I wanted to run another half marathon this year and The Eugene Half Marathon seemed to be the perfect opportunity. My friend and fellow runner Karen was moving back to Portland and was going to be doing the Eugene Half Marathon again this year. She said it was a fun race and it helped that it wasn’t so far away. Having a running training partner also is a huge help. This would be my first half marathon in the state and my first time going to Eugene.
Eugene is a primarily a college town housing the University of Oregon. Which just so happens to be the birth place of Nike. Nike was created by University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman. Much of Nike’s history began at the University of Oregon and track athlete Steve Prefontaine ran for Bill Bowerman and the University of Oregon. He had a tragic passing and the running community lost a great athlete that day. Eugene has a running trail that is named in his honor. It’s a place that he use to run frequently at. There’s also a memorial setup where Steve Prefontaine passed away. It’s called Pre’s Rock and athletes and people from all over have left items there and pay their respects.
We arrived in Eugene the Saturday before the race. It’s about a 2 hours drive from Portland. We went and checked in picking up our packets and finding our names on the racer list. We went to Pre’s rock and walked on pre’s trail for a little bit enjoying the weather. Hanging out before the next mornings race.
The race started at 7am, so we left the house around 6:15 and made it to the buses which would take us closer to the starting line. We got in our respective pace corrals and waited for the race to begin. It was a cooler morning. I wore long leggings, a light long sleeve running top and a thin jacket. I was cold standing in the corrals but I knew as soon as we got running I would warm up. They sung the national anthem and thenthe race begun.
We were located in the 2nd pace group racing corral. It didn’t take us long to get to the start line and begin our run. I ran about a mile or two with my friend Karen then we lost each other. We had set a designated spot we ‘were going to meet at the finish and I figured I would see her there. I had a harder time getting into a running rhythm this race. I switched up my music a couple times and finally found a pace that worked for me. It was a slower pace than I wanted, but I knew I could pick up the pace in the last half of the race. I thought I was so close to the end at one point because I knew the last .1 mile of the race was on Hayward field. I saw the stadium and the field and thought we must be getting down to the home stretch. But then I looked down at my watch tracking the distance and It said 8.5 miles. That meant I still had about 5 more miles to go. The last 5k was more on trails and by water ways. It was scenic and more what I’m use to training on. I picked up my pace and knowing that my goal time was no longer in reach, but that I could still finish at a reasonable time under 2 hours. I finally made it to the last mile and the street was lined with cheering spectators. Which is always nice as you make the last push to the finish line. I ran into Hayward field and pulled out my phone to video myself running through the finish line.
I had made it! I had completed my 5th half marathon. I received my finisher medal and was in desperate need of water. The volunteers handed me a bag of food and a carton of chocolate milk. I chugged down the chocolate milk and proceeded to head to Karen and I’s meeting point. We sat down and stretched out as we discussed how the race went. We had finished within a minute or two of each other. I grabbed the bottles of water which I had missed coming through the finish and we headed back to her car. We had made plans to grab breakfast with her parents who came down for the race. We went to a popular spot called Off The Waffle. I had a waffle with eggs and bacon. I always say any food after a race seems to be the best food I’ve ever had. But, this waffle was truly delicious.
Every race teaches you knew lessons and poses their own challenges. But, in the end of the day I never have regretted the months of training, the soreness, or any other obstacles that might come with doing a long race like a half marathon or full marathon.