Monday, May 2, 2011

Eugene Marathon Race Report

For the quick version, I finished my first marathon.  Official time: 3:52:41.  Automatic PR!  Average pace 8:53.  Place 946/2291.  Age group 63/178.  Women 300/1077.

If you're in for more details, get comfortable, there's a lot of them.  Here goes:

My marathon weekend began on Friday at the expo.  Miss Emmeline and I went to the expo where we spent a bit of time listening to the Clif Bar Pace Team speech before picking up my packet, checking out the various booths, being glad that I didn't have any money with me because I would have spent it on many, many things, taste testing Picky Bars (yummmmm!) and scoring some cool track posters and free tickets to the Oregon Twilight Meet before heading home.  It was Dan's birthday, so when my mom got to town he and I headed out for a bit to enjoy some quality kid free time.  We ended up hanging out at Sonic and it was awesome.  When I got home, my friend Marci had come by and left goodies and an awesome card from her and my other friend Katrina.  Thanks so much guys!!

Saturday my mom and I went on a mini 2 mileish "wog" to help calm some of my nerves and just get out of the house.  While Dan enjoyed the sunshine at the Spring Game, my mom, the kids and I went on a search for the perfect blue fingernail polish and some poster board.  We came away successful on both accounts (and managed to spend less than $2... awesome!)  Saturday evening, my mom watch the kids while Dan and I headed to the blog meet up dinner at Mazzi's where we had the awesome opportunity to hang out with a whole grip of other 1/2 and full Eugene Marathon runners.  Several of whom also hooked us up with some awesome goodies... thanks!!!

Then it was home to help the kids with their signs, where I was again met with goodies from some more awesome friends.  Thanks Heather & family!!
Finally time to get the kids to bed, paint my fingernails, then off to bed for me too.  Luckily my kids pretty much went right to sleep and slept through the night, giving me the opportunity to get as much sleep as I possibly could, which was probably close to 7 hours... waaaay more than usual.

Sunday was race day.  I woke up at 5:00am, feeling a little anxious but for the most part ready to go.  I ate a Clif Bar, shaved my legs, got dressed and was about ready to head out the door to do my little warm up to the start when I realized I didn't have my timing chip.  Luckily I remembered before I got out the door.  Once I had it, I realized I didn't have the zip tie to attach it (yes, I should have had it all ready the night before) so I quickly unlaced my shoes and attached it through my shoelaces.  At this point I was starting to become a nervous wreck so I opted to get a ride to the start instead of jogging there.  I went outside for a quick photo opp. where I saw this:
 and this:
Don't I have the coolest friends ever?!  It totally made me so happy and excited to be running.
Although, that smile looks a little hesitant and nervous.
Finally off to the start.  My mom dropped me off and I headed down to the starting area where I found a super secret HoneyBucket with only 2 people in line before dropping my gear at bag check and heading to the start corral.  From there I talked a bit to a few people right around me and wouldn't have had to wait very long at all for the gun to go off if it weren't for the fact that someone tripped over some wires near the starting mat and they had to be readjusted before we could be sent on our way.  Sometime close to 7:10, we were finally on our way.

My plan was to start out conservatively and if I felt good in the later miles attempt to speed up.  Spoiler alert:  I didn't follow it very well.  I lined up behind the 3:40 pace group and slightly in front of the 3:50ers.  I also lined up to the very right of the crowd because I wanted to be able to see my family when we ran by my house shortly before the 1 mile marker.  This, it turns out, is a dangerous place to be as people who toss their throw away clothes right before the start and within the first mile or so tend to not clear the entire crowd.  I managed to come away unscathed, but a poor tall guy in front of me had two different sweatshirts land on his head.  It was packed, but I stayed on the outside and my family caught me going by the house:
 It was great to see them and also throw them my jacket, I opted to keep the gloves though, it was still pretty chilly.

I also got to catch a glimpse at the signs I made and planned to have as my mantra for the race:
"Run Happy"
and "Run Strong".
The first few miles really went great and pretty quickly.  Before I knew it we were headed up the "hill" at 4+ miles, by the park and down the other side.  I warmed up and took of my gloves and almost tossed them but decided to tuck them into my skirt.  Here are my splits for the first 6 miles:

I had my first Gu slightly before mile 6 and at about the same time decided I was tired of being behind the 3:40 pace group, it was just too crowded.  I was feeling good and comfortable so I made a move up the right side and got in front of them.  At the time, it was a great decision.  Immediately there was moving and breathing room and I felt much more comfortable.  Mile 7:
Between miles 7 and 8 there was a large group of my friends cheering for me.  They had the coolest signs and it made me so happy to see them.  Thank you so much guys!!
Mile 8 went well despite the fact that it was a hill and I was Kim's friend Ken as well as Laura from Run Momma Run at the top, then it was down the other side, past the start/finish and off towards the half/full split and Springfield.  Miles 8-10:
For the most part, I felt like I was staying pretty consistent with my pacing, although every so often I would look down at my watch and see my numbers had crept into the low 7's and I would try and slow it down a bit.

By mile 11 we had separated from the half marathoners and were well on our way to Springfield.  I had another Gu and hooked up with a couple other runners and chatted with them through most of Springfield.  I was still feeling really pretty good.  I had a little tightness in my right quad, but figured that was to be expected as I had been running for 11 miles.  Miles 11-14:
I think the most alarming thing about these stats is that during miles 11 & 12 I managed to get my pace under 6 minutes.  I had absolutely no business running that fast during the first half of my first marathon.  Bad, bad, bad Laurie.
I won't say that I hit a wall, but as we crossed the I-5 overpass at mile 15, I could tell I might be in a little bit of trouble.  My hands were freezing and I was glad I hadn't tossed my gloves, as soon as I remembered they were in my waistband I put them back on.  My new running buddies got slightly away from me and it took a bit to catch back up to them, but I finally did.  Miles 15-16:

Mile 16, brought us by Autzen Stadium where I got water, waved to my friend Juli and knew that I was in trouble.  My buddies pulled away from me and that was the last I saw of them.  I tried to be excited that we were running along the river now and on the path that I love but my right quad felt like it was about to cramp up with every step I took.  Miles 17-18:
I had planned to meet up with my mom at Valley River Center and I was thinking it was mile 18, but the place we had picked out before the race turned out to be closer to mile 19.  That was a long mile, I could not get to her soon enough and was almost in tears when I finally saw her.  I had warmed up again so I traded her my gloves for a bag of sport beans.  I didn't even realize she was taking my picture at the same time:
see the 3:40 group chasing me down?
they're getting closer
it was a pretty good hand off except my mom didn't realize I was trying to give her my gloves and I apparently didn't realize she was taking my picture
I immediately ate a few beans, and managed to stay in front of the 3:40 group for a bit longer.  As we were going through Delta Ponds, a lady pulled over to take a potty break behind some super tiny bushes.  I thought of Emz and her rock story (sorry, couldn't find it to link to), which brought a smile to my face, but unfortunately didn't give me much more speed.  I finally pulled off the path to stretch for a bit in hopes to ward off the cramps that I was sure were inevitable in my leg.  I didn't stretch for too long, but long enough to feel a little bit better.  I got back on track before the 3:40 group but had slowed enough that it gave them the time to run me down, gobble me up and spit me out behind them.  I'll admit, it hurt. I really wanted to go under 3:40 but as they pulled away from me and I just couldn't go with them, I knew it was a lost cause.  At the same time, though, I felt some relief as it took a little bit of pressure off and all I had to do then was just run and finish.  Miles 19-20:

As soon as I crossed the 20 mile marker I was in new running territory.  I knew there wasn't going to be anymore of a wall, so I was excited to be less than a 10K from the finish.  There was a group singing Aerosmith songs at Marist high school and they were pretty good and somewhat distracting but my right quad was screaming at me.  I knew I was almost to the bridge where we would cross the Willamette River for the last time, which I was excited about, but I was also really dreading the incline required to climb up and over the bridge.  There was a pretty decent group of people there at the bridge yelling and cheering everyone on.  I must have looked at least as bad as I felt because I heard a lot of "Laurie, you are so strong"  "You've worked so hard for this"  "Let's go Laurie, hang in there, you can do it."  You know, the things you tell people that are really struggling.  I'd love to say that it helped, it did make me smile, but I'm not sure that anything besides a bus ride back to the finish would have helped me at that point.  Miles 21-23 just kind of went along.  I got passed a few times, but for the most part just kept running.  I continued to suck on the sport beans two at a time and get water at every stop.  I attempted to walk through one water stop I think around mile 22 and that was a big mistake, because I had a really hard time getting running again.  Miles 21-23:
Somewhere between miles 23 and 24 I started getting little cramps in my left calf.  I stopped a few times to stretch it out but every so often I would step kind of wrong and it would cramp up again, just not enough to keep me from running.  Then almost instantly after crossing the 24 mile marker, the whole entire back side of my leg cramped from my instep up through my hamstring.  It hurt soooo bad.  I pulled off the path, stretched for a few seconds then tried to hobble on.  I got a few steps before it happened again and this time much worse.  Now, in tears, I pulled off and bent over to stretch the best I could in hopes it would go away.  All the while I was thinking how my family was going to be waiting at the finish line wondering where I was and here I am only 2 miles from the finish unable to even walk.  While I was stretching a couple of concerned runners made sure I was okay before passing me.  I stretched for about 3 minutes (according to my garmin "stoppage time") until I only felt soreness but no cramping.  As soon as the 3:50 group ran past, I got back to running, pretty gingerly at first, with tears still running down my face as I secretly still hoped to break 4 hours.
Mile 24:

Then, the most amazing thing happened.  From a distance I saw this sign:
I thought to myself how perfect that sign was, as if it were just for me, not realizing at first that it was my friend Marci (I didn't notice her sign at mile 7) and it was for me.  Then I saw Marci and her cute little girls and couldn't help but pull myself together to finish as strong and happily as possible.

Luckily I didn't have any issues with cramps the rest of the race and was able to finish as strongly and happily as possible.  I was so happy to go past Autzen footbridge and know that I was only a little over 1/4 of a mile from the finish.  I saw Kim and S as I headed up Agate street and then I saw my husband and a couple of my kids yelling for me.  I almost broke down there but still had to get on the track for the complete finish.  My mom and daughter were there at the turn of the track and they yelled me onto the finish.  Miles 25-26.2:
I'm pretty sure that I was passed by a ton of people at the end and I didn't even remember to look up and see myself on the Jumbo Tron but I have never been so happy to be done with a race in my life.  I realize now that I never even got a finish photo with my medal, but I did have a great massage (thanks Joleane!) a tasty milkshake and a very tearful reunion with my family.  Later on, I also enjoyed an ice bath, followed by a hot, hot shower, a nap, some really yummy pizza and an ice cold cherry coke, which was absolutely heavenly!

I am absolutely overwhelmed by the support I received from my friends and all of you that have never actually met me.  Thank you so very much.  When all is said and done, it was without a doubt one of the hardest things I have ever done (and I have given birth 4 times, 3 of those being very difficult).  I definitely could have raced it smarter... now I'll know better for next time.  Oh yes, there will be a next time!

It's a good thing that I have 4 kids to take care of as well as an empty fridge or I would have been tempted to stay in bed all day.  I. am. sore.  I'm so glad to have 2 flights of stairs that require me to go up and down them throughout the day.  Bring on the recovery!


Julie said...

WOW! What a long journey. You had me all worked up there a couple of times! Congrats on your race, Laurie. I think you totally "tested your limits" :D

track coach and adorable wife said...

Way to pull it out. The cramping must of really sucked, but I loved all the friend and family support you got! I think this will be a good number for Coach to shoot for! Great job and try to rest a little!

Marci said...

You are so awesome!

(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

Great recap! So great to see you running into Hayward Field--

Now that you've had a "practice" marathon, I can only imagine what you are going to accomplish next time.

Amanda@runninghood said...

So proud of you! You're awesome. And your smile...beautiful! Loved every picture and word and I especially love how much support you had! Great job and great outlook. So exciting! And I bet so wonderful for your kids to see you do this. you did it! :) Love your Manta. Pizza afterwards is the BEST!! Congrats Laurie!

Stacie said...

Congrats Laurie!!! It was great meeting you at dinner. I'm so happy for you.

tri like mary said...

Congratulations Laurie! I'm running my first full in October and would love a similar time!

Liz said...

So AMAZING!!!!! I haven't ever met you, but I couldn't be prouder to follow your marathon, What an experience! I really loved reading how you felt as you went through it, I felt as if I was there. Thanks for sharing.

giraffy said...

Fantastic!!! You did so great, congratulations!!

Julie D. said...

Congrats!!! that is such a huge accomplishment. I dealt with cramps (among other things) ;) at the Portland Marathon and it was the worst feeling in the world, especially when you have run a great pace the rest of the race!!! I know how hard it is to look at your splits and then see a nose dive but the cool thing about the marathon is it is about the FULL journey and what it takes to get to the finish. You still KILLED it with far from a sub-4!! Nice job!

Tricia said...


Teamarcia said...

Congrats Laurie! And the next ones gonna be that much better! So awesome you had so many family and friends there,

Richelle said...

Way to go! Congrats on your first marathon! I expect the next one will be so much better as you'll have the experience of this one to look back on and learn from.

P said...

You are such a ROCK STAR!!! Great job pushing through and finishing strong! And already talking about "next time?" I love it!!

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Congrats! What a great race!!

Momma K and her Krew said...

You are inspirational. What an awesome story. Congrats on a wonderful race! And thanks for sharing!

FruitFly said...

I totally just got goose bumps on my legs reading that. What a great report! Congratulations on your first full marathon -- and even with cramps you beat your goal. You really ARE amazing!!

XLMIC said...

Laurie! Congratulations on your sub-4 FIRST marathon!!!! You did an awesome job, and it sounds like you learned a TON :) You sure had the most amazing support network.. the best signs and the most signs :) Your story brought me back to my first one. And I hung on every word as I read it. So GREAT!!!

Callie. said...

so awesome. Thanks for sharing all the details!!

Amber said...

Congrats on your first full!! Welcome to the club. :)

Janet said...

You are truly amazing! This post really made me cry and I'm at work. Oh well. Great job.

The Turtle said...

Congrats! You did an amazing job.

Dick said...

Good job, Laurie! You totally rocked it! I'll make sure I'm part of your support group when your run the next one. Portland? Or is that too close to the Hood to Coast?

me/mom/NANA said...

I have looked at this post several times now and it always makes me smile, laugh and cry but mostly it makes me very proud of you and your great work in preparing, planning and then accomplishing this race. Great Job...

amy said...

Even with a tough finish, this is still an awesome first effort. Take what worked and do it again. Take what didn't work and fix it for next time. So great to meet you and congrats on your first race!

Quinton J said...

Awesome work! Congratulations!

Katy said...

Way to go, Laurie! Run strong!

aqb said...

Loved the story! Totally put me to tears. I am so inspired! I can't wait to talk about it in person.

Beth said...

Awesome job in your first marathon!! It was so fun to meet you for the pre-race carb fest :) Good luck with the recovery.

runnerchick said...

SWEET!!! Nice brisk walking, sleeping, resting and you should recover just fine:)))) Congrats!!!

Small Town Runner said...

Laurie- You did SO well. I am very proud of you. I totally understand the tears at the end of the race.

You write a fantastic story...the telling of it WILL make the sequel that much sweeter. (Cause it's gonna ROCK)

What a gift that your friends did for you. the signage support is AWESOME.

Hope your recovery is going well! Thanks for sharing your well detailed write up.

Stephanie said...

Awesome, Laurie! You are amazing. Congratulations on a job well done. And with all the cramping you still pulled off less than 4 hours on your time! :)

Pemberton Family said...

Congratulations! What a great race recap, a marathon is never easy but to run it in under 4 hours your first time is amazing. Nice work!