This was the 2nd year of the Eugene Women's Half Marathon. It's predominately a women's only race, although guys are not discouraged from running. This year there were 30 males that ran with or "in support" of their woman counterparts. All, I know is that the few guys I saw on the course were nowhere near any women they were supporting. I have no problems with guys running an event geared towards women, but don't tell me that you're running with your girl and then run off and leave her in your dust. Okay, mini rant over... back to the report.
So, it wasn't a very big secret that I didn't really want to run this race. I just wasn't feeling it. I was deep in the middle of marathon training, I had just run Hood to Coast... I was tired and full of excuses. I had been dreading the race for about a month prior to the actual event. In an effort to bring some optimistic magic to my running, I had applied to wear the Traveling Sparkle Skirt and was approved. It came right before I left for Hood to Coast but unfortunately didn't change my attitude much. The whole weekend of Hood to Coast I was trying to figure out a way to tell the Sparkle Skirt girls that their skirt wasn't going to work out for me. Luckily I didn't flake out, on the race or the skirt.
The day before the race we had a mini blogger meet up at packet pickup. I met up with my buddy Kim of (Just) Trying is for Little Girls and we had the chance to meet up with Julie from Running on Purpose and Jenn from My Quest for a Smaller Chest.
|Julie, Kim, Jenn & Me at packet pick-up|
|Julie D., Me, Kim, Meredith|
where we both scored what might be my new favorite race shirt.
|It's a nice gray, v-neck tech tee with a picture of 5th Street Market and says "Run to the Market"|
After the expo, I loaded up on pasta at Olive Garden with my two youngest kids, my mom, grandma, two aunts and an uncle then hurried home to watch the second half of the fairly disappointing duck game. :( I was still feeling hesitant and unsure of what I wanted to do with the race. It wasn't until later that night when I was laying in bed that I finally told myself to stop coming up with excuses as to why I wouldn't do very well and just pick a goal. I wanted to PR but more than that, I wanted to go under 1:40. I pulled up the splits for a 1:39 finish (7:33 pace) and went to sleep.
Race day morning started off well enough. Jonny woke up just after 5am so I brought him into bed with Dan and I... he then tossed and turned until 5:30 when he finally fell asleep just in time for my alarm to go off at 5:45. I quietly slipped out of bed, took a bath to shave my legs, put on a bunch of Body Glide (just in case), checked the temperature half a dozen times, tried to eat a Cliff Bar, drank some water, wrote the splits on my hand for 7:33 pace and then convinced my mom (who was the only one up) to take the obligatory prerace photo:
I was feeling really antsy and since no one was awake in my house, I went outside to wait for Kim who was kind enough to offer to pick me up for the start. She came right around 7am and we were at the start and in a great parking spot before 7:10. This gave us plenty of time to hang out in the car for a while where I loaded up on Margarita Cliff Shots (3 of them) and Ibuprofen (4 of them) followed with a few swallows of water. We then headed to the 5th Street Market, where Kim was smart enough to direct us to the inside flushable toilets... where there was no line!! We still had time before the start, so we then got in line for the Honey Buckets of course because one can never go too many times before a race. After hanging around for a little bit, we ran into Kim's personal race photographer, took a few more pictures and then headed to the start.
|I really think it's time I invested in a Handful Bra... ha ha.|
My plan was to line up with the 1:40 pacer and not go out too fast. I don't know that the 1:40 pacer was very into running the race though because she had to be paged to the start twice and even then went back to the sideline before coming back and asking if anyone around her would like to hold the balloons. There was a nice National Anthem rendition and then we were off. Then less than 3/4 of a mile in we were stopped. Hello train!
|Thanks for the picture, Kim!|
This was especially humorous to Kim and I as we had run into the exact same problem on our preview run. I don't think most people thought it was very funny though. I wasn't very far from the lead runners and the girl that went onto win it (along with her pacer on his bike) were visibly distraught. A few people started to run across the overpass but the lead copper used his magical speaker phone (yes, that is the technical term) to call them back. Most listened. After the copper radioed back and forth with the race officials and the possibility of a restart was squelched we learned that they were timing the train and would automatically deduct our waiting time from our official time. Although this wasn't the best way to start a race it helped me to get some of my jitters out as well as get another nice stretch in. I didn't stop my watch though and didn't realize until we started going again that my splits were going to be way off. All I knew was that I'd have to keep each mile to 7:33 or below to be on target.
8 minutes 40 seconds after the train stopped us in our tracks, we were off again. The first 4 miles were kind of a blur. I felt pretty good. I got water at every stop and decided to have a Clif Shot right before mile 4 because I thought there was water coming up. Here's proof:
|there was a guy in front of me blocking the camera man that moved right about the time I put the gel to my mouth|
ha ha, nice race shot
Between miles 4 and 5 there was a little out and back loopy section where the runners paths cross and even though I knew quite a few runners I didn't get to see anyone I knew. Somewhere between miles 6 and 7 there was a man that was counting off the runners as they passed. When I went by he said "#30". 30?! Seriously?! That seemed awfully close to the front. It definitely gave me a little charge.
About mile 7.5 a girl that had been staying behind me all of a sudden kind of turboed in front of me as we rounded a corner. Almost simultaneously we came across a group of people that were cheering specifically for her and got a picture of her passing me. They may have gotten a family picture of her passing me, but not quite a mile later, I got some professional pictures of me passing her:
|ha ha, sucker :) just kidding... mostly|
I had another Clif Shot just before mile 9. I wasn't sure that I really needed it but thought it would be better to be over fueled than to run out of juice at the end. Plus, is was raspberry flavored, my favorite... a flavor that I had scoured Eugene for prior to the race and couldn't come up with... turns out it was because they were all on the course. We ran past Autzen and I was still feeling pretty good although my knee was starting to give me a bit of grief. Mostly just little twinges and the way it usually feels before it starts really hurting. I told myself that I had worked too hard in the race (and taken too much ibuprofen) to let my knee stop me at mile 10. I had been watching my splits and only once saw my pace be at 7:33. I didn't bother looking at my overall time because I didn't want to try and do the math but I knew I had a pretty good shot of reaching my goal. Between miles 10 and 11 two girls passed me and took off. I had thought I'd try to go with them, but they really took off and it just wasn't going to happen. I did notice two guys though not too far ahead from me and made it my goal to pass them.
The first guy I passed with no problem. He was fading fast. He was also wearing a nice sports bra and a blonde wig. I passed him going up a hill. It felt good. The second guy took a little bit of time to catch up to, but I finally did just before mile 12 and shortly after these pictures were taken:
|I really can't complain with being all smiles at mile 12... a huge difference from last year.|
With only a mile to go, I knew that unless I pretty much stopped running all together I was going to at the very least PR. I wasn't exactly sure how much time we were going to be given for the train stop but I was counting on around 8 minutes. During the last mile, my photo passing friend from miles 7 and 8 caught back up to me. I thought in my head that there was no way she was going to pass me again to look good for her family. We went back and forth for about a quarter of a mile until I pulled enough ahead of her to stay ahead for good. (Although, looking at the results, she only finished a second behind me and must have been literally breathing down my neck.)
As we rounded the corner for the last little bit into the finish line I tried to see my family and at the same time tried to catch a girl that was just in front of me. I did see Dan (thank you for wearing your bright orange Netherlands shirt!!) but didn't see my mom and kids or manage to catch the girl right in front of me. They apparently weren't expecting me quite as soon as I came in. My mom only got a picture of me from behind and Dan managed a quick shot with his phone as I flashed into view
|I was trying to catch the girl in the white shirt.|
Time - 1:37:39 (5 minute PR!!)
Place - 22nd out of 976 (women) overall and 7th out of 187 in my age group (30-34)
Out of the 30 men that ran the race, I only finished behind 3 of them... so I guess that is good too. :)
I was very happy and slightly surprised with my time. I guess I should have realized that I was well under goal pace since I hadn't seen sight of the 1:40 pacer since the train stop but for some reason I just didn't think I had it in me to run that fast. After the race, I met up with my family and cheered Kim in. There was a band playing in the finish area as well as some pretty nice post race snacks. It would have been fun to hang around for a bit but we were anxious to get to camping so we didn't stay for very long. I don't have a picture of the finishers charm, but I think it is a lot better than last years. Overall I really enjoyed the race. I loved wearing the traveling sparkle skirt... I got so many positive comments from spectators and people at the aid stations. It definitely had some great mojo that went along with it.
Although I don't know that I'll be able to top this years experience, this is definitely a race that I will keep coming back to run.
|Thanks again for the photo Kim and hanging out with me!|