Running in the Footsteps of Legends: Eugene Marathon, May 2, 2010

How was the marathon? AWESOME! Well, that is at least what I started saying about 2 hours after it was over. The race was mentally and physically exhausting, and much harder than I anticipated, but I finished, and what was more important, I finished with a smile on my face.

My weekend in Eugene started early Saturday morning when my mom and I left Seattle, driving South on I-5, hit major construction traffic in Tacoma which we took a scenic detour around some side roads, and finally arrived in Eugene around 1:30. We checked into our hotel, the Red Lion, which was surprisingly comfortable and nice inside despite it’s rather run down exterior. We hit up Trader Joes for lunch then went to the expo to pick up my race bib, t-shirt, free goodies etc. Then it was time to head back to the hotel to relax before dinner.

The TNT pasta party was an inspirational event where we listened to honored teammates speak about their journey with cancer. It was a great way to remind us that we would be running for not just ourselves the next morning, but in memory and support of so many others. Trust me, that came in handy around mile 23 on Sunday.

I managed to sleep Saturday night, thank goodness. 4:15 came really early. I ate a PB&J sandwich and banana, drank some water, and we all loaded the vans to get to the course. It was great getting together with my teammates, all decked out in our purple jerseys ready to take on the 26.2 miles (or 13.1 for the halfers) of road. With a thunderous GO TEAM that gained cheers of support from other runners, we all split out into our different pace groups. The sky was promising a sunny/cloudy perfect-for-running day.

When the buzzer went off for the start of the race, I was so excited and grinning ear to ear. Nervous too of course, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The longest run I had done training was 3 hours, and I knew that my race today was going to be significantly more than that.

The first 6 miles flew by. I felt great, was feeding off the crowd, and had a fantastic group to run with. Mile 9 we managed to find a group of port-a-potties that did not have a line (thank goodness!) and then continued on as our little group of 5 till mile 11 where the half marathoners split. It was about mile 12 where I started to get tired. Not physically tired, but really energy drained and sleepy. At mile 14 I seriously hit a wall. I had to drop off my group which was an emotional experience. It is hard to watch your teammates run ahead as you slow down and start run/walking. I was starting to feel sick around this time too, all those sugary shot bloks and water were not jiving well with my tummy. I ran/walked to mile 16 where my coach Glen found me. He stuck with me for a few miles, and told me stories to keep my mind occupied. This part of the course was beautiful, along the river bank, but I was seriously dragging and still had a long way to go. My calves started to cramp and I was on a mission to find some salt. I eventually found a woman at mile 23 who gave me some salt pills and I took those at the next water stop. I am defiantly going to experiment with different fuel sources for this next marathon. I think that was one of the main downfalls of this race, I stopped eating after the sugar made me feel ill. There was solid food along the course but you don’t start trying it during the race.

Just past mile 23 Glen found me again, this time with some words of encouragement…”You can catch Rod”. Rod is my “running dad” from work. He is the one that got me into this in the first place. He had had a cold the week leading up to the marathon and was cramping pretty bad so was walking a lot more than he should have been. This opportunity was bittersweet, but I was going to catch him. Just after mile 24 I passed him. At mile 25 I really wanted to run the rest of the way, but I was too tired. Some of the other TNT coaches stuck with me until I reached mile 26. From there I was determined to run. I was not going to walk across that finish line! My calves were cramping so badly by this time that I was more limp running than actually running, but I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face. I did it! I finished a marathon! Me, Lauren Carter, from a family that “does not run”! I saw my mom cheering me on and snapping pictures from the grandstands. I wrapped myself in the silver blanket and headed to the water and food station and collapsed into a chair. The Portland TNT coach came over and brought me a banana telling me I had to eat something even if I did not feel like it. It was really nice to have someone looking out for me since my brain was basically sore mush at that point.

Rod finished not too far behind me, and as soon as I saw him I burst into tears and gave him a big hug. He was so proud of me, and it meant a lot to have his support.

Some genius decided that the TNT check out tent should be located on the far side of the track, so when Rod finished we walked around and signed out, then I headed back to the hotel to shower before the BBQ. It was about this time that I started to notice how sore I was all over from the lactic acid buildup. Every part of my body hurt. And I was sunburned. And still smiling J When I took off my shoes I was shocked to find a massive blister on my big toe…literally a 6th toe had appeared during the race! I had fun showing that off to my teammates!

The BBQ was great, everyone sharing the tale of their 26.2 mile adventure. Some people had great races and PRs, others had awful races and were disappointed but happy they finished. It goes to show that no matter how well you prepare, the day of the race can throw you a curveball.

The next day I was pretty stiff but generally feeling good. No specific pain in my knees or feet like I had experienced during the training. PT must be helping! Mom and I stopped to shop and go to Burgerville (an amazing real, locally-sourced fast food chain) on the way home.

It was an amazing weekend. Inspirational, fun, tiring, but so worth it. They were right, this was the reward for all those months of training. Now I am back at it again for Nike on October 17th…maybe I can PR in this race!

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I wanted to say thank you to everyone who supported me this season with my fundraising, training, injury prevention and the piles of encouragement that kept me going! It means so much to have your support. I really could not have done it without you.

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36 Hours To Marathon!

Only 36 hours till I run the Eugene marathon! 26.2 miles…I have never gone more than 17 so this will be exploring totally uncharted waters. I am driving down with my mom in the morning and then rendevouing with my team in Eugene…GO TEAM! I can’t wait to see everyone excited and rocking their purple and green TNT colors for the race. Mom and I going to drive the course and scope out photo spots, then pasta dinner and try to get some sleep before the big day.

It was fun putting the personal touches on my race jersey tonight. Making my name in puffy paint on the front, and recognizing the people I am running in honor of on the back. My friend Marty who is fighting cancer, and my best friend from high school’s father who lost his battle with leukemia two years ago. I am running for them, I am running for me, and I am so excited to tackle this course in Eugene! Wish me luck!

Doughnut Taper

Saturday morning was our last HIT team Saturday practice, and was also the first Saturday practice for Nike! Both teams met at Gasworks park for the 8am run, me decked out in my awesome traffic-cone orange Team Capitan shirt. It was bittersweet standing with my new team, getting a new set of runners set for their first long run…whopping 30 minutes…standing 10 feet away from my HIT team getting ready for their last long run…a short 90 minutes. Amazing how over these 6 months my perspective on a “long run” has changed. That first 30 minute run for me was hard! Now it is a warm up! Crystal, Sarah and I (the three HIT and Nike team members) cheered with our new team, ran the 30 minutes with them, then Crystal and I took off for another hour to finish our Eugene training time. I can’t believe the marathon is this weekend!

The rest of Saturday was beautiful…sunshine was pouring in my windows, but it was so windy that it was not much fun to be outside. I was wiped out anyway, and took a nap and read in the comfort of my little sun filled apartment with a happy warm kitty on my stomach.

Sunday morning I was up again early for a run, this time as a participant in the first annual Top Pot Doughnut 5k at Greenlake. I ran it with Crystal, Mark, Stephanie, and Kelly from the HIT team…good taper run, with the perk of doughnuts! It was a fun morning, and the doughnut at the finish line was great, but I was disappointed with the race execution as a whole. It was a $30 entry fee, and only $1 went to the children’s charity from the race. Where did all the rest of the money go? 3000 participants should have contributed more than $3000. Maybe it was the fact that they decided to chip time the race. That adds cost. But seriously, is the crowd that is running a 5k for doughnuts really that concerned about the accuracy of their time? It would have been more beneficial for us to donate $15 to charity, go for a run around Greenlake, and then go to Top Pot and order $15 worth of doughnuts. Oh well, it was a fun community event. Hopefully next year they will be able to donate more of the proceeds.

Sunday afternoon I made Broccoli Chicken Brown Rice casserole to take to the HIT and MISS team sendoff party at work. One week till Eugene! We had TONS of food (I always leave stuffed, not a good habit) and it was fun to visit with everyone in normal clothes, not all sweaty and tired. It has been such a great season, I can’t wait to do the marathon this weekend!

Taper Time!

I am happy to report that it is officially taper time! Woohoo! Two weeks till the Eugene marathon which means shorter, easier runs and recovery time. We had a short 130 minute run this morning that actually felt really quick and easy. I was pretty surprised since my ankles had been bothering me all week after the 3 hour run in Boise. Happy to report that they were fine today!

Last night I went out for sushi with my friend Lana, her husband Benny and some of their friends. It was fun to see them (tax season had Lana in her office solidly for the past 2 months and so they were hard to get together with). I am excited that Lana might join the Nike marathon team and train for the half. It would be awesome to have her. I am still looking for Seattle women interested in joining this awesome team. Kickoff is next Wednesday and we start practice next Saturday the 24th!

Today still has a long agenda ahead of me…picking up Andrea at the ferry, karaoke for TNT fundraiser, then dancing at a Seattle 80s night with some running ladies! Woohoo! Should be fun! Hope my energy does not fade!

It is generally grey and cloudy outside, but no rain. My new upstairs neighbors are moving in this weekend. End to my peaceful house to myself. I hope they live a pretty quiet existence, fingers crossed. Mom is coming down to Eugene with me, and while we have the van in Seattle I am going to buy some deck furniture…time for BBQs on the waterfront! Come on summer, I am ready for you! 🙂

After 8 And It’s Still Light!

Oh how I love longer days! Bring on summer when it stays light past 10! Woohoo!

We had a practice run at Greenlake tonight, I ran with Crystal and Ben and we had a good time. This upcoming weekend I am missing the longest team run, 3 hours, because I will be visiting family in Boise. I will need to get that run in and finding the motivation to do it by myself is going to be rough. I can do it though! It is hard to believe that the marathon is 3 1/2 weeks away! That is nothing!

I am really excited to do Eugene, and also really excited to be looking forward to Nike Women’s in October. Part of my goal is to get back down to my early college weight by the time that race comes around. I am going to work hard to do this, and am determined to loose some weight.

I also started working with a triathlon trainer/physical therapist to work out the issues with my foot/knee. I had my first appt today, more details to come later. Right now I have my first set of moves to perfect and then report back to him on Monday.

Hope you are having a great week! I fly to Boise Friday afternoon and cannot wait to see my family!

“Feeling Good” Concert Weekend

After struggling to find concert buddies in time to buy tickets, I made up my mind that I would just buy two tickets to shows I wanted to see, and THEN take the time to find someone to go with. A few months ago I picked up tickets to Michael Buble and Muse…and they happened to fall on the same weekend in Seattle. So, concert-buddy-less and armed with tickets, I called my friend Kathy to see if she wanted to go. She said yes, and drove across the state for this epic weekend of sound. We had a ball! Friday night was Muse, one of my all time favorite bands. They put on an awesome show at Key Arena. Moving stages, lasers, great music, awesome piano songs and really hard rock all combined into one great night. I woke up for my saturday run with my ears still slightly ringing.

My run was two fold. The first 45 minutes my foot was in pain, I am having some tendon issues and it was really cold and it took forever to get my body loosened up. Then, we went around a corner and something clicked, and I felt great for the rest of the 140 minute run. Crystal and I jumped in the ocean after the run to ice our legs and feet (and ended up getting soaked to our chests due to the waves). It was freezing cold, but those 10 minutes really help your recovery. I went to breakfast at Portage Bay with my team, then headed back to clean house. Kathy was hanging out with a friend from school so I had some time to recover at home before show #2.

We took off for Michael Buble not really sure what to expect with our “floor” tickets. Most shows are standing if you are on the floor, but here we had seats…awesome ones. We were in the center, row 22…great view of the stage. We had a ball! The opener was a group called Naturally 7…a mindblowingly talented group of 7 guys doing accopella…but sounding like a band; drums, bass, keyboards and all. It was amazing. Look them up. Michael Buble was fantastic too. He really interacted well with the audience, got us up dancing and laughing, threw in a Michael Jackson song, and really put on a great show. Fun, fun night.

The two concerts could not have been more different, but at the same time had some things in common. Muse drew a young crowd, screaming and dancing to songs while singing at the top of their lungs. Michael Buble drew a more mature audience, mostly made up of middle age women and husbands brought along for the night (although Michael specifically said that this was not chick music), but they screamed and sang and danced as much as the Muse crowd. Both shows even preformed the same song: Feeling Good, the original (I think) by Nina Simone. It is so cool to see two completely opposite bands make the same, old song incredible.

Birds flyin’ high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel
Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me
yeah, its a new dawn its a new day its a new life for me ooooooooh
AND I’M FEELING GOOD

Next Race – Nike Women’s

After lots of debating, and talking it over with friends and family, I have decided to sign up for my second marathon, Nike Women’s in San Francisco this October. I was origionally planning to participate while also being a mentor, but after assessing my ability to commit to Saturday practices, I decided that this was not in the best interest of my mentees and started talking to TNT about other capacities that I could volunteer in. We negotiated a position for me serving as an events coordinator, planning the halfway party, practice “mission moments” etc. I think this sounds great! I love planning stuff and my time out of town will not negatively impact the team. We start training at the end of April, so I will start running with my new team after completing Eugene.

 We only have two more weeks of real practice…then it is a taper before the race! We are getting so close! This weekend is a run at Golden Gardens, and then next week I will be visiting family in Boise and will need to get my uncle Doug to run 3 hours with me for my final long run 🙂

GO TEAM!