I headed down to Eugene on my own for this marathon, as the kids schedules made it difficult to bring the whole family, yet through the weekend I never felt alone. I was fortunate to meet an amazing group of runners from Phoenix, the Sonoron Distance Project. This group of women had come down to Eugene to get the US trials B standard. They had their coach, partners and a pacer with them. They embraced me into their group immediately and I had an absolute blast getting to know them and celebrating with pizza and Voodoo donuts the evening after the race. Thanks to all of them for being so generous and kind. The race didn't go the way they had hoped but they will get it next time!
Going in to the Eugene Marathon my A goal was to be as close to 2:35 as possible. My training leading into the event had me confident that this was a realistic goal for me. My long tempo runs on hilly loops had been strong and I had completed two 22 milers in a week with marathon pace efforts built in, that had gone really well. Three weeks prior to Eugene I had run the Vancouver Sun Run 10k and off marathon training had run a PB of 33:52 to place 6th overall, 3rd Canadian and 1st master.
A few days after the Sun Run I had a bit of a strain come up in my Obdurator (google it if you're not sure what this means). This was causing some discomfort when I was running. Luckily my amazing support team of Chris Napier (physio), Dr. Jim Bovard (sports med), Marilou Lamy (Physio) and Bobby Crudo (RMT) fixed me up very quickly and I didn't really miss much training. As that started to heal I came down with a virus the week before the event. Not the best lead in, but I kept focusing on the positive and by the time I was down in Eugene I was feeling a lot better.
Race day was a beautiful running morning. It was around 12 degrees at the start and a bit overcast. My plan was to go out at 5:55/mile. The half and full marathon start together in Eugene, and I found myself running beside Eva Vail who was running the half. This was great as she was running the same splits as me and we worked really well together. The half marathon splits from the full at 9 miles and from that point on I was pretty much alone. At this point in the race the course moves on to the river path for a while before heading in to the Springfield neighbourhood, then returns for the last 10 miles to the river path. The River Path is beautiful although a bit more windy and with more small elevation changes than I had anticipated. It was also hard to see too far ahead and know where others were on the course. I was told by a spectator that I was in second place.
As I exited the river path in to Springfield I could just make out Erin who was running in first place with her pacer. As I ran I realized I was gaining ground on her and that she was struggling. It is never fun to see someone struggling in the marathon, especially that early on, so when I caught her I gave her some words of encouragement and kept moving on. Remarkably, although she was struggling early on, she was able to still pull herself to a 3rd place finish, that is toughness!
Erin's pacer moved up with me for a couple of miles then dropped, but it was nice to have someone to run with. At this point I entered back to the River Trail past Pre's trail and kept focused on the race. It was a little intimidating being in first place and not knowing where anyone else was. I just wanted to keep moving forward. I passed the half point in 1:18:45 and realized it was going to be tough to get under standard unless I kept pushing the pace. I tired to just focus on moving and hoping the time would come. When I got to 20 miles and saw my split 2:01:43 I think I realized it was going to be tough to get my A goal and standard as I was definitely starting to struggle. This is where the run became really a test of mental strength and perseverance. Knowing the goal I had worked so hard for was falling out of reach was disappointing but I was in first place in the marathon and this kept me going. I kept visualizing breaking the tape and thinking how great that would feel.
The end of the marathon finishes on the track at the historic Hayward Field. As I turned the corner and hit the track my legs picked up and I tried to sprint to the finish. The feeling entering the stadium is unreal. It still feels surreal to me now. Hearing the crowd cheering, running down the straightaway and breaking the tape are moments that I will never forget. I am beyond grateful for this experience. Although I didn't hit my A goal time wise, I achieved something so memorable instead. The love and support I have experienced from everyone has been incredible.
This is only the beginning. I intend to continue to learn from these experiences and improve some more. I am not finished with the marathon yet:)
I must thank some of the amazing people who have helped me get here
My family, whose support and understanding of my love for running enables me to pursue this incredible journey.
My Coach, Richard Lee, whose belief and confidence in me has taken me to places I only dreamed about, and who somehow always knows the right thing to say in those moments post race!
My wolf pack - I love you girls! Natasha and Dayna who are my running inspirations and who support me unconditionally in this running adventure and who are killing it in their running!
Ian Dobson - elite coordinator at the Eugene Marathon who made sure things ran so smoothly and seamlessly that as athletes we had nothing to worry about except for running.
My friends who have sent me so many amazing messages of congratulations and support. It means so much!
The amazing team at Oiselle who believe in me and my abilities! You guys rock!
Dave at Distance Runwear who has supported me in this journey
Zensah Compression and Sports Uber who have kept me fueled and compressed!
Bobby Crudo, Chris Napier, Marilou Lamy, Dr. Jim Bovard - thx for keeping me moving forward :)
What a weekend and one I will not forget. I am enjoying every minute of this incredible journey.
The river path and Pre's Trail maps. We ran pretty much all of the river path during the marathon
Kerry Camberg from the Sonoron Distance Project and I pre-race
The finish line at Hayward Field before the race
Top 3 women in the marathon (myself, Emily Harrison and Erin Nehus Vergera)
My sprint to the finish on Hayward field
photo cred: Kerry Camberg
With my finishers medal after the win
Media from the event