Everyone has to go to Eugene!!! That's what J4 and I have been telling people. We had an amazing trip to the Portland/Eugene area, and we want to go back and race at Eugene again next year. We were lucky to stay with one of our groosmen (for our upcoming wedding-it hasn't happened yet!) in Portland and he kindly gave us an awesome tour of the city and surrounding area before and after the marathon. One day I organized TREE CLIMBING for us in Williamette National Forest and it was one of the best things I've ever done in my life. It was the three of us and two guides and we climbed 220 feet up a tree, looked around for a while, and then each got in our own hammock to hang out for a few hours. They gave us sandwhiches and cookies. In the tree. We talked. Ate our cookies. And then I slept for an hour. It was the best. Descending was easy, quick, and fun. Here is me 200 feet up in my hammock.
And Eugene...Hayward Field was incredible to visit. Hayward Field was also incredible to race on!! Both J4 and my races ended on the Hayward Field oval. We took a zillion pictures. We just loved it so much. We also went to Pre's Rock and Pre's Trail. AND, we saw the racing pancake. He ran a 17:07 5K-including the time he spent giving high fives down the home stretch. Delicious!
As for my 1/2 marathon...it was one of the best races I've ever run-and also quite humbling since I couldn't keep up with two women who ran faster than me (I tried to keep up but couldn't past three miles) for the entire MARATHON distance. #Humbled.
I started out with a 6:45 min/mile and then I was running averages of 6:55s. Around mile three I started to get nervous...oh dear...this is not easy...and I also got grateful...woohooo...I am SO glad i am not running the marathon! I kept up the pace and slogged through the mile 9 hill cursing the race directors. I HATE WHEN PEOPLE ADVERTISE THEIR COURSES AS FLAT AND FAST WHEN I AM CLEARLY ON A HILL. It was a low moment for me. And everyone was passing me! I live and train in DC (with Capitol HILL and Georgetown, AKA, the HILLTOP) and Arlington, VA. I train on hills EVERY DAY. Why was I getting passed??!! GRRRRRRR.
After the hill I focused on picking up any speed I could on the downhill and as things leveled out (the race actually does have a pretty favorable elevation profile with a net of 0) I concentrated on staying sub-7 min/miles. It was hard. I was not in a happy place. And I was nervous. I wanted to run a good race pretty badly but I didn't know if I could do it. A woman passed me and she encouraged me and that was helpful.
At mile 10.5 the marathoners and 1/2 marathoners split off from each other. From there on I was doing a lot of self-talk and telling myself to keep it together. Keep pushing. Then...I hit the mile 13 mark and things got special. You turn onto Hayward field and the last tenth of the race is on the track.
I made it on the track and I saw I was going to PR and wanted the PR to be as low as possible. I picked it up. I clearly had something left in the tank since I ran in at 5:54 min/mile pace. It's crazy b/c moments before my sprint I was still questioning whether I could finish (one of my common racing thought :) So, in sum, I ran a 1:31:16 (6:58 min/mile) half marathon which is almost a minute PR (previous: 1:32:11). WOOOOHOOOO!!!!!
It was a great race. A great course. A great venue. I loved racing the 1/2 at this marathon/half event b/c I got to race really close to the front of the field. I remember being so crowded at the Philadelphia marathon (people were getting tripped and falling hard) back where I was while J4 and my other male friends had smooth sailing up ahead with the faster runners. It was awesome to have lots of space to do my thing.
After I finished I got a massage and picked up my clothes from bag check and then went into the grandstands of Hayward to watch J4 finish. Oh the drama of that finish. J4 had the best kick I've ever seen...and a 3:10:03 finish. Three seconds off his BQ. Yeah, there were a few tears (mine) and it stings a bit for him. As a runner I understand. Ugh. Even with that finish (I will note it shouldn't be lost it was his third fastest out of 11 marathons!) J4 has nothing but good things to say about the race and he wants to go back next year. So next year we will hopefully be in Boston for me and Eugene two weeks later for J4 (where I will race the pancake the day before he races the marathon).