We drove down to Eugene from arriving in Portland on Saturday morning. I did a shakeout run in Portland (we stayed at the Hyatt Place just outside of the Airport) of 3.76 miles. I kept my pace easy, but noticed a huge difference in how my lungs felt thanks to all the training/living in the Colorado Altitude! We stopped by the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival on our drive down (HIGHLY recommend)! It was really easy to navigate our way to where the Expo was held (and just driving around Eugene in general). Compared to some of the larger expos I’ve been to (Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas and Disney in comparison), this one was pretty small (not really sure what I was expecting it be)! I actually prefer the smaller ones because it means a lot of less walking! The merchandise wasn’t anything great for the price (I thought), but nice to have a few different options there. Nothing purchased and we were out of there in 20 minutes. The t-shirt that they gave you was one of my favorites as well!
I felt pretty calm before the race. I knew that I had a PR in me and also really wanted to negative-split the race. I had trained on a bunch of hills (thanks to my upcoming 50 miler!) and knew that this race was basically flat as a pancake. I was confident and ready to run long!
The weather turned out to be pretty perfect, although the winds started to pick up later in the morning! The race didn’t start until 7am, so we left our Air BnB around 6am and decided to try to park at the start/finish line area at Autzen Stadium (they were re-doing Hayward Field this year). I really enjoyed having the start and finish in a big stadium because the parking was super easy, you really didn’t have to walk that far to get there/return, and bag check was a breeze. We wore a bunch of layers and just tossed them our bags right before checking them ~10 minutes before the start. It was a small-ish race, but the energy at the start line was incredible. You can tell how much community support this race has!
I did some lunges and stretching before the race and porta-potty lines really weren’t too long. Before I knew it, it was 5 minutes until the start! I was in Corral B and found that I still had plenty of space around me to move/ adjust my music/ stretch. They let the elites & wheelchair division go at 7am and we were off at 7:05!
Miles 1-5 I kept within an 8:30 pace. We were immediately going up the bridge for the first mile or so and then had a nice downhill into downtown area. The crowds were definitely tight, but I thought the race directors did a really nice job of alerting us if a median or giant pothole was coming up (they had volunteers standing there or cones out). The energy throughout this entire section was great. I put a podcast on so I wouldn’t get carried away with the pace and just tried to kept it in-check since I had a long way to go still! I took my first gel at mile 4.5.
Miles 5-10 had a few uphill sections, but nothing that seemed overly daunting since I did train on a BUNCH of hills leading up to this race! They always came with some nice downhill/flat sections. We were also running with the half-marathoners still at this point, so it could be really easy to lose control of your pace (since they’ve gone past the halfway mark at this point) and feed off of their energy. I took a salt tab at mile 6.5. I took my second gel at mile 9 and kept my pace within 8:30-8:40 so I would save energy for a faster second half.
Miles 11-15 you split away from the half marathoners at mile 11 and then are directed onto the bike path. I had to go pee really bad so decided to dart into a porta-potty (ala Shalane Flanagan style) at mile 14. Right after that I took my third gel and that’s when things started take a turn for the worse. The gel that I took was a different kind the first two and did not sit well in my stomach. It felt like I had a huge gut-bomb in my stomach and almost like I was going to throw-up (this never happens to me)!
Miles 16-20 I battled feeling nauseous and just tried to get in enough water (gatorade sounded awful to me) to keep my energy going. The bike path was so beautiful and FLAT during this section! Some parts were in the sun and others in the shade and despite being on the path, there really were a TON of spectators and hardly anyone else utilizing the path (which I had read could become congested, but I had no trouble).
Miles 21-25 This part was TOUGH. They rooted you through a 2.5 mile out-and-back section from mile 23 to 25. When you look at it on the map beforehand, you think that 2.5 miles is NOTHING, but when you’re actually running it (with no shade)- it is HARD. I finally was able to get around a half of a gel around mile 24 and I think this really saved me. In hindsight, I do really wish that I had tried to force down a gel earlier than this because I think it would have given me more energy (one of the many things I learned during this race)!
Mile 25-26.2 You pass by runners heading out toward the out-and-back section and this definitely gave me a huge confidence boost because I was almost done! I couldn’t really see anything or hear the finish until mile 25.5, but then the energy was amazing. Crowd support throughout this section was everything. You pass over the bridge and weave around the stadium for the last half mile. At this point, I knew I would be close to getting a PR or not getting a PR so I kicked it into high gear (I also think the gel that I took did me wonders here—> why I’m kicking myself now for not forcing one in me earlier in the race) and my last half mile was at a 7:45 pace (fastest time throughout the whole race)!
Finish Line: 3:51:14 —> 60 second PR
Negative/ Even Splits!
The medal is SO beautiful.
Also- FREE PHOTOS! They emailed me almost immediately after I crossed the finish line with a link to photos that had already been uploaded AND my results. How cool is that?!? They also had grilled cheese and an awesome recyclable tote bag with food to give to you in the finishers shoot. Super well-done and I love how environmentally friendly they were throughout the entire race weekend.
Overall, I learned SO much about myself during this race (don’t you always during a marathon?!?) and am really excited to take what I learned into my next races. I love the marathon distance because it teaches you patience and while it wasn’t necessarily the big PR that I was hoping for, I know that a big PR is still waiting for me and my time will come.