Wow. The Eugene Marathon 2022 was such an incredible event to take part in! Even though I had a great day and most people LOVE an event where they PR, this event kicked so much ass regardless of my personal result, truly.
We drove to into Eugene on Friday after road tripping down from YVR in a rental car through Washington and then along the Oregon coast to Florence. Such a beautiful drive and a good distraction for me during race week! We hit the expo straight away, then our AirBnB, and later on, dinner was at the highly anticipated Track Town Pizza and it was soooo good!
The expo location was easy to find, it was at a Hotel called Graduate Eugene, and there was underground parking which was free. It was busy but not crazy. The expo itself was pretty small, but had good swag for purchase, some good vendors and overall it was really organized. In and out in 5 minutes. My husband and I each got a free sample can of Athletic Brewing IPA and hazy IPA, both which we hadn’t tried yet. So good. Hands down my favourite non-alcoholic beer company! The race shirt fits great, and I bought the “beanie” as the Americans call it, which you can see later in a post-race pic.
After a great sleep in a very comfy bed, we met my BRFs for a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, stopped in at the Run Hub to get myself a Prefontaine t-shirt (when in Track Town…) and then retreated back to the AirBnb to go horizontal, eat snacks and watch four movies! Yes, one of them was Brittany Runs a Marathon.
I got organized for the next morning at some point, and then started reading through my running confidence journal!
I slept decent for a race-eve and got up, had my green tea, banana, water, apple cinnamon cheerios and Maurten drink mix (not all together, LOL). My husband dropped me off at 6:15am with no issues about a block from Hayward Field (start and finish). It was a very exciting morning, the stadium is amazing, there were TONS of porto potties, places to warm up, even under cover if needed, and many non-porto bathrooms up in the stadium. The weather was pretty chilly, no wind, overcast, perfect!
I warmed up a bit on the street and it wasn’t too crowded, nor were the corrals. I had a zip hoodie, long sleeve shirt and gloves on, all for tossing when I was ready and I planned to carry my handheld water bottle for the first 10k to avoid any aid-station congestion.
Then 7am arrived and it was time to start!!! I didn’t feel amazing the first few kms but I did my best to stay relax and remembered my coach telling me that he never feels good at the beginning of the marathon. I got on my mantra early – “Stay here.” and tried to keep a speed limit. Right away, some young guys sitting on the roof of a house in the first mile were yelling at people “you’re almost there” ahahahah it was so funny. I think it helped everyone loosen up!
My fuelling plan was to take a Maurten gel every 3 miles, which would be about every 24 minutes and change, as I wanted to stay steady around 8:01 or 8:02/mile. I know I’m Canadian and metric, but I really enjoy changing my watch to miles when I run in the states – I feel detached from the pace because those numbers mean less to me, plus 26 is a more digestible number than 42, IMO.
Lap pace was a few seconds too fast, but with the turns my first 3-mile manual-lap was slightly over 24 minutes anyway, and that didn’t encourage me to slow down. This may have been a bad choice but that’s what I did. I stayed relaxed and controlled.
The first hill (of two) is in mile 4, and no joke, I realized I had run it after it was over. That was it? I thought I was running up some sort of pre-hill. Then I was running downhill and recognized it from the YouTube course preview of the first half of the race. Okay!
Shortly after that, I saw my friend Jess Parker cheering! What the hell? I love Instagram! Soon I passed the mile 6 marker and decided I was done with my handheld (it was empty anyway since I spilled half of it on myself in the corral…) so I tossed it and it did feel nice to have my right hand free. Second gel was down the gullet and first quarter of the race already done. “Stay here.”
Then I got to see my amazing husband! Second time in thirteen marathons that we have travelled together and I felt so lucky to say hi to him on my left and throw out an I love you.
In mile 9 comes the second hill, which according to the elevation profile and other peoples’ race reports that I’ve read, is more significant than the first. But it was still nothing! I run a lot of hills around here and that was no big deal! I did however relax and ease up, asking myself the usual rhetorical question “do you want to feel like shit at the top of this hill?“
I felt challenged during the couple miles leading up to the half-way point but not sure if it was just psychological or not. I always find the half is hard for me because it feels like I’ve come so far, yet there is still soooo much more to go. “Stay here.” At this point I was running with my friend Shane and we exchanged a few words and then just stayed side by side for a couple miles, after which I let him press on but kept him in view for quite a while longer. I reminded myself that there was a lot of race left and to stay steady.
Then…I had a few hints of a bathroom urge, but assured myself that it was just a shart and that it would go away. LOL. Deny, deny, deny.
By now I’d begun walking a few paces through the (plentiful) aid stations to get more water down, and because I was starting to feel it. All the volunteers were absolutely amazing, so encouraging, so organized. I also noticed that I saw many of the spectators multiple times! These people were on top of it! One guy had a sign that said “Go Random Stranger!” and I swear I saw him five times!?
Unfortunately I knew a bathroom emergency was now inevitable around 18 miles – I tried to wait for a porto but I didn’t get to one in time. NO, I did not have an accident HAHAHA thankfully, there was very long grass on the left side of the course that banked down to the river and I veered off and was as efficient and stealth as possible. After that, I did NOT allow myself to give in because of this setback. I forced myself to re-discover some momentum, took my next gel and got on with it. The pace was slipping and at this point I knew a negative split was not happening, but I refused to obsess about it and focused instead on latching on to people or passing people. Everyone around me was slowing down, too. I was not alone. We were all starting to hurt.
Around mile 20 it was time for the treat – throwing the music on! I re-dialed my focus and pressed on, feeling pretty good, still running a tad slower than I would like but my attitude stayed super positive! I am proud of this! Thanks for the help, Bieber!
Once I reached mile 24, it was time to start hunting people. It was funny because right at this time, a spectator pointed at me and looked me in the eyes and said with a sly smile, “You want to pick people off! You are hunting!” and that felt great! I saw a woman just ahead that I recognized from the first 10k of the race but I’d lost contact with her by half way. Vowed to pass her. Passed her. Then I saw the big hair of a guy who’s B.O. I got blasted with in the first mile – I hadn’t forgotten the back of his head LOL. Passed B.O. guy. Passed purple hair lady. Passed red-shirt Dad who passed me during the bathroom stop. The song from my visualization that I did almost every single day of April came on. I really was ready for this to be over and I found a second wind of great momentum. Kept passing people. Passed twin outfit chick and told her to come with me but she didn’t. Passed blonde braid. Passed man in same coloured shirt as me. Passed bright red tank top chick. Fuck yeah.
Now I was off the riverside path and on the road to Hayward Field. I hit lap at the 25 mile marker so I could motivate myself with the final mile pace. I saw 7:47 or something and held on as best I could! I knew a BQ was happening, it was just a matter of how fast I could get there. A 3:33:xx was still a thing. My left calf was viciously threatening to cramp but I kept flexing my ankle more than usual for my stride and I managed to avoid it, but definitely cried out a few times! I saw Adam cheering and taking pics (he crushed the half in 1:20) and I was literally groaning to him “fuckkkkkk“. I asked myself out loud multiple times “where the fuck is the stadium?” and just focused on later-fun. It’s interesting to me that I was still in a relatively positive headspace. Of course I was suffering and wanting to be done, but I was kind of enjoying it? This is new haha.
As we entered the tunnel thing into the stadium for the half-lap of the track, I literally launched myself up the ramp, passed a few people, and shot into the 1st lane, thinking only about the shortest distance between myself and the finish line. I feel like I slingshotted myself like in long-jump. Then I kind of blacked out until I actually crossed, and I could hear myself groaning like it was someone else.
Cue the convulsing ugly laugh/sobs. Uh-huhhh-huhhhh-huhhhh. Uh-huhhh-huhhh-huhhh. LMFAO. I did it!!!!!!! 03:33:22! I qualified for the Boston freaking Marathon!
Wow, wow, wow! What an incredible place to finish a marathon! A world-famous track with people cheering in the stands and the best volunteers ever!!! I was in a daze! I made my way out of the track and field area with my medal, happy crying, and got a wicked reusable Eugene Marathon water bottle and some chocolate milk. Husband had my bag, so I didn’t deal with the gear-check lineup but it looked under control. I congratulated a few people who I recognized from on course, walked around looking for my friends and husband with a big dumb grin on my face and got a space blanket from a volunteer. I could have stood around forever soaking it in. Finally our group was reunited in the stands. Everyone ran a PR!
I happy cried when I hugged my husband, and immediately put on the Eugene Marathon toque that I visualized myself putting on after BQ’ing on Hayward Field about 30 times in my mind the whole month leading up to the race. Pure happiness!
This event was so fantastic. The course is beautiful, so flat, has about 14 water stations, the best volunteers, wicked swag, and the coolest finish line ever. I think if my BQ isn’t enough to actually get into Boston, I might come back next April and run Eugene again!!
My husband and I got a delicious Thai food-truck lunch, went for a walk with my friends on Pre’s Trail (Karmen smashed her marathon in 3:14!!!) and then we all destroyed mass amounts of food at the Texas Roadhouse BBQ joint for dinner. The next day me and my husband made a bee line north to Cannon Beach and then spent our last two vacation nights at a cute beachfront condo in Seaside. Amazing!!!!!!
I’ve been dreaming of a BQ for six years exactly. My progress hasn’t been linear, which it rarely is for most, and I’ve learned so much with lots of ups and downs. Of course I hope more than anything that my 1 minute and 38 second buffer will be enough to get into Boston, but we will just have to see what happens with registration for the 127th Boston Marathon in 2023! Only time will tell. Regardless, I am so happy with this training cycle and marathon, and I look forward to running the distance again in December for my second CIM! Biggest thank you to my coach, Jim Finlayson, who I couldn’t have done this without and who has changed who I am as a runner with all of his guidance.
Never stop believing!