 if I recall correctly) and at least one that was also serving Gatorade.

I didn’t start this race with any intention of getting a PR. But my splits early in the race were good and at mile 7 my Garmin GPS watch showed a pretty decent overall time. Encouraged by this I decided to attempt beating my old half marathon record. By the final half mile and in spite of slowing to a fast walk on the last steep hill, I was just under my record so I pushed hard and crossed the finish with a 1:53:32 time, effectively beating my previous half marathon record by 3 minutes. Certainly not an impressive time as compared to many of the talented runners that day, but I always try to remember that I’m 42 years old, only competing against myself and that any PR is a good PR!

The race organizers had water, bananas and oranges waiting at the finish, as well as the clothing bags that we had sent forward to the finish line. I put on my fleece and running pants and then boarded the big yellow school bus that shuttled us back to Anderson Park for the awards ceremony, food and raffle. After eating hot chicken noodle soup, muffins, cookies and hot coffee I laid down to relax in the sunshine for a few minutes. My body was sore and tired, but for those few minutes the world seemed perfect.

A short while later the awards were given out to both men’s and women’s age group winners. Congratulations to overall winner and local Vernonia runner, Tim Pillow who crossed the finish line with a very quick 1:19:29 time. After the awards ceremony there was a raffle which included prizes of both long sleeve technical running shirts and pies. Yes, you heard me correctly…I did say pies. Not realizing how much I desperately wanted one of those pies, I wandered up to the front of the crowd and listened for my number to be called. One-by-one the shirts and pies disappeared with each number called, until the last one was gone. I guess it wasn’t my year for a pie – but I did get a PR and I thoroughly enjoyed running the 2009 Vernonia Half Marathon. My hat is off to the city of Vernonia, ORCC, Mark Barrett (Race Director), all of the race volunteers and the folks at Vernonia Cares who provided the hot soup and pies!

I’m planning to be back next year and I would unconditionally encourage others to consider running this race next year as well! Race results have been posted on the ORCC website. Race photos are available here, courtesy of Brian F Conaghan Photography.


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My 2009 running goals

Posted by bunchgrasser on January 3, 2009

Today is January 3rd, 2009 and I’ve decided to get an early start on my running goals for the year. The previous couple of years I kind of just did whatever felt right at the time but didn’t really set specific goals. My only true goal for last year was to train for, and complete my first marathon. I achieved this goal on October 5, 2008 when I finished the Portland Marathon in 4:33:53. Not a terribly impressive finish time – but I was thrilled to have my first marathon out of the way.

This year I plan to build on this achievement by running 2 marathons (one in the Spring and one in the Fall). My goals for 2009 are listed below:

  1. Remain injury free throughout 2009
  2. Break 1000 total miles for the 2009 calendar year
  3. Run the Eugene Marathon in under 4:10
  4. Run the Portland Marathon in under 4:00
  5. Run two Half Marathons (both under 2:00)
  6. Run at least two shorter races (5k-15k)

Well, there they are. Pretty simple when you look at them in print. I doubt I’ll feel the same when I’m nursing severe blisters and cramps in mile 19 – but that’s all part of the fun right?


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