Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Eugene Half Marathon Recap

April was a weird month. I finished school at the very end of March and spent about 2 weeks being unemployed and dramatic before getting a call from my externship site offering me a job which I obviously took. I'm now working strictly on the pastry side which has been fun but I must admit I miss bread a little. Anyway, working 10 hour shifts is hard on the body so it's taken me some time to adjust meaning I haven't been running or working out much in the traditional sense. But I figure being on my feet for at least 9 1/2 hours at work and slinging 50 lb bags of dead weight around counts for something.

There were some family issues that popped up in April too that were less than ideal but the month ended with me and T hosting 3 out of town guests in our apartment for a few days. Exhausting but so amazing at the same time. One of those guests was my sister and bestie who flew out to run the Eugene Half with me. She's about finished with nursing school but needless to say, running hasn't been her top priority lately either so we were just going to go for it and enjoy a nice loooong walk on a beautiful day. 

I'd booked an Airbnb in Springfield about 20 minutes from Eugene because it looked like it was on some form of a farm. Since I now want to be a farmer (I know, I know) I was way pumped to stay somewhere scenic, quiet and kind of removed from the nervous energy of a race venue. It was exactly what I wanted.



Also, my current phone camera situation is not exactly what I want. Not sure what that's all about. Anyway, me and my sister drove into Eugene and went to the expo. I've been to Hayward Field before but it's still just so exciting every time I see it and even better that it was her first time there. We headed into the expo which was small but well put together and right outside the tent was a list of all of the participants organized by state. It was cool that there were only 2 people from Kentucky racing so we found my sister's name right away. I had to do a little bit of searching but I found it.


They tried to give me a tiny shirt (I guess I was being optimistic about weight loss when I registered...) but it was really easy to exchange it. I ate some seaweed, drank some tea and of course it wouldn't be Oregon without a little wine then we headed out. We stopped at the grocery store and headed back to the Airbnb to relax. It was great having an entire guest house to ourselves with a full kitchen.. Definitely made pre-race easy. I went to sleep that night easily and slept hard until my alarm. That probably goes to show how relaxed I really was about this race which ended up paying off.

We got up around 4 am and left by 5:30. Free parking and shuttle service was available at Autzen Stadium so we very easily made our way there and luckily there were a couple of very gently used porta pots there so I took advantage of the short line before hopping onto the bus. A quick ride later and we were back at the expo site at Hayward Field. In a very rare act we actually used the gear check since it was only about 40 degrees when we left. We both had long sleeves on but not things we wanted to throw away so we packed some extra shoes and threw in our shirts for gear check then headed to the start line. The race started right at 7 am and we were in good spirits but neither of us were sure how the day would go. 

We started out at a conversational slow pace and actually kept it up through 9 miles! I was definitely not expecting that. The longest run I've done in recent memory was 7 miles and I remember it being not so fun so to manage a full 9 before really feeling like I didn't want to be out there anymore was pretty amazing. At around 1.5 miles I had to stop to pee but again, the lines were short and pots were still in good shape. We ran along talking nonstop like those super annoying people you find in races from time to time and around mile 4 we saw the blog famous Sweaty Emily on the sidelines talking to a really fast looking guy I'm almost positive had already finished the race. We ran past a little bit discussing whether or not we should go back and say hello or just leave her alone before deciding we had to say something. So we stopped, turned around and walked back. She was quite nice and even called us by name (they were on our bibs) and told us to have a good race. We ran on feeling pretty refreshed after being in the presence of greatness (she runs 100 milers....like a badass). There was a big hill shortly after that but we ran it just fine and were met with a fun drumline at the top. Then a big downhill. The miles were ticking by really fast and we were hardly walking. I took in water at every stop and Gatorade after a while because I was HUNGRY. I've actually never been that hungry during a race so I'm chalking it up to the lack of training and preparation.


Both of us suffered a few random aches and pains that would go away and come back until mile 9. After mile 9 things started to hurt and keep hurting. It's true that training for races strengthens your mind but also trains your body to withstand a beating and that is exactly what we weren't prepared to do. My mind stayed strong because for some reason I excel at that part of long distance running but my joints weren't having much fun anymore, especially since I've gained a few pounds over the past year. We walked a lot of mile 10 and some of 11 before getting it back together and running to the end.

The course was beautiful and there was great support throughout. Eugene is a small-ish city but you can tell they love their running. It's actually fairly flat with only a couple of climbs and spreads out after about a mile or 2. It was a big race! The highlight has to be the finish when you enter Hayward Field and finish on the same track at the same finish line as track and field legends. This is the same track that's hosting the USA track and field Olympic Trials this summer. Yes, OLYMPICS.


All in all, this race was awesome. I'm stunned that I've reached a point where I can just do a half marathon mostly untrained but I absolutely wouldn't recommend it. Especially if you're someone who cares about times and performance. I don't run with a watch anymore and there were no clocks on the course so it was right up my alley to just go out with my sister and enjoy a beautiful day with some exercise. It also helps that I definitely wasn't attempting a couch to half marathon. I have been exercising and staying active, just not training in the traditional sense and maybe that's what works for me. I know I'll race again but I'm not sure when or in what capacity. Right now I'm just trying to enjoy my life and not worry so much about what it's supposed to look like.