Sunday, May 04, 2008

Eugene marathon 2008 report

Eugene, OR, 7:00am
Temperature: 40F(37F)-53F(45F)
Humidity: 89%-74%

Background:
In November I had signed up for Eugene as my Spring goal marathon. However, an orthodics/shoe version saga during Nookachamps caused my training to be sketchy for the next 10 weeks. I pushed back my goal marathon by four weeks to Newport. I decided to run Eugene as a "training run", having pondered about the pros and cons of this decision.

Goals:
A training run can only be effective if it does not impede training in the week following the run. Therefore, I decided that anything less than a 70mpw week following Eugene would mean that I failed to achieve my objectives for this run. I would be carefully monitoring my HR to judge my effort. I estimated that I would probably run a 1:52ish first half and finish around about 3:39.

Pre-race:
I started my drive to Eugene at 3AM on Saturday. This meant that I avoided traffic and I was sufficiently tired to get a good night's sleep before the run. I did stop at a rest area between Portland and Eugene to get in an hour's sleep. I had the "Krusteaz Pancake" breakfast at the Convention Center (where I was also staying). I could afford to eat whatever I felt like unlike the day before a real race!

Expo:
I attended three presentations to make sure I captured the Eugene flavor, which I missed last year.

PBS documentary on Bill Bowerman:
- His belief on the hard-easy principle.
- It was interesting to learn about how he was such an integral part of the birth of Nike.

Fire on the Track: The Steve Prefontaine Story
- Pre's sisters introduced the documentary.
- Eugene is synonymous with Pre and vice versa.
- Hearing about Pre always leaves me with a sense of longing about what could have been.
- Right after the documentary I drove down to Pre's rock. Driving up that steep hill leading up to the rock almost felt surreal. It was so quiet just like it must have been on the fateful night.

Inverview with Dathan Ritzenhein and his coach, Brad Hudson
- The moderator did an excellent job in asking questions that would be relevant to the audience
- Recap of his OT qualifying effort
- How moving from altitude in CO to Eugene helped his training.
- His thoughts leading up to, during and after the trials.
- His seven gel fueling strategy for the trails.
- How he had tried out every minute element of the race during training
- How he knew about Shay's death 3 minutes before it was announced to everyone.
- His training: Where he trains in Eugene, 24 mile goal pace run, his training for Beijing (focus on pollution),
- He was nice enough to sign an autograph, and pose for a pic with me.
- He kicked off the race in the morning the next day.

Saturday market: I walked about enjoying the environment and the amazing weather.

Dinner: I went to the pasta feed with Jason. We spend about an hour and half afterwards chatting.

Run report:


I soaked up the environment in the minutes before the run - a start in front of Hayward field! Not wanting to start out too fast I lined up just in front of the 4:00hr sign. Luckily, Anu spotted me and I had a brief FE with her and Nagesh.

mile 1: 9:07 (150)
This was a slight uphill. We passed very closed to Pre's trail. The split was just right and my HR was in my recovery run zone.

mile 2: 8:20 (150)
mile 3: 8:08 (149)
The gleukos at the first water station tasted horrible. I think they got the concentration wrong since it did not taste as bad in the remainder of the race.

mile 4: 8:41 (155)
Enjoying running along the beautiful Amazon trail out and back.

mile 5: 8:26 (151)
mile 6: 8:12 (153)
I wondered why this area was so congested. Then I noticed the 3:45 pacer in front of me. I think he had gone out too fast...

mile 7: 8:16 (154)
mile 8: 7:54 (161)
I picked it up a bit on the uphill since i hate running hills with poor form.

mile 9: 8:30 (151)
I remember being able to see the leader pass by mile 15 from here.

mile 10: 8:18 (153)
It was a little windy and sunny but it's amazing how well-protected the trail was from these elements...

mile 11: 8:17 (155)
mile 12: 8:10 (159)
mile 13: 8:01 (158)
There was an elderly gentleman who tried to keep up with me for a bit. I didn't want to mess up his pace so I picked up the pace to ensure that he was forced to go back to running his race.

mile 14: 8:06 (158)
I spent some time admiring the beauty of the river.

mile 15: 8:15 (158)

mile 16: 8:09 (159)
I am very sensitive about concrete and avoid it like plague during training. There was quite a long stretch of it here which was making me cringe but my legs weren't complaining...

mile 17: 7:56 (160)
I remembered how I had started having issues with IBS around here last year.

mile 18: 7:45 (165)
Dropped a Gu pack. It says a lot about the folks in Eugene that someone on a bike picked it up and rushed to catch up with me to give it back!

mile 19: 7:31 (169)
I finally saw the track where I had to make my pit stop last year. It was a little later in the race than last year since the finish was moved ahead to finish right in front of Autzen stadium. This avoided last year's evil loop around the stadium.

mile 20: 7:33 (168)
Having my nickname on my bib was great. I did get a lot of "Go Sub". From here till the end there were a lot of folks cheering the runners. After all this was track town USA...

mile 21: 7:39 (167)
I chuckled when a volunteer ran with me to make sure I got a cup of sports drink without having to stop. Now that's a dedicated volunteer (lesson for me at the Seattle marathon water stop :))

mile 22: 7:22 (169)
A kind volunteer hands me 3 packs of cliff shots. I had to throw two and just keep one :)

mile 23: 7:10 (169)
Now I'm having too much fun - I'll pay for it at Newport!!!

mile 24: 7:35 (173)
In some respects running my run in the way I was running it was kind of sadistic. Obviously, I was passing a lot of people and this might have been demoralizing for them. Some of them were nice enough have words of encouragement for me as I passed then and of course I returned the complement. Looking at there results later, there was no-one with a half split even close to mine who finished with or before me.

mile 25: 7:16 (173)
I continued to debate with myself about whether I should hold back. Then I reflected on how I was forced to walk 16:30+ min miles at St.George at mile 25 and 26. Live for today, worry about tomorrow later :)

mile 26: 7:16 (178)
I had cranked it up for this mile with a Garmin split of 7:01 which unfortunately was not in sync with the mile marker :)

.22 1:28 @ 6:40 (178)
I had not been looking at my watch time (except for the half split) during the run (just focusing on my mile splits and HR). Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a 3:29:XX as I approached the finish. I have always wanted to feel so good making it past the finish line of a marathon. Perhaps someday in a real race (but wouldn't that mean that I did not give it my best effort)?

Jason was waiting at the finish. He had run a sub-3 and was obviously thrilled. The shuttle ride back to the hotel was an adventure. I joked that we would have gotten back faster if we had run. Apparently we were supposed to get off in front of a night club to get to our hotel. We had to stay on the bus for another full loop. The shuttle driver did not seem too friendly :) We were in a hurry to checkout of the hotel. I gave up my seat whenever the bus filled up to the people who ran a real race.

Results:

OA: 281/1743
Div: 34/96
Male: 241/972
Chip: 3:29:43 @ 8:01
First Half: 1:49:02 @ 8:19
Last Half: 1:40:41 @ 7:41
20 mile: 2:43:49 @ 8:11
first 10k: 8:29
last 10k: 7:23
Average HR: 160

Drive back home:

Last year I had been hurting after the marathon so I did not get a chance to really enjoy the beauty of the Pacific coast. My drive from Florence all the way to Astoria was amazing. I went down the sea lion cave, had possibly the best seafood chowder I've ever had in Waldport, enjoyed the beautiful sunny day capped off with an amazing sunset.


Conclusion:
- I don't think I've ever felt so good during a race or a long run. I found myself smiling all the way to the finish line.
- Knowing that I can run a sub-3:30 without tapering or going all out sure gives me a boost for Newport.
- I think I will surely comeback to Eugene again to race the marathon. This is a great race!
- It was a beautiful day for running on an awesome course. It's not surprising that I know a lot of folks who ended up with PRs.
- If I do race this one again it would make sense to hold back a bit in the first half to take advantage of the very fast second half.

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