Saturday, May 4, 2013

Eugene Marathon 2013

It's been about a week since I finished the Eugene Marathon and I'm still feeling a very strange mix of disappointment, relief and happiness.  it was not the race i wanted but it was a better finish (kinda, sorta) than I've had the last couple marathons. I wrote the report below the evening directly after the marathon and it reads rather glum and frustrated which are valid feelings for this race. A week later, I'm satisfied I ran my best for that day and (very important for me) I feel like I'm recovering well mentally and physically.  Onward!

Why do I think I can run marathons? I set huge PRs at a 2  mile and 5k distance in February with no speedwork other than 2 mile races and just very slow easy runs on pavement and on trails. Huge lifetime PRs.  22:03 in the 5k was a 50 second PR. I was delighted.  Those PRs plugged into various race predictors made me hoot with laughter.  The range was 3:36 (for 5k) to 3:45 (for 10k last fall).  I’ve not raced a half in a couple years but even recent times predicted 3:45.  That’s not my marathon pace.

And yet I really want to run one more solid marathon. My first marathon in 2006 is my fastest (3:53) and I have no idea how I did it. I was much slower in the shorter distances then, didn’t run any more miles than I do now overall and am just a stronger runner overall now.  So? How do I train for a marathon then? What pace do I set as goal pace/training pace with this huge range? 

I’ve liked the hanson plans because they do not beat me up. You run marathon pace (what marathon pace would that be based on?) on tired legs with a lot more solid midweek running. With my coach’s help, I did modify this plan and ran 3 18 milers in solid long run pace . I hit hilly marathon pace workouts trained faster (8:35) with no problems.  Everything was pointing the right way and my goal even a couple weeks ago was 8:45.

And then I tapered and felt like crap just like usual.  8:45 didn’t seem so very reasonable and really what was my goal? I’d love to BQ which is 3:55 for me in 2014. Even that was feeling out of reach.  Main goal? Just finish the fucking marathon without a death march and with a solid long run pace. 

It was a great weekend. Eugene is really beautiful and I say that coming from Seattle which is just as beautiful.  Met up with indie, slowstarter, rob and david (can’t remember forum he’s been off the forum for a while I think) for a very tasty, chatty dinner.

I slept pretty well although woke up early again for the third morning in a row very nervous. The weather was excellent. It 50 at the start and overcast and temps would probably rise 10 degrees or so over the course of the race. It’s the first marathon I’ve lined up for in a while where I felt a little chilled. Found rob and indie and nagesh and chatted until portopotty lines called. Dh was running the half and went off to run a short warm up.

The short speech and moment of silence for Boston was touching. It would’ve helped if they’d been able to turn off the music though.

So goal was just under 9:00 miles and keep running dammit. My last two marathons (seattle 2011 & Dallas 2012) were horrific death marches where I came in an hour over goal time. 3:55 was the dream goal but I was going to be delighted with a time under 4:00 and happy with anything between 4 & 4:15.  NO death march. 

1st 5k – 27:42 – 8:56 pace  I didn’t worry about how crowded it felt. I just tried to stay relaxed and enjoy the chitter chatter of people around me. It felt easy but I didn’t feel good.
10k – 54:58 – 8:51. There’s a little uphill section right at mile 4 and then a nice downhill. I figured that IF 3:55 were going to be possible, I’d try picking it up here.  Again, this felt easy but wasn’t feeling great. 
Half – 1:56:59 – 8:56 I was happy with this and really just focused on going for that sub 4 overall time.  Any downhill, I’d try switching up my stride to stretch a bit as everything was so tight and I just wasn’t feeling very good.  I figured I’d feel very poorly from about mile 10 – 16 and just put it out of my head and ignored it. 

I made it to 18 right on pace. I wasn’t happy about anything in general but just working through and trying to trust my training, staying focused on form and moving.  I gave myself permission to walk and (probably) use an inhaler sometime between mile 18 and 20 and to get just water and a gel. I’d been monitoring breathing and could feel lungs starting to tighten.  It came sooner than I expected at 18.4  and as I grabbed some water at an aid station, took a gel and got out my inhaler, I realized my hips (ie the butt muscles) were aching and almost cramping with random shooting stabs. Ooh. That’s not so good. 

20 miles – 3:02:07 9:07 pace

I started running again after using inhaler (better!) and worked on changing up my stride. And it didn’t work.  That was it, the hips shut down and I was reduced to using all hip flexors/quads to move my legs.  Calves started twinging  and it must change my form enough so that then my feet started killing me.  Ugh.  I nearly bailed right there.  Really? You can’t run another 6 miles? I think I should just be able to power through but no, I cannot.  I was reduced to quick walk breaks and running but barely moving when when I was running. 

So quick. Just like that.  But I knew that I was close enough that if I just kept at it, I could still come in under 4:30 and maybe before 4:15.  I was barely catching up to people who were walking but it was still a bit faster to “run” and I did my best.  Any little dip or bump in the road was a major issue as I felt like I was going to fall right over.  I laughed because I’m a very good trail runner and prefer single track with lots of rocks/roots and even downed trees to leap over but the path we were running on couldn’t have been smoother and I was having issues. 

4:14:07 overall 9:42

So I made that under 4:15 time and had a solid marathon at basically my long run pace.  Truly that was my most basic goal and I burst into tears just as soon as I finished in relief. Whatever happens with hips, well, I can’t quite imagine I can do anything differently.  I’ve been able to run better than ever at shorter race distances and trails and that will be my focus going forward.  I have one more marathon scheduled soon but that race may or may not happen for various reasons and that is ok either way. 

I happened to run into indie and slowstarter who were just leaving the finish area.  They had great races as I knew they would.  Rob of course knocked off another state in style. K saw him finish looking like it was easy as pie. Rob was probably chatting.  K had had a tough day as well but still ran a very solid half marathon.  We met up for some very tasty food and drinks after the race.  Great weekend overall as I knew it would be.  

Eugene itself is a wonderful event. Eugene, the town, has a lot to offer with easy access to the Oregon Coast, Willammette Valley, Portland etc. it's a really nice size race. Not too small and not too large. when the half marathoners turned off, I was happy that there were still many marathoners around me. The city turns out and supports it's event and they are knowledgeable. The course is a little tougher than what I expected.  A sneaky uphill start for a while which if you aren't controlling for that can take it out of you. You then follow the river for a long portion of the event.  Nice when you are going downstream but the turn to come back puts you upstreat (ie subtly uphill) for the last miles of the race.  Tough.  The weather was perfect (that is saying something amazing) and if it gets sunny or warmer than expected, the course can get hot the last miles as it is exposed. I'd do this event again in a heartbeat. 

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