Race Report: 2012 Eugene Marathon

May 1, 2012

My training was compromised for this race. Even before I broke my toe, I had a long bout of Plantar Fasciitis. Then the toe took me totally out of running for six weeks, so I started building up again from scratch in early February. I did manage to do two 20-mile runs, but my weekly mileage was mostly under thirty, and my speed never recovered.
Then I had a heck of a week leading up to the race:

  1. The Sunday before, the toenail on that toe I broke came off. (This would be the one on my left big toe.) I may have wiggled it off a little before it was ready, but I thought that would be better than having it fall off during the marathon. Little did I realize how wounded the nail bed was underneath! Either the original wound under there never healed up (after four months?) or my continued running kept re-injuring the area. I would have some bleeding during most training runs, but I was chalking that up to a loose toenail shifting around and cutting the skin or something. Instead it turned out to be a good-sized moist and inflamed horror of a wound under there. It didn’t hurt much, but would that be true for 26 miles?
  2. The next evening after I laid down in bed I started to feel an all-too familiar feeling in my lower back: I was experiencing a kidney stone. It would be my third such incident in 11 years. Once I was sure what it was, I figured the marathon was not to be — I’d be on painkillers and in no shape for anything physical for several days. This time turned out different though. We headed for the emergency room as the pain was peaking. By the time we got there, it was already starting to subside. Three hours, one I.V. bag, and a CAT scan later, we had a confirmed diagnosis of a three millimeter stone almost out already and no pain or irritation whatsoever left. It didn’t bother me again.
  3. I had some painful sciatica most of the week, leaving me hobbling around in pain and further psychologically demoralized.

For most of the week, then, I was telling people that I might or might not run it, depending on how I felt as race day approached. It wasn’t until Friday that I made up my mind to go. We headed down to Eugene on Saturday and stayed the night with my mom as usual. I had a pretty big pizza dinner, then slept well the night before.

What perfect weather we had! It wasn’t cold at the start and it never got too hot. The sun peeked out a little but it was mostly cloudy.

A friend of mine was running his first marathon and I had offered to pace him. He thought he could run about a 3:40. He didn’t want me pacing him until the bitter end if he started slowing down, but we agreed to run together as long as he was hitting his splits. This was a great plan until I was unable to locate him at the start line. It seems like Eugene is getting more crowded every year… There were a few rounds of fruitless phone- and texting-tag which led me to believe he was still in the bathroom lines as the race was starting, but I couldn’t be sure.

I spent the first two miles of the race kind of sweeping the area between the 3:45 and 3:35 pacers, looking for him. I didn’t have any luck, so when I passed our families on the sidelines around mile two, I stopped and asked if they had seen him. They had not. I waited with them for a while, looking for him to pass. Some seemed shocked by this — what happened to ultra-competitive Scott?  Eventually my friend’s parents spotted him and pointed him out to me. I quickly caught up to him and found that we were a little behind the 3:45 pacer. We slowly inched our way past.

It was fun running through South Eugene with my friend, pointing out the personal landmarks — my elementary school, the house I grew up in, etc. My “pacing” mostly consisted of telling him he was running a little too fast and holding him back, especially down the gentle hills. I think I did a pretty good job of it — we came through the half marathon at almost exactly 1:50. I told him banking time when you’re still feeling good almost never pays off, and that even splits are the best way to go. I still think it’s true.

Near mile 17 my friend’s breathing was getting labored and we were starting to slow down. I was still feeling pretty good. My toe wasn’t a problem. We talked about our plan once more and we parted ways. I sped up to a pace somewhere under eight minutes a mile. Up until then, we’d been doing around 8:24. Even at the faster speed, I was still having fun. Miles 17-20 were all pretty easy feeling. It didn’t hurt that I was passing so many people. I thought I would try to catch up to the 3:35 pace group.

After mile 21, my left thigh stiffened up a lot. I could feel the tight muscles pulling on my kneecap as well. At last my poor training volume was coming into play. I could feel the leg get better when I shortened my stride and slowed down a bit, and worse when I sped up. I had no real motivation to kill myself, so I tried to maintain a speed below the tightness threshold. That turned out to be just a few seconds slower than eight minute miles.

My other problem was that I really hadn’t tied my shoes tight enough, and my right foot (not the one with the nail-free toe) was sliding around too much. I was getting some pain from a couple of the nails. In the end, I think they were just digging into the toe a bit; they hurt a lot after the race but healed almost completely by the next day. It’s a tricky balance, tying the shoe — too loose around the ankle and this happens, too tight and your whole foot gets bruised.

I never did catch that 3:35 pacer.

I had a few sips of PBR from the unofficial beer aid station at mile 24 (briefly chastising them for the poor choice) and carried on toward the finish. As always, that last lonely mile on the inaccessible bike path before you get back to the streets was a test. This year I passed.

Heading into Hayward field for the finish was fun, as always. With twenty yards left, I looked over to my right and saw some guy trying to pass me! This could not stand. I ratcheted up my speed and left him behind. What a jerk. (Him, or me? You decide.) I finished in 3:36. My finishing photo is not too bad if you ignore the weird angle of my trailing foot.

Once done, I found myself relatively mobile — those right-side toenails were the biggest problem. I had a chocolate milk and a banana in the recovery area, then I found my people in the stands just as my friend was finishing. He did great! I was worried that he would really fade, but he pulled out a 3:45.

Our families had a combined victory lunch later at one of our usual spots, Marché in the Fifth Street Market. I had my hamburger and two excellent Bulleit Rye Manhattans. Because I am a dork, I wore my race shirt and finisher’s medal.

I’m quite happy with this race. I had a lot of fun, and feel re-motivated to keep training and run some fast marathons again soon.

Official results: 3:36:37 (8:16/mile avg pace). 570th/2346 finishers. 447th/1281 men, 78th/205 men 40-44.


Race Report: 2010 Eugene Marathon

May 2, 2010

Marathon number five. My best so far was 3:28:55 at Portland seven months ago, but each one I’ve done has been about 10 minutes faster than the one before it. My goal was 3:20:59, which would qualify me for Boston 2011. That’s a 7:40 per mile average pace, give or take a few hundredths of a second. My race plan was to hit 7:38 miles for the first 22 and try to speed up from there. Even though 7:38 sounds awful fast to me, I knew my training should support it and that this was actually a fairly conservative plan, not that different from Eugene 2008 when I broke four hours.

The weather was beautiful. My throw-away jacket and gloves were barely needed, since it was already in the mid-40s at 6am. Sweetie gave me the jacket months ago — an old zip-up hoodie — and I have to admit I barely glanced at it until this weekend, when I finally saw it had “BOSTON” in big letters across the front. She’d gotten it on a trip there years ago. Kismet.

Sweetie and Mom dropped me off near the starting area with plenty of time to spare, and I quickly dropped off my bag (holding little more than an old cell phone) and used a portable toilet. That still left me 40 minutes until the race start, during which time I mostly just stood around. With 15 minutes left to go, I headed to the toilet lines again… but they were crazy long. I think the organizers dropped the ball when it came to securing enough starting-area toilets. They said they had about 8000 people there (most of them doing the half-marathon), up from around 5000 last year. I guess they misjudged.

Anyway, I didn’t have to pee that bad, so I got back into the starting area. Up near the 7:30/mile pace area, things weren’t actually too crowded. A couple of minutes before seven, I got rid of my jacket and gloves. After a pretty good rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, the race was off. Being so far up, it only took about 20 seconds to get across the start line. This year we started south, avoiding some silly little curves and hills that the course used to have.

I felt some nerves during the first mile. Would my knee be OK? Could I really keep up the pace 26 miles? Would I regret not getting to pee again? I tried to force the worries aside and focus on running smoothly, easily, and without dodging all over the place through the first-mile masses. I finished mile one in 7:36. (All of the mile splits I’m going to give are off my Garmin’s idea of how far I’d gone, not off the course mile markers — but for the most part they actually agreed pretty closely. For once.)

In my hand I carried a Ziploc bag holding five or six fun-sized Milky Way bars (unwrapped) and one little bag of Clif Shot Bloks. The Shot Bloks were a goodie-bag freebie, and they weren’t caffeinated. Neither was any of the other on-course food (or “food”, or “fuel”, or whatever you want to call sugary race goop) I had along the way. I’m pretty sure this was my first marathon-or-longer race without caffeine, ever.

Miles two and three passed by in 7:36 and 7:37. I passed by my cheering section toward the end of mile three. I was feeling all right, I guess. The pace felt easy enough, but I had no picture of how the day was going to go. I was a little ways back from the 3:20:00 pace group, but I had my Garmin and I knew they were out a few seconds per mile fast, so that didn’t worry me. I needed to run my own race.

Mile four passed by my old elementary school but I was too focused to even remember to glance that way. Or maybe I was just in a fog. Or maybe I got distracted by the guy who just stopped by the side of the road to take a leak, with only a telephone pole to screen him. I’m just not that kind of guy. Some girls sounded a little jealous that guys can do that, though. 7:37 for mile four.

Mile five went up a little hill and past the house I grew up in. 7:34, a little fast. My pace isn’t really as dead-even as these splits make it seem, anyway. I’m always looking at my Garmin’s “Lap Pace” display, which tells me the average pace I’ve run since the start of the last mile. If I’m getting toward the end of a mile and it’s way too fast, I can just slow down for a bit and make it “right.” Of course, I don’t want to do it that way — I want nice even pacing. I don’t think I saw the watch say anything under 7:30 or over 7:50 too often.

I started feeling more settled in during miles six and seven — 7:38, 7:35 on a gentle downhill. It was pretty unclear in this section if we had the whole road or just one lane to run in. I used the whole road to run the tangents, but I was the only one I saw to do that. If we were supposed to have just the one lane, though, they didn’t have anywhere near enough cones or markings. I ran past Sweetie and Mom again near the end of mile seven. They headed off to breakfast and would see me again around mile 18.

Mile eight was through Amazon Park. The path wasn’t too crowded around my pace, but I’m guessing that with 5000 people things got a little tight behind me. Hey, Eugene Marathon: switch to Amazon Parkway next year, OK? 7:36.

The crowd at the mile eight marker by South Eugene High was big, but not as noisy or high-fiving as in years previous. A disappointment, that. During mile nine you climb the most visually obvious hill on the course, though it’s debatable if it’s actually the longest or steepest. Whether or not it is, though, the 3:20 pace-setter slowed waaaay down for it and I slipped past him on the way up. The uphills seemed easy. That’s a good thing, right? 7:37 for mile nine. Mile 10 was back through the start area, in the other direction. Another 7:37.

Miles 11 and 12 had us running out on Franklin Boulevard, headed for Glenwood and Springfield. This was a route change this year; we used to go on paths along the north bank of the river more. The new route is a lot less scenic (Glenwood in particular is a bleakly dreary business district) but I think it is faster, despite having to get over an overpass and a slightly elevated bridge. Then again, I was loving the hills. I’d maintain my pace and pass a bunch of people on every uphill; the same people would pass me on the way back down. The weather had me worried through Glenwood, though: we were getting full sun. Overheating or dehydration could quickly ruin me. I rooted for the clouds to win out. Yet another 7:37, followed by a 7:36.

Miles 13, 14 and 15 were through Springfield. Springfield, if you don’t know, is to Eugene as Vancouver, WA is to Portland OR, or as Sparks, NV is to Reno. I can’t even remember how I was feeling through here. Maybe I was in “the zone.” I grabbed a little cupful of honey at the “Liquid Gold” station and got some of it down my throat and lots of it all over my left hand. The hand would remain sticky for quite a long time after that. At the very end of mile 15 we had to get across an I-5 overpass; the short but steep hill could have been a tester, but I was still finding it easy. 7:37, 7:37, 7:37. Monotonous,  isn’t it? That’s the idea.

The weather improved; more cloud cover rolled in. For the rest of the day it was generally cloudy, with the occasional sun-break.

Mile 16: Uh, yeah, 7:37. Mile 17: 7:54.

7:54!?

Don’t panic, it’s just that I finally did something about that missed bathroom opportunity at the start. I think it took me about 40 seconds and I made up about 20 seconds of that over the rest of the mile. The mile 17 mile marker found us in Alton Baker park near the Ferry Street bridge. They had a little course re-reroute in here, winding around the little lake instead of sticking to the straight path by the river. I’m not sure if it was because of bad pavement or just to add a few extra yards.

Mile 18 was along the river: 7:36. Since the bathroom break, I was once again trailing the 3:20 pace group, but slowly gaining on them. I saw Sweetie and Mom shortly into mile 19, in front of the Valley River Inn. For most of the rest of mile 19, I was stuck in the pace group, which took up the whole path in a big clump. I tried to be patient for a while, but when they stayed at 7:42 for too long, I knew I just had to get around. I should have been just a little more patient. I made a passing move in the dirt along the path, and tripped on the edge getting back on. One stumbling step, two, and I was back in balance and none the worse for wear, but it was a close thing and I should have been smarter. Oh well. Mile 19: 7:37.

As we started into mile 20, I found myself starting to pass people. A lot of them were people I remembered from near the beginning of the race. I rubbed my hands together and told them “revenge is a dish best served cold.” OK, no, that last part didn’t happen. But it was kind of nice to see so many people suddenly falling off their pace. At the end of mile 20 they had a timing pad up and a guy overseeing it.

I called to him, “Yeah! Halfway there.”

He said “Yep” then half a beat later said “wait, you’re way more than halfway…”

As I ran past I shouted back “Nope! That was halfway, right there, don’t tell me it isn’t!”

It really does feel that way. I got through mile 20 in 7:33 and had just six point two miles left to go — but those last six point two miles seem like the whole race. I assessed my condition:

  • I wasn’t feeling drained, depleted, or bonky. Last year, I’d started feeling that way around mile 16 and had really just hung on the rest of the way
  • My quads and my right glute were painful. Well, what do you expect after beating them up for a few miles?
  • Knee? No problem at all. Back, shoulders, abs, digestion, hydration? All good!
  • Mentally, I felt ready to face the pain and keep going. I could start to picture myself  finishing this thing and meeting my goals.

So I decided to push the pace and stop letting my Garmin tell me how fast I could run. Instead, I focused on passing whoever was ahead of me. Slowly, one by one, I reeled them in. It hurt, but it was kind of fun too. Way more fun than other mile 21’s and 22’s have been, anyway. 7:28, 7:30.

I kept it up. Pushing the pace rather than letting the race push me around definitely made the miles seem to go by faster. Pass, pass, pass — I felt like a shark out there. Mile 23: 7:25. I ran by my cheering section one last time. Sweetie was excited that I was ahead of the 3:20 group and I told her that I was feeling strong.

Mostly strong anyway. My legs were really starting to hurt. I hoped they wouldn’t suddenly give out. I’m not a cramper, but maybe this would be my day. But I didn’t really think about backing off the pace. Pick a target runner in front; pass them; repeat. Mr. Ironman Shirt? Pass. Mr. Crazy Running tights? Pass. Ms. I’m-So-Special-I-Have-a-Guy-on-a-Bicycle-Crewing-Me? Pass. I passed a couple of guys I didn’t know in Red Lizard shirts (Team Red Lizard is a local running club I’m technically a member of) and gave them each a big “Go Red Lizard” as I went by. Mile 24: 7:26. Mile 25: 7:29.

As you begin mile 26, the path gets lonely and the crowd support disappears. It’s one of the problems with the Eugene route. It didn’t bother me much this time though. I could taste my Boston Qualifying time. Top of the world, Ma! I kept motoring along, pushing it, pushing it. Soon I was back on the road and finishing up mile 26 in 7:24.

The stadium was in sight. Boston Qualifying was in the bag. I ran fast just for the pleasure of pushing myself. Heading through the gates, I yelled out “lets go!” to someone I was passing, hoping they’d race. (They didn’t.) The soft feel of the Hayward track gave me another gear, and with all of 200 yards left to go I started pumping an arm at the crowd and calling for more noise. I didn’t think Sweetie and Mom were going to have made it to the finish in time to see me, but then there they were, right at the start of the final straightaway. They’d make it with seconds to spare! I had one more gear in me for the last 75 yards, and sprinted all out. Looking up, I could see the clock showing 3:18:58.

Chip time: 3:18:26. 7:35/mile average pace. 278th/2333 total finishers; 236/1252 men; 55/225 men 35-39. See you in Boston in April 2011. :-) :-)


2010 Eugene Marathon: Goals and plan

April 30, 2010

I guess I usually end up posting something about what my goals are before a big race. Here they are for Sunday’s 2010 Eugene Marathon.

Goal “A+”: 3:18:00. That would be a 7:33/mile average pace, but I’d get there by running 7:38 for miles 1-22 and finding the power to pick up the pace for the last four miles. I’d have to pick it up to (hang on while I run off and do some math… ok, got it) 7:07/mile over those last four miles to pull this off.

Goal “A”: 3:20:00. A steady 7:38/mile pace the whole way.

Goal “B”: 3:20:59. “B” stands for “Boston.” 3:20:59 is what I need to run to qualify for the 2011 Boston Marathon. (That’s the time you need if you’ll be 40-45 years old on Boston Marathon day.) This has been my big goal for this race for a long time now. The extra 59 seconds let me slip down to a  7:39.94/mile average pace. Can you imagine the kind of heart attack I’ll be having on Sunday if it comes down to the difference between 7:39.94 and 7:40/mile?

Goal “C”: 3:28:55, my current marathon PR. Look, the truth is, I’ll be pretty crushed if I can’t beat that. I set that record seven months ago, on a harder course, with my training completely interrupted by runner’s knee. I had to skip my last long run and my knee hurt from mile nine to the finish line.

Goal “D”: Finish the race. It’s 26 miles. Respect the distance. A finish is a finish.

My race plan is pretty simple. I’m going to be a slave to my Garmin Forerunner and crank out mile after mile of 7:38s. I use the Garmin’s “autolap” feature to measure my miles and the number I pay the most attention to is my “lap pace”, which is the average pace I’ve run during the course of the current mile. It’s much more useful than the wildly varying “instantaneous” pace display, for this sort of pacing. Note that I use autolap and not the course mile markers, for a couple of reasons. Reason one: I’d never remember to hit the lap button every time I need to. Reason two: the pace the Garmin shows me is going to be based on its idea of the mileage anyway. That does mean there will be some slop;  the Garmin nearly always shows that you’ve run longer than 26.21 miles after a marathon.

I’ll break the race down into three phases. During miles 1-10, I’ll eat a lot and conserve energy. For miles 10-20, I’ll focus on consistency. For the last six miles I’ll give it everything I’ve got.


Eugene Marathon 2009

October 13, 2008

I was in Eugene this weekend to visit my Mom. Coincidentally I saw on the Run Oregon blog that the Eugene Running Company was sponsoring some marathon kick-off event on Sunday.  One where you could sign up for the marathon for 15% less than the already-expired early-bird rate. My mom gasped when she went with us to sign me up and found out how much a marathon cost! “That’s a discount?” Yep, I’m afraid so. I also bought some expensive new running pants and a yellow cap with a flashing light on back. Sweetie was somewhat astounded, since she was the one who had pointed out both the pants and the hat.

I enjoyed Eugene last year (and set my PR there), and now I’ve put money on the table, so I sure hope I’m ready to run it come May. I was checking out the site and I see they’ve tweaked the route a bit. They have the new route online, though it’s not yet “certified” so I guess it is still subject to change. The new route:

  • Starts and ends at Hayward Field… no more shuttle-busing from the finish line at Autzen.
  • Doesn’t turn around at Snell, instead goes all the way to the end of the Rexius Trail on East and West Amazon… and right past the house I grew up in on Martin Street! That’s awesome. It does make the race a bit hillier, though — the block with my old house is the highest point on the new course.
  • Goes over the Knickerbocker footbridge on the way into Springfield, rather than the Autzen footbridge. In fact, last year the course went over Autzen twice, this year not at all. Good choice, Autzen bridge was congested and the approaches had a lot of odd curves.
  • Takes a counterclockwise loop through Springfield instead of a clockwise one. This seems smart; it means that the out and back traffic doesn’t cross itself any more.
  • Skips Island Park. More curve elimination, I guess.
  • Uses more of the roads in eastern Alton Baker park and less of the bike trails. I think this eliminates a number of very short yet kind of drastic roller-coaster style up and downs in there.
  • Eliminates the little out-and-back with a hairpin turnaround by the Owosso bridge. Last year they advertised that they had eliminated this hairpin, and in a way they had… but only by widening the turnaround out to cross over a field on a makeshift dirt trail.

Overall, I think these are good improvements to the course… you can tell the planners are really still invested in making improvements. Now they just need to get the city to redo all the concrete bike paths in asphalt…


Flying to Europe? Boy, Will My Legs Be Tired!

May 2, 2008

This is one crazy weekend. Not only are we traveling the 100 miles to Eugene tomorrow, and running the marathon on Sunday, but then Tuesday we’re getting on a plane to Frankfurt for a vacation in Europe. That’s a full metric assload of planning and packing and driving and running and aching and flying! We’re headed to Spain first: a couple days in Madrid then a longer stay in Valencia.

I’ve been boring everybody I meet talking about the Spanish version of the beverage horchata, popular in Valencia, made from something called the chufa or “tiger nut”. It’s not a true nut but rather the underground tuber of Cyperus esculentus, or the tigernut sedge. I guess horchata is made in a similar manner as almond milk — here’s a recipe. Horchata is often accompanied by sweets called fartons… make your own third-grade joke.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be boring people talking about a little-known-here beverage if I weren’t getting quite excited about the trip. I haven’t traveled much lately. I haven’t so much as been on a plane since the year 2000. It wasn’t a 9/11 thing, it was an I-had-no-money thing. Getting over the feeling that travel was an unacceptable luxury that was a struggle; it’s taken me some time to accept that I can afford to do this kind of thing now. At this moment, though, my mind is pleasantly vacillating between looking forward to the marathon and looking forward to the vacation.


Twenty-four miles

April 13, 2008

This was a great, confidence-building longest long run, on a bright sunny and pleasantly warm day in Eugene. Twenty-four miles without slowing down, without shot legs, and without meeting Mean Mister Wall.

(Click the map for full resolution)

I planned a route that let me check out almost all of the marathon course (with the exception being a few very familiar miles in South Eugene) and return to my parked car after each of three 7-9 miles loops. I used the car as an aid station, refilling my water bottle and grabbing more fun-sized Milky Way bars or Clif Shot Bloks.

The first loop was south, through the U of O and adjoining neighborhoods. I warmed up very cautiously, starting with a 10:27 mile, then 9:51, 9:04, 9:14, 9:55, 10:19,and 9:27. (Some of the all-over-the map times here are due to traffic lights.) I made an effort to both run easily and eat a lot during this first seven miles, in hopes of pushing the wall further off later on. I had an espresso-flavored caramel filled chocolate bar that my Mom gave me, and a few 75-calorie Milky Way bars. I’m trying the fun-sized bars as a much cheaper substitute for the Gu’s or Clif shots. (Seemed to work.) Virtually all the hills in the Eugene Marathon are in this first section, with a few ups and downs of 75 or 100 feet over the course of a few miles… nothing serious.

Once back to the car, I shed my gloves and was now running in shorts, a tech tee, and a light vest (worn mostly because it had pockets). The next loop was out to Springfield, on the north side of the Willamette River. This was the section I was least familiar with, never having had cause to bike out to Springfield when I was a lad in Eugene. (I’m not sure which of these paths were around then either.) The paths along the river were nice; the road sections not as scenic, but still very flat. I continued to take it easy, still eating candy bars, though not as frequently. My mile splits for this eight-mile leg were 9:35, 9:29 , 9:35, 9:27, 9:34, 9:15, 9:18, and 9:33.

My pit stop at the car was a little longer this time… I also used the park restroom.  With the day getting warmer, I left behind my vest and cap. I grabbed a bag of Clif Shot Bloks (freebies from the Race for the Roses) and stuffed them into the the strap of my hand-held water bottle. This last loop, nine miles, goes along the north (and east) bank of the Willamette way out to a footbridge — the Owosso Bridge? — then back along the west (and south) bank, past Skinner’s Butte Park, past the Ferry Street Bridge, then back to the Autzen footbridge. The actual marathon heads a bit north from there and finishes at Autzen stadium; I was veering west and back to my car.

I held up really well during this last lap. I tried to settle into a 9:20 pace — 30 seconds slower than my marathon pace goal — and did pretty well there. My first mile splits were 9:17, 9:25, 9:22, and 9:16. Running was definitely becoming more work, don’t get my wrong. I spent a lot of time fiddling with my MP3 player, trying to find the right music or radio station to keep me moving. It would have been nice to have some people running around me to key off of. Mile 20 was 8:58. I’m not sure why I sped up there; I imagine that I crossed the bridge and turned back toward the finish in there, and maybe that spurred me on. I certainly recall that I was continuing to struggle a little bit to keep running strong. I was back to my goal pace the next mile, with a 9:19.

Twenty-one miles down and three to go. I was back into the familiar paths of Skinner’s Butte park, and had a good feel for how far I had to go. Suddenly I felt pretty good. I leaned forward and pushed it a bit, taking more forceful if less efficient strides. It felt good — maybe I was working different muscles. Some runner’s high kicked in. I powered home the last three miles in 8:39, 8:25, and 8:32. Never hit any wall. Felt great! I did a cool-down jog for the remaining third of a mile back to the car.

Totals: 24.3 miles, average pace of 9:26/mile.


Track Town U.S.A.

December 8, 2007

I went down to Eugene last night for my Mom’s traditional Chanukkah dinner (hey, two years in a row is a tradition if you ask me) and stayed over to do my 18-mile run down there today. I started with hills and mud, not leaving me a lot of oomph for the second half… but then, running on tired legs is good training too. Letsee… total distance, 18.4 miles, total time, 3:33:25, average mile 11:36, fastest mile 9:44. Yeah, I started out slow and tapered off; I’ve heard that’s the best plan.

OK. The route. Click here for a full zoomable map.

eugenerun.png

I started around 29th and Willamette and headed up Crest and Blanton to reach the trailhead at the western end of Eugene’s Ridgeline Trail. This is a six or seven mile trail through the ferny fir forests that dominate the landscape south of town. From Blanton, it climbs up and down and snakes around developments to reach Willamette Street. There was one downed tree in this section, its big unearthed root-ball laying right over the trail, but scrambling over and around wasn’t a big deal. Other than that, this section of ridgeline was very well maintained, and the footing was very good.

Crossing Willamette, the trail continues at another trailhead parking lot a small ways to the south. It starts off with a steep section climbing away from the road, following a power-lines clearing, then levels off some when it turns toward the right and heads for the flanks of Spencer’s Butte. The forest is beautiful all around the butte, but of course the trail starts to climb steeply too as it nears it. After not too long, it levels out and skirts the north side of the mountain. A trail intersection with good signage lets you head to the summit of the butte if you want; I kept heading east instead, toward Fox Hollow road. Throughout this section, there was a little mud.

The trail section between Fox Hollow and Dillard road is fairly short, not too hilly, and a little muddier. (Sensing a pattern yet?) I stayed to the right at the fork to take the hiking trail, rather than the one open to mountain bikes too.

I didn’t realize that it was a significant distance along Dillard Road to the continuation of the trail, and I guessed wrong which way to go along the road, so I took a short out-and back before returning to the trailhead to, you know, look at the map they have there. Ohhh… it’s the other way, duh. I jogged down the road the right way to reach the other Dillard Road trailhead lot.

Now, the book Trail Running Oregon has a runs covering all of the Ridgeline I’d seen so far, but it didn’t mention anything about this last part I was about to run, past Dillard Road. Very, very quickly, I figured out why. Have a look at the elevation profile for my route:

eugene_elev.png

See near mile eight? Where the line goes vertical? That’s the Ridgeline Trail after Dillard Road. It goes straight up Mount Baldy, on an exposed mud-slick path that was hard to even walk up. I walked it. It was pretty once the trail made it to the top. Then there was going down the other side. Almost as steep, this trail was the muddiest yet, a nascent stream really, and had enough erosion that you really had to think about where to plant each step. A sane man would have walked it; I ran as best as I could. No falls, yay!

The trail ends at the dead-end of Spring Street, amid all the expensive new houses way up there in the southeast hills. A few rough pavement-pounding miles downhill, and I was at Snell and Amazon, quite close to the house I grew up in, on Martin street. I ran south up West Amazon, along the bark-dust trail they have along both sides of the creek now. (Amazon Creek runs between the two parallel streets, East and West Amazon Drive.) The trail has a name; it’s the “Rexius Trail”. I guess it’s a corporate thing.

My house was still there on Martin Street; there’s also a new playground there, which was weird. I took a short trip up the unnamed trails immediately south of the street, and discovered that they’ve build up a new one too, that connects to the dead-end Canyon road. Cute little trail.

Back north now along East Amazon, then through Amazon Park (which has a very popular bark dust trail with 1000m and one-mile loop options), up past South Eugene High school, and over toward the University of Oregon. I would have taken a turtle-like loop around the Hayward Field track to top off my Eugene Running experience, but it was closed for resurfacing or other renovations — they’re gussying it up for the US Olympic track and field trials, no doubt. Back to my Mom’s, and that’s 18.4 miles. And I am sore sore sore. Ouch ouch ouch. (I actually got quite a bit better pretty quickly though.)