To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Track Town 5K Triumph

Well I couldn't resist. It was maybe less than two weeks before race weekend and I had one of my typical whims that come over me when the weather gets nice and I want to run places. I sent Shawn a text, persuading him to run with me, assuring him it would be a easy race. What do you know, he agreed to do it! So once again I was back in Eugene for Marathon weekend, this time doing the 5K. I actually am not even sure at this point how many times I've participated in this weekend's events. I know I've done the half 3 times, with those containing my fast and 3rd fasted half marathon times. And I've scattered the 5K in a little since baby things came into my life. The point is, I feel very at home at this event and course and was excited to be back, this time with my whole little household family!

Friday after lunch we went up to Eugene for the expo. It was much better than last year it seemed. Last year's felt dark and squished together. The tent almost felt twice as big this year! The expo was at the finish area behind Hayward Field, which is good for getting your amped up to run!! I resisted shopping temptation (those darn compression socks were calling my name!!), but I did leave with TWO new free Steve Prefontaine posters. Now if only I had any remaining wall space in my running room....

We were up nice and early Saturday morning so we could get up to the 5K with time to park and see the kid races. The timing was perfect! My normal parking spot was blocked for construction, but we found one closer to a normal bathroom anyway, so that was quite nice! When we got to the start area we were just in time to see all the children finishing their race. Katura got to watch.... and I ran some numbers trying to decide when she'd be able to participate as well!

It felt like no time at all and we were at the start line. Some people get ready for a race with bananas and healthy stuff. The three of us nibbled on some Elfin cookies and had some sips of water. Oh yeah, we are hard core!! If they played the National Anthem I wouldn't know. The sound system for this race is always so darn quiet, and I wasn't even the back this time. Last year I started in the far back with all of the other strollers and people planning to walk more than run. This year I positioned myself up near the back of the runners, but still in the mix. Sure, I have a stroller, but my plan wasn't to walk or be blocking anyone's path.

Prior to the race I had no game plan other than to just enjoy myself, the scenery and the weather. As I often do, once I started moving I started devising a strategy. Apparently this wasn't going to be a stroller, but it also wasn't going to be a race against anyway. I just wanted to keep moving forward and push myself on the running since this whole stroller running stuff is still something I'm adjusting to. As we started the beginning stretch west into the sun (as seen in the photo above) I was surprised at how well I was able to maneuver my stroller and get clear paths to just enjoy running! We were able to continue going for quite a while. Around the half mile point we rounded the corner to head up the first hill through the neighborhoods. (You can see that on the photo to the right!) I got sort of blocked by a person on their walk break, so we took advantage and enjoyed a rest and looking at all of the big houses!

All of the runners we were by were so pleasant! Sometimes we would talk to them in the middle of all of our non-stop conversations we had. Katura, however, did not talk. That little girl fell asleep so early! Between the 1.5 and 2 mile mark you actually go up a hill... next to a cemetery! Is that what one really wants to see if you're racing up a hill?? Good thing we just did some speed walking to get to the top! ;)

It was around this second hill that I realized I hadn't seen any other strollers. And that's when my competition with myself began. At the start line I saw no strollers ahead of me, which caused me slight apprehension about where I had lined up to start. Not one was in sight, but I know there were stroller runners at the start area behind us. It was on like Donkey Kong. My new goal was nothing to do with pace, splits, time, blah blah blah. My race goal was to be the first person to cross the finish line pushing a stroller!
From that point on I think Shawn and I took turns glancing behind us to see if I needed to up my pace at all to maintain 1st place stroller status. We rounded the next to last major turn and 3 college guys were cheering everyone on. They made a point of commenting on how the fastest baby was so impressive, which only confirmed my suspicion that we were in fact in the baby lead! The final stretch had me really checking myself. I could feel my finish line adrenaline pumping and knew I had to back off if I wanted to pull out my standard finish line sprint.

Before I knew it, it was time. We were at the gates of Hayward Field and about to hit the lovely surface of the track. I absolutely love running on a real track at the end of a race. It always feels so gentle on my legs and I feel like I am flying! And this is when I decided to forget about my taking it easy plan. Typically in the last mile of a race I start to pick off people one by one. Well, in a tiny little 5K (3.1 miles), I don't spend 1/3 of my race passing people. So the final .1 was all about saying Bye-Bye to my fellow racers I had been with for the prior 3 and Hello to the finish line! Many of them stopped to high-five Flap Jack and Flap Jill (running pancakes). I had no time for that. I had a line to cross and a medal to grab!

That race was so much ding-dang fun!! I enjoyed every bit of it. My little team of Tew Legit worked great together, everybody was nice and supportive of each other, the weather was absolutely perfect. It was a great way to start the racing season!! I did check my other post-baby/stroller race times and I got a new PR by 3 minutes without even trying. Hot diggity dog! AND I do proudly proclaim myself as First Place Stroller Runner!

For the second year in a row we were given some really nice, heavy medals at the finish line. I never expect that from a 5K, so it was a welcome surprise! Also at the end, we were given reusable tote bags with the Marathon weekend logo on it, green Eugene Marathon water bottles, full of water, a full bag of tortilla chips, bagels and a banana. We made a direct line for the free Krusteaz pancakes in the finishers area. That was just what the tummy wanted! At our table some other runners I remember seeing (and passing) came to sit and enjoy their pancakes. We had really great conversations. When I learned this couple that was new to town didn't know of Steve Prefontaine? Well, it was time for a mini-lesson courtesy of ME! You can't run in Oregon, especially Eugene, and not be familiar with the greatness of Steve Prefontaine!!

Here is the finish area, tables and chairs, free pancakes, vendors giving free samples of their products. And SUNSHINE!!!

So that is that, another race in the books, and another run through Eugene, Oregon! I'm getting kind of twitchy, I think it might be time to stalk race schedules and pick some out between now and the Prefontaine Memorial in Coos Bay!

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