Sunday, April 29, 2007

2007 Eugene Marathon Race Report

[Note: The results section is your best bet to skip my ramblings in the rest of the report]

Eugene marathon, OR, 7:00am
Temperature: 44F-54F
Humidity: 93%-73%

Background

Eugene was the first marathon I was "racing" in over a year and a half. Considering the period before this for me, this was almost an eternity. I would probably have avoided any other inaugural marathon until they sorted out organizational issues. However, this was a marathon at Eugene the site of Olympic marathon trials and NCAA championships. There would surely have been a running culture at "Track town USA". As the organizers put it you'd be "running in the footsteps of legends". With people raving about the marathon along with the promised flat and scenic course I was convinced and decided to sign-up.

2006 was a dreadful year for me. After running only 300 miles in the first five months I tried to get back to things. The mistake I made was assuming that I could do things I was able to do in 2005 when I had a solid mileage base behind me. I ended up taking two steps back for every step I took. Finally, I decided that I needed some discipline. It was more like training for my first marathon. After spending a month of 20-30 mpw base building, I strictly followed the Pfitz 24/55 plan (which I knew I could easily stick to).

Pre-Race:

It was very nice of Oreska (Juan) to host our FE at his home in spite of his MIL having a stroke and the organizational responsibilities he had for the race. I met Geetah (Bill) and MangoAK (Donna) at the expo and we headed down to Juan's. It was fun chatting with everyone... Polar Bear(Jon), who was crashing with Juan inspired us with stories about how his running potential was discovered. The High Hopes hat was admired. Danny's amazing summer was discussed. Bill talked about his race record breaking 114 mile 24 hour run... RTB, other races experiences et al. Exactly why FEs are always fun. Finally, we were treated to Juan's culinary talents.

This was the first time I got to stay in a race hotel. It did mean avoiding a couple of hassles. I didn't sleep much the day before the race or the day of. I was awake from 2am. I could hear the college kids partying on the downtown streets from my room (but this was not what woke me up or kept me awake ...)

On race day morning as soon as I got off the shuttle in front of Hayward field start I saw Jon. This was cool! After he helped me solve my pre-race emergency of finding safety-pins to attach my bib we stayed warm in his car. Interestingly, his car was parked in prime location - right in front of the entrance to the porta-potties. It goes without saying that a majority of the runners would have observed two runners sitting in a car.

Goals:

In January I had run the RNR AZ half in 1:34:XX. At that point I had expected that with more training coming up it would be logical that I would be able to PR and improve my 3:18:XX marathon PR. However, 5 weeks out in the Mercer half (which is a little hilly) I ran a 1:37:XX! I was regressing... Also, for the next few weeks my quads were perpetually sore. Taper and PT sessions cured this soreness but after my last long run, 2 weeks out two new injuries surfaced on my right leg - an injury in the muscle connecting my quad and knee & ITB issues. I stretched like a maniac, got help from a PT, anti-inflammatories et al but I was going into the race with a possibly painful injury which had not been tested with a run longer than 12 miles. A DNF was a possibility. I would not be happy with anything above 3:30 under any circumstances. My race strategy was to go out by effort with my HR to guide me irrespective of what pace that might be...

Race:

mile 1: 7:40 (171)
As I took my first few steps I could feel both the injuries on my right leg acting up. Jon had told me about his 2006 RNR AZ marathon experience with a PF injury the day before. I wondered if this was the kind of suffering I was in for.

mile 2: 7:29 (163)
mile 3: 7:32 (166)
I ran into a couple of runners from Jon's running club. They were running the half.

mile 4: 7:32 (168)
I was beginning to get into my stride and the issues with my right leg issues seemed to have disappeared or maybe my brain had decided that it would be blocking out any messages sent by it...

mile 5: 7:43 (171)
This was the biggest hill on the course. Pre-race, I had told myself that I just needed to get through mile 1 & 5 and then I would be good to go. This hill ended up being pretty trivial. I guess at mile 25 it would might have been a "little" inconvenient.


mile 6: 7:37 (167)

I didn't see a mile marker as we crossed the bridge over the Willamette River for the first time. Later I realized that they had painted some mile markers and the 5k markers on the ground. Too bad they did not tell us about it. They were painted too small to notice accidently ...

10k: 47:10
mile 7: 7:44 (165)
When I picked up my race packet I was pleasantly surprised to see that the marathon bibs had ours names on it. For the average person in the US attempting to pronounce my name is not too far from what you'll go through when you'll attempt to pronounce 'zzsbzz' at FEs :) Up till this point most of the crowd was cheering for "Mike, Dave, John ..." around me or sticking to generics. So I chuckled when a female attempted to cheer for me by my name and then immediately remarked to her friend - "I surely butchered his name".

mile 8: 7:39 (166)
mile 9: 7:35 (167)
I missed mile markers for this and the next mile which probably were painted below.

mile 10: 7:39 (167)
The half marathoners split off during this mile. I found myself running alone without Mike, Dave or Bob. I was treated to some individualized generic cheering (though attempts were made to pronounce my name).

mile 11: 7:49 (168)
I finally saw a mile marker. So this split includes the Garmin offsets for the previous two miles. A guy running in front of me was clearly relieved to see the mile marker(thank you Garmin).

mile 12: 7:41 (166)
The half marathoners rejoined us. There were folks talking about just one more mile to go, being almost done & their last kick. In my head I was going - "La La La. I don't hear you."

mile 13: 7:30 (166)
half: 1:39:55
A sub-3:20 was surely on the cards. Based on my HR in comparison to my previous marathons, I felt I had been pretty conservative thus far. A PR would take some doing but I told myself that in my PR race my half split was 1:40:XX.

mile 14: 7:43 (167)
The course for the next few miles is very similar to the Vermont City marathon. Views of the river through trails. I remembered running into RunningFatMan (Henry) at mile 14 of VCM. It was sad to think of what happened to him a few months after the race...

I was startled when I heard someone pronounce my name correctly! I had to turn back to marvel at the impressive achievement.

mile 15: 7:40 (166)
Before the start Jon and I met another guy wearing TX shorts (like Jon). Both of them had started off in the front. I saw him struggling. I asked him if he was ok. He just said - "Hamstring". I told him to keep pulling before I moved on.

Again, another female pronounced my name correctly. I thought - "Wow! This is quite a roll we have going here..." This would not last though. Mispronounced attempts (which I am very used to by now) and generics prevailed for the rest of the race.

mile 16: 7:38 (167)

GI issues started flaring up. This has never happened to me during a race, even during the 5.5 hrs of the Knickerbocker 60k. I'm wondering if I could hold on till the finish... Gradually, I realized that I'd have to stop. I begin looking for a porta-potty but I couldn't see any around!

I was also getting conscious of the amount of running we were having to do on concrete. Luckily, my right leg was holding up pretty well.

mile 17: 7:44 (166)
mile 18: 7:47 (164)
mile 19: 9:48 (158)
I had to stop for the first time in any race. What made matters worse was that the porta-potties were in a small stadium. I had to run 0.2 extra miles to get to and from it... Maybe someone forgot to move these?

This was effectively the end of any time goals I had... Though I am glad I stopped. It felt so much better as I started running again.

mile 20: 7:43 (165)
mile 21: 7:53 (165)
I found myself running with a guy in a blue shirt. It was sort of an implicit agreement. We were running together, side-by-side but we never spoke a word to each other. An official race photographer remarked - "Nice job pulling together". I hope he got a snap of us since I'm curious to find out how this guy's race ended. I had to leave him at a mile 23 water stop as he stopped but it surely helped to run together.

mile 22: 7:43 (166)
mile 23: 7:50 (169)
mile 24: 7:44 (171)
What was encouraging was that I passed a guy, who was looking very strong in front of me before I stopped at mile 19. I ended passing quite a few folks in the last 10k which is always nice when you are not struggling yourself.

mile 25: 7:49 (172)
At the very least this was not a struggle to the finish - I felt pretty decent through the end. Looking at my splits I wonder if I could have pushed a bit more after my pit stop even if it would mean a more painful finish. I guess if a more meaningful goal was on the line that would have happened. I guess at these stages the mind does play a part and motivations like PR, BQ etc. can do amazing things. After I stopped I didn't really seem to care much about my mile splits unlike before the stop (I was still trying to finish as quickly as possibly but there was no – “This split was only a X:XX!”)

mile 26: 7:39 (175)



The last mile was around the Autzen stadium. I couldn't help wondering how much cooler it would be to run inside the stadium than outside it...

mile .2: 1:46

Avg HR: 166

At the finish I saw Jon & Bill. Jon ended up with a great finish time which could have been an amazing time if not for his hammy seizing up. Bill's half was impacted by his 114 mile run just a couple of weeks back ...

Before leaving Eugene, I decided to have one last look at the legendary Hawyard field. Interestingly, I found Bill and Donna also there taking pictures...

I returned home taking the byway along the Pacific coast. The natural beauty was quite impressive!

Results:

Chip time: 3:23:57 @ 7:47

OA: 214/1496
Male: 180/837
AG: 35/119


Conclusion:

I was very impressed by the organization of the marathon considering that this was its inaugural year. This is not surprising considering they had dedicated/knowledgeable volunteers like Juan taking care of things. There was great crowd support, which will only get better in future years. The course and atmosphere was very similar to Vermont City.

Not getting a PR while disappointing was not a surprise. I should be happy that the injuries I was carrying into the race did not act up. The time lost due to GI issues was disappointing but I'll be more careful in future. Things could have been worse.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the St. George lottery. If I get in I will be motivated for the training even if the prospects of a PR look bleak. It would double up as a nice vacation!

Meanwhile, the curse of a Steamtown PR continues :) (I can think of at least four others with long standing Steamtown PRs who should be able to relate to me)

4 Comments:

Blogger Phil said...

That's still an impressive time, even with a potty break. What is more impressive, however, is how smooth you were mile after mile. Little wonder you were passing people left and right at the end of the race.

Great report.

5/01/2007 11:27 AM  
Blogger Banking Miles said...

Great job on another nice marathon run and write up. I know you are disappointed with not getting a PR but with all the things that have come up for you in the past few months - you seemed to have run an super rice. Good luck with getting into St. George's.

5/01/2007 6:49 PM  
Blogger Pure Virtual Function said...

WTG Sub! Considering your injuries and the stop... you have to be pleased with your run.

5/09/2007 3:56 PM  
Anonymous MangoAK said...

Wow Sub- your photos of the Oregon coast on your return after the race look alot like the ones I took on my way down a couple days before Eugene.

Again- great to see you and great race you had. Hope to see you in Seattle this summer.

5/29/2007 1:11 AM  

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