Sunday, July 27, 2014

2014 Eugene Marathon

July 27, 2014 6:00 AM
Eugene, Oregon

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen (Full) 3:38:56 8:21 M35-39 37/96 308/784 391/1,359 1294
Malissa (Half) 3:03:32 14:00 F30-34 166/175 1,025/1,201 1,716/1,928 5511

Written by Owen:

This trip was the trip Malissa and I were using for our anniversary celebration.  June 17th was our 14th Wedding Anniversary.  My mom accepted the challenge, yet again, of spending the weekend with our kids while we were away.  The fact that my kids get to do that from time to time is one of my favorite things in the world. I'm so glad they are so close and have such a great bond with Grandma and Gramps.

Thursday night we drove up to my mom's house in Virginia.  We arrived very late, since I had to work that day and we didn't get out of Charlotte until after 5 PM.  When I booked this trip, I looked on every airline, considered every airport, and only found one option that would work that wasn't ridiculously expensive.  We would fly out of Baltimore on Friday morning.

The Baltimore airport is only about an hour away, if there's no traffic.  Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:45 Friday morning, which meant the "no traffic" part going through Washington D.C. was impossible.  There is no worse traffic anywhere than I-95 between my mom's house and D.C.  So I decided we'd just get up at 4:00 AM and get to the airport very early and wait there, instead of in traffic.

That plan worked really well.  We got to our gate after having breakfast in the airport food court at about 7:00.  We waited in the gate until it was boarding time.  We got in our spot in line (we were flying Southwest, so we had a reserved spot in the boarding line, not a reserved seat on the plane).  It was then that they informed us our plane was broke and we wouldn't be leaving for almost two hours. ARGH!  We woke up at 4:00 AM after going to bed at midnight for nothing.

Waiting for the plane in Baltimore.
We finally got on the plane and it went smoothly from there.  On the plane, we watched "Noah", which is just silly, I don't know what those writers were thinking.  Seriously, when I first saw the "Rock Monsters" I was dumbfounded. To read that, if you don't care about a spoiler for the movie, click and drag over it with your mouse or hit Ctrl+A. I just formatted it white in case you haven't seen the movie and don't want me to spoil it.  So if you don't try to relate it to what happened in the Bible, and just try to enjoy a Hollywood movie that has some similarities to the story in the bible, you might enjoy it.  I enjoyed it and it helped pass about half of our 5 hour direct flight to Portland.

We landed in Portland Friday afternoon, a couple of hours behind schedule, but our plans for the day were to see Multnomah Falls, just East of Portland, then drive to a hotel on the coast (two hours West).  None of our plans for Friday had a timetable, so we were fine (other than very tired).

Multnomah Falls is so beautiful.  You can actually see it from I-84, and they have a parking lot that you can use without even getting all the way off the freeway.  That was cool, I had envisioned a short hike, which normally I was unsure of two days before 26.2, but I really wanted to see the falls.

This Google satellite photo shows the falls, along with the cool parking lot on the freeway.

After parking, you take a short walk through a tunnel that takes you straight to Multnomah Falls. We snapped the selfie below, had a great dinner at the lodge, then walked up on to that bridge you see behind us.
Multnomah Falls
We got back in the car and drove what should have been two hours to Seaside, Oregon, which is where our hotel was for the night.  Due to traffic, and a couple of wrong turns, it was a little over three. I picked it because it's a block from the beach, and it's 10 minutes away from Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock, which is another sight we really wanted to see.  It's completely the wrong direction in reference to Eugene, but was well worth it.

We got checked in to the hotel and had to hurry down to Cannon Beach before we ran out of daylight.  We had a delicious clam chowder bread bowl at Mo's, then walked on the beach near Haystack Rock.

Malissa get's her clam chowder in a bread bowl at Mo's

Haystack Rock, during Sunset, on the Oregon Coast
By this point, we were more exhausted than we had been in a very long time.  We had awoke to my alarm that morning, in Stafford, Virginia at 4:00 AM ET (1:00 AM PT).  It was now almost 9 PM PT, which meant we had been on the go for 20 hours.  We drove back to our hotel and CRASHED.  The hotel was a dive, and the bed was nothing to write home about, but I had the best night of sleep I've had in a long time.

We got up Saturday morning and went back to Cannon Beach.  Our friend, Donna, had given us a list of places we needed to visit.  She is from the area.  One of the places she recommended was a bakery there.  We each got a donut and ate it relaxing next to the ocean.  It was a simple thing to do, but we really enjoyed it and the donuts were delicious.

Donuts on the beach, so relaxing
We got back on the road and drove the three hours to Eugene.  Our rental car was the smallest car I had ever driven, but I really enjoyed it (it was a red Chevrolet Spark). It was actually a four-door, the rear door doesn't look like a door, the handle is up by the window.

I didn't get any actual pictures of our rental car, but this is what it looked like.

We went to the expo, which was at Matthew Knight Arena, which is where the Ducks play their basketball (See picture at the top of this page). I liked how they incorporated several stadiums in the weekend.  The expo was at their basketball stadium (Matthew Knight Arena), the finish line was actually on the track that gave Eugene the name "Track Town, USA" (Hayward Field), and mile 16 of the marathon ran by where the Ducks play their football games (Autzen Stadium).

After the expo, we had lunch at Olive Garden, a favorite pre-marathon meal for me, but it's usually dinner.  I had several bowls of minestrone, and a rather large serving of pasta primavera.  I definitely overdid it for lunch.

After lunch we visited the Nike Running store.  Running is so big there, and Nike such a big part of it, that they actually have a huge Nike store that is just devoted to running.  I was loving that.

We checked into our hotel, a really nice Hilton Garden Inn. We realized we hadn't fully recovered from the time change/exhaustion from the day before and we just stayed in, skipping dinner entirely.  I had a carb bar, and we were in bed for the night at 8:30 PM. We are party animals!

Sunday morning we got up at 4:00 AM, had our pre-race breakfast rituals (bagels, bananas, etc.).  We caught the first shuttle leaving from a hotel across the street, which was actually an elementary school bus.  After we got on the freeway, we overheard the driver asking on the radio where she was going.  The voice on the other end told her, and I remember thinking "wouldn't you find that out beforehand?".  She got off at an exit, then asked on the radio for more directions.  The voice told her "well you can get there that way, but it will take a lot longer".  I wasn't worried, because we were very early still.  The runner on the first row was a local and talked her through it the rest of the way.

We got dropped of at the start, with over an hour yet to wait.

We're ready to race

Just before the start, looking forward

Just before the start, looking back

Selfie before the start
I was seeded in the "A" corral, because I used my St. George Marathon time when registering.  I knew I wasn't going to finish anywhere close to that, so I lined up at the absolute rear of corral A.  I had spent more time than usual planning my actual racing strategy for this race.  I looked at my list of previous finish times and came up with 3:40 as a goal.  I wanted to enjoy it, but still be proud of my time.  I also wanted to finish strong.  Running with negative splits (second half of race faster than the first) was also a goal.  So I adjusted my Taz Running temporary tattoo with the splits that would accomplish that. Each of the first 13 miles were in the 8:25 range, each of the last 13 miles were in the 8:15 range, adjusted for inclines/declines, of course.

I'm in my "happy place"
The race started, and I stuck to my plan. The first few miles are always hard to stick to a plan, because of the adrenaline and how good your muscles feel after tapering your training in the weeks before.  Because I was planning on running negative splits, my plan was especially hard to slow down to and stick to.  But I forced myself to do it.

Malissa had someone take her picture during the race
Malissa was not planning on running during this trip, but with less than two weeks to go, I was reading the Eugene Marathon Facebook page and saw a contest for a free entry to the race.  I don't really know why I entered it, I had already purchased my entry.  I won the contest and now was the proud owner of a race entry.  I asked Malissa if she wanted to run the half after all.  She couldn't turn down the opportunity to finish on Hayward Field.  So with no training, and less than two weeks until the race, she was in!  She had a plan to simply enjoy the course, and mix running and walking.  She did just that and enjoyed it very much.

Malissa knows how to take a finish line picture!

Malissa just after her finish, waiting for me to finish
I kept sticking to my plan, actually looking forward to mile 14 when I could speed up a bit.  It was so much fun watching people pass me, slowly but surely.  I just knew I would see those people again before the end of the race. It had happened to me so often.  You go out strong and really struggle the last five or six miles.

Once I passed the halfway point, I sped up to my new pace and it felt good.  Before that, whenever I'd look at my Garmin, I'd have to remind myself to slow down.  After 13 miles of that, however, my body was content with that pace and I had to keep reminding myself to speed up.  Sure enough, I saw most of the people that had passed me earlier, as I ran past them.

From mile 2 to 25, the most I varied from my goal pace for a given mile was 6 seconds.  But by mile 23 it was hard.  I knew I had given myself a cushion on those miles, and boy did I need it.  Once I was close to Hayward Field, though, my adrenaline was pumping.  I entered that stadium and pretended the 1000's of fans were cheering for me in the national championships.  I visualized myself racing Steve Prefontaine on this very track, where he accomplished such great things.

I had my strongest finish to a marathon ever, in what felt like an all-out sprint.  The video shows it wasn't as fast as it felt, but it felt amazing.  Our video was displayed on the jumbo video screen for all to see. It was really cool!

Here are the links to the finish line video:
Malissa's finish (She is first visible when the video timer says 0:57 and the finish line clock reads 3:08:16)
My finish (I am first visible when the video timer says 1:32 and the finish line clock reads 3:39:17)

Here is my data I calculated using my Garmin data and comparing it to the pace tattoo I had on my arm.  The 7:14 for the last quarter mile was fun, I wish I knew the average pace I was running for the 100 yards I was on the actual track.

Finishing a marathon on Historic Hayward Field was really special

Rookie mistake, stopping the Garmin during the finish line shot, you'd think this was my first time.

What a great feeling!

After the race, on the bus to the hotel, we saw Autzen Stadium, which I had run by during the marathon

We got cleaned up back at the hotel, and walked to the Five Guys.  Their burgers are always delicious, but after a marathon they are simply amazing.

Another one of Donna's recommendations was Voodoo Doughnuts.  We found the one in Eugene.  The line was out the door.  While we waited we talked to others in line.  Almost everyone there were tourists who had friends/families that said they had to go to Voodoo while in Oregon.

Our friends said we had to try "Voodoo Doughnuts"

I got a peach fritter, Malissa had the "Dirt Doughnut"
Later that day, we went to the IAAF World Junior Championships that were held on the very track I had just ran on.  Those kids were so fast. It was a lot of fun to watch.  I kept visualizing Michael in a few years.  I have no doubt he can do it if he wants to and really puts forth the effort needed to do it.

Malissa and I enjoyed the IAAF World Junior Championships
Sunday night we had dinner at Outback steakhouse.  We ordered a bloomin' onion.  I was so hungry I ate quite a bit of it, even though I don't like onions, while waiting for the steak.  I probably won't do that again.  The steak was delicious, though.

Monday morning we got up early and made our way back to Portland for our flight back to Baltimore.  We ran a couple of errands in Portland, to buy gifts for the kids and for Grandma and Gramps.

When we arrived at the airport, I realized I hadn't gassed up the rental car, so we turned around and found a 7-11 right next to the airport.  It was really busy. We noticed, while trying to find an empty pump that there was this guy running around to all the cars helping the people. I thought that their computers must be down or something so he had to fix each of the machines. I finally found an empty pump and slid my debit card and the machine was working fine. Just as I was about to pump the gas the guy came and grabbed it out of my hand and put it in the car and asked if I wanted a receipt. I was a little shocked and said "sure". He started it pumping and immediately ran (literally) to other cars doing the same thing. I was wondering what was going on. When it finished, I grabbed the nozzle and started to put it back. He saw me and, again, literally ran to me and grabbed it out of my hand saying it was illegal for me to pump the gas. I laughed at him and said thanks, but I got it. He said he was serious and again asked if I wanted a receipt. We went back and forth , he insisted that it was illegal in Oregon. I've been here for three days and had gassed up at another station. I told him he was yanking my chain, but thanks for the help. As we drove away, we looked it up, and sure enough he was telling the truth. People in Oregon are not allowed to pump their own gas! Looking back on the first time I filled up, two days previous, I remembered a worker pumping someone's gas, but figured that must be the "full service" area.  I remember thinking it had been a while since I had seen a "full service" section at a gas station, but never thought any more of it.

The flight was delayed, but only by 15 minutes or so this time.  I watched "The Monuments Men".  Malissa had accidentally placed her headphones in her checked luggage, so I watched it while Malissa read.  It was a really good movie, and I recommend it.

We arrived in Baltimore late at night on Monday.  I had to work (from Grandma's house the next morning). We got stuck in some nasty I-95 traffic, and made it to her house finally very late Monday night.

Yet another super amazing fun marathon trip is in the books.  I have now completed 26 marathons in 25/50 states, plus D.C.

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