Monday, April 30, 2012

The Time I Almost Qualified for Boston

I should probably start off with saying that in no way did I expect to come close to qualifying for Boston. I had no clue my legs had something resembling a 3:35 in them so I was aiming for a PR of 3:40. After all, I had sort of written off the dream of running Boston last spring when they bumped up/back the qualifying times.

So Friday night, I hit up the expo, Saturday I spent most of the day out at the manfriend's bike race or at the expo again (because I just love expos and all the energy in the room). 

There is something contagious about seeing all the out of town runners, hearing the excitement in people's voices, seeing elite athletes and having booths of running gear at your fingertips.

Saturday night I went to bed with my race outfit set and got to sleep quickly. 5 am came quickly and I was up and at 'em to eat my toast with ab&j (almond butter), half a banana and tea. I foam rolled a bit and headed out the door for the race.

The manfriend was planning to bike around the course with his friend and teammate. It was actually kind of nice being on my own and just getting to focus and do my thing before heading to the start line. 

Even got to use my work restroom rather than the port a potties! You too can have your very own neon orange, feminine workout top for just $14.95 at your nearest Old Navy. As for the shorts, they're Lululemon, but they feel like a dream and were worth every penny. 

Making weird faces is also up to you. 

Weather was perfect in Eugene for the marathon - maybe 50 degrees and overcast at the start. 

About 15 min 'til the race, I jogged over to my corral and found a spot in front of the 3:45 pacer (they had pacers every 10 min from 3:15 on I believe). Last year worked so well starting slower and gaining speed as I went that I wanted to follow that same method. 

I felt good the first several miles. No leg exhaustion like I experienced from GO! at the Victoria Marathon. Thank you, legit taper (more about that later). 

I saw the manfriend and his friend Jeff around mile 7. This year's marathon crowds were WAY improved upon last year - more abundant and better, more frequent music. You're slowly getting this marathon cheering thing, Eugene. 

Thanks to mom for the photo

From go, I was hoping to maintain a 8:25 pace, but the legs were showing they could do more so most of the time I was running between 8:15-8:20. Even when I felt good, I wanted to hold back because I knew I had a ways to go. The legs started feeling tired around the half way mark, but nothing unusual. 

Since we had split from the half marathoners a few miles back, it was spreading out, but I had a few good steady paced runners around me that I used strategically to pull me along. 

On the fueling front, I sipped from my nuun water at every mile marker + extra when I took food. I had a Shot Blok at miles 4, 8, 11, 18, 23 and Gu at miles 14-16 (I carry it in my hand and eat a bit at a time) and 21. 

Around mile 20 or so, I did the calculations and realized I had a chance of BQ'ing if I ran my ass off - AKA held an 8 min pace or less. It was doable, but of course at that point is when you really start to dig deep.

Out of nowhere, my friend Chris met up with me around mile 23 to run me to the finish. We hadn't planned it, but man was I glad he came to find me. I told him "If I finish by 3:35 I go to Boston." His response was "Well, crap, let's get you there!"

And just like that I tried to run like the wind following him and weaving in and out of people who were starting to run zig zag or walk. One of those last few miles was a 7:40 or so, which really hurt. 

Photo credit to friend Danielle who was out there cheering on her bike. 

At mile 25 I had this overwhelming sense of "I can't do this anymore." and almost threw up/started hyperventilating and walked for about 2 seconds. And then I pulled it back together because you CANNOT stop when a pacer is hauling your ass to the finish line. 

With about .2 mi left to go, Chris left me to sprint into Hayward Field. I nearly knocked out a guy who couldn't keep his line as we were making the corner into Hayward and shouted "On your LEFT!" just barely missing him. 

Another photo thanks to D!

I sprinted my little heart out and crossed the line at 3:35:32. In the old days, I would have had that extra :59 buffer to qualify, but no longer.  

Another photo courtesy of mom

Either way, I was really happy with my time. Granted, I was also disappointed that I was THAT close. Had I been wearing a 3:35 pace bracelet, maybe I could have realized it a bit earlier and picked up the pace around 19 or 20. 

Never did I believe this body had it in me to run a 3:30 something. Now I know to start telling myself otherwise. You are ALWAYS stronger than you think. 

Finish time: 3:35:32
24-29F Division: 26/192
Overall female: 118/1063
Avg pace: 8:14 

Miles 23-26: 7:58, 7:44, 7:53, 7:52, 7:00 (.21 mi)

If you're counting, that's a 9 minute PR from Victoria Marathon this past fall. Thank you, Eugene Marathon, for an awesome race!

There are a lot of things that played into me having a fantastic race. I thought it would be good to mention those as well...

What I did right: 1) adding those Tues Tempo runs in the last six weeks 2) Thursday night speed work 3) two 20+ milers and many 15+ milers 4) Practicing a legit taper the final week 5) Telling myself I could do this thing. 

Let's talk about the legit taper because it's one area I have neglected in the past. Sure, my long runs have always been shorter those last two weeks, but I haven't always followed the other taper rules

The second to last week of my training was pretty normal with about 35 miles of running and normal cross training (spinning class, Lifeforce, yoga). But the week of the marathon, I tried to do almost nothing other than 3 easy runs totaling 13 miles and one yoga session. 

Don't get me wrong, it nearly drove me bat shit crazy, but I survived and I just kept repeating "You're saving your legs for a strong race." 

Moral of the story is: I am definitely going to follow a serious taper for big races in the future. And if you're even considering doing this race in the future, you should. Eugene is a beautiful place with so much running history!

There's a second part to my finish line story, which will come next so stay tuned!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bring it.

I'm happy to say that the taper is finally OVER. It's time to run this thing!

Today was a perfect day in Eugene spent trying to distract myself from the 26.2 miles I'll be conquering tomorrow. 

The manfriend had a bike race on a "roubaix" course, which means there is a good section of gravel (1.5 miles) that makes it easy for riders to have bike malfunctions or lose the pack. The manfriend was rocking it until a rock (or something like it) caused him to flat. 

Luckily, he was able to switch out wheels and finish, but it wasn't what he had hoped for.

My feet were really happy to see the sun before being shoved in sweaty running shoes for hours.

In between bike races, I booked it back to the race expo for round 2 to see some out of town runners/bloggers, chat with Lindsey and listen to pro athletes Lauren Fleshman & Jesse Thomas talk about training, supporting each other, nutrition and more. 

More time spent pretending I'm not nervous for this thing. 

I'm now sufficiently hydrated, carb loaded and ready for bed. Shout out to the manfriend for cooking dinner so I could put the legs up for a bit! 

Eugene, I'm ready for you. 

I feel more tapered than I ever have and ready to run this thing. It better pay off. Just sayin'...I don't avoid sweat for nothin'. I'm aiming for a PR, ready or not. 

Tomorrow's motto: Be unstoppable. <-- Found it on my Halls Vitamin C and Echinacea wrapper. Yep, inspiration in every little drop.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Explore Eugene on Marathon Weekend

A lot of out of towners will be coming in for the Eugene half and full marathon. I thought it would be fun to put together a little "Best of Eugene" together for the runners. One of my favorite things to do when traveling for a marathon is to explore the city I'm in. Who needs fresh legs anyway?

If I were hired to be your personal tour guide for Eugene Marathon weekend, this is what I would suggest you see, eat, drink and do.
Pre's rock - run UP the hill to get there and you'll feel a bit more accomplished
Autzen Stadium - The Oregon Ducks are kind of a big deal on the college football scene. Saturday, April 28 is the Spring Game (scrimmage among the team) so you even have a chance to see inside the stadium.
University of Oregon campus - Sure you'll see Hayward Field at the start and finish of the race, but you won't get to walk around campus. Take the short 10 min stroll down 13th ave, which is closed to traffic and see a bit more of the UO.


Pre's Trail - beautiful flat bark trail along the river
Amazon Trail - flat, relaxing bark trail
Ridgeline - hike or run any part of the 13 mile trail system
Dorris Ranch - there are a few short loops among the orchards and along the river and is a really relaxing place to walk or run. Run to Dorris Ranch and you'll get the extra challenge of the hill.

Bakery - Eugene City Bakery is a French bakery with some amazing scones, soup and bread. Check out Sweet Life Patisserie for a decadent dessert, including vegan and gf options. Oh and of course you can't visit Eugene (or Portland) without seeing the bacon, Captain Crunch and Oreo topped donuts at VooDoo.

Breakfast - Brails is good food, quick service and diner style whereas Midtown Marketplace has more gourmet options, sit where you want atmosphere and a great coffee bar

Thai - Sabai has unique options and a trendy atmosphere, while Ta Ra Rin is great food in an old diner

Italian - Beppe and Gianni's is hands down the best in town and how can you resist eating dinner in a cute old house near campus?

Pub/Bar & Grill - Wild Duck, McMenamins North Bank or Steelhead are all great picks

Pizza - La Perla is amazing thin crust, authentic Italian pizza and Pegasus Pizza is perfect for a no joke delicious slice of whatever strikes your fancy.


Coffee - Vero is located in an adorable little Victorian house with great pastries, bagel sandwiches, waffles, etc and amazing coffee/tea options

Casual eve - Sam Bond's is great if you're looking for a laid back, funky, fun, people watching experience while throwing back a beer or two. A $5 cover charge is likely if there's a bluegrass type band on deck for the night.

Keeping it Classy - Le Bar is the place to go for a nice drink, to feel fancy and pretend you're in a big city. Le Bar is cozy and part of the Marche restaurant in 5th Street Market.

Wine all the way - King Estate winery While it is about a 30 min drive out of town, the views, experience and wine are totally worth it. Want to stay in town? Check out The Broadway.

Saturday Market fills three blocks with booths of crafts, pre-made food and fresh fruits and veggies. This is where you'll see classic Eugene hippies, hemp goods and lots of good people watching.
Cafe Yumm is now a franchise, but started in Eugene and is known for its healthy rice and bean bowl with yumm sauce and all the toppings.

5th St Market is full of classy and casual eats, boutique shops, a kitchen store and more
Oakway Center has everything from the Nike Store to Pegasus Pizza to Starbucks, Trader Joe's and the Eugene Running Company
Market of Choice is our gourmet grocery store chain, kind of like Whole Foods

Travel Lane County also provides a wealth of resources about Lane County and events and activities to do during your visit. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know via the comments or on twitter (@laurenpeters). 

I'm more than ready to get this marathon underway. Now the only thing I have to figure out is what neon piece of clothing I'll be wearing...

Happy Marathon Friday!

Edited to add: My bib is lucky #1204. On Sunday, you'll be able to track runners via the Eugene Marathon website if you're so inclined. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You Know it's Taper Week When...

The taper madness has definitely hit. The legs are anxious, the mind is jumping around like a little frog. I've experienced the following things in the last two days thanks to the taper. Welcome to my world.

You know it's taper week when...

- You walk to the grocery store near work at 3 pm because you can't get your mind off of a piece of dark chocolate. Chocolate emergency must be remedied! You come back with dark chocolate and dried mangos. #ilovesugar

- You have to tell yourself NOT to go to the gym.

- You take an extra walk with the dog because you're not supposed to run today.

- You feel exhausted and hungry and yet you haven't run yesterday or today.

- One moment you see yourself smashing your A goal out of the water, and the next you just hope to cross the finish line without a limp.

I'm currently working on 'trusting my training' like everyone says we marathoners should do. In the next five days, I plan to get my head to a place where I believe "I AM GOING TO REACH MY A GOAL" because I have trained hard and my body and my running are probably the best they have ever been. Period.

In my marathon panic mode, I came across this Runner's World article on Marathon Smarts. It's worth a read. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Break

Seeing as how it's MARATHON WEEK, it seems fitting that all I can think about is a break from running.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really excited to run the Eugene Marathon. I feel strong and ready for it, but the last few weeks, my heart and head just haven't been very "in it."

I knew motivation was waning when I had a tempo run on my schedule for the evening and all my mind wanted to do was nap. And let me tell you, I do NOT nap. The manfriend has to force me to lay down often after long runs because I just want to keep doing stuff.

Looking back at my racing calendar, I haven't really taken a break from half marathon/marathon/50K training in the last two years. I've simply bounced from one training cycle right on to the next without so much as a month to chill. Wouldn't that be a novel idea? 

In fact, yesterday's King Estate 5K reminded me how much fun (and hard) this running thing can be. 
And beautiful when held at a winery - yes, there was wine at the finish. No, I didn't get any. No ID, no vino. 

And sometimes, you even have the chance to meet legendary runners like Meb Keflezighi who is in town for the marathon

Anyway, my goal for this week is to take it easy. Often, the final week of training gets me spazzed out because I want to make up for the missed mileage by doing other "easy" stuff like biking, weight lifting, cross training, etc. but I need to make sure to keep my body fresh and focus on the race ahead.

So after the marathon, what do I plan to do? Well, for now, the plan is to NOT run for a week. I will probably do some light biking and yoga, but that's it.

Previously, I thought about starting Jamie Eason's Life Fit Trainer program after the marathon, but I haven't decided. Also, a few weeks ago, I put my name in the lottery for the McKenzie River 50K again and got in - gah, I know! I sort of did this waffling over whether or not I wanted to run the entire summer away.

The reality is, I'll be running a lot whether or not I'm training for this 50K. Plus running on beautiful trails with friends isn't such a bad way to spend your day.

Overall, I just want to make sure I have time for other priorities and fun adventures with the manfriend (hello camping, I'm looking at you). And if I have to drop out of the race, I'm not afraid to do so.

Moral of the story: I need a mini break from running so I can fall back in love with it all over again.

Tell me: How is your Monday treating you so far? 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Slice of Luxury

Have you ever stayed in a hotel that you just don't want to leave? Well, this week I was in Central Oregon for a work event and had the chance to stay at a fairly new boutique hotel in downtown Bend, OR. 

The Oxford is perfectly located in the heart of downtown in the midst of unique shops, restaurants, spas, you name it. 

Proof that occasionally, I swap the Danskos for high heels

A few things really struck me about The Oxford:

1. They're all about being green whenever they can, from full sized eco bath products to organic/natural fiber bedding, low flow faucets, etc. 

2. The interior design of the building from the hallways to the lobby to the bedroom, everything was chosen particularly for it's place. And the branch them was carried out through the decorations, lamps, couch pillows, etc. 

3. While it was by far the nicest hotel I've stayed in, it felt like home - relaxing, comfortable and cozy. 

4. After my event and dinner, I returned to my room with the tv set to a crackling fire (where I kept it for a few hrs) along with tomorrow's forecast and locally made peppermint dark chocolate on my pillow. The little things really do go a long way.

For these reasons alone, I declared that even I would be willing to spend my extra hard earned money on a room at The Oxford in the future as the amenities were totally worth it. 

Because I was in Bend, OR for less than 24 hrs, I was sure to spend my time wisely. This place can be described as a laid back ski town with lots of well to do outdoorsy types and it's fun to pretend you live there - if not for just a matter of hours. 

Despite my amazingly comfortable bed, I didn't sleep much and was up at the crack of dawn so I hit up a local yoga class at Namaspa for some warm (90 deg) power yoga. After an awesome class, I headed out for an easy 3.5 mile jaunt around town, appreciating all the craftsman style homes. 

And finally, after showering I headed out for breakfast at the Alpenglow Cafe.

I never regret researching restaurants in other cities. This one was rated highly and my bacon egg sandwich, potatoes and fresh squeezed OJ were just what the doctor ordered.

And with that, I'm off to run a 5K! I'm heading back to the King Estate (hilly) 5K with Lindsey. The plan is to take it easy. After all, the marathon is just a week away... 

I hope your weekend is treating you well. For me, fitting in two yoga classes (Fri & Sat) is what I'm most thankful for. It has helped me find a place of peace (and lengthening) in the midst of my ever crazy-busy schedule. 

I really need to start booking blocks of time NOT to do anything.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Exploring the Wharf

When we planned this trip to head down to San Francisco for Sabrina's bridal shower, I had my heart set on doing one thing (in addition to the shower). We needed to find some time to spend time sightseeing along the wharf.

I've been to SF several times before and wanted to show my mom and grandma the Ferry Building because it's just so pretty inside and has some great shops and food. 

Sunday morning, I did a nice easy 4.5 mile run near our hotel (mom & grams walked), had breakfast and  were on our merry way. 

Winding our way down Lombard St (the most crooked street in the world, apparently)

Soon enough, we were parked and ready to explore the wharf. It's kind of like Disneyland - bright colors and lots of cute little touristy shops and restaurants to tempt you with scents wafting out from every doorway. 

Sea salt anyone? I was tempted...

Then we took the mile hike past several of the piers headed straight for the Ferry Building.

Spotted some gerbera daisies along the way

Once we made it to the Ferry Building, we spent an hour or so browsing every little shop, nook and cranny. So many cute and delicious things to tempt you!

I dropped $20 on three types of cheese at Cowgirl Creamery - so worth it. I'm still munching/hoarding my little cheese slices. 

Ginger molasses cookie (and coffee) from Blue Bottle Coffee Co.

 Love the open air feel of this space!

Until next time, Ferry Building...

We spent about two hours along the piers Sunday morning, but it was just enough. After our trek back to the car, we high tailed it to the airport for our flight back to Oregon.

I'm so glad we lucked out with a weekend full of sun in the bay area!

P.S. For those not from the bay area, I was informed by a friend that locals do NOT call it "San Fran," but rather "SF, the city or just San Francisco." Now you (and I) know.  :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

San Fran in the Sun

Guess who's just a bit under the weather? This girl! It's really no wonder - 18 miles on Friday morning, no full nights of sleep in the past week and a very busy, active weekend in San Fran.

I'm not going to bore you with too many photos since I took about 200, but I'll give you some of the highlights.

We flew in, got our rental car and met my brother's fiance's dad downtown SF so he could give us a little driving tour of the city. We stopped at the vista point just over the Golden Gate Bridge for some prime photo taking (and of course wind blown hair).

We really lucked out on weather - it was completely gorgeous the entire weekend.

Friday's main event was dinner with Sabrina's family (brothers, parents and grandparents, etc). We went to Rickey's, where the rehearsal dinner will be.

The food, service and atmosphere were top notch in my book - and there was even live jazz musician/singer playing who reminded me of Michael Buble.

The table shared appetizers (calamari, chicken and lamb skewers and prawns over grits) and then ordered main courses. I opted for a spinach salad with bacon, goat cheese, avocado and chicken on top.

And of course we ordered dessert - two platters of these four options to share. Each of them were so delicious. I couldn't pick a favorite.

Saturday morning, my mom and I hit the hotel gym for a short 35 min workout before showering and having breakfast. Then my mom, grandma and I walked over to the mall and took a lap around it for a nice 40 minutes more of exercise.

Soon enough it was time for Sabrina's bridal shower! We made a quick pit stop to look at the church they'll get married in. It is beautiful inside and out. 

I was so happy I went to JCPenney earlier in the week to scope out dresses. None of the ones I had at home were all that great so I wanted to find something cute, but affordable.

I loved the one shoulder dress and the fact that it had pockets!

The bridal shower was a lot of fun. We met a ton of her cousins, aunts, family friends, etc and ate some great food.

Sabrina is really into cooking and baking so she got a ton of fun stuff, including a KitchenAid mixer and green and yellow (Oregon Duck colors) cupcake holders in the photo above.

I can hardly believe my younger brother is getting married in two months!  

Okay, I think that's enough for one post. I took plenty more photos of our trip into the city to explore the wharf so that will be up next.

On the running front: Guess who's in TAPER mode? Again, this girl. Thank goodness. In fact, I opted to walk three miles during run group rather than RUN. Yeah, that's a true sign I'm feeling under the weather today. I could barely keep myself from face planting on my keyboard this afternoon.

But ultimately, I know that playing it smart now is better for me in the long run.

And AWESOME job to everyone who ran Boston today! I heard it was 80 degrees at the start. A few friends who ran it purposely took it extra safe as anyone should when running a marathon in that kind of heat. Seriously impressive stuff.