The obligatory PDX carpet photo.
I went straight to the expo to see Laurel (who was working the event) and to grab my race packet. I like the Eugene expo because they have fun booths but it's still small and inviting. After that, I drove over to the newest Eugene running store, Run Hub Northwest, to meet the owner and to plan for the Oiselle shakeout run that was the following day. The store was great and it was their very first day open! In the afternoon, I began my quest to have great beer by going to Oakshire and Hop Valley; Hop Valley has awesome food by the way.
On Saturday morning, we had the Oiselle and Run Hub sponsored shake out run on Pre's trail. Run Hub opened its doors earlier than usual for us that day, and Oiselle sent a few items to win during trivia. I'd never run on Pre's trail before, so that was definitely a treat. We ran 3 miles and then headed to the 5th Avenue Market for coffee and breakfast.
The rest of the day was very low key; Cafe Yumm (my fave!) for lunch, a trip to the Bier Stein bottle shop for take home beer, and dinner at Elk Horn Brewery. The race start was at 7 am so we went to bed pretty early on Saturday night.
Our random photo booth fun at the expo. Matt, Joy, Laurel, and me.
I woke up feeling excited to run on Sunday morning, so despite this being a 'non-goal race' I figured I might as well give it what I had. My newfound confidence that I can run a half in under 2 hours stayed in the back of my mind and I thought hey, let's do it again! I met up with a few of the Oiselle ladies to say hello and good luck before the race. Chatting and walking to the start line with them was a nice distraction from any race nerves that existed.
Stopping for a quick Hayward Field photo op - Ali, Marilyn, Sarah, and me.
Corral A went off at 7 am, and I started with Corral B a couple of minutes later. I stuck to the 2 hour pacer for the first mile or so because I figured they knew the course and could help me get out of the crowd a bit. I ended up passing them soon after mile one and staying just a little ahead of them for the rest of the race. It's very comforting to start next to the pacer and to know that you'll meet the goal as long as you don't let them pass you back. It's a helpful way to gauge time even if you aren't running beside them the whole race.
Because this was my second time running Eugene, I knew what was coming along the course and when. I remembered miles 4 to 7 being mentally challenging last time and prepared myself for that. It's a long slow climb, but even more I think the mental issue is that it's fairly boring and residential. Once we came back into the downtown and University area I was much happier. I stayed strong on the climb in mile 8 and let myself take the following downhill hard. We hit the paved riverside path around mile 9, a part of the course I love.
By this point I knew I had another sub-2 hour half in the bag as long as I held at my current pace. I also knew I was going to be close to my PR if I could pick it up, and I gave the last couple of miles what I could but didn't quite make it.
Finishing on the Hayward Field track is a real treat and I loved hearing my name announced as I crossed the finish line! My final time was 1:58:45, not too far off my PR of 1:57:51. I'm very happy with that time, especially because I improved on my recent time from the SLO Half and ran under 2 hours again. It's funny how in SLO I didn't think I could make it, but in Eugene I had faith the whole time. I'll get that half PR again someday - I finally believe I can do it.
Laurel greeted me at the finish. (Photo from Long Run, a friend of Laurel's)
The finish! (Photo from Laurel)
After I finished, I ran my cool down out to mile 24 to cheer for friends running the marathon. I stayed there for about 2.5 hours and then ran back to meet people and to finally have my finish pancakes. Yum. Note: the finish line pancakes are a big bonus to the Eugene events!
Jess pushing it up the incline at mile 24.
Marilyn and Molly hitting mile 24.
As you may guess, the post-race festivities included beer! We went on a brewery tour of Ninkasi and had drinks with everyone. It was a great end to the day and I'm ready to go back to visit Oregon again already.
The beautiful Ninkasi gate.
Tanks in the new brewhouse.
Overall, I highly recommend the Eugene Marathon and Half events and hope to return again in the near future. I'll leave you with one last important photo, the race swag. Happy running!