Eugene Half Marathon Race Recap

This weekend in Eugene was one of the best I've ever had, as well as one of the worst - a personal worst as far as my race went.  Thankfully, it was absolutely one of my personal best for FUN - one I'll never forget.  To end on a high note, I'll just recap the race part for now...

Sunday morning I was suffering from a great deal of exhaustion and major race nerves, more than I've ever had before a race.  The former mostly caused by the latter, and because I don't sleep well in a foreign bed.  Also adding to the jitters was the fact that there were SO MANY teammates in Eugene - it was pretty much a Oiselle convention.  I think most of them agreed it added to the nerves in an exciting way - not in a way that we were worried about whether we'd have each others back after a crappy performance: clearly, if I was to bonk, there could not have been a better/more supportive environment to do so.  This epic gathering just made us all really want to do our best that day.  For some, it probably gave them a boost; for others, like myself, it just fueled my tendency to psych myself out.

So, after tossing and turning for most of Saturday night and getting about 3 hours of sleep (on top of maybe 4 or 5 the night before), I rolled out of bed after the alarm finally went off at 5:30am.  Yes, I say finally because I'd woken again around 5am and couldn't fall back asleep.  My roomie guardian angel for Saturday/Sunday, Lauren, gave me a ride to the start after I finished getting ready (I can't express how much I love this girl - love, love, love ya Lauren!).  I checked my bag and headed for the bathroom and ran into Kelli and we walked over to our corral together.  It was so great to see so many familiar faces and to have Kelli to chat with and keep me distracted before the start of the race.

As I'd said before, I had pie in the sky aspirations of getting that elusive sub 2 hour goal or a PR.  So I tried my best to keep it as close to a nine minute mile from the get go.  The first few miles felt fine, probably because they were so very crowded and it was hard to really get speedy.  

Mile 1: 9:27
Mile 2: 9:20
Mile 3: 9:23

In mile 4, there was a bit of a hill so I slowed my pace.  But, unlike the Seattle Marathon, it was like a molehill compared to a mountain and actually had a downhill to make up for it afterward.

Mile 4: 9:42
Mile 5: 9:16

I was feeling okay, but the feedback coming from my gps was making me disappointed compared to my last couple of half marathons.  The effort felt like 9 minute miles, or even high 8 minute ones, but that was clearly not the case and, clearly, I'm not where I was around this time last year.  Maybe I should go 'naked' for my next half...  

Mile 6: 9:24
Mile 7: 9:34

And, of course, I started to get in my head by mile 8.  My brain was checked out and my legs were starting to cramp up.  I got a bit of a boost seeing my roomie Lauren and our cheer squad around mile 9. 

Ahh, I'll never forget JJ in the banana suit and Meghan in her chicken hat! (from Oiselle's FB)

Even though I was dying, I couldn't help but laugh and give side fives:

not mile 9, but this is just the best pic - such an awesome cheer squad.

And then I had to stop halfway through mile 10 to stretch my calves.  Just like in the Seattle Half, once I stopped, I couldn't get started again.  Miles 11 and 12 took us through trails in Alton Baker park and at that point I was starting to get nauseous and have tunnel vision.  This has NEVER happened to me in a race and I can only surmise it was the lack of sleep and all the eating out even though I didn't indulge in anything crazy, just different from my norm.  Also on this part of the course, there weren't any water stops or med tents and I really didn't want to pass out in the middle of the woods.  I decided that if I had to walk the rest of the way, so be it - I wasn't going to get my first DNF, I HAD to go home with that Eugene medal.  So I jog, walked, and stretched my cramping legs the rest of the way.

Mile 8: 10:19
Mile 9: 10:32
Mile 10: 11:57
Mile 11: 11:43
Mile 12: 12:20
Mile 13: 11:47

Final time: 2:16:07 (a PW by just about 3 minutes)

I was so, so, so very sad to not enjoy the crowds and cheering into Hayward Field.  All I could think was: I cannot walk on this track of legends.  I did for about 5 steps after I ran into Alma and told her to go ahead and cross that finish line; so grateful to her for putting a smile on my face at the end (she ran the half 22 weeks prego!).  After hobble jogging through the finish,  I remembered to put my hand over my heart for Boston and then made a beeline for the med tent so that I could get some relief for my cramping legs.  The PT broke out some arnica oil and massaged my calves and feet until I could relax them and move on.  

I'm terribly tempted to claim cramps after every race now, just to get the massage...

After I was able to walk okay, I grabbed a bottle of water and got in line for my Krusteaz pancakes.  It was taking WAY too long and so I just grabbed my banana/bagel/chips/chocolate milk so that I could get my checked bag and put on my calf sleeves ASAP.  Side note, I really think cheap plastic grocery bags should be available after races so that we can carry all of this stuff around afterwards.  Trying to hold my phone and contact teammates, while drinking my chocolate milk and holding on to my much needed banana/salty chips was quite a juggling feat.

I left the post race food area to collect my bag and, boy, they need to figure out a better system for this - from Patty's  pics:

It was like an auction with people holding up their bibs and everyone shouting numbers.  Thank goodness most of us used the hot pink spike bags from our team kit and they stood out amid all of the expo race bags.  It ended up that mine was put in a pile on the ground, just opposite the gear check trailer, ya know - for anyone to take off with!  Um, not cool.  At least I didn't have to wait through the auction shenanigans and finally put my feet up (literally).

I started to get thirsty and went back to get some water; alas, the post race food area was restricted to runners and yet I couldn't get back in because there was no re-entry.  That's all well and good, I appreciate that they don't want non-runners taking the much needed fuel, but there was no where else to get water.  I ended up in near tears at the massage station asking if someone could please give me a water bottle.   

Overall, I'd say the course is beautiful, has great crowds, is mostly fast and well supported.  Plus, you just can't beat running in Track Town and onto Hayward Field.  But the expo (small), shirt (short sleeved) and post race (water! gear check!) was just okay - maybe a 6 on a scale of 10.  Eugene and my experience as a whole is very much an 11 on a scale of 10 and that part is to be continued...


  1. Andrea- been dying to hear about this! You look so great in that side five pic. The fact that you walked some and still got a respectable time is awesome. You go girl! I'm doing mine June 2- will keep you posted. I'm proud of you, mama!!

  2. I'm so sorry about your calves :( Has that happened before? I have to say, I love my Brooks shoes but the Pure Project shoes really did my calves in / exhaserbated my tightness. Any chance it's the shoes?

    1. I had no problems training up to 11 miles in the Pure shoes, but yes, I was thinking that they might have been part of the problem since I'd never raced in them :(

  3. Great recap, Andrea. Congrats on pushing through and finishing the race! So sorry to hear about the water fiasco... Yeesh! And, the picture of the bag collection... madness!

  4. I loved running in Eugene last year, but I also had an awful race. However, there really is just something magical about running there. I might try and run the half next year depending on my schedule. I don't remember the bag check being so bad last year, but I remember it being a long walk away from the finish. I was hurting and cranky so my sweet husband ran ahead and got my stuff for me. I didn't have the pancakes last year either. All I wanted was a large pizza and pitcher of beer!

    1. YES! on top of the confusion, it was so VERY far from the end. I mean, yes, it's magical and Eugene and I'll go back as often as I can - but I want to tell it like it is :)

  5. Aw sorry you had a bad race. I ran the full @ Eugene... you forgot to mention the big hill at mile 8. Its size took me by surprise. I saw a bunch of Oiselle jerseys on the course... maybe it was you? And I remember seeing that chicken head spectator too! :)

    1. ahh, I suppose that by the hill at mile 8 I was so completely out of my mind and just plugging along. prior to Eugene, 2 of the 4 half marathons I've done were the Seattle half and they made any hills in Eguene seem laughable! Congrats on your PR, BTW :)

  6. I had an awful race in Eugene last year too and ended up DNFing at mile 21 of the marathon, so good for you for pushing through and finishing.

    1. ugh, I just can't imagine - this is one of the reasons I hesitate to do a full: you just don't know, and it's much easier to gut out/walk the remainder of a half!

  7. I think everyone has their good and bad races, the best takeaway is to know we finished, but I know how frustrating some of them are. At least you had a great time with friends/teammates and that is important too :) I haven't had a super great race this Spring myself, I'm starting to wonder if my better racing season is the Fall. I didn't like coming out of this cold winter into races, not that the summer heat is easy, but somehow the cold made it more grueling in a sense. Rest yourself and enjoy another medal to the collection! :)

    1. hmmm, this is good food for thought - maybe I'll target more fall races so that I can hibernate through the winter... :)

  8. We had the exact same sleep dilemma! It sucks how physically you can be totally prepped for a race but then a few nights of bad sleep can throw you off so much. I'm glad you found the silver lining in an otherwise tough race, AND I'm glad you had so much fun this weekend! I have a feeling your next race is going to be killer...you've earned the karma!

    1. ahhh, thx Robin :) Congrats on your BQ!! So bummed I missed seeing you at the end!

  9. Oh! And I echo the no water outside of the finisher's area frustrations...I almost started crying!

  10. Just finished a terrible race too on Sunday. I had the same sub-2:00 goal, but got sick the Wednesday before the race, and it didn't happen. But we finished (in a time that I have to keep telling myself is good in the big scheme of things)!!!!!! At least your race experience was good!!!! Super jealous of your otherwise awesome weekend in TrackTown!