Eugene Marathon: The Heartbreaker

Despite the results of the race, I haven’t been avoiding writing this post. I truly have just been swamped with all things life-related since getting back on Monday night. In fact, I have really wanted to get this post written, process my thoughts one last time and then finally move on from this race altogether.

Let me start by saying that the weekend overall was fantastic. Spending four days with running friends from all over the country exceeded every expectation that I had and left me wishing we all lived closer together so I could be around them WAY more often.

From the moment Holly stepped off of her plane at the Chicago airport until the minute I said goodbye to Steph and Laura in Chicago Monday night, I was surrounded by beautiful and amazing women. We laughed, we cried, we told stories, we encouraged each other and we laughed some more.

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Steph, Holly, Laura and Molly just before starting our road trip from Portland to Eugene.

My most favorite parts of the weekend were just sitting around the house…

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Friday night dinner. “Taco” Bowls

And of course foam rolling...

…And of course foam rolling parties.

We were all exhausted from a long day of travel Friday, so we were in bed before 9:30, but up bright and early the next morning. We went for a walk/adventure to get coffee (why are so many coffee shops closed on Saturday mornings?!), then met the rest of the crew for a shake-out run at Pre’s trail.

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This is probably only the 15th time you have seen this pic…

It was so awesome to see Nuun teammates, Twitter friends, meet bloggers I have followed for years (ahem, Page) and new bloggers who I can’t wait to follow from now on (Hi Nicole!). With every conversation, I fell more in love with social media and blogging and was so thankful that this little blog was the seed that eventually led me to be in those moments.

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After the run, we had brunch at the infamous Off the Waffle (MUST TRY), where we continued the ever-developing conversation about Sunday’s race strategy.

Eventually we made it to the expo where we had the pleasure of hearing Lauren Fleshman speak. She is adorably pregnant and her talk was spot-on, really hitting home with me on at least 2 of her main topics.

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We finished out the expo with a flurry of meeting more new people (including Holly!) and chatting with friends, before heading out with Chief Hydrator, Mason, to drive parts of the race course and talk more about how to approach the race.

Finally it was time for a big “team” dinner at our house, where we combined efforts to feed the masses 🙂

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Photo Cred to Emily

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Never a shortage of food or water bottles.

It was a fun evening, but once again, I was exhausted before the sun went down, so we got our race gear ready and were in bed by 9:30.

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I absolutely LOVE this pic!

In general I slept decent both nights, but Sunday morning I was up well before my 5 a.m. alarm. Holly and I laid in bed for a few minutes, but quickly realized that no more sleep was happening, so we got up and started the process of getting ready. It was nice to have plenty of time, especially since race nerves were in full effect and I used the bathroom 3-4 times before ever leaving the house. (foreshadowing)

Emily and Kristina came by right at 6 and Em dropped us at Hayward with plenty of time before the start. It was a cool morning and I looked ridiculous, but I was happy to have throw-aways to stay warm.

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Kristina (who had a HUGE PR), Laura, Holly, Molly, Me (Photo cred: Emily)

We made another stop at the bathrooms, found Joc & Meggie, along with Steph, Sarah and Kelli who had run over from the houses, and our Nuun friends, Mason & Casey.

After we dropped our bags, we only had about 10 minutes before the start and with no time for another porta-potty stop, I easily found an inconspicuous place on campus to pee. I won’t call out any of my other friends above who may or may not have joined me 🙂

Finally we huddled for a short pep talk (theme: “Go Fast, Take Chances”), then made our way to the corrals for a moment of silence for Boston (where they unfortunately still had Sweet Caroline playing over the speakers) and the National Anthem. Then finally we were off.

Holly and I had a loose plan to run together and in the first few miles, I kept saying to her, “I can’t believe we are finally running.” I have this moment in every marathon. There is so much build up and then it starts and you are just doing what you do…going for a nice, loooong run.

Miles 1 – 5: 8:02, 7:59, 8:01, 8:00, 7:57

Right on target through 5. We saw super-pacer Mason quickly at mile 4 and he reminded us what was coming up then told us he would see us again soon. Right after mile 5, I started thinking that I needed to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t urgent, but while the grass was tall and there was an easy place to stop, I decided to go ahead.

It was definitely a premature stop and probably one of my only regrets from the race. I  was stopped for 30 seconds or so and then headed back out to try to slowly catch back up to Holly. Fortunately it was a slight downhill section, so I was able to make up the time quickly. Despite a fast couple of  miles, I didn’t feel like I was working too hard.

I caught Holly right at the end of mile 7 and while I still felt pretty good, I knew I was going to have to stop for the bathroom again. That worried me and I really started doubting my race.

We cruised up the only real hill at 8 and it actually felt like it woke my legs up a little, giving me hope that things were turning around. As we headed into the Oiselle/Nuun cheer crowd at 9, I told Holly that I was looking forward to seeing them, but needed to keep my heart rate down because I don’t recover well from adrenaline spikes during a race. And once again, it proved true. I started feeling really blah just before mile 10.

About then, Holly and I decided that we would make a porta-potty stop together. That FINALLY took care of the bathroom problem, but I never really re-gained any momentum back.

Miles 6 – 10: 7:58, 7:40 (catching Holly), 8:00, 8:02, 8:27 (2nd stop)

Shortly after we hit the 10-mile marker, we saw Mason again. I asked about everyone else, then told him that I was “having a moment”. I knew it was WAY too early for that, but I also have come out of those moments before so I wasn’t overly concerned.

Holly and I ran the next few miles about 5 feet apart, which was helpful for me to focus on how I was feeling and what I needed. The Gu I took at 10 helped some and for miles 11 and 12, I settled back in for a bit. Those 2 miles (11 & 12) were the last miles in the race that I held anything close to race pace.

Just before mile 13, I lost my Garmin screen. I told Holly and she asked if I wanted to know the pace…I told her I knew exactly what it was (8:15) and she confirmed that I was right. Looking back, not seeing my pace as it degraded was a HUGE blessing in disguise.

Just before the half, Meggie came by us, chatting away. Seeing how great she was feeling and knowing that I should have been feeling like that too really deflated me. I tried to hold her pace for a step or two, but knew it was impossible and I watched as her and Holly pulled away. By mile 15, I had hit a wall and basically felt like I had zero energy.

Miles 11 – 15: 8:04, 8:05, 8:18, 8:19, 8:40

The rest of the race is a blur. I remember seeing the cheer crowd at 16 and giving them a thumbs down and telling Meghan that my race was “over”. I watched sadly as the 3:35 pace group passed. I saw Jocelyn and told her that I didn’t think I could finish. Then I watched sadly as the 3:45 pace group passed (and was worried that Terzah wasn’t with them). I mourned my race. And over and over again, I asked myself WHY? Why did I work so hard for 16 weeks and have this happen? How did I run a 1:38 half marathon 5 weeks before but couldn’t run a pace 30 seconds slower than that for the same distance that day? I was baffled, shocked and just wanted to crawl onto the grass and lay down.

I also asked myself what I could possibly learn from this race.

Miles 16 – 20: 8:57, 9:35, 10:11, 10:22, 10:48

It took everything I had to continue to put one foot in front of the other. But at some point, I decided that I WOULD finish. And that I WOULDN’T walk. And so those became my goals. And in the last 10k I decided that I knew what this marathon taught me…it taught me that a finish is not always guaranteed. And that sometimes just finishing the marathon is something to be truly proud of.

Miles 21 – 26.2: 10:56, 11:15, 11:17, 10:56, 10:06, 9:29, 1:28 (8:53)

Marathon #4 Overall Time: 3:57:12

I wish I wasn’t admitting this, but I didn’t take in the moment in Hayward Field. I was only happy to see it so that the race would be over. And I forgot to put my hands over heart for Boston.

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Looking MUCH better than I felt. Thanks Holly for the pic.

Immediately after I crossed the finish line I burst into tears. And I didn’t stop crying for a really long time. I got so many hugs and encouraging words from my friends and I was so, so very thankful for all of them. They got it. They understood.

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Some of my favorite people in the world. (photo cred to Jocelyn)

The only thing that made me happy in those moments after the race was hearing that Molly and Kristina had killer sub-3:20 races, Laura and Meggie BQ’d, Jocelyn had an incredible PR after a tough spring and Sarah and Robyn PR’d the half. I might have predicted that I would be jealous of all of their fantastic races, but I truly, honestly was SO glad to be able to celebrate their PR’s. I didn’t want anyone else to feel the way I felt.

After the race, I wanted nothing more than a shower and a beer. Not necessarily in that order. Having amazing company for the rest of the day lifted my spirits really quickly and by the time I got out of the shower I felt like I had kind of washed the whole thing away. I enjoyed listening to everyone rehash their races and talk about what went well and what didn’t.

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2012 Hood to Coast Friends

And it only took several beers, a few margaritas, a nuun-tail (Grey Goose, water and Lemonade – TRY IT) and a really great chat with Casey before I accepted the day and was ready to move forward.

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So much love for that girl. (Also…there is a puppy on my shirt)

I will wrap up (finally, right?!) with saying that I got a bit of a reality check Sunday afternoon when Jocelyn asked me “When was the last time you didn’t PR?” I thought about it for a long time, then came to the blog to confirm…but the truth is: I have never NOT PR’d. I have done one 5k and one half marathon for fun, but other than that, there isn’t a distance that I haven’t PR’d every single time I have run it since I started running. And as you probably all know, that just is not realistic to maintain in any way whatsoever.

I know I can learn a tremendous about from this set-back and that someday I will have the day that I trained for in the marathon.

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Molly, Me, Holly, Laura, Allison, Steph – Awesome housemates & friends

About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in friends, Goals, Hood to Coast, life, Moving, parties, Race reports, Races, running, training, Travel, weekend fun. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Eugene Marathon: The Heartbreaker

  1. Stephanie says:

    It was so, so nice to spend time with you this past weekend! I am sad that it’s all over 😦

    I really love this recap, it’s clearly written with heart and sincerity! It’s hard to have such a disappointing race, I totally understand. You are a really strong runner and you will have your race day soon, the race you’ve been training for. Be patient, my friend, YOU WILL HAVE YOUR DAY! 🙂

    It was an absolutely fantastic weekend and I learned a lot from everyone else’s races, whether they raced well or not, I’m looking forward to using those things toward my own race in just 3 weeks (gulp).

    • Corey says:

      Thank you! You are READY! No pressure…just go out and enjoy it! (advice I will take for myself too :)) I can’t wait to cheer you on!!

  2. Celia says:

    Wow you have never not PRed in a race?! Crazy. Believe me I know it sucks. I trained so hard for Boston this year to have a pain in my foot question if i would be able to finish the race before I even hit 10 miles. Racing is so fickle. The good news is you take the fitness you gained this cycle with you to the next one so it is not “wasted.” Everything just needs to come together. In happier thoughts at least your weekend looked fun!!:)

    • Corey says:

      It is crazy. And I didn’t even realize it. I followed your Boston training and really thought you would have an awesome race too, especially since the hills at San Fran treated you so well (yes, I am a stalker :)) The marathon is such a mystery to me. How is the foot feeling now?

  3. Terzah says:

    I think we finished around the same time, and my attitude toward seeing Hayward was exactly the same: thank God it’s here. I did remember to put my hand over my heart but only after I crossed. I was *done*, and done in so many ways. When I found out about your race, I was so sad. The bathroom thing is unfair–in my case, everything was perfect except my race execution–I have nothing to blame but myself; I deserved my race–but you did NOT.

    We will both get there, Corey! My race at CIM last December was my first time not PRing in the marathon. It’s a fickle beast. We just have to remember that that’s why we love it….and will continue the quest until that beast is slain.

  4. Beth says:

    So sorry you did not BQ, but you most definately will! Your time still rocked though! 🙂 Looks like you have some great friends.

  5. Megan says:

    Oh Corey – This is a serious heartbreaker. 😦 It’s so weird how unpredictable race day can be. You’ll have many more successful marathon in your future, I know it!

  6. Again – so glad we met and so excited to keep up with your blog too and hopefully meet again IRL soon! (although technically since we met IRL first and then read each other’s blogs is it less creepy?!)

    I also always PR. I’ve only not PRed one race that I ran for “fun” and honestly it sucked because I was not recovered from the Ironman and it was hot as hell on race day. I don’t race often so when I do I take it seriously so I totally get why you were disappointed DESPITE the fact that you were incredibly tenacious and finished the race! You are awesome and I know you will get that BQ (geez 1:38 half time!?! killer!).

    xoxo

  7. Meredith says:

    You did great Corey…I feel your pain and I’ve been there before. It is frustrating to train for months and months and then not have your day when the time comes. Not getting that PR is a real bi**ch, but makes the next PR even sweeter!

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  9. Ugh- this is what I hate about the marathon- it is such a LONG way to go and so unpredictable, and if you’re feeling off, it’s even longer. All that training time, and anything can happen on race day! I am so bummed for you (and Holly, too…) – I know how upset I would be. And I can see it happening to me! You just never know what race day will bring!
    I’m glad you had an amazing time and got to connect with so many blog/twitter friends- at least that alone made the trip!! And I hope you continue to find acceptance and move on… there will be an amazing marathon one of these times, fingers crossed it’s the next one! Wanna do Philly with me?? 🙂

  10. Steph says:

    Well, it sounds like you had a lot of fun!

    I hate that you didn’t have the race you wanted. I definitely understand that frustration of having trained your heart out and still not hitting your goals (though in swimming only). Still, congrats on finishing the race! Another marathon finished is still a great accomplishment, and hopefully the next race will be the one you’re looking for =)

  11. lschwecherl says:

    Ahh this gave me chills. It’s so awesome that you are able to take something positive from the race – and I am SO excited for you and these next few weeks (: Thanks for being the best housemate/supporter/friend ever. (Or rather, “eveeerrrrr”)

  12. elizabeth says:

    proud of you, friend. you didn’t quit and you learned something from it. it’s coming and you know it. xoxo

  13. Congrats on another marathon! I’m sorry that it was such a difficult race for you mentally, but the time you took to think of the lesson that you learned says a lot about your ability to overcome difficult mental walls. I’ve only run one marathon and had a REALLY rough time with it, so I’m hoping to use some of the things that I learned in that first one when I run Chicago in October. It sounds like you’ll be able to use what you learned here to overcome the problems and build on them next time. I hate when we can’t explain why paces that normally feel easy feel SO much harder. It doesn’t make sense. I wish someone could just tell us the exact reason so that we could overcome that. But, you still finished another marathon, and that’s a huge accomplishment in itself.

  14. fullrunner says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t BQ 😦
    but what a great point about always PRing. I’m on a string of PRs myself that I know will end soon, but that’s just part of racing.
    It makes your next PR that much sweeter! and thank goodness you had so many friends there to make it an overall good weekend 🙂

  15. Oh my gosh, I love/hate this post….I hate the end result and all the heartache, but I love the emotion and sentiment! And, whoa girl – you’re PR’d every race?! That’s pretty awesome!!! I’m so impressed with your ability to learn for this, to have persevered and finished the race, to celebrate others’ successes, and to have positive take-aways from the weekend. I can’t wait to see what your *next* (!) race brings and can’t wait to meet you!!!

  16. Jocelyn says:

    Amazing heart-felt post. I honestly am so proud of you. I think the hardest thing to do is change your attitude IN THE MIDDLE of a marathon. Once you have any idea about quitting/stopping, it is INCREDIBLE hard to change that thought when you are running by yourself. I’m really proud of you for finishing (with a super respectable time) even though it wasn’t the race you wanted.

    I also think that you are a person who probably used up a lot of energy the days before chatting and meeting everyone (because that’s the friendly person you are!). But I don’t think you would have traded that time with people for a PR. I’m glad you learned a lot about yourself!

    Can’t wait for your next race 🙂

    • Corey says:

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful and sweet comment. I COMPLETELY agree with you about the days leading up to the race. It is definitely a big lesson learned for me about planning races in the future. I am putting some thoughts together about this exact thing for follow-up post!

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  18. evamadera says:

    So sorry that this race didn’t turn out like you hoped. I know it took a lot to put everything out there like you did in this post. You’ve done so well so far. I know you’ll do great in your next race.

  19. Corey, You are so sweet and precious and I can literally feel the heartbreak in this post. But you know what? It is going to be okay. You may have not hit your big goal, but you finished and there is success in that victory. You were surrounded by so many people who adore you and support you and who understand that sometimes a race doesn’t go as planned. Thanks for posting this and for still remaining optimistic. Love you, sister friend!

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