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.


Food Cart Pod Planned For Intersection of Springwater and 82nd

February 11, 2011

Karen Brooks reports for Portland Monthly that a new cart pod is in development where the Springwater Trail meets SE 82nd:

The next phase in Portland’s food cart movement could wheel into an acre-sized lot on SE 82nd Avenue this summer. Food-pod pioneer Roger Goldingay is ready to roll on a bike-centric “super pod” smack in middle of the Springwater Corrider [sic] bike trail. With a vision for 35 carts featuring bike repairs, air-pumping, and gear—not to mention good food drawing from 82nd Avenue’s wealth of Asian, Latino and Russian communities—Goldingay hopes to take the cart village concept to the next level.

This could be exciting news for runners as well as bikers. The Springwater is a great option for long, flat training runs… but it’s also not a very fun place to be, out near that neighborhood. Sketchy-looking people and the homeless often gather along the trail, and I’ve heard reports of both runners and bikers getting harassed. Goldingay’s vision is a beautiful contrast:

“I see families riding through on bikes. Maybe a farmers market. We’re close to Happy Valley, East Portland, the north side of Oregon City, Clackamas, Gresham, and Milwaukie. I hope to serve this population, but I’d like to think I’m doing something to improve the area, too, to make it safe and family-friendly— but also a destination location that will draw urban dwellers to an area they know little about.”

All the same, anybody with eyes can see that Portland is in the middle of a food cart bubble, and there’s some feeling that it’s starting to burst. Just because Goldingay developed one very successful pod — Mississippi Marketplace — doesn’t mean this one is going to work out.

We may know soon enough. The city has already okayed the plan. Construction — basically paving, I guess — is supposed to start in a matter of weeks, and the pod is supposed to be fully up and running this summer.

Last Month in Running

June 7, 2008

…And I’m back. It turns out I just don’t have what it takes to both travel and blog, simultaneously: the notion of blogging just seemed impossible during the trip. Traveling uses up all of my energy, leaving nothing left for such luxuries as stringing together two sentences coherently.

Did I run in Europe? Yeah, a little, but not as much as I’d hoped. I managed to run about two or three times a week, each time for about six miles (or as the Europeans so quaintly put it with their olde-worlde charm, “10K”). One of my favorites was a jog through the gardens at Schönbrunn, Vienna’s sublimely beautiful palace. (Is it a better visit than Versailles? Yes.) Click the satellite view for a full look at it in Google Maps. The grounds don’t seem quite as large when you’re running, so I had to do a number of loops to get six miles in. It was a cold and rainy day so the park was practically empty: perfect.

Other than a couple of runs through Valencia’s Turia park, most of my others were through the countryside outside one village or another in Austria and Germany, ranging from the flat farmlands east of Vienna (full of rabbits and deer) to the brutal forested hills west of Frankfurt. Running in the countryside in these countries is amazing. Why? The land-use laws. Farmers aren’t allowed to enclose their fields with fences and the public always has the right to walk or run (and usually bike, I think) on the farm access roads. Thus, the entire countryside is one giant interconnected set of recreational paths. The difference between that and the situation back home here is stunning.

So how am I doing after a month with relatively little running and relatively high consumption rates for pastry and preserved meats? Well, my speed and endurance both seem to have taken some hits, but I’m sure they’ll be back. My weight, oddly, seems to be down two pounds – WTF?

I’m glad to be back.

The 5K-to-Couch Plan

January 18, 2008

Thousands have followed Cool Running’s Couch-to-5K Plan and most have lived to regret it. The following is offered to assist those, and others like them, in need.

This new running schedule will help you get off of our overcrowded roads and trails and back onto your comfortable sofa.


It’s waiting, and easier to get back to than you might think.

Too many people have been turned off from lounging simply by trying to stop running too slowly. Their bodies rebel against the arduous weeks of threshold and tempo reclining, and they wind up miserable and still upright.

The beginners’ program we outline here is less of a sofa regimen than a recipe for life. The idea is to transform you from runner to couch potato, getting you lying there for several hours on a regular basis in just three days.

It’s easy to be overly patient, and you may feel tempted to repeat days of the program to stretch out the process. Don’t. If, on the other hand, you find yourself progressing well after day 1, feel free and skip ahead a bit.

Be sure to space out these three days throughout the week to give yourself a chance to stiffen up some between efforts. And don’t worry about how profoundly you rest. Reclining more sedately can wait until your beer gut is back and your posterior callouses are thicker. For now focus on on just lying there, twitching as little as possible.

The schedule
Bookmark this page so that you can easily return to check on your progress. You can also add daily vegetation reminders to your personal calendar.

Week Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3
1 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then run for 5K (or 30 minutes). Lackadaisical two-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 60 seconds of lying on the couch for a total of 20 minutes. Lie on the couch.

2007 in review

January 2, 2008

It was a good year. I switched to a healthy lifestyle, cleared out a very cluttered house, trained for and finished a marathon, got off the couch and out into the real world, met a lot of new friends, met one wonderful much-more-than-friends woman, paid off enormous debts, learned to parallel park (somewhat), bought a tiny car to make parallel parking easier, got off antidepressants after six months, and found out that I liked soy milk.

That’s going to be a hard act to follow.

Goals for 2008:

  • Find more happiness at work
  • Finish the Hagg Lake 50K in under 6:15
  • Finish the Eugene Marathon in under 4:00
  • Tackle the home maintenance tasks I’ve badly let slip

Halfway Better

October 10, 2007

Well, it’s Wednesday, three days since my first marathon, and I’d say my legs are about halfway recovered: I no longer look stiff or feel weak when walking on a level surface. Uphills, I’m OK at too. Let’s not discuss the downhills. I can make it. But it ain’t pretty.

The tightness and soreness is in my calves and thighs, especially the latter. I haven’t felt even a hint of anything like a shin splint or knee pain! Which I am very, very happy about. Maybe a little ankle soreness, and the barest little faint touch of bottom-of-foot soreness. My right pinkie toe and the next toe over, though, got pretty well mashed against my shoes, and are still healing up.

Only on my right. I’m not sure if my feet are shaped differently, or if it’s a difference in my right/left stride, but those little toes on the right have been a long-term problem. Before my 22-mile training run, I got a different pair of shoes, from Saucony, which were supposed to have a wider toe box, but I went back to my old Brooks Addiction 7s for the marathon, since I thought  the Sauconys might have something to do with the little shin splints and plantar fasciitis issues I had been having. Plus, I had some seam chafing during the 22. The Brooks work great for me… except for the right-side little toes. Maybe a wider size? Or would that throw the whole fit off?

Leg Report

September 21, 2007

I’m feeling a bit better, leg-wise. I overdid it enough shortly after the 22-miler that I got some mild shin splints, but I’m pretty sure these are a-couple-of-days-rest type shin splints, not the two-weeks-off ones I’ve dealt with before. (Famous last words? Hope not. ) I’m not walking around with a limp, there’s no sharp pain, I can just feel it mildly. I should be taking more time to ice the legs; I’ve seen how much that can help.

Two weeks two days until the marathon! I’m going to have butterflies. I already am starting to have butterflies!