Eugene Marathon: Game On

It happened.

I committed.

Yesterday I finally registered for the Eugene Marathon.

If you’ve been tuning in for more than a day, you know that the Eugene Marathon has been on my brain since about five hours after I crossed the finish line at the Hamptons Marathon back in September. I finished that race — my first 26.2 — and I loved it, but I knew immediately that I could beat my 4:13 finish time.

I started researching races pretty soon thereafter, and I remembered hearing some buzz about the Eugene Marathon.

I sent out a Tweet: “What’s the deal with the Eugene Marathon? Recommended?” A flurry of responses came my way, including one from a particularly Prefontaine-obsessed friend, all of which highly encouraged me to look into the race some more.

So why did I quickly become obsessed with the Eugene Marathon?

Here’s why:

The course is rumored to be fairly flat and relatively fast. OK, maybe not flat, according to this elevation map…

…but I think that if I train on hills regularly over the next few weeks, I’ll be OK. Plus, that beastly-looking climb is at the beginning and I’ll be going slowly then. And look at all that downhill fun in the second half! Wheeeee!

It’s something totally new. I’ve never been to Oregon. Have you? I’m pretty excited about running a race in a state I’ve never even visited. What better way to explore the town, right?

Track finish! It has a track finish! I think it’s going to be incredible to bang out the last .2 miles or whatever on the track at Hayward Field.

I won’t be traveling alone. As soon as I mentioned “Eugene” to Emily, she was on board. In fact, she has greeted me on GChat nearly every morning since November with threats of “Have you signed up for Eugene yet? No? I hate you. You suck. Do it. Register. Don’t talk to me until you register.” Our friendship is one built on love and mutual adoration. Not race registration death threats. Not at all.

I’m excited about having a fast friend — or two, because I hear SarahOUaL is all signed up as well — there with me, and I’m working my magic on getting Brian to tag along as well. Though Emily told me this is to be a “girl’s only trip,” the mention of Brian being there to “maybe cook and take pictures” seemed to win her over. (Right, Emily?) But seriously, I’m pumped Emily will be out on the course and I’m hoping Brian will be able to make the trip as well so that I have someone to collapse on promptly upon crossing the finish line.

I got Coach Cane’s blessing. Last week, after I told him about my high (for me) January mileage and my future marathon goals, Coach Cane responded with “Eugene sounds good.” That was enough to get me right on that registration page.

I didn’t want to wait for the New York City Marathon to PR. I have the motivation, the drive and the built-up mileage now. I am ready to go for it. I’m dreaming of a sub-4:00 finish and I’m ready to put in the work to make that happen. I don’t want to wait until November to PR on a crowded course in NYC. I want to enjoy every mile of the NYC Marathon, and I want to be able to look around and take it all in. I will want to run a strong race there, of course, but I don’t want to be concerned with just one shot at a PR when I’ve heard the NYC course is tough.

But I also have a backup race. If I don’t break 4 hours in Eugene, I’ll go for it in New York City. I’m already registered, so that’s that.

The price was right. Flights are pretty cheap out to Oregon right now, and I’ve racked up a ton of JetBlue points recently. I’ve got a work trip coming up in a few weeks, and after that I’ll be able to cash in on a free cross-country flight.

I get to do long weekend runs! Yes, that excites me. I see a 16, 18 or 20-miler scheduled for the weekend and I get all giddy about it. Friday night carbo-loading: Commence!

The winners receive a lifetime supply of pancakes. I mean, obviously I’m out to win this race, right? But really, pancakes as part of the prize? That is killer. They also have pancakes at the finish line, so I’ve been told.

I can give you more reasons for why I signed up for the marathon, but I think you get it.

So now what?

Well, I’m officially back in training mode. I’ve been sticking with a reasonably high weekly mileage over the past month or so in anticipation of this decision, and now I have just about 11 weeks to train (which I kind of panicked about last night, because that seems really short!). I want to be very diligent about including regular speedwork in my training, and I kicked off the Official Eugene Marathon Training this morning with a little speed in Central Park.

Last night’s Chisel class did a number on my legs (too many squats! too many lunges!), but I hopped out of bed (lies — I struggled to get out of bed this morning) and powered through. A part of me was like, “Just take it easy today,” and then I remembered that 11 week thing, and the fact that I actually have something to train for now, and didn’t want to start training with a lame workout.

Today’s workout was similar to the speed workout I did last week:

  • 1 mile warm-up
  • 1 mile fast (sub-8:00 was the goal and I hope that in the next few weeks that becomes much faster)
  • .3 mile recovery
  • 1 mile fast (goal was 7:45-7:50 this time)
  • .3 mile recovery
  • 1 mile fast (anything in the 7:30-7:40 range would’ve made me happy here)
  • Get home slowly for a total of 7 miles

The first two pickups were great, and the third involved a shaky stomach, but it didn’t hold me back too much.

I also played around with that “Lap” function on my watch that so many of you told me about. Thanks for that tip.

Something weird happened with the buttons (or with me, which is the more probable answer) in the fourth split, but that’s cool.

What else does a spring marathon mean? Well, it means I’m going to have one heck of a spring. In a three-week span, I will travel across the country, run 26.2 miles, fly back to NYC, move into a new apartment, fly down to Charlotte for a bachelorette party, fly back to NYC for a few days and then return to Charlotte for my best friend’s wedding.

Naturally a busy schedule means I made some goals:

  • The big goal is a 3:59:59 finish.
  • I want to train smartly, work hard and remain injury free. Maybe I should foam roll more or something. Or start stretching, perhaps?
  • I don’t want to be crazy. I want to enjoy training and still enjoy every other part of my life, including being a kickass Maid of Honor for Becky and an attentive aunt to my future niece or nephew. If I stress out — or get excitingly busy — I will inevitably make myself sick. An 11-week training plan doesn’t allow for too much wiggle room, and I’d really rather not have to train around a Crohn’s flare-up. So as long as I can stay calm amidst training, apartment hunting and traveling, I’ll be fine.

I’m going to Eugene!!!

Any questions?



76 Responses

  1. Woot! Good luck. I live in Portland, OR. Eugene is a great town. Good food and beer. I have heard Eugene is really well organized and fun. I am running the 26.2 with Donna marathon this weekend in Florida. Wish me luck.

  2. So excited for you and just a bit jealous. this sounds amazing!! wish i was doing a spring marathon. oh well. next year. if you need a friend for a long run president’s day weekend, i will be around 🙂

  3. Hey, I am came across your blog from SR. Love it!
    Congrats! That’s super exciting about Eugene! Good luck to you! I have to admit I am a bit jealous that you’ve already been accepted to the 2012 NYC Marathon! I put in for it too and I am still keeping my fingers crossed! Anywho… best of luck to ya!

  4. Raccoons are typically nocturnal. Depending on how light it was when you took that picture you should steer clear and report it…

  5. YAY! That’s super exciting! I’m from Eugene and I’ll be running the half marathon, it will be my first! Hope to see you there!

  6. hoooray, congrats! And, I AM SO JEALOUS BECAUSE I WANT TO RUN THAT RACE! You’ll be awesome. and i hope we can do some long runs together.

    AND, some of those ‘coons have rabies! Be careful. One almost attacked me a while back because it had babies and thought I was going to steal them..

  7. Oregon is indeed awesome, and I am qualified to say that because I live here! Not in Eugene, but in Portland – but I have run in Eugene before and that was pretty awesome too. 😉

    Hope you like big pine trees!

  8. Hooray! I’m looking forward to reading about this training cycle – seems like sub 4 is definitely in the cards for ya. You’ve inspired me to look for a Spring marathon!

  9. Congrats on committing to Eugene! Good luck!!!!! I’m sure you’ll knock it right out of the park. You should watch the movie PRE about Prefontaine. It will get you into the Eugene spirit.

  10. I think you’ve learned a LOT lately about your body and how to treat it well during marathon training and otherwise to train very smart for Eugene. I KNOW you have it in you to rock this race and to do it without killing yourself too badly in the process. You are going to rock it!! I love it!!

  11. Yeeeesssssss!!!!!! Im SO excited for you! You are not only going to KILL the marathon, but you’ll love Oregon and Eugene as well, I promise! Best news ever! Since yesterday and your move in news, anyway. 🙂

  12. Congrats on registering for the race! Wooohooo! That downhill at the end looks pretty awesome. It’s like just what everyone needs in the second half of a marathon.

    Also, a raccoon on your run? I’ve seen one before but it was dead. They have rabies lady, stay clear (for real..have you seen the signs about rabid raccoons in the park?)

  13. I want to make out with that raccoon. Not weird, right?

    Oregon is amazing. I’m from OR and wonder all the time why I left. Enjoy your time there and slaughter that race!

  14. Hi Ali! Congratulations on registering for Eugene! Eugene was my first marathon I ever ran (2009 – so the finish has changed, just a little); for the hills – the hill at mile 8 is the only truly noticable, steep one. The first hill on the elevation map is longer and more gradual (you are making your way through some neighborhoods before the out and back on Amazon Dr.). So mile 8 – you make a sharp corner at South Eugene High School (I think!) and it’s this major mojo-cheer section. Like, spectators squeeze in on the corner and lots of high fives – a definite rock star moment. Then you make a hard right and you are faced with the mile 8 hill. In reality, it’s only a few of blocks long (so you’ll have up for a block, flat through the intersection, up for a block, etc.). Once you peak, then just cruise the downhill and it’s all relatively flat from there. The footpath you are on for most of the second half of the race is really quiet; spectators are just in a few clumps, and other than that, you are sort of on your own until you make it back to campus. Hope this helps! It is a really great race! Good luck with training!! Oh, and PS – pancakes are legit at the end of 26.2!!!

  15. OMG the racooon!!! NYC raccoons are the best! We had one that lived outside our window for a few weeks last year. I named him Doug and left him cat food. He was my friend. Although my husband is convinced that he had rabies.

  16. (Random blogstalker. Hi.)

    I ran a 3:47 marathon and pretty much never ran sub-8s EVER in training, so physically you’re more than set for way-sub-4. Just make sure you get your brains on board.

    1. Amazing. Impressive. I want to do that, too. Pace me! And help with my pesky brains, they don’t like to cooperate!

  17. This is so awesome. My marathon is in 15 weeks and I haven’t really started training.

    We should be virtual training buddies to keep up with speed work. Aka i will feel guilty reading about your speed work and go complete one of my own. How are you getting ideas about what kind of speed work to complete?

    1. I’m actually going to work with Coach Cane again! I’ll be posting all about my workouts so you can definitely modify them for your own training. Good luck with the next 15 weeks — excited for you!

  18. Congrats! You will rock 4 hrs. I dropped ~20 mins from my first to second marathon just based having that experience under my belt!

    I am also signed up for NYCM 2012 and decided to run a Spring marathon so I have another chance to PR before New York. Yay!

  19. So exciting! Glad you decided to just do what you really wanted and jumped on the Eugene bandwagon!! You’re going to kill it — I’m tackling my first 26.2 April 28 in Nashville…so nervous!

  20. I agree about racing in a new state. It made Richmond INCREDIBLE for me because it was all so new and exciting and friendly and pretty. I’m sure you will break 4 hours. Also, you’re so funny. I love that you want to do these 18 and 20 mile runs. Those are the reason I don’t think I will do another marathon! But, you never know. Excited for your training and the race!

  21. Will you say hi to me there? I’ll bring my I <3 Sweat shirt!!! And some leg warmers. If I can find mine…

    If I run the half, maybe I'll see if I can jump in the last half with you. (not so much if I'm running the full…) Would that be cool or you not so much on pacers/friends jumping in (I have a friend who doesn't like it).

  22. Congrats, Ali! The EXACT same reasoning is leading me to the RnR DC in a month and half- hoping for a sub-4 finish for both of us! 🙂

    1. I thought about giving him a little snuggle. But then I also thought about rabies. I don’t think foaming at the mouth would bode well for my training. Bummer, though.

  23. Aaaahhhh!!! So exciting! And Eugene looks fun!! I’ve been looking at that race a lot recently as well. You’ll kick ass!

  24. Congrats! I know that feeling of excitement. I clicked to see when Eugene was because doing a race in a state I’ve never been ALSO excites me though I can’t do this one 🙁 I also have a goal of 3:59:59 as my PR is currently 4:11 and I KNOW I got it! I look forward to your trainign posts, always my favs!

  25. Congrats! You’ll smash your time goal.

    I used to live in Oregon, and loved running in Eugene when I visited. Oregon is the best state!

    I’ve heard amazing things about that race, and I’m planning on running it in 2013.

    Run fast for Pre.

  26. Congrats!! You definitely have that sub-4:00 in you, with all of the fast running you have been doing lately! Good luck in your training…can’t wait to follow you!

  27. I love that you picked a race with travel and atmosphere, I’ve found myself doing the same thing. My first half was the RnR Vegas in December — so fun! And finishing on a track is awesome, too. Congrats on making the plunge!

  28. No single announcement has made me both so excited and so sad at the same time….

    No, but seriously. Congratulations! I’m glad you finally took the plunge. Obviously I think you’re going to rock Eugene’s world. That 4 hour marathon doesn’t stand a chance…

  29. Congrats on signing up for your second marathon!! I’m excited to grab some training tips as I start to get my training plan together for my second marathon!

  30. Sounds like a really busy spring, but I am so glad you signed up (is that weird?), because now I can follow your training towards the 3:59:59 marathon! yay 🙂

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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