Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Eugene Marathon* full report

When I arrived at the Eugene Marathon, Sunday (about an hour before the race), I was in a pretty serious mood. That quickly dissolved as the very first song that I heard on the loud speakers playing went,
 "I Believe in Miracles...since you came along....You sexy thing.

What a start to a race day!

I hit the port-a-john lines wearing a long sleeve top and gloves I planned to toss after a mile or two in the race. After that, I went to the gear drop and ran into Julie on the way. We checked our stuff and visited briefly before parting ways. Then I ran into another friend I met at races, Emily, and we decided to do a little warm-up together. I always like to see a face I know before a race and chat- it cuts the tension.

After warming up for maybe 7 minutes, I found my place in corral A, right next to the 3:15 pacer. My goal was to start with the pace group, be conservative, and hopefully move up if I felt good. It seemed like a good plan based on my training, the course, and the weather. I had modified my training plan after a bad cold and a minor knee injury, but reduced mileage and intensity got me to the starting line still feeling pretty well prepared.

My bib was on my skirt and I had been wearing pants over it. Somewhere along the way I must have crunched the B tag chip, because only my start data showed up for people tracking me. Then it was taken out of the system.

Miles 0-6
7:25, 7:19, 7:26, 7:29, 7:27, 7:12
The gun went off and we wound through some residential areas that were a little rolling, on some narrow streets with parked cars (not a big issue, if you were looking out). I saw Robbin on his hand cycle and gave him a shout, but he was swarmed with people on the packed street.

There were some people cheering in groups here and there. I stayed in front of the pace group for a few miles, and was greatly encouraged to see my friend Tami, who drove from Elkton (an hour away), cheering at mile 2 and mile 6. It was an early morning drive for her- she is our pastor's wife and made it back to church for 10:00 service.

We had an uphill climb for a mile and then a downhill back to 30th Ave. The water and Gatorade stations were well tended, but I was glad to have my fuel belt and 4 gels pinned on. My plan was to take half a gel at each of the 6 scheduled fueling times on my pace band.

Miles 7-14
7:17, 7:16, 7:27, 7:15, 7:11, 7:26, 7:28, 7:29
The 3:15 group had caught up to me here and I ran with them for awhile. The road had some serious camber in some parts on this stretch. I felt a bit of stress on the outside of both my upper knees (not a previous injury area) and I told them, "I will deal with you later."

Then we took the only big hill up and back by Hayward field. As we passed the water stations, I tried to remember to sip from my water bottles and take a shot, or part of a shot. A little bit later I was ahead of the pace group again and was making my way past the half marathon split to the Willamette river path. At this point I heard Amanda , her husband, and their kids by their hotel! It was a surprise cheer section for me.

 Feeling strong at mile 8.

Near mile 11, as we were running through a residential part of Springfield, I felt the first sign of my calves wearing down. This was not a good indicator. I was going slower than my half marathon pace at mile 11 and feeling my calves already--(more thoughts on why in another post).

I fought off some negative thoughts here and knew I should just try to maintain pace. Speeding up was not going to work. I tried to focus on various friends, praying for their healing. I hit mile 13 around 1:36 something ? Checking my pace band, this was just around the planned 3:15 pace and I hoped that I had what I needed to maintain. 

Miles 15-21
7:33, 7:23, 7:25, 7:24, 7:29, 7:19, 7:34
An overpass over I-5 was the last real hill in the race- the rest of the course was virtually the same as the course I ran in 2010, and I could visualize it before i got to each part.
I began to see some other runners start to struggle. A nice stranger-lady cheered for me, told me I looked STRONG and BEAUTIFUL. I wanted to put her in my fuel belt and carry her with me (someone else was already riding in there though).
As I got back on the river path, and the familiar Pre trail, I knew it wouldn't be long until I saw Amanda again at our planned exchange. I tried to focus on that. My quads were starting to burn before mile 18 and my calves seemed to be holding steady.
On the river trail between mile 18 and 19. Photo by my dad.

Then I heard them...
I thought I had a pretty good gap between myself and the 3:15 group, but they passed by me right before I traded bottles of water with Amanda and also saw my dad and Jon and the boys. I tried to catch them, but didn't like running in a pack at all. There were maybe 10 people tightly together, and the pacer mentioned that they had about 45 seconds banked. I gave them a little space and tried to keep up. There were a few ladies who were doing a great job in that group- but my legs were just getting harder and harder to keep going. The group slipped away from me after we crossed the Owasso bridge, but I tried to keep the balloons in sight. People had really thinned out at this point.

Miles 22-26.2
7:29, 7:49, 8:01, 8:15, 8:14 (Not sure about the last bit over 26 since I didn't turn my watch off)
Seeing the pace group move out of reach sent my mind into a battle. My legs were done and I had lost my goal to beat 3:15.
When a time goal is out of reach, it is easy for me to say, "This race is a failure." I haven't done a lot of B or C goal races. My form fell apart. It became tempting to walk. It hurt bad.
I knew that it would just take longer to get to the finish line if I walked, so --I kept running.
My thoughts were shifting between what (if anything) I had done wrong with training, to how to pull it together for my best possible time.

Some of the thoughts in my last 3 miles were:
  • What the heck was I thinking? Why did I think a marathon was a good idea?
  • I bet I tapered too much.
  • I wonder if I needed more 20+ milers. 
  •  Give me a good 5K any day! 3.1 miles of sheer agony, but then it's over.
  • Maybe I could have put my twenty milers closer together.
  • I should have kept doing interval workouts.
  • Maybe this is the best you can do, even with a perfect training cycle.
  • Maybe I could have ran a faster marathon the day I did my 22 miler. 
  • I can keep doing this..In a little bit it will be over.
  • This is worse than having a baby...
  • No. No it isn't.
  • My watch says I am running 8:09, but my legs feel like this is a 12 minute mile. 
  • God, please keep my legs moving.
  • I hear cheering. For me. I have no idea who it is, but I hear them.
My new goal was now to just keep going. Just keep going....And I was praying more. A lot more. I remembered Proverbs 16:9, and was talking to Jesus and telling him I know He directs my steps, regardless of my own plans. I wanted to glorify Him regardless of how the race went.

As I entered Hayward field, I heard my dad first and then Jon and the boys. I tried to pick up the pace for the finish line with the gun time reading 3:18:06. My net time, after Bazu Sports reviewed the data (chip malfuntion), worked out to be 3:17:49.

Of course I forgot to turn off my watch! I got my medal and headed for the medical/ice tent first. I just wanted to see if they had any ice-baths- simply out of curiosity. I didn't see any. But I got a couple of bags of ice. :)

Talking with Tasha (Healthy Diva Blog) - super nice -and speedy.

I grabbed some snacks and water and met my family in the reunion area. My kids were so excited to see me and my sister had come down from Portland for the day. I took my opportunity to get a few pictures since I might not see her again for a few months.

My boys with some post-race snacks.

Family and a childhood neighbor

I can imagine the fun Jon had waiting for me with the boys :)
My sister- so honored that she came down to watch.
A few minutes later I found Julie and Ronda who had both PRd in the half marathon!

Some thoughts
  • There is nothing like a marathon to remind you of how weak - and how strong- you really are. When I was at my weakest, He carried me. I am grateful to friends and family who let themselves be extensions of His love for me with prayers, messages, packages and as cheerleaders on the course.
  • Although I didn't meet my time goal, as I sit here, I am really VERY happy with a new PR. A PR is never a guarantee, and I was blessed with fantastic weather and a great day in Eugene. 
  • I am satisfied that I gave all I had for this race. Often times I will look back at a race and wonder if I could have executed the race any better. This one was well executed, I just didn't know how much to shoot for. And you can never really be certain of that until you are in the midst of the race.
  • The race organizers and volunteers did a fantastic job, all around.
  • I am really happy with how I fueled and hydrated for this race. It was totally worth wearing the fuel belt to have water when I needed it or wanted it. I am not a big drinker and it was cool. I probably drank about 16 oz of water, but that makes me think that in my previous two marathons I probably only drank 6 ounces.
  • This is only my third marathon and I still have SO much to learn. I wonder if I could improve my time in the full. There is really only one way to find out, but a person would have to be sick in the head to do that. ha!


  1. It truly is amazing what happens to our minds and bodies in the last few miles of a marathon. Our thinking becomes so irrational and random. I like to think it's lack of oxygen to the brain. Haha.

    Excellent, excellent race! Any day with a PR is a GREAT day. You did a really good job of sticking to it, even when you felt not-so-great.

    That was a HUGE PR for you. Of course you can PR and get faster. Sometimes it just take a LOT of time. :)

    Recover well and "get crazy" thinking about the next one. :)

    GOOD WORK, Brooks Sister!

  2. Of course you'll have to run another marathon just to see if you can go faster! I know I had to! Since you had to work through an injury, I really think you could PR again. Interesting to see that there's really no "one size fits all" to fueling - gives me ideas to try myself. Congrats on the speedy PR!!!

  3. You are blessed. Fantastic job with your run and giving grace.

    again -- wicked fast you are!!! :)

  4. Loved your recap- I still can't get over how I proud I am of you!!!! You did so awesome. Marathons are so freaking tough. Just when you think you never want to do another or physically can't, you always sign up for the next. What is it about the marathon?

    I truly think that the marathon is your race Raina. I am looking forward to hearing which race will be your next.

  5. Only 3 marathons and your doing amazing! I know it wasn't the goal you had but you are so fast!! You look so relaxed in your pics even thought I know you didn't feel it.

  6. I can't believe all those details you remembered! It was all a big blur to me :D

    37th female - that is just so amazing! What a different experience at the end -you were all alone crossing the finish line. The runners in my group were all clumped together. No "thinning out" at my pace - we stick together.

    Great race, Raina! I can't wait to hear about the NEXT one! You know you'll do it ;-)

  7. Great report and great pr... even if it wasn't quite what you were hoping for. You do look amazingly strong and I'm sure that once you figure out what next race you want to fuel that craziness towards you'll be even more amazing. You've definitely got it in you. :)

  8. Great pics and AMAZING job girl! You are fiercely strong, and a true inspiration. Funny when you recall your thoughts during the last few miles, my first thought is also "why did I ever think this was a good idea?". Then it's followed up by the analyzing of my cycle and how I could have taken a different course of direction.

    So proud of you girl! Hope you are resting and recovering like a champ by sitting around doing NADA, you deserve it!

  9. Oh, those feelings and thoughts at the end of the marathon are all so familiar. What a great day to go down in your life book. A strong race Raina! A smart race too. And an incredible time. Great to see pics of this sister of yours. :) Love the look on Levi's face (on top of Jon's shoulders). Like he is really concentrating on spotting you or whatever he is looking at so intently. Love you Raina. Thanks for sharing your race with us so we can all learn.

  10. So glad you got the chip issue squared and have an official time. That's great! Great pics as well. (No pics of me at all 8/, boo.)

    I hear you about that negative inner voice telling us defeatist things in the last 5-4 miles. (My thoughts were more diffuse at the time than yours though). You did a fantastic job at pushing through!

    Raina, you are fast and tough ..and just getting started with the marathon. There are so many facets to training for it and and running it ..and every person is different it of course.

    So it takes a while to master. And isn't that the most wonderful, great truth? If we could run your best after only 3, how sad that would be?

    It wouldn't be a sport worth snot.

    So, thanks for sharing..good inspiration and motivation...something to keep in my head the next time I am in the last miles too.

    Glad you are properly basking in your was nice to meet you in person as well as your special friends Amanda and Julie.


  11. Oh Raina!!! Such a great report! I was so looking forward to this!

    First, again congrats on the SUPER PR!!! Such a great race and so much to be proud of here!! I love hearing ALL your thoughts. I have never liked running with pace groups... Hard to be in that pack.

    Man, your thoughts in the last 3 miles were so similar to mine at the end of Grandma's. A mental battle compounded with physical distress and all those exact thoughts. You DID finish though and with a freakin' 3:17!! Hot DOG!!

    You are SO right. A PR is NEVER a guarantee and we need be SO grateful for every one we get!!!! Tons of positive to take from this race. I am positive you will run another marathon and I'm positive you will improve your time but for now, just celebrate the heck out of THIS one!!

    Love ALL the pics. Loved following you and imagining where you were on the course. Loved watching you FINISH!!!

  12. Yes, so excited to read this.
    I completely agree, you ran a smart race. You started at a 3:15 which is where your 8K placed you, so right where you needed to be. You worked hard, stayed within yourself and did not crumble when you missed your A goal. Although you did not have a B goal (I never have those either, though I am learning how important it is to have them) you pushed through and had a huge PR, almost 11 minutes! WOW! I think people underestimate the difficulty of continuing to fight when you missed your A goal. It is much, much easier to push when you are on pace, or when you are having that "good day" for a race (bc I truly believe at lead 10% of success in a race is to have that "good day" when things click). Super proud of you and truly hope to see you in July! I will respond to your email later but the thought of spending time with you brought a huge smile on my face.

  13. You ran a great race and wrote a great report!!! Marathoning is so tough- not for the weak of heart or weak minded, and you are certainly neither. You were so tough and got an awesome PR. I hope you are proud and feeling great. I would bet money that you will be running more in the future. :) Congrats and hugs!!!

  14. this report brought tears to my eyes. I think because your words really embody all that marathoning is...and the tenacity it takes to get to the finish. Totally agree with the above comment that it takes some serious 'guts' to keep pushing hard when "A" goal doesn't happen. Congrats on a huge PR, Raina. You are so talented and should be proud of such a stellar finish.

  15. You were awesome out there! Congrats on the speedy PR!. And a gutsy finish too! I have no doubt that you'll hit that 3:15 marathon soon. Races like this will make you stronger and tougher!

  16. Oh girl, I could feel every single emotion you felt in the race with your words; you painted a picture that took me right there with you (because I've been there so many times!). You have only touched the tip of the iceberg with your marathoning ... you have SO much more to learn, and gain, out of this marathon gig and I have no doubts you will go far, very far. I'm so incredibly happy for you .. and super happy that they were able to pull your time from the photo finish - whew!!!

    This reminded me of you and your race:
    Psalm 18:32-34
    The God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

    You are awesome, girl. God gave you the strength, he will guide you on to fulfill your dreams. This I know!

  17. Incredible race! You are so right about a marathon reminding you how strong and how weak we really are... I've only run one, and I felt the same way those last 3-4 miles, the pace felt so much harder than my watch was telling me! You did amazing. I can't fathom a 3:18... and on your 3rd marathon! Congrats again!

    1. I say it would have been a 3:15 without the extra force pounding the quads from the fuel belt (excessive eccentric loading diminishes the elasticity of muscles). :)

      We pay good money for well organized races with quality aid stations (among other things), and then runners decide to insult the race organizers and provide their own aid. What is the world coming to??

      Just givin' ya a hard time. Solid splits. Fun weekend. Good people. You are pretty blessed!

  18. Congrats on the PR! I didn't follow your training schedule perfectly close, but it seemed like you ran a great race! Regardless of whether you met your time goal or not, you got a PR, so I think the whole race is a success because of this. You just ran faster than you ever have before. And it is clear that you gave everything out there.

    Bummer about your timing chip not working, that would be annoying for people spectating you because they wouldn't know where you were on the course. Glad that you got your official time at least though, I guess this is all that matters.

    I know you've had some off and on injuries too, I bet with another training cycle you can improve even more.

  19. SO proud of you! You did amazing - congrats on the PR, congrats on pushing through your head. You truly do glorify God through your running.

    Much love to you!

  20. Way to go, Raina. It sounds like a helluva race. You should be proud of that well-deserved, well-earned PR.

    I totally giggled at, "This is worse than having a baby. No, no it's not." HA! I totally channel that experience during races. I'm sorry. There is nothing worse than crapping out an 8-pounder UNMEDICATED. I think you have to be crazier to do that than a marathon! What was I thinking?!? And I did natural childbirth TWICE.

    You done good, girl. I hope you are having a nice, relaxing recovery.

  21. Hi Raina. My running buddy follows your blog. We both ran Eugene with you. We both PR'd and qualified for Boston, but she had the race we trained for. I had the race God wanted me to have - one where He showed me clearly my weakness and perfected His power through me. (Race summary at Congrats on a PR, especially in a race that challenged you so much. Enjoy the recovery. To God be the glory!

  22. I hope upon further reflection you have ONLY good memories of this race! Congrats on the PR and running strong to the finish.

  23. love all the pictures! my favorite is mile 18-19: perfect form there!!

    congrats again on the PR. I love reading the list of all the stuff that you were thinking about...

    my favorite is
    this is worst than having a baby..!
    I always tell myself.. "you had 2 kids nothing can be worst than that" !!!!

    1. Perfect form is a phantom.

      Ted Haydon said, "a good coach will correct your form, a great coach will leave you alone."

  24. You are amazing girl, what a huge PR! I'm sorry it wasn't exactly what you had expected but that's the thing about a marathon, there is no certainty. Recover from this and come back stronger than ever!

  25. Awesome race (and race report) Raina! You look fast and strong in the pictures. Fun that you got to meet up with friends and had people cheering at key points.

    I can't imagine running that fast for that long, so I'll just keep following your blog :-).

  26. Funny how you can be so proud of someone you've never actually met. But I am. I totally forgive you for snatching my Jill shoes.

  27. You did amazing out there! I am glad you are happy with your PR. You ran an incredibly smart (and FAST!) race. I'm glad they got your timing chip figured out AND that you ran a 3:17! Amazing!!! You are so fast and so strong.

  28. You. are. awesome. I loved every word of this post and am THRILLED with your PR! You should be very proud of yourself. Fantastic race! :)

  29. Rancho is probably my favorite big/well known trail place that I run around where I live. There are tons of options within the park - you can do anywhere from 5-25 miles depending what trail you take. There are a couple other trails close by that I run that have scenery even better than that, but I haven't been able to get out there with my injury since the hills are steeper. When I get healthy I'll go back to those trails - they are awesome.

    Yea, I think the random pains I feel are legitimate, but the pain happens at random. Stress fractures are just not fun to happen. I'd rather have a knee injury that a stress fracture I think.

  30. Nice run! It looked like you stayed extremely even, just the last few miles got you..
    I'm always asking myself, "did I do enough 20s" "Maybe I'm not prepared"
    There is probably a bigger race in you yet, just keep grinding in training.
    Congrats! - M

  31. Oh, my goodness - you are so AMAZING!!! Your photos are gorgeous! I know you had higher hopes but your pacing is absolutely staggering! I am SO proud of you!

  32. That was such a great report! Even though I knew the ultimate ending I felt like I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I might have to put a poster of YOU up by my Prefontaine poster now -- a little extra inspiration in the form of YOU! :-)

  33. Wow, Raina! You are one fast lady. I had no idea. Congrats on a race well run, even though it was a tough one.

    My Running Shortz

  34. Brava, you are fast and smart. A great report with many beautiful pictures, in everyone you look very very fast. Glad you had all those VERY IMPORTANT supporters waiting for you at the finishing line and taking pictures during the race.
    Congrats for your 3rd marathon and the PR.

  35. I loved this race recap. I felt like I could really relate to your last 5K. There is just something about those last few miles... Time goals and everything else becomes a blur. Getting to the finish line is the only clear goal.

    Sounds like you had a great support system there too. A 10 minute PR is HUGE!! Great job!! Excited to hear about what is in store from small town runner.... :-)

  36. HUGE congrats on such a speedy race and an amazing PR. Whooo. I still can not believe this is only your third definitely have natural talent and are such an inspiration to look up to :) More PR's are in those legs to come soon!!

  37. Raina, congratulations! I just saw that you had won Caroline's contest and that made me realize I hadn't checked back in to see if you'd written a race report. (I don't know why I'm not getting emails from your blog right now--I'll find another way to get the feed going again.)

    My favorite part (well, other than your huge PR!) was the list of things you were thinking at the end. Great race! And I can't wait to see what you do next.

  38. Hmmm, looks like I forgot to post a comment! You're a rockstar! Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Loved the thought that child birth was easier than this, and the follow up of no it wasn't! I find running way easier than child birth (but then I had no pain drugs and pitocin on top of that, so my experience is a bit different from most). Anyway, great PR and you'll smoke 3:15 next time!

  39. Great report! You guys had the best weather. Congrats on your PR. I'm so bummed I couldn't make it down to see you all.

  40. Great job! Popping over from the RRR facebook page, glad to read your thoughts. Maybe we'll meet at a local run this summer, though you will finish long before I!

  41. Amazing!! I'm really impressed with how you handled your last few miles and your perspective.


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