Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Race Recap: Eugene Marathon 2019

Image may contain: 13 people, including Vanessa Wallace, Gabrielle Blevins, Nicki Williams Halin, Julie Mullins, Renee Krempley, Steven Draper and Justin C. Hanes, people smiling, people standing
2019 Eugene Marathon Embassador team!

Eugene Marathon:
Sunday April 28 2019

I started training for Eugene Marathon 2019 in the later part of January.  2019 hit me hard with some mild illness, putting a damper on training. It didn't worry me much, as I still had several months ahead. I was back to training soon enough and was hit again with a stomach bug, loosing another good week of quality runs. It was frustrating as I'm not one who is often sick. As April came, I was hitting peak week for training and my left foot started to give me some problems. I won't bore you with the details, but I had to take several days off in April, leaving my mileage for the month at 50%. It really wasn't looking good for me racing this time.

I tried to stay optimistic. I did a lot of miles on the bike and row machine. I did what I could, while letting my foot rest. I literally played it day by day the weeks leading up to the marathon. I didn't post anything about "not running the Eugene Marathon" because I really was hoping to wake up race morning feeling better. That's not asking too much is it?

Saturday April 27th came. I ran the 5k as a shake out run and to test my foot as I hadn't been running much at all over the last two weeks. I needed to decide if I would drop to the half, run at all, or stick with the full marathon. I really didn't know what to do. My foot didn't feel any worse after the 5k, in fact I felt as if it was getting better daily. I decided to keep my registration the same. I was going to run the full marathon the next morning.

I don't know what people thought? Maybe it was a stupid move on my part, maybe it was brave. The only thing I was thinking is I wanted to run the full. If I have too walk off the course, I was prepared to do so, or so I thought anyway.

I had been suffering with a cold, so I had been on cold meds. I mention this only because it matters.

Sunday April 28th started perfect as a race day can get. I woke up on time and I had sleep well. I had everything out and ready to go. I was meeting up with friends and the weather was nice and cool, dry with no wind. My husband was running too and we parked right at Autzen Stadium without any hassles. I had time to go to the bathroom and get to my stuff to bag check. I got into corral "B" as the Star Spangled Banner was being sung. I turned on my watch, said hello to a few runners I knew and we were sent on our way. I felt really good for the most part. My arms were cold, but I knew I would quickly warm up. The energy of the runners was enough to make me want to shout. I love the energy a big race brings. I was mostly paying attention to my let foot, my #1 goal was not to harm it more as I would want to run in the following weeks to come.

I started at the pace I had trained for, although I hadn't gotten "all" my training in, I was feeling comfortable at this pace, so I just went with it. I enjoyed looking at all the runners around me. I saw a few people I knew, while looking for others I knew were out with me somewhere. I had run the Preview Run 1, so I knew most of the first several miles. It was nice to know what was coming.

Soon we ran by Hayward field, this was the start/finish in 2018. I loved finishing there last year, but was really excited to finish in Autzen Stadium on the fifty yard line today! Yesterday (Saturday) the kids dash finished on the fifty yard line along with the 5k. It was really fantastic, but I wanted to step over that line after running the full marathon!

As the morning went on, I started to worry about my foot a little. Some of the course was slanted as we ran around the corners. This was aggravating my foot to some degree, but I still felt I was okay to keep moving forward.

I'm not exactly sure when it happened. I can't even give specifics, but I remember coming to about mile 12. Marathoner were to go to the left and half marathoners were to run to the right, back towards Autzen Stadium. I remember desperately wanting to go right. I went left and followed the path leading away from Autzen. The path the marathoners were lead to go down. I began to panic a little. I knew the next 15 miles could end up being very difficult! I didn't know if I could handle it today! I wasn't feeling like a "marathon runner."

I ran on, keeping myself as clam as I could. Self talk, math problems, mind games, just stupid stuff that keeps me moving forward. I was keeping to myself this year not talking to anyone. In 2018 I had four people I was running with by this time and we had kept each other going, like a running machine all working together. It was amazing. This time, I just ran, tried to stay positive and enjoy the beautiful path I was running on.

Soon my stomach started to work against me. At first I didn't know what the problem was, but after the race thinking back, I am certain this was due from taking cold meds all week. I believe I was getting dehydrated. I was feeling like a dried up sponge. I couldn't figure it out at the time. I had been hydrating well all week, even that morning before the race. Suddenly the water stations were too far apart. In any normal marathon, about every 1.5-2 miles is totally fine. In 2018, that was fine! Now, suddenly it was not!

The halfway point had come. There was three port-a-potties. I wondered if I just went to the bathroom, would my stomach feel better? I stopped. This was the first time I stopped. I was frustrated because all three port-a-potties had people in them, so I stood there feeling stupid. I listened to a women talking on the phone who had walked off the course and wasn't going to finish today. I believe she was waiting to be picked up. Tempting!

I finally got into the port-a-pot and nothing! I couldn't even go! It was a complete wasted stop and now I not only had wasted about five minute, now I didn't care about running the race anymore. I really wanted to just be done. I didn't have my phone, we were out on a Pre's Trail and I didn't know the area I was in at all. There wasn't much I could do but keep going. I took a step back onto the trail and I heard, "JULIE?" I turned around and it was a running friend, Stacy! Our boys had played baseball together years ago and we were both running today! We took off together, quickly learning we both were not feeling well for today's marathon.
Image result for running misery loves company
"Misery Loves Company"
Stacy became my running angel. As cheesy as that may sound, I don't know how else to describe the moment. She was like a breath of fresh air and she got me running again. I was able to forget about my stomach pain for awhile. I learned Stacy had missed a whole lot of training due to a back issues. We were two women, running together, suffering together, we were okay because we were together, for the time being anyway!

As we got to the latter miles, it got harder and harder for me to run. My stomach was in pain. At one point we came to an aid station and I doubled over in pain. I looked at a chair at the medic tent and wanted to cry. I threw up a little and started walking. I wanted to be done, but we were nearing the end. I looked up and Stacy was waiting. I took some water and drank it because I desperately wanted water, but as I drank my stomach would ache even more. It was a very difficult time in the race. We ended up doing some walking. I had to stop. This was no longer a race for time. In fact, time didn't even matter much anymore. I was keeping track of the time, only to think of my husband who should of finished about 10:22am, Kristi by 11:00am and Lori by 11:15am. That was all that mattered anymore.

Running out the last miles of the marathon!
Stacy and I took turns having "freak out moments." We never left each other. We even took turns "mothering" each other. Once she had to stop. She knelt down. Stacy is a women I don't know on a personal level very well, but I knew she wanted to cross the finish line into her families arms. Another runner stopped and asked if she was okay. I told that runner to leave her alone and give her a moment. Sure enough, Stacy had her moment, got up and started running again. Around mile 23 Stacy looked over at me and said, "lets not walk anymore, I need to be done." I was feeling recovered enough to say, "okay" and we slowly ran. I just needed her to tell me not to walk anymore because I didn't care anymore.  One thing I was waiting for was mile marker 24! If I made it to mile 24, I would finish. Mile 24 was a huge moment for me in last years Eugene Marathon. If I could run and make it then, I could do it today.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and textWe made it to mile 24, I took a drink of water, doubled over in pain for a sec and ran on. We slowly made our way back to Autzen Stadium. As we ran towards the "O" we took a left to finish up the race by running around the Stadium. We came around the other side and got to turn and go into the stadium. I looked over at Stacy and said, "it's your moment," she said the same thing back. We ran through the tunnel together, just like we ran the race of our lives, came out the other side onto the football turf. I felt such a sense of relief. We ran all the way to the 50 yard line, even passing someone in the process and finished together like superstars. I heard my name over the loud speaker and then was handed a finishers medal. Stacy and I hugged a long hug. She cried! I wanted to scream, "I'M FINALLY DONE!" We walked out of the stadium together, proud of each other, thankful that we had each other and so happy we were done!

We took the walk up to the finishers recovery area where her family was in the front waiting for her to the left and my husband and two friends were on the right. It was a beautiful moment I will never forget.

It's unfortunate Stacy and I had a bad race, but that comes with running. Some training cycles don't go our way. I love Eugene Marathon and will be back for 2020. I loved the Health and Wellness Expo and I love the race itself. This race is at a time of year in Oregon that is usually great running weather. The race is in Eugene, Tracktown USA! You run on Pre's Trail. The course is mostly flat and paved. You run in the footsteps of legends. It's a well done and well organized race!

Eugene Marathon 2019 was my 15th marathon to date. I knew I would run this race after racing it in 2018. It was such a great experience. I grew up not far from Eugene, so it feels like "home" running in that area.

I would like to add a congratulations to my husband Jerry for running a 3:24:26 and qualifying for Boston today. Also a shout out to my friend Lori who trained extremely hard and got a huge PR today coming in at 4:05:22.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Jerry Mullins, people smiling, people standing
Jerry qualified for Boston today, so proud of him!

If you would like to join me for Eugene 2020, add April 25th-26th to your 2020 calendar!

Race results and photos can be found HERE!