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The Inaugural Eugene Marathon was held under ideal conditions on Sunday, April 29. 45F at the start and around 55F and sunny at the finish. The starting line is about .5 miles from my front door, so I didn't have much work to do (in theory) to get there for a 7 AM start. I woke up at 5:30, a full 1/2 hr before my alarm was set to go off, and decided that I'd make an attempt at leaving my vehicle near the finish and ride the shuttle bus back to the start. After eating I loaded up my gear and headed out, passing a couple of shuttle busses letting people out near the Oregon campus entrance, but once I got across the river and onto MLK blvd. I saw a large traffic jam looming ahead.<br><br>
I decided that a post-marathon walk would do me some good, so I drove back and place my truck in a neighborhood between campus and the river, effectively cutting my walk home in half. I grabbed my gear and headed for the start. When I got there I started to look around for SRLopez, but I didn't find him. I did find Megapronator and talked to him for a bit as I stripped off my outer layers before checking my bag. Then I headed for the start line and got into the queue. The crowd was pretty manageable at around 3500 folks, so there was no real need to press towards the front. I found a few friends and co-workers so we exchanged goals and strategies over the last 10 minutes, listened to a nice rendition of the National Anthem, and then we were off.<br><br>
It was only a few seconds and one slight pause before we crossed the starting line, and we quickly were making our first turn onto 15th St.. The crowds were tight, but there was room to manuever and I was pleasantly surprised when we turned onto Fairmount Ave that there was no appreciable slow down for the turn. The pack was moving very well already, and lots of people around me were powering up the .5 mile incline at around 8 minute pace. We turned down onto 19th St. and I saw my wife standing on the corner waiting for me, so I stopped and gave her a smooch. I continued on and said "Hi" to some of my neighbors that had gotten up early to watch the race.<br><br>
We continued on down through the Fairmount and University neighborhoods and the pack stretched out. I was able to run around 7:35 for mile two and it felt easy but I knew that I would be wise to throttle back a bit. As the course jogged west and south we crept past Amazon park, home of some of the most famous urban running paths in the country, before turning north onto Amazon parkway and coming back down the far side of the park. I saw my old boss and stopped to shake his hand before continuing on, and it reaffirmed my happy feeling that I was running this hometown race with the intent on having fun rather than a goal time.<br><br>
Miles 3 and 4 were in the 7:40's along the slight downhill before we turned onto 19th St and headed east again towards the only significant hill on the course. I tried to keep my breathing consistent as I went up and slowed to 8:30 pace but surprisingly the hill felt easy to me. Miles 5 and 6 went by just under 8 minute pace, but I sensed that now was a good time to take the bathroom break which I had neglected to take prior to the start. I had to wait a moment at the 3-pack where I stopped but it didn't really bother me, as I knew that the feeling wasn't going to get better if I had chosen to postpone relief. Once I was off again I headed over the foot bridge over the Willamette and passed by the 10k mark.<br><br>
Here I caught up to one of the co-workers who I had chatted with prior to the race, Jennie, who's a former Cal basketball standout and a really terrific athlete at a slight 6'3". We talked and decided to run together for a while. I settled into her pace, around 8:15/mi and we continued on along Day Island Rd, a service road that cuts through Alton Baker Park. We were adjacent to the 3:40 pace group for the next six miles or so and we were both pretty comfortable until the sun peeked out from behind the clouds around mile 10 and the capless Jennie was having to suffer a little bit from the direct sunlight.<br><br>
We looped through the streets of Springfield, losing the 1/2 marathon course for a while as the marathoners ran an extended portion here. When we finally turned west and headed back towards Eugene we were met with the first headwind. We rejoined the 1/2 crowd for a while as the routes merged again, so between miles 12 and 13 we were passing a lot of people. Then the 1/2 marathoners split off for the final time and we continued onto the bike paths along the river.<br><br>
As we got to the halfway mark I asked Jennie how she was doing and she responded positively, so I started to pull away and head off on my own. I dropped back down under 7:50 minute pace as the course hugged the river banks alongside Pre's trail. I was passing runners and feeling good, but I didn't really want to let myself go quite yet. At mile 17 I caught up with the 3:35 Pacer who was running solo at the time, so I slowed to run next to him at his 8:05 pace and chat for a couple miles. I pulled away from him and picked up the pace for miles 19 through 22 as we reached the northwestern edge of the course and headed back towards the finish, stopping only briefly for handshakes at the Boomer rest stop before continuing on through a sleepy neighborhood (well, except for Nacho Libre, he was wide awake...). We rejoined the bike paths, and I was starting to reel in runners now as people were beginning to hit their personal walls. Having run this section of the river so many times in training, I had an advantage in that I didn't need to estimate distances now.<br><br>
When I finished Mile 23 I told myself that this was as far as I had made it before bonking in my last marathon in Portland, and that every mile I finished from here on out was an improvement in my abilities. I had to slow down a little for the rolling hills and dips of mile 24, but when I popped back onto the flat path past the EWEB terrace my confidence began to rise. A fast-looking runner came up beside me and told me that he felt good except for some bad blistering on his feet. "What can you do?" he said and he shrugged off the pain as he continued on.<br><br>
I grabbed water at the next two stations just to toss over my head and back, and I'm sure that the teenage volunteers were shocked and saddened by my rolling old man wet-t-shirt contest! Mile 25 went by in a quick 7:55 before leaving the paths and turning west on Leo Harris parkway and into a very, very stiff wind which held me up and sapped a big chunk of my remaining strength. I had my wits about me though, and I knew that if I could stand it for just 1/4 mile then I'd be downwind for the finish.<br><br>
Finally the course turned onto MLK and the end was getting easier to imagine. The three lanes of auto traffic beside us were packed and crawling slowly, the cars were beeping their horns and girls were yelling from windows for a great pick-me-up. I saw some friends walking on the North Concourse of Autzen Stadium for another little boost. Coming around the corner I could hear the announcements coming from the finish line and I tapped into my reserve, picking up my pace until I was running soccer-style with my knees high and my arms pumping towards the line from about 100 yds out. Closing quickly and passing some runners who seemed to be standing still I hear the announcer say something like "Here comes a Rock Star!" and I crossed the mat with the clock reading 3:33<img alt="mad.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/mad.gif">x. My chip time was 3:32:53, easily a new PR. Better yet, I had run the whole thing and negative split the second half by over two minutes.<br><br>
After grabbing some grub I realized that I could hustle back 1/2 mile to catch SRLopez make the turn off the paths. Unfortunately I saw his bright pink BREAST CANCER SUCKS shirt while I was still too far away, so I yelled out to him from the distance. He heard me, but couldn't spot me while he was running. I stopped to change clothes and re-organize my gear, then turned around and hobbled back to the finish where I found him in the chute. When we got back out to the parking lot, DW was there with Porter the Wonder Dog, the little ones in the double stroller and DD walking alongside. What a great surprise!<br><br>
Such a nice day and a very nice Inaugural event.
 

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Just wanted to add it's about friggin' time! Now I'll read it.<img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif">
 

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Alright! What a feeling to run to strong at the end.<br><br>
In my mind its a testament to your training and also your low-key attitude for the day. A lesson to take to your next "race."<br><br>
Thanks for the great read. Aside from the obvious success, I have to mention that sleeping in your own bed for a marathon makes all the difference, eh?<br><br>
Congrats on running the inaugural. Now you have pressure to become a legacy runner!
 

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"What can you do?" Hmmm.. another great running mantra.<br><br>
Duck! What a job! Not only did you "just run" this marathon, you came away with a PR and it sounds like you had a blast to boot. Congratulations on a great run.
 

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Good report..now that I had time read it all. Ever try reading these things with kids around?<br><br>
Good job Duck!
 

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Great report! That is so cool that you saw SR and his pinkness ahead of you!!! Awesome race.
 

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Wow! Congratulations for the great PR! <img alt="hello2.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/hello2.gif"><br><br>
It sounds like you also managed to have a good time doing it.<br><br>
It's nice to run your hometown marathon.
 
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