Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Eugene - A Step Forward, A Step Backward

Three days since the big race, the Inaugural Eugene Marathon, and the details are starting to get a little fuzzy but here goes.

My wife and I flew up to Portland early Saturday morning. So much for getting a good night's sleep two nights before the race. The flight to Portland from LAX took about 2 hours followed by a 2 hour drive down I-5 to Eugene. We were immediately struck by the trees and green everywhere. The PNW is just beautiful. Eugene is home to the University of Oregon. Team spirit is obvious everywhere. The one way streets in Eugene gave us some problems but I got to the expo around noon on Saturday and enjoyed lunch at the 6th Street Grill. We drove over to Hayward Field to assess the starting area. I had heard that Hayward Field was open to the public and thought to run a mile for Drew, but there was a meet going on (sorry, man). Later that afternoon we met up with Michelle and Jenny and a whole host of Washington runners. Rob and Eric had finished Capitol Peak Ultra but were still in Washington, hours from Eugene. We were joined by Sarah, Mark and her little guy before long. It was certainly fun getting to meet the person behind the blog.

I woke up Sunday morning to a beautiful day. I couldn't really believe that I was about to run another marathon. I was happy to be feeling much better considering how I had felt earlier in the week. On Friday at work many of my (non running) co-workers were questioning the wisdom of running a marathon with the cold symptoms still obviously hanging on. I tried to explain to them just how much I had invested in this little endeavour - training time, plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc. They were afraid that I would make myself sicker and end up with bronchitis or pneumonia. I guess the possibility exists but it was sure going to take more than a cold to keep me from running this, or any, marathon.

I drove over to the start, a 15-20 minute drive from our hotel. I got a good luck kiss from Lisa and walked toward the starting area and realized I didn't have my fuel belt. I always run a marathon with my fuel belt. I like having fluids when I want them and it had my gels in it. The start was still 40 minutes off so we drove (quickly) to the hotel and back again with 10 minutes to spare. Thank goodness for a small race field. As soon as I joined the masses I ran into Rob, Eric and Sarah. The others were in the port-o-john lines. It was good to see Rob again and to finally meet Eric. We discussed my primary race tactic as just trying to stay ahead of Rob and Eric. I also ended up running into Denis and John from the CA Cruisers, again thanks to the small race field.

The race started on the street just east of Hayward Field. It would have been cool to run a lap on the track but at the start of the race that probably would have caused quite the log jam even with the small field. At mile 5 we ended up on the west side of the field and were a little more spread out, but a lap on the track was not to be.

Rob ended up lining up in the back of the pack. Eric was near the 3:30 pace group. Things were a little crowded so I decided not to work my way up to him. After the start I caught up to him and we ran about 1/2 mile together before I decided to ramp things up a bit. Mile 1 went by in 8:28, a little conservative but probably not too detrimental to the 3:30 goal.

Mile 2 - 7:18
Mile 3 - 7:41
Mile 4 - 7:55

Mile 2 I went a little overboard on the downhill but got things back in control by mile 4. Just after mile 4 I made my first port-o-john stop, mostly as a preemptive measure. Having not run all week the system wasn't quite where I'd like it to be. I decided to get things taken care of early before I reached a panic situation.

Mile 5, 6, 7 - 24:43

I still felt that I was on track considering the bathroom stop. In yet another episode of poor planning I didn't have a pace band to determine my cumulative time. I was going simply by the time at each mile and up to that point I believed I was still under 8:00 miles (turns out I was right on at 8:01).

Mile 8 - 7:51
Mile 9, 10, 11 - 24:05
Mile 12 - 8:00

During Mile 12 we were in the town Springfield. One man outside his home hollered out "Welcome to Springfield, you won't be here much longer." I'm not sure if that was supposed to be encouraging or just wishful thinking on his part.

Mile 13, 14 - 17:53

Somewhere along in this stretch I had stopped to take bathroom break #2. I noted my time in there at just over 2:00. I was happy that even with the 2:00 minute break I had maintained roughly an 8:00 pace. Later I figured out that I was at 1:53:53 at that point, I needed to be at 1:52:13 to make my goal.

Mile 15 - 8:14

I wasn't sure what had happened here. I hadn't felt like I had slowed down but the watch clearly showed that I had. After this marker I saw Lisa for the first time. She asked how I felt. I told her I was slowing down.

Mile 16 - 8:18
Mile 17 - 8:24
Mile 18 - 8:41
Mile 19 - 8:57

At this point the half marathoners were no longer with us, they had departed at our mile 13, so the field had thinned considerably. At one point there were people within striking distance ahead of me but no one within a couple hundred yards behind me. Mile 18 to 20 were a very tough section for me. Much of these miles were also on concrete bike path. I really dislike running on concrete. I think it effected me more mentally than physically. At Mile 19 we crossed over the Oswosso bridge into a really cute neighborhood of Eugene. I marveled at the rhododendrons and other flowering shrubs. I came upon a guy that had been reduced to walking. He would run a few steps and start walking again. I could feel his pain. I took my first and only walk break as well. I walked for about 30 seconds and then convinced myself not to give in and ran on.

Mile 20, 21 - 18:16

Somehow at mile 20 I started to feel a little better but didn't really pick up the pace. Just after mile 20 I was passed by the 3:40 pace group, about 8 people. It was at that point that I conceded for sure my 3:30 goal and wasn't even sure I could hang on to 3:40.

Mile 22 - 9:05
Mile 23 - 10:47

During Mile 23 I had to stop for the 3rd time at the port-o-johns. I've been having a lot of trouble lately with this during my long runs. I'm not sure if its a byproduct of age or diet or if there's something medically wrong. But getting this under control would have saved me about 6 minutes on my overall time.

Mile 24 - 9:32
Mile 25 - 9:11
Mile 26 - 9:16
Mile 0.2 - 2:05

Final chip time was 3:44:39. So although my hopes of a BQ weren't realized I was pretty happy with the race. Possible problems could have been the effects of the head cold. The potty stops definitely had an effect. Making the boneheaded beginner mistake of going out fast, may have also contributed to my demise after mile 14. My PR is 3:40:52 at St. George with the assistance of the downhill course, so I don't feel too badly about adding 3:47 to my time on a flat course. Sorry Terry, but my race time has nothing to do with something as noble as administering CPR.

It was a beautiful day for a race, the temps were in the 50's most of the way, the sky was partly cloudy and there was only a light breeze. The people of Eugene were fantastic about encouraging runners; we had our names on our bibs. I wore my Marathon Maniac singlet and that got me a lot of extra love from the locals. At the finish line I got a Maniac Hug from Lenore Dolphin. In addition I had achieved my goal of staying ahead of Rob and Eric. Eric was less than 3 minutes behind me. As runners were passing me in the last miles I kept expecting to see his yellow Maniac jersey going by. So yes, Eric, I did hear your footsteps coming and that kept me moving forward. Rob had a tough day, but he's still an inspiration. I ended up running into Denis and John again in the cool down area. They finished just after 4:30. I ran into Sarah too and got to chat for a while.

Later that afternoon we enjoyed lunch with Michelle, Eric, Rob, Jenny and George before they left for the long drive back to Washington. Saturday night during dinner, #1 son called and asked me about the race. When I told him my time, he asked what happened to the 3:30 I wanted. I told him that I really didn't think I could do it anyway. He told me "Well it's no wonder you didn't make it if you had already decided that you couldn't." I couldn't really argue with that logic. It seems to me that I had a similar conversation with him in reverse several years ago. I guess they really do hear what we tell them. A little later we checked in with son #2. Less than a minute after hanging up with him he called us back to ask about the race. It is pretty cool that they were both interested and thinking about me.

For Lisa and I these trips are as much a mini vacation for us as they are a chance for me to run a marathon. It is nice to get away from work and home for a couple of days to be alone together. We like to check out the local area and enjoy the sights and food. Saturday night we enjoyed dinner at Koho Bistro, a little place in a strip mall off the beaten path with very good food. I had the Maple Butternut Squash Ravioli.

After lunch with the WA Maniacs we headed down to Cottage Grove for the covered bridge tour. The route took us around the Dorena Reservoir, a very scenic drive. The Row River Trail runs between the road and reservoir. I was excited about it as a great place to go for a run. On the way back we stopped and got some really good coffee drinks at one of the little trailer coffee shops that are everywhere in Oregon. We stopped at the Sweet Life Patisserie in Eugene and picked up a Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake tartlet, a piece of Peach crumb pie and a peanut butter cup to enjoy later. We had dinner at the Steelhead Brewery.

No trip would be complete without finding a good local pancake house for breakfast. We discovered Ye Olde Pancake House for Monday morning. We spent the rest of the day at the Oregon Garden in Silverton. It is a fairly new garden but has some wonderful displays. The problem with taking my wife to these places is that she wants to have the gardens recreated in our yard. Unfortunately gardening in SoCal is not quite the same as gardening in Oregon. I do enjoy gardening, but haven't put much effort into it since we moved to this house, although I really don't like the landscaping we inherited. Since I've taken up running the lawn and garden have definitely been neglected. I've got my priorities you know.

Drew and many others have asked what's next. Drew specifically asked about my Colorado plans. Currently Boulder Backroads is my choice based on magazine reviews. It looks like I will be joining several of the CA Cruisers at the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I feel like I have time to squeeze in at least one more state before then. I'm certain I will count MCM as my DC marathon. I have Richmond planned as my VA marathon.

As far as the cold goes, I can't say for sure that it affected the marathon. But I can say that the two things have had a synergistic negative effect on recovery. I feel worse three days later than I can ever remember feeling after a marathon (is that runner's amnesia) and the cold symptoms have worsened. I expect to be running by Saturday at the latest.

So Donald, there's the Eugene race report and more. Thanks to you all for hanging in there to the end and for the support in person and via the blog. Time to firm up the plans for Number 11.


Wes said...

Even if you didn't reach your goal, you are a great runner in my book. I don't think you started out too fast. I think you were trying to start out even and stay there. But I don't remember you taking any pit stops in your earlier marathon reports. I can see how stopping and starting again might have cramped your style a bit.

As you firm up your plans, keep Georgia on your mind :-) If Joe and I do Rocket City in December, that could add Alabama to your list! LOL.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

yay, another one under your belt! good job going out there, i love the fact that you are in such shape that being sick didn't stop you or even slow you down all that much.

Sarah said...

It was great meeting you, Darrell! I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to say good-bye, but it seemed all of a sudden the boys wanted to leave and then I had lost you. Glad you felt good about your race and had a nice mini-vacaton in Oregon.
: ) You're welcome back anytime! ; ) : )

Jason The Running Man said...

Great race report. CONGRATS on the race!

Robb said...

Well Darrell, you nailed another marathon. I know 3:30 wass on your mind as it is for most 45 year old guys looking at Boston (I'm not going to say a thing about my own ambitions just yet - I don't dare put that out there). Really, great job to fight through the fog of a head cold and those bathroom related issues. You did your best.

Rest up.

Backofpack said...

It was certainly fun meeting you and Lisa! I'm glad you had such a good trip overall, and personally, I think your marathon time is great!

As for the portapotties...check out what you are eating the night before. I actually choose to stay away from pasta and go for potatoes or a bagel and cheese. The other thing would be to look at the gu and your drink - too much sugar?

I've only had a problem once: post marathon at Yakima. I ate pasta the night before (that was new), also a salad that I think had preservatives on it, and I drank two chocolate soy milks during (rather than my usual one). Could have been any of those things. No problems in Eugene - bagel/cheese the night before, bagel for breakfast, one soy milk during. No problems at Mt. Si - baked potato the night before, a protien bar for breakfast, one soy milk during. Who knows? There ya go - my two cents!

Mike said...

You are a machine! Congrats on another great race- very solid time especially considering your cold and the bathroom pitstops. Your definitely going to hit that Boston goal of yours soon enough!

PLANET3RRY said...

I'm sorry to hear that it was the plumbing problems, but I peg you as the kind of guy that WOULD stop for another runner and CPR!

OKAY, time to change the Feed Title too... Nine is history! But you sold me on running the Eugene Marathon... sounds like a wonderful experience.

When you do Richmond, let me know! That's my old stomping ground as a young buck, plus I have ran the course 4 times and know it pretty well!

Enjoy your recovery and look forward to hearing what your next one will be!

David said...

You get major bonus points on the RBF spelling bee for spelling road-a-den-drum (you didn't cheat and look it up, did you?).
I have the same attitude about getaway weekend races with the wife. Valuable and good for the soul.
Tough luck on the race. You are still smoking by my standards. Maybe next time.

Anne said...

You always create the best race reports, Darrell. I too have wondered about the same bathroom issue and think a part of it is age. A doctor told me it was, at least. Love how you had a great time out there and let us know just how you celebrated and spent the remainder of the trip.

Going forward, I've done MCM more than once. Great race. I LOVE Richmond, but they've changed the course since I last ran it and took out the major hill at Mile 19. Still, I'm thrilled to hear it's the one you plan for VA.

Joe said...

Great report, Darrell, and thanks again for the phone call after the race. Your analysis, as usual, is spot on.

I think you underestimate the impact of the cold plus the travel plus the sleep issues the week before. That does have an impact...and if it were only 5 minutes worth, it is a testatment to your overall fitness.

So glad you and Lisa had a good time...that is really neat. As are the phone calls from the boys...very cool.

Enjoy the'll make some good plans, I'm confident. Ditto Wes' suggestion if you want to do Alabama in December :-)

Ryan said...

Sounds like a wonderful weekend, great race, good company, tasty food and time away from work. Congratulations on Eugene and good luck on the road to completing all 51 one states!

Happy recovery

robtherunner said...

Always good to see you, Darrell. I was never a threat to you and would much rather run with you than ahead of you. Maybe in another year or so, Idaho 2008, Boston 2008? Time will tell. Thanks for the report and I hope you got out for a run today.

Rae said...

Great job out there, especially with the cold! I have no doubt in my mind you'll hit that 3:30 soon!!

Can't wait to hear where the next one will be!!

Donald said...

Whoa, sorry - I'm just back from Wildflower and reading this now.

Too bad about missing the 3:30 and the BQ. Way to hang tough when things got difficult, though. I think that's as big a part of marathoning as learning to run fast. You'll be ready to use that toughness in a similar way in another race someday when there is a Boston time within your grasp.

I would definitely pay some attention to the stomach issue, too - in addition to just saving you some time by skipping the bathroom stops, that may be a sign that your body isn't properly utilizing the nutrition (gel and gatorade) you're giving it during the run.

Stay determined, and you'll get to Boston.

Jessica Deline said...

congrats!! Now you can change your header to "10 down" instead of "double digits here I come". Hope to see you on the trails soon!