This year running Eugene for the first time was such a treat! I am so happy I have taken more time to run some local races- although this one I did not get to sleep in my own bed. I drove down to the race Saturday after running some errands in the morning. I refrained from running on Friday (usual day before the day before rest day) and Saturday because I was feeling a twinge in my left outer ankle and was worried that it could be something more serious than just a twinge. I thought back to the stress fracture in my right ankle and carefully compared how it felt and hoped for the best. Saturday I made it down to Eugene pretty quick and enjoyed a quick browse at the expo. After checking out the course maps, putting on my black ribbon, signing the Boston banner, getting my shirt, filling up on water and sampling some nutrition bars, I was off to scope out some pre race parking. It was a beautifully sunny Saturday and I was enjoying driving with the windows down and feeling the sun on my skin. I drove through campus and looked at all the blocked parking spaces for tomorrow as well as where the starting line would be. I came about a side street that seemed to only lead to residential apartments and found an interesting lot that was only marked as permit required Mon- Friday. I was thrilled and planned to get there nice and early in the morning in case others scoped out the same lot and were following the awesome plan I just developed!
My hotel was just outside of the main city and had everything that I needed- clean, working bathroom, nice bed, mini fridge, and a microwave. I love packing my own food to races so that I am able to eat a wonderful pre race dinner that I know I can run great on the next day and to have my breakfast in room and ready including my coffee in a can. Once I dropped everything off on the hotel there was still a ton of beautiful sunny day left so I sat outside, read, and wrote. I thought about how happy I was to be running marathon number 99 the next day and how even after this many it still has not gotten old and I am still very excited to be healthy and running! Beautiful view.
The next day I was up early- 10 min before my 5am alarm went off. I went through my pre race rituals and really used the foam roller on my back and legs. By 5:30am I was off to the start line. I drove to the parking lot in darkness and to my surprise there was no one else in this parking lot. I was hit with a feeling of dread and started to wonder if everyone knew something that I didn’t know. So I popped out of my car and made my way over to the start to ask some officers that were securing the area if I was parked in an illegal spot. I noticed the increased police presence right away, which made locating an officer for my question very easy! Assured that I would not get a ticket or towed I headed back to my car to enjoy time in my own warm little space so close to the finish line.
I keep a snuggie (my sister bought it for me) and a pillow in the trunk of my car for just the occasion of chilling out in my car prerace. I was totally comfortable wrapped up in the pink snuggie and totally relaxed knowing that I just had to pop over to the starting line, and that I was parked close to a row of unused porta potties which made a great pre race potty time. Seriously I went back twice just because I could and no one else was there… if you are a runner you know what a luxury this is!
With 10 min to the start I made my way over and jumped in my corral. I was very much aware of who was around me and if there were any people with bags anywhere in the vicinity. I was also looking for bags left alone. This was just an initial look, but when I did the scan and saw so many police I felt a ton better and was able to relax and totally let go of worry and get into the pre race mind set.
We started out great, I realized in the first mile that there was no need at all for me to be wearing my arm sleeves and was determining what to do to store them without having to stop to take off my pack. By mile 3 I had decided just to tie them to the chest strap, that seemed to do just fine, but I bet I get no pictures because they hung in front of my bib for most of the race. I love how there is so much to look at and take in when you are running a big marathon. There was a ton of people and beautiful scenery and I didn’t touch my iPod for the first 12 miles. By mile 13 as we were getting a bit more spread out with the ½ marathoners off the course I was starting to feel a little bit tired but nothing terrible. But I was then approached by Mary and a group of runners. I sped up to match their pace and decided this is exactly what I need! It was wonderful to catch up with Mary and meet new running friends. The girls were so fun to meet and we ran together for the rest of the marathon. I realize that it is so much easier for me to get out of my own head and encourage others around me. That actually makes me feel better and I run better. We shared stores and kept each other going. It was a really great time out there with fantastic people!