The Sunday before Labor Day, I ran the Eugene Women’s Half Marathon. Going down to Eugene allowed me to explore Kevin’s new city a little more, see his new office and just get a break from the crazy in Seattle. New scenery is surprisingly calming and I, of course, brought my bike to get in more great riding.
Race day morning was cool, but the high was 93 degrees so it definitely got warm. I had met a couple of great girls at the preview run a few weeks prior and I saw them before the race started and wished them both well. I lined up between the 1:40 and 1:45 pacers. I figured it was a long shot that I could stay there, but because it was such a flat course, it was worth a shot. The last time I ran a standalone half marathon, I was quite a bit slower so it was a bit strange being at the front before the race even started. The goal for the day was to run a sub-2-hour race. My PR was 2:03 from my last half-Ironman back in November.
Once the race started, I bolted. Old habits die hard and I started off too fast to negative split. For a little while I was running at a sub-7 minute per mile pace. But that was over in a hurry when the entire race was stopped by a train at .65 miles! I couldn’t believe it when I heard the bells and saw the train crossing arms swing down. There was instant chaos. Slower runners started to veer off course to the footbridge over the tracks while the faster runners stood next to the motorcycle escort demanding for some sort of restart or accommodation. The train took 8 minutes and 40 seconds! In order to be fair, the race director said they would adjust everyone’s time by 8:40. I stopped my watch when I got to the train and started it again when the race resumed, so I think that it was the most accurate capture of my time.
Once we were able to go again, it was a bit chaotic as the faster runners caught the slower runners who took off over a footbridge overpass. Not exactly safe! It worked its way out in the next 2 miles and I got into a good rhythm, using the downhills that are frontloaded on this course to my advantage and trying to really attack the uphill sections. It was really spread out where I was and the 1:40 pace girl, who really ran a 1:37, passed me at mile 7 or 8. I tried to stay with her, but I didn’t want to implode. My feet were already really hot with the 8 new blisters I picked up along the way.
The last few miles are mostly a false flat with a few smaller climbs and one little downhill section. I took nutrition in—a mix of water and gatorade at every station, and disgustingly bit through my salt tab at one hour in and tried to wash it down. I started to feel that ‘not-so-good-chill’ right around then and hoped the extra salt would help. It did.
Eventhough this is a women’s half, men are allowed to run and there was one really fit looking guy in short-shorts, a sports bra and a bright blonde ponytail wig. I passed him with a little over a mile to go, eventhough I swear he was purposefully trying to block my way. I ran it hard into the finish chute, trying to not slow. I really wanted to run all my splits sub-8, but there is one mile that is loaded with almost all the elevation gain toward the end and it just didn’t happen there. But! All in all, a good race. I gave it everything I had which felt really good after just a so-so personal performance at Beaver Lake. I was pretty focused the whole time and I was happy I opted for my iPod. Sometimes the right song can spur a nice little second wind.
In the end, I finished more than 20 minutes faster than my old half-marathon PR in 1:42:32. I was 35th overall and 6th in my age group.