With all of the drama surrounding the Salt Lake City Marathon this year along with the fact that I had run the race 3 times, I decided to take my April marathon elsewhere this year. That somewhere was the Eugene Marathon. Not only did I need Oregon in my 50 State quest, who wouldn't want to run in track and field's Mecca? As a runner in high school, my goal was to make it to Eugene to train and run with the greats! That never happened, but I was super excited to be running there now.
My friend and fellow Maniac Marsha and I (we missed you Teota) flew to Portland, picked up the rental car and made the two hour drive to Eugene. We went straight to the expo. The incredible Meb Keflezighi was speaking and I really wanted to meet him.
Meb is the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the marathon and the 2012 Olympic trials champion, but his win at the 2009 New York City Marathon was what made him a real hero to me. I ran NYC that year and was still in Brooklyn when I got sight of a jumbo-tron just as Meb was running in to win. A large group of runners and I literally stopped running to watch the first American win the New York City Marathon since Alberto Salazar (my running hero in High School) won in 1982. I can still hear everyone chanting USA! USA! USA! as Meb ran in pointing at the USA on his shirt. Meb said that race was special to him, but it was special to us too. The excitement felt at that moment was incredible!!
I was so excited to finally meet Meb Keflezighi and give him a big hug!
Meb signing my book! What a story he has!
I literally almost cried when I read his inscription. That's right, we shared the road! ;-)
The Eugene expo was pretty big. Marsha and I walked around, shopping and running into other Maniac Friends.
Richard, Patti, Myself and the Prez himself, Steven Yee!
Luckily, we were staying at the Hilton (the host hotel), so after the expo, we checked in, went up to our room to unpack. We had about an hour until we were meeting our Maniac friends for dinner at Lucky Noodle.
We got to dinner and of course the place was packed. While we waited for our table the Prez and I talked over some 2012 MM reunion business. When we got our table it was a patio table outside, which was awesome and the weather was nice.
Marsha, Patti and I at dinner.
Marie, Steven and Tom at dinner.
Maniacs ready to carbo load!
After a lovely (and at sometimes hysterical) dinner, Marsha and I headed back to our super cozy room, got our race day prep done and hit the hay!
We got a good night's sleep and woke up ready to run (OK, I really wanted to crawl back into my bed, it was so comfy)! The hotel was offering breakfast bags for $5 which included an oatmeal, banana and a bagel and cream cheese. That was exactly what I wanted and I didn't have to schlep to the store. It was awesome!
When we were ready, we got the free shuttle to Hayward Field where we were meeting the others to take the Maniac photo.
Me in front of Hayward Field. Track and Field's Mecca!
Maniacs at the start.
After the photo, we hit the port-a-potty and the bag check and we were ready to run! It was a little chilly out so I brought my throw away foil blanket and my airline blanket to stay warm until the gun went off.
Marsha and I at the start getting ready to go!
The half marathon and the marathon started at the same time, so the course was pretty crowded for a little while, but it was nice to have so many people to run with. The course was beautiful! We ran through the streets of Eugene and on these awesome paths surrounded by woods.
On the road with Marie and Deb!
I don't know what this guy was, but he was cute!
HAD to get a photo in front of the house that Pre built!
The weather for the race was ideal. Overcast for the first bit and the sun came out late enough that is wasn't too hot. There were a lot of aid stations as well and the volunteers were all amazing. I loved all the different kinds of music I heard along the course as well. Everything from guitar players and drummers to a guy playing a didgeridoo (Google it)!
One of the many drum groups on the course.
There was also a lot of crowd support as well. Everything from old hippies sitting on their lawn and large groups like cheerleaders to people dressed is crazy costumes. They all came out to show us some love!
I LOVED her!! She reminded me of something my mom would have totally done!
My favorite part of the race was the finish. Not only because it's always great to be finished, but at mile 26 you turn the corner an run the last 385 yards in the stadium and on the track at Hayward Field. When my feet hit that track, I thought of all the great runners that had run there before me. Then I heard my name, "Finishing now is Angeline Whitworth Pace"! I looked up and saw myself on the huge jumbo-tron in the stadium!
Now, I will say the only down point of the moment was the lady I was trying to beat, cut the course by running on the inside lane of the track (the course was marked with cones and runners were to stay to outside of them in lanes 4-8) so she beat me! Grrrr!. I mean really, you just ran over 26 miles, why cheat the course now? Oh well! I still had a great time at a great race! Marsha did great too! She came home with a PR (Personal Record)!! WAY TO GO MARSHA!!
A few of us Maniacs at the finish.
After the race Marsha and got showers and hit the road back to Portland to catch our flight home. With a minor setback trying to return out rental car, we barely made the flight, but once on the plane, the flight attendants noticed our marathon medals and treated us like royalty! We had a great time! Eugene is a must do race!!