Race morning, the day we’ve been training for. My day started at 4 am. Breakfast, get dressed, make and pack my pre-race and race UCAN, grab my race bag and off we go to catch the race shuttle at the Hilton about 4 miles away.
The shuttle dropped us off near the starting line about 6 am, an hour from the start and in plenty of time to warm up and hit the potty. Sherri opted for a run around the track while Gail and I did dynamic stretching nearby. We hit the porta potties then off to our respective corrals.
My Boston Qualifying time is 4 hours, so my plan was to run an even effort 3:55 race which would have me running roughly an 8:58 mi/min pace. If I came in 3:55 plus or minus a minute or two, I would stand a good chance of running Boston 2017 which was my goal for the race.
My corral was ‘C’, the third of five corrals. I got there early enough to plant myself near the front and on the left side since I was pretty sure our first turn would be to the left. The start of the race seemed to happen pretty fast; someone sang the national anthem then we heard the first corral leave. Two minutes later corral C was off and running.
My first mile flew by and I heard my Garmin chime off right as I passed the mile marker. Normally my legs take a couple miles to warm up, but today my legs felt really good; so good I had to hold myself back. I wanted a small buffer, but I also wanted to run an even effort race so I kept my pace above an 8:50 min mile. My 5k pace was 8:52 min/mile.
At mile four I felt the first little tinge in my knee and worried that I should have taped it. Not to worry though by mile five the tinge was gone and never came back. Mile four was the only real hill of the race and it was not bad at all. Miles 5-9 flew by. My 10k pace remained steady at 8:53 min/mile.
Throughout the race, water and Gatorade stops were at almost every mile marker, and Gatorade was always first making it easy to know where to run up to get water. I drank water at every station, and poured water on my head beginning at mile four. Banana stations were located at miles 7ish, 13 and 23.
At mile 10 the half marathoners turned off and it was just the marathoners from here on out. At this point we were running through Springfield neighborhoods. I honestly don’t even remember what it looked like.
At mile 13 I grabbed the water, drank some and poured the rest over my head. As I left the water station I realized I didn’t see the bananas. I was counting on a banana. Apparently I missed them because Gail assured me after the race they were there. But at the time I went through a mini panic, then quickly regrouped on my fuel plan and got back in the game. My half marathon pace was 8:58 min/mi.
At mile 15 I took my UCAN gel which I carried in a cheap travel flask. I felt good through mile 20 where I logged a race pace of 8:57 min/mi. Miles 16-26 were along the river on a bike and pedestrian trail. I recall a few small hills, mostly foot bridges, and that the river had rapids which I thought was pretty cool. By mile 21 I was getting hot and really weak and for the next two miles I watched my pace creep. At mile 23 I stopped and regrouped. It was my slowest mile 9:45 and I was now 2 minutes behind my 3:55 finish goal.
The last 2.2 miles I gave it everything I had. I was resolved to finish with a Boston Qualifying time good enough for a shot in 2017. I brought my pace back down to a sub 8:58 determined to leave everything I had on the course. At mile 26 I heard someone say only four blocks till the field; I was almost there! My legs didn’t hurt but I was exhausted and felt unstable; even so I was still running race pace or better.
Finally I saw the turn that would take us into Hayward Field for our last short lap on the track. This was supposed to feel good; I was running in the footsteps of legends. In some respects it did feel good but my mind was solely focused on the finish line. As I ran towards the finish line I wanted to pick up the pace, and maybe did a little, but the tank was pretty well empty. I heard someone say look at this strong finish then the announcer called out my name Elizabeth Staugler from Punta Gorda, Florida! I was done and I Boston Qualified!!
After I crossed the finish line a man in military fatigues gave me my medal. I was so weak I grabbed his arm and couldn’t let go. Another man came over to help me until a race volunteer took over. She walked me into the reunion field, grabbed my chocolate milk, my finisher bag and took me to the ice tent. I can’t say enough good things about how helpful everyone was. I guess looking back I can honestly say I raced hard that day. My official chip time was 3:56.11!
Unfortunately the day did not fare as well for Sherri and Gail. Their pre-race injuries got the best of them and although they finished they both limped to the finish line. I am very proud of them for the endurance and dedication they showed on the course. Both were hurting but didn’t give in.
I think the Eugene Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart. It was an amazing adventure, and in my humble opinion, so very worth every second!!
- I need to work on running the tangents. It was a windy course and I finished with an extra .24 miles on my Garmin.
- I need to tweak my race fuel strategy to get me through the end of the race.
- Don’t miss banana stops!