Monday, May 2, 2011

Eugene Half-Marathon Race Report

The night before the race did not go great. I got in bed around 9:15, hoping to be asleep by 10. My brain wouldn’t turn off, I kept thinking (of all things) where we should meet up with our friend for lunch after the race. When I looked over at the clock it was after 11! Then I started to stress out about falling asleep. I would sleep for awhile and wake up for awhile. I know I looked at the clock during the 1, 2, 3, and 4 o’clock hours. Finally the alarm went off at 5 and we got up. I’m guessing I got about 3 hours of good sleep.

I woke up, ate my half bagel with peanut butter, checked the weather report for the 10th time, and got dressed. I put some music on to get us pumped up and was dancing around in my running capris and sports bra. Hubby probably thought I was ridiculous.

Do you think we brought enough carbs to the hotel?

I had my power bar at 5:30, took some obligatory pre-race pics, put on my sweatshirt and sweatpants over my race outfit, and we left the hotel a little after 6. We were only about a mile from the race start so we walked over. It was cold! Some people were in shorts, I don’t know how they did it.

When we got to the race we stripped down and got in line to check our warm clothes bags. This was one area in which race planning was less than stellar. Some 9000 people (expected total) had to cram through a 4-foot gate and wait in line while 2 people checked bags. At least once we were inside, a nice volunteer let us use the porta potties instead of having to wait in line at the porta potties we were supposed to use by the starting corrals.

We got into our corral. Again, not the best planning here. There were only two corrals for runners, so there were thousands of people released at a time (there was a separate corral for the smaller group of people walking the race). The race started about 10 minutes late, with very little to-do. I didn’t even hear a sounding bell or airhorn or anything, we just started moving.

It was very congested. And some of the walkers decided to start in the runners corral for some reason. The crowds didn’t thin out until about 2 miles in. Our first mile was 11:13, our slowest mile of the race, due to not being able to go anywhere or get around walkers/slower runners. Once we were able to find some space and speed up to our pace, it felt good. My goal was to stay between 10:30-10:40 per mile, and a lot of our miles were right around 10:30.

There was a long, mild-grade hill after about 3 miles. I had checked the elevation chart before so I was expecting it. It wasn’t too bad, we were just starting out so my legs still felt fresh. My nose was stuffed up so I had to breathe through my mouth more than I wanted. I walked for about 90 seconds at 3.5 miles so I could eat some Power Bar and take off my gloves. I put them in my sports bra so the rest of the race it looked like I had a big lumpy chest.

After we topped the hill, we turned around and went down. I love downhills! Yes your quads hurt the next day but it’s so fun to fly down them. The miles were going by so fast, I couldn’t believe when we saw the Mile 6 sign. I was a little sad the race was going by so quickly. I took my second Power Bar break at 7 miles and was still feeling good.
Cue giant steep hill at mile 8.

I had seen what looked like a small second hill in the elevation chart. The hill was not as high as the first one, but it was 2-3 times as steep. I felt like we were moving in slow motion, and my back started hurting from leaning into the hill. I had several moments of “I quit! I’m walking!” but I somehow was able to run up the whole thing. I think I said “Thank God!” out loud when we crested the hill and started downhill.

We went through campus again (I don’t think I mentioned, the race started and finished at the University of Oregon campus) and there were already people finishing the race! That definitely makes you feel slow when you have more than 4 miles to go. We went across a river and there were a few slight uphills and downhills, nothing too significant. I took my last Power Bar break at 10.5 miles. Right after this, the half-marathoners and marathoners split up. It looked like about 80% of people were doing the half distance. I was happy that I still felt pretty good, stronger than I did during my half last month. A little after we passed the Mile 11 sign I did some quick math and I worried that I wasn’t going to meet my goal of breaking 2:20. I knew I could still get a PR at least, but it would be tough to finish in the 2:19 range. I tried to keep the pace around 10:30/mile. The sun was right above us and I started feeling sick around 11.5-12 miles. We crossed a bridge and I remember thinking please don’t let me puke into the river in front of all these people. Hubby could tell I was hurting and tried to be encouraging. We only had around a ½ mile to go, but it felt like it could have been 10 miles. I knew it was going to be close to 2:20 if we kept the same pace.

The first marathon finisher came by in the other lane when we had about ¼ mile to go. The cool thing about this race is that it finished in Hayward Field, literally in the footsteps of legends (the race tagline). I started sprinting as we entered the stadium for the final few hundred feet. I feel a little misty-eyed writing this lol. As we rounded the corner into the straightaway my Garmin said 2:19.11. Could I make it? It seemed like we had a ways to go but hubby said I was going to get my 2:19! There were cheering spectators in the stands, and an announcer was saying people’s names as they crossed one of the timing mats. I heard him say “From Hampton, Virginia…” and our names! (We still lived in Virginia when we registered last fall.) I raised my arms and cheered as we crossed the finish line, I didn’t even check my watch until after we passed through. It said 2:19.47. I was SO HAPPY! Hubby said “you did it!” and hugged me. I blissfully took a medal from one of the volunteers, and then clumsily dumped half a bottle of water down my front trying to gulp it down. We had to take off our timing chips to turn them in, then the free food started! We got water bottles of course, and chocolate milk, pancakes, cookies, clif bars, and chips. They also had bagels, bananas, and peanut butter.

One cool thing was that they had a table where you could get a print-out of your official race results. Though we crossed the finish at the same time, hubby’s official time was 1 second faster than mine. My official time was 2:19.45. A 2 minute, 12 second PR from my race last month, and overall a 30 minute, 10 second improvement from my first half-marathon (2:49.55, RnR Virginia Beach).

2:19! Never thought I'd see the day.

After the race we walked back to our hotel, showered, and hurried over to one of our favorite Eugene restaurants, Glenwood, to have lunch with our friend Kat who is graduating from law school this week! We spent the rest of the day eating whatever we could get our hands on. And watching Fast Five. I know, I had my doubts, but it was actually pretty entertaining.

Post-race meal - vegan veggie burger with cheddar cheese and bacon, and home fries. I do see the irony in eating a vegan burger with cheese and bacon. I don't usually eat bacon, but it sounded good.

Today we came back home. It was such a fun weekend. A great race, delicious food, and overall an awesome time. And, we registered for the inaugural Rock n Roll Portland Half-Marathon, which will take place May 20, 2012! Registration just opened yesterday and it was only $55 so we wanted to take advantage of the low price. Plus, we love Rock n Roll races!


I forgot to add something important - my splits! I am notoriously bad at keeping a steady pace, so I was pretty happy with how even my miles were (when I wasn't taking a break).

Mile 1 – 11:13 (stuck in congestion)
Mile 2 – 10:32
Mile 3 – 10:36
Mile 4 – 11:08 (first Power Bar break)
Mile 5 – 10:27
Mile 6 – 10:28
Mile 7 – 10:31
Mile 8 – 10:56 (second Power Bar break)
Mile 9 – 10:27
Mile 10 – 10:33
Mile 11 – 11:07 (third Power Bar break)
Mile 12 – 10:19
Mile 13 – 10:23
Mile .11 – 1:01

I am so surprised at how even my splits were, besides the miles when I took a break or was stuck in the crowd. Overall we had a negative split during the second half, about 45 seconds faster than the first half. Of course now I am wondering how much faster I can go, if I was able to speed up in the last few miles...


  1. Congrats again on the PR! So very nice to have your husband there to run with and encourage you.

    I laughed out loud both at the gloves in the bra...I frequently use my bra to hold things, especially my house keys...and also the veggie burger with the bacon and cheese...kind of like the diet soda with the candy bar huh? :)

  2. Thanks! Yeah thank goodness for sports bras, they have saved me a few times! And I think the waitress thought I was a little weird for my order on that one :)