Monday, May 5, 2008
A Beautiful Day in Eugene
Everything fell into place yesterday and despite my prior burnout, low mileage weeks & sub-par training going into the race, I still managed to finish with a personal best time. I'm elated!
We left the high desert around 9:30 a.m.on Saturday and drove over the mountains. We made a quick stop at the Expo to pick up our race goodies. Sweetie was registered to participate in the Kids' Fun Run - when she got her T-shirt, she hugged it tightly and squealed with joy! I think she'll be a runner! :D We meandered about the Expo for a short time but not seeing anything that called out my name, we departed.
We then met up with my brother and his family at Pappa's Pizza so the kids could play and we could catch up a little. After lunch, I encouraged them to join us on a letterboxing quest at a nearby park. DH and my SIL were a little less then enthusiastic... but the kids were looking forward to it so they were good sports. Thank you for humoring us!
We managed to find 2 of the 4 hidden boxes. We found the first relatively easily. The 2nd one never revealed itself though I know we must have been looking in the right place. The 3rd was found with a little more effort than was required by the 1st. We gave up on the 4th - not even finding the right trail with which to begin. In the end, I think I have created a new family of zealous letterboxers. The kids had a great time and my SIL asked all sorts of questions about how one goes about creating your own stamp, etc. Mission accomplished. :D
We said good-bye to our family and then coincidently meandered along part of the marathon course to get to our motel. It was nice to see a part of the course and mentally prepare myself for the big race. We checked in and as DH took a little siesta, I laid out our clothes for the race, pinning on our bibs and tucking a little snack bar that we picked up at the Expo into Sweetie's pocket.
We then met up with Bar and Kong at PF Chang's for dinner. We did the same last year when Kong and I ran the half and we looked forward to a new tradition. Kong wasn't running this year but they drove down from the big city to cheer me on. AWESOME! Thank you guys! Dinner was great and thereafter we retired to our motel. The kids actually went to bed relatively easily - I worried they wouldn't since they both slept during the drive over.
I woke just before the wake-up call at 5:45 and proceeded to get ready. I brewed a small pot of coffee for DH. I enjoyed about 1/2 cup myself along with two thick slices of banana bread that I had brought along with me. I then took 2 immodium to hopefully prevent undesired visits to the porta-potty. According to Runners World (May 2008), 24% of women ages 25-44 experience symptoms of stress incontinence - this would be me! Turns out they were called "Honey Buckets" - I should have brought along my camera for a Marcy inspired photo-op. As it turned out, the immodium was a superb idea... I didn't have to stop once!
We woke the kids at 6:30 and then proceeded over to Hayward field. Just as we did last year, DH drops me off at the intersection and I jogged the few blocks to the start. He then returned to the motel for breakfast and then took Sweetie to her race at 8 a.m. Unfortunately, due to parking and other nuances, he didn't get a chance to take photos of her race. Bar and Kong stated that she ran so fast, they missed her race, too. Bummer. She had a great time, though. She said (and DH confirmed) that she ran the entire mile just as she did last year. "Bigger kids were stopping and walking but I didn't!"
When I got to the start of my race, I immediately found the 9:00 minute pace group. I was surprised to learn that the pace leader wasn't going to carry his pace sign. At Portland and Sacramento, the pace leaders carried a sign the entire 26.2 miles and it was thereby easy to keep an eye on the pace group even from a distance. I scanned the crowd looking for Jeff... we had spoken earlier by phone and as we both planned to run the same place, we planned to run together. I never found him, though. Bummer!
The Race Itself
When the gun went off, the first mile was a little slow, 9:11. I picked up the pace just a little and finished the second mile in 8:15 - a little fast. I was feeling really good, though. I thereby decided that I was going to run my race. I was going to aim for a 3:50 marathon and if I was feeling good towards the end, perhaps I could pick up the pace. As each mile was completed, I realized that I was a solid two minutes ahead of pace at each marker. This was exciting and I started to visualize the possibility of qualifying. After all, it was possible.
My mom was posted near the UO Admin building (mile 8 1/2) and took a few photos. It is always inspiring to see loved ones along the way who've come out to support you. It certainly helps to distract you and thereby stay on pace. Kong was posted at mile 9 1/2 and I was able to toss my gloves to her. Thank you! Two miles later and the route then proceeded through Springfield - the portion of the course that I dislike the most. I would have loved to see my dad there but he couldn't make it today as he was caring for my grandma. Her well-being is certainly more important than my race and I dedicated mile 22 (her birthday is Feb 22) to her.
My mom surprised me when she was at mile 13 1/2 as well. She proved to surprise me several times throughout the day, playing Leap Frog with me. Thank you, Mom! Shortly thereafter, the course returned to the river and we made our way through Alton Baker park for a second time. I knew I would see DH and the kiddos somewhere and started to really scan the crowds. DH saw me first (between miles 15 and 16) and yelled, "Go, Makita!" His voice resonated above everyones and it helped put a little pep into my step. I got a big hug from my little sweeties and they yelled, "Go, Momma, Go!"
My brother was just past mile 17 outside McMennamins. He was crouched on the side of the trail to take photos and when I realized it was him (it took a moment because the camera was in front of his face), I started to move towards the side. The runner in front of me must have thought he was race photographer because she did the same thing, thereby blocking me from his view. I hope he got at least one of me! He told me later that throughout the race, several runners actually started posing for him... he obliged and later deleted the pictures from his memory card. Too funny!
Mom must have picked my brother up because they both appeared again just past mile 18 at Valley River Center. At mile 19, I realized that I was no longer 2 minutes ahead of my pace strip but right on. I had slowed slightly. All I wanted at this point was to stay on... to maintain an even effort.
At mile 20, I started to struggle with a side cramp on my right. I bent over and pinched my side in an effort to make it stop. Another runner said to me, "A minute of stretching now will save 10 minutes later on." I replied, "It's a side ache not a muscle cramp." He suggested stretching my arms up over my head. I started doing that and it helped alleviate the pain for a short time but it kept coming back, each time a little stronger.
My mom and brother surprised me again at mile 22 and I was no longer smiling as I had been before. I was struggling. I didn't exactly encounter a wall like in Portland but it was certainly difficult to maintain pace. I knew at this point that I wasn't going to finish at 3:50 but if I held on I hoped to still PR. I walked briefly at every water stop at this point.
By mile 26, I had to walk briefly to stretch several times. My side really hurt - I hadn't ever experienced side aches like this before - a side ache that I couldn't make go away with focused breathing or a 'pinching'. I typically have a pretty strong kick. I have always been able to finish strong. Not this time. It was all I could do to run across the finish and not walk. When I looked up at the clock, I was elated to see 3:55... I couldn't believe I actually finished with a personal best.
It is amazing to me that though I have now completed three marathons, I continue to learn something with each one. I learned yesterday that I didn't push myself as hard as I could have in Sacramento. Though I lost several minutes in the porta potty, I didn't struggle much otherwise and wasn't sore the next day. My training going into CIM was solid. I should have done better but I had played it safe. My training going into Eugene yesterday was sub-par. However, I pushed myself from the start and though I struggled a little in the end, it paid off. Immodium is my friend.
3:55:25 Finishing Time
1:52:55 at the Half
2:53:58 at 20 Mile Mark
41 / 129 Place by Age Division
204 / 776 Place by Sex
I dedicated many of the miles to friends and family - keeping each in mind as I tried to maintain pace. This really helped in the later miles as I began to struggle.
Mile 3 - My little buddy (he's 3 years old)
Mile 5 - Sweetie (she's 5)
Mile 10 - Steve Prefontaine (each mile was dedicated to a Eugene legend, mile 10 was Pre's)
Mile 16 - My brothers
Mile 17 - Paul MacDonald (a dear friend and former coach)
Mile 18 - My moms
Mile 19 - DH
Mile 20 - My dads
Mile 21 - My Running Blog Family :D
Mile 22 - My Grandma
Mile 23 - Albert
Mile 24 - Debbie & Lilli
Mile 25 - Bar & Kong
Mile 26 - My kiddos
Mile 1 - 9:11
Mile 2 - 8:15
Mile 3 - 8:15
Mile 4 - 8:52
Mile 5 - 8:47
Mile 6 - 8:33
Mile 7 - 8:39
Mile 8 - 8:47
Mile 9 - 8:31
Mile 10 - 8:35
Mile 11 - 8:32
Mile 12 - 8:37
Mile 13 - 8:38
Mile 14 - 8:48
Mile 15 - 9:02
Mile 16 - 8:51
Mile 17 - 9:08
Mile 18 - 8:53
Mile 19 - 8:50
Mile 20 - 9:14
Mile 21 - 9:43
Mile 22 - 9:16
Mile 23 - 10:04
Mile 24 - 9:35
Mile 25 - 9:33
Mile 26 - 10:05
Last 0.2 - ?? (I forgot to hit the split and even failed to turn off the Garmin for several minutes after finishing.)