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Boston Marathon Training Run in TrackTown USA

“If only the walls could talk.”

That’s what Molly, Lane (Molly’s 20-year-old daughter), and I thought on Saturday when our Airbnb host in Eugene, Oregon, told us running greats Ryan and Sara Hall had stayed in the very same cottage where we were spending the night before an 18-mile training run! It was a sign we were going to have an epic run in the city nicknamed TrackTown USA.

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Three runners questioning dubious weather.

 

We were right—but for the wrong reasons. Heavy raindrops batter the cottage roof all night, as blustery gusts of winds lash the moss-covered trees outside the window. Clouds of far-more-than-50 shades of grey crowd the sky. Groans fill the cottage as we contemplate 3+ hours outside in this weather. This is definitely going to be a run to remember. I try to lighten the mood by joking we hit treadmills in TrackTown.

Instead we layer on Saucony Bullet Capris (Molly and me) and Bullet Tight (always-cold Lane), jackets (them) and a vest (me), and portable porches (known outside of Oregon as “running hats”), and grimly head into the elements. We run a few blocks toward the paved trail that hugs the banks of the Willamette River. It’s somewhat familiar territory for me, as I ran my fastest 26.2 in the 2009 Eugene Marathon, and I conquered a 22-mile training run there in the lead-up to that race. Molly and Lane are running the Eugene Marathon on May 1, so the run is ideal training for them; the flat terrain isn’t great simulation as a Boston Marathon training run (the East Coast course is much hillier), but my legs and lungs were grateful for the more tabletop-like route.

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The plan, magic-marker style.

 

Our coach-dictated workout is laid out like this:

4-mile warmup to “wake up” our legs

2 miles alternating 1:00 building gradually to 5K feel, 2:00 ease off

3 x (¾-mile @9:15 pace, ¼-mile ease off)

2 miles alternating 1:00 building gradually to 5K feel, 2:00 ease off

3 x (¾-mile @ “a little faster than before,” ¼-mile ease off)

4 miles “controlled and comfortable”

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Molly and Lane, ready to rock this run.

 

I try a new fueling tactic, taking in a GU Energy Gel earlier than usual, at Mile 2 (then again at miles 4, 8, 12, and 15). When it’s time to kick it up a few notches at Mile 4, Molly and I repeat it’s a “gradual build,” meaning we can progress from second gear to slightly more than fourth gear without gunning the motor. Somehow this mental game saves us slightly, knowing we don’t have to push hard the entire minute. The wind pushes us around, making me grateful we don’t need to be nailing a specific pace during these two miles.

When it’s time to shift to 9:15 pace, us mother runners steel ourselves with a reminder we get a quarter-mile break from the effort. As pea-size raindrops pelt us sideways, I realize chunking it up is the way to get through this workout both because of the weather—and the effort. So during the first ¾-mile race-pace segment, when I think about it being the first of six, I quickly discard that thought, letting it be carried away by the wind that never seems to be at our backs.

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We know this system far too well now.

 

Once we’re thoroughly soaked, the miles tick off surprisingly quickly: The workout is challenging, but varied. It’s time for a third GU; it’s halfway through the run; we have “only” eight miles to go; just 10K left. The final three ¾-miles are the toughest for me: Lane and I keep reminding two-steps-ahead Molly of our agreed-upon tactic that I’ll lead the pace. We flip directions with two repeats left, and the wind pummels us. I give up checking my Garmin, telling Molly and Lane, “I’m doing my best, whatever the pace is.” At this point, we’re on a part of the race course I remember well, so I summon strength I had during that PR-effort. [Post-run, my coach points out we maintained 8:30 pace during this section—hot damn!]

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Runners with attitude.

 

We should be jubilant when we hit Mile 14—only easy cooldown remains—but we’ve lost the trail, and the rain is falling harder. Running on a sidewalk next to a major road, we are walloped by a wave of water sent up by a passing car. Water fills my shoes. After asking for directions, we wend our way back to the path. Our spirits rise when we spy a sign telling us a pedestrian bridge near our Airbnb is 3.5 miles away.

Out of boredom, I command Lane, a sophomore at Oregon State University, to entertain us with tales of college life. Halfway through mile 16, the sun breaks through the clouds; my hands feel dry for the first time in nearly three hours—and my feet suddenly have more spring. Our Garmins click over to 18 miles just as we reach the road the cottage is on. We now have our own running tales to tell—no need for the walls to speak.

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We did it!

Have you had an epic training run recently? Share details about it in Comments section below this blog post on our website. 

If you're running the Eugene Marathon, we hope to see you there: We are going to be selling our books and merchandise at the Eugene expo, including this limited-edition, short-sleeve technical T-shirt. We suspect your friends will be green with envy when you wear it!  

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You know you want one!

23 responses to “Boston Marathon Training Run in TrackTown USA

  1. Oh my gosh, I am training for my first marathon (Grandma’s in Duluth, MN in June!) and I had a 12 miler about a month ago that was MISERABLE. (following your Own-it plan, of course!). It was pouring down rain, and my original planned route was too icy (living in Minnesota, late winter/early spring leads to dicey road/path conditions.). So I was all off on where I was going to run and stop for water, etc. and the sidewalks were FULL of water as the group was still frozen and there was nowhere for all the rain to go. So it was raining down on me, and as I tried to go around a huge puddle I stepped in a snowbank and went all.the.way.in. Up to my knees. It was pure ice water under that top crust of snow, and I was only on mile 3! I thought I might have to turn around, but I only had so much time (youngest is in preschool so had to get it done before picking her up!) so I slogged on. After about a mile I didn’t even notice how wet I was. I got the run done and now feel like I can do ANYTHING.

  2. I love this post! I did 18 last weekend, but my Colorado version was much drier. Hope you are feeling fit and excited–I know I am.

  3. Great post, Sarah! I was in soggy solidarity with you, running 19 miles on Saturday in that same weather. Except that I was all by my lonesome, with no buddies to commiserate with! Now’s my chance, I guess! My husband even called me a few miles in to ask if I needed warmer clothes, rain gear, a ride, perhaps??!! So sweet of him, but I hung in there and made it through. The sun even made a few glorious appearances. Way to get it done, ladies!

  4. I don’t have anything (yet) that really compares to your EPIC experience. But I have paid to participate in a run this weekend and the weather forecast sounds similar to yours. I will try to channel your bad ass self if I even consider feeling sorry for myself.

  5. I’m on the opposite coast at the moment, but like the shirt so much that I sort of wish I was running Eugene. After the podcast with Leanne, I went out and bought a pair of bullet capris … Liked them so much I bought another 2 pairs. No more ass chafe for me!!!!

  6. I love the last photo of you girls! You’re all so adorable! So glad you were able to stay with us at the Park Avenue Cottage. We hope it is your home every time you come to Eugene to do that crazy thing you call running! 😉 Bruce

  7. Way to get it done!! I’m a sissy when it comes to the rain, but of course with friends, that’s a whole other story, right? I like the “marker on arm” technique – but wondering, was it permanent marker (so it didn’t wash off with the sweat/rain) and if so, how easy is that to get off your skin??

    1. Funny, Lisa: You are second person to ask today re: marker. It’s Sharpie. It smears some during run, but can usually still read. Then in shower, I rub soap (Dove) on it, and “scratch” at it a tiny bit, and it comes off easily. Works every time!

  8. Nice work Sarah, Molly and Lane. Heck ya, I want that T-shirt although I will be no where near Eugene. My husband and I met at U of O in 1991. If you have any left over, will you put them up on the site? Best of luck in your respective 26.2’s!!

    1. We’ll sell them on the site, Nikki, but happy to pre-sell to you (just waiting to take pro photos before putting on site). It’s a short-sleeve tech tee made of lovely, lightweight fabric. Scoopneck, generous women’s cut. We have sizes XS-2XL. Our s/s tech tees will now be $25 on the site, so that’s what this one will be. If you want one, email us at motherrunnerstore [at] gmail [dot] com.

  9. Thankfully my long run was only 4 miles this past weekend! I kept checking the weather. The best I was going to get was 40% chance of rain. So Dolly and I headed out. Saucony Bullet Capris for me (I’d rather wet skin than clothes…..you know, because I am an optimist and think the sun might come out and dry me off) and LL Bean raincoat for Dolly. It rained the entire run! The wind blew the entire run! The mile where the wind was directly at my back should have been a relief, right? Mother Nature helping me along? Oh, no! Instead it was a cold wind blowing against sopping wet clothes and hair. My heck was frozen! A friend complained that on her run the rain kept getting in her eyes. I told her I didn’t have that problem thanks to my fogged up glasses! But, got it done and felt justified in cuddling with Dolly under the blanket for the rest of the afternoon. I defrosted by bedtime!

    1. We NEED a photo of you and Dolly in your rain gear, Susan! I agree on taking FOREVER to warm up!! I overdressed for ride home and kept heated seat turned on entire drive!!

  10. OMG- you gals look WET! Memories for me- I used to live in Eugene and am a Duck graduate. That was before my “real running” started though. I rode my bike on that trail many, many times. I remember all the tactics to try to stay dry- showercap on the helmet, bread bags on your feet. Anyway- I loved the mile by mile play by play. It brought back great memories. I did run the Euphoria Truffle Trot in the park along the trails one year- every runner got a huge chocolate truffle- much better than a Gu! Hope the marathon goes great for Lane and Molly

  11. It wasn’t a training run but an alleged 10k race I signed up for prior to signing up for the 10k run program. Living in the Santa Cruz area it’s been doing this thing I have only seen picture of lately called rain. It’s been crazy up here in the mountains!!!! So I am new to trail races but when the race director announced “in the past hour we decided to add a few new creeks to the course” I had no idea they would be almost knee high and very long.

    I’m glad I listened to my gut and switched to a 5k so I only did 1 loop. It so slippery, wet, and cold, but so pretty. I had to keep my eye on the road so I didn’t see too much.
    I had an old poncho that fell apart w/in 50 feet of starting to into the garbage it went. It felt like my light jacket was making me more cold so down to the waist it went to try n cover my little phone carrier to keep dry.
    Finally finished, hobbled back to my car wondering why my socks were lumpy just under the balls of my feet…it seems the mud decided to congrigate there. Looking at the lumps of mud falling on my socks I’m glad I only did a 5k because w/my luck I would have given myself bone bruises or a stress fracture-nobody has time for that!
    Can’t wait to go back when it’s a little dryer and actually see the course!!!

    1. Wooooh, sounds like you were sopping wet! Try Balega socks: They don’t bunch up. I didn’t get any blisters, despite socks being DRENCHED!

    1. Thanks for asking, Meg: I feel the early GU kept me strong in the final miles. It was a tactic discussed on nutrition podcast by Cassie Dimmick, sports dietician, for Train Like a Mother Club.

  12. I’m in the 10K race group, and I didn’t want to miss any quality runs while my family was on vacation in Paris, so during our 10 days there I went on several lovely runs through different parts of the city. My last one was also a rainy one, and it was supposed to be 8 miles with a 10 minute strong finish, so I decided to repeat the course I had run the previous weekend for my easy 8 miler. It was my last day in Paris so I decided to soak it in even as I got more and more soaked…I took a few photos along the Boulevard St-Germain (had to have something to post on Strava, right?) and dodged traffic and pedestrians who on their commute (it was a Friday morning at 7 AM). Before I knew it, I was looking across the Seine right at the Eiffel Tower…Lovely! also…definitely NOT where I was supposed to be! I had no GPS and my phone only worked with wifi, but I was luckily able to figure out where I had missed the turn and get myself back in the right direction, and when I hit Place de la Republique, I knew it was time to pick up the pace for my strong finish. Rain was falling harder…I was wishing for an SBS-style portable porch for sure! When I got back to our little apartment and got on the computer to map it out, I had gone a little over 9 miles – longest run by far far far since having my daughter 6 months ago – and that last mile was a full minute faster than the rest, despite my totally soaked shoes. Icing on the cake – I walked in looking totally ragged, and my husband said to our baby daughter, “Mommy’s so intense!”

    1. LOVE this story, Sarah!! Wish I could have been there to run with you (“Deux Sarahs”) as Paris is my favorite city! Love your husband’s comment. A run to treasure and feel proud about, for sure.

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