It's starting to look like an annual tradition, and for good reason! I love to run and I love the Eugene Marathon. The 2019 Eugene Marathon was my 6th full-marathon, and being selected to be an Ambassador for this year's marathon even more special!
My training season began in September 2018. My plan was to end 2018 with my first 50k, the Oregon Coast 50k, and begin training for the Eugene Marathon soon after. Unfortunately, during my final training run, I fell and broke my left clavicle (collarbone). It was painful, but I didn't think I broke it at the time, so I kept running (while wearing a hydration vest) for another 12 miles to complete my training run. To make a long story short, my clavicle required surgery, a titanium plate, and physical therapy to repair it.
After spending several weeks in an arm sling and not running, I was given an OK from my doctor, with strict orders to wear the sling and keep my arm from moving, to begin short, low-intensity runs. After a few more weeks of this, I gained great respect for anyone that must run with their arms immobilized; it's very difficult and it puts a great strain on your hip and thigh muscles. In mid-December, I was sooo excited when I was finally able to run without an arm sling and formally begin training for the 2019 Eugene Marathon!
It took a long time to regain the fitness that I lost, but when I stepped to the start line of the 2019 Eugene Marathon, I felt more prepared than I ever had for any other event, and it was a great feeling to be back to run one of the best events in the country!
Going into the 2019 Eugene Marathon, I had 4 goals: 1) have fun; 2) finish under 3:30 (a far reaching dream goal for me at this time; 3) a marathon PR (sub-3:39); and 4) a course PR (sub-3:55). For the first 19 miles, I was easily within range of hitting my sub-3:30 goal (even with a foot cramp that would not stop), but then out of nowhere, I started dry heaving! This has never happened to me and I did exactly the same thing as I did in training, except one thing... I ate many more energy bites (homemade, with love, by my amazing vegan wife) than I ever did in the past. I believe ingesting too much sugar, while being dehydrated, was too much for my stomach. My stomach issues quickly became so intense that I had to start taking walk breaks. Before I knew it, my sub-3:30 and 3:39 goals slipped away. I believe it was my resilience (fueled by my clavicle injury and comeback), seeing my cheering and encouraging wife at mile 21, receiving high-fives and pats on the back from fellow Ambassadors (thanks Noel and Jackie!), and seeing another fellow Ambassador who waited for me at mile 26 to cheer me on (a huge thanks Renee!!) that allowed me to dig deep and chase my sub-3:55 goal (and have fun doing so) and finishing with a time of 3:50.
Here are a few of the highlights from marathon weekend:
1) I felt proud to represent the Eugene Marathon as an Ambassador!
2) I LOVED the new course! My favorite part of the course is between Delta Ponds City Park and the Knickerbocker Bicycle Bridge, and to run this section as the last few miles of the course was a treat! Since there tend to be more race spectators during this section of the course, it really helped give me a boost during the last few tough miles.
3) The new course also allowed my wife to easily see me at the start line, miles 3, 7, and 21, and the finish line without walking too far.
4) Parking was easy and plentiful! There is plenty of parking at Autzen Stadium (where the University of Oregon Ducks football team plays), which helped reduce pre-marathon stress.
5) It was wonderful having the Peacehealth rental bicycles available.
6) Having many vegan and gluten-free sample options available during the expo.
7) The time of year the marathon occurs (the weather is always great in Eugene during late April/early May).
8) The 5k course was a LOT of FUN!
9) I loved the course and the laid-back vibe of the 5k. The 5k really helped ease some of the pre-marathon jitters for me, and I loved seeing the Oregon Ducks mascot there too!
10) I really liked the size of the marathon. It's not too crowded, but yet large enough to feel like you're running in a major event.
11) Last, but not least, finishing on the 50 yard line of Autzen Stadium. I am a huge college football fan (Go Mountaineers!) and finishing on the 50 yard line of one of my favorite college football teams is, how can I say this... freaking awesome!
Here are a few things I thought could have been better:
1) I felt rushed from the finish area. I stepped out of the way of the other finishers to take a moment to stretch and was sternly told to leave. I just ran 26.2 miles, I would never had imagined it would have been a big issue to take 2-3 minutes to stretch, especially when I was out of the way of other finishers. The general attitude of staff members around the finish line wasn't very pleasant.
2) The finisher replenishment/recovery fuel was very lacking (especially for gluten-free vegans). The only thing I had to eat was one tiny banana. Every other event I have been in has at least a fruit table that you can grab extra bananas, oranges, or nut butter if you need it, but not the Eugene Marathon. If you're gluten-free and/or vegan, be sure to bring your own recovery fuel!!!
3) Spectators were not allowed onto the field near the finish line.
4) Finishers had to walk a long way to make it to the finish festivities area.
I have been involved with this marathon for 9 months, since the day I filled out the application to become an EMbassador. It has been a fun, exciting, and moving experience I will never forget. I met so many wonderful people and made several new friends through this experience and left with a sense that I am now part of a wonderful community. This was my 3rd consecutive Eugene Marathon, and certainly will not be my last! I already have plans to return next year, as an EMbassador, and relive the fun all over again!
Below is a slide show of a few photos captured during marathon weekend... enjoy!