Closing the Gap

Eugene Half Marathon

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Member Since:

Dec 28, 2009



Goal Type:

Olympic Trials Qualifier

Running Accomplishments:

  • Boston '08,
  • #3 woman in '09 Columbia River Gorge 1/2 marathon (1:33),
  • #1 woman in'09 Death Valley Marathon (3:24)
See all results on athlinks

Short-Term Running Goals:

Carve 10 minutes off my PR for the next 4 marathons, qualify for the Trials.

Long-Term Running Goals:

Always be a winner in my age division; help hundreds of other runners accomplish their goals through my coaching.


Married, 4 kids.  I'm an RN who now works as a personal trainer (NASM) and running coach (RRCA).

Trainer Cara Esau

Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 0.00 Year: 0.00
Race: Eugene Half Marathon (13.1 Miles) 01:35:23, Place overall: 149, Place in age division: 9
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

OK, I finally wrote up my race report to send out to friends and family.  I'm just copying it and pasting it to my blog.  Here 'tis:


Before every significant race of my short running career, I seem to subconsciously sabotage hope of achieving the goal.  For instance, many of you might remember how I got lost (yes, I'm embarrassed to admit that it's true) for a half mile in my first marathon; or consider last December when I missed my plane for the Death Valley Marathon so that I finally arrived at the hotel the night before the event, totally exhausted.  Typically I'll eat too much breakfast or drink too much water just before the event and feel sick.  Somehow, I always manage to arrange situations such that I am utterly stressed out just in time for the race.  Reflecting upon my recent half marathon, I considered whether I do these stupid things to give me an "out" just in case I perform poorly.   Or if do well, I can say to myself that I could have done even better if I had had a handicap of some variety.  Really, it's a win-win scenario.

This time my self-sabotage started early last weekend for the Eugene Marathon; in fact, I did it to my sorry self two days before the event!  I'm becoming so efficient.  No procrastinating with this racing mama.  Believing that I was doing myself a favor, I spent a few minutes stretching in the sauna on Friday, hoping to get my muscles all limber and ready to go.  I felt OK in the heat, but when I exited the sauna, I suddenly became nauseated and dizzy.  Apparently I tried to make it to a nearby bench, but next thing I knew, I was looking up at the ceiling, wondering where I was and why my hip was hurting.  And there I found my excuse:  I had passed out and fallen, hip first, hard on a concrete floor!

I felt that this disaster was much more gratifyingly dramatic than merely missing a flight--don't you agree?  Now I have set the bar high; I better start sabotage-planning right away.

Despite the pretty severe pain, I did decide to go through with the race.  Plopping an ice pack on my car seat, I made the 2 hour drive to Eugene on Saturday.  There I met my weekend hosts, Bob and Kathleen Gray.  Interestingly, Bob had, in his college years, been on the elite team at U of O, and had been locker mates with Prefontaine.  Bob showed me the race course, told me some amazing stories, gave me excellent racing tips, and then returned me to their home, where Kathleen had prepared an incredibly wonderful pre-race, carb-loading pasta feed for me!  Wow, what a cook.  Filled with homemade meat sauce and pesto, a fantastic salad, and fresh bread, I was a very happy guest indeed. 

Kathleen is a tiny powerhouse of a lady, probably 4' 11''.  The longest distance she has ever run was a half marathon--only one--and she did it in 1:25.  Wow.  She completes the NY Times crossword puzzle in about half an hour every day, and she has a clock on her kitchen wall made out of a Scrabble board.  Very cool.  We had a delightful conversation, and then Bob and Kathleen took off for a concert, leaving me to relax, curl up with a book, and go to bed early.  Thankfully, since  I had already given myself a stressful situation that Friday before the race, I didn't have to figure out how to potentially ruin myself that evening.  In fact, the evening was quite perfect.

I did have enjoy one additional crisis, though, on race day, which was to carelessly leave my bib number in Bob's car.  Naturally, I didn't notice until he had driven away.  I asked a few runners for cell phones, but I couldn't get through to Bob.  Now, in some races, I would not have even been able to participate without a bib number on my shirt!  Thankfully, though, this was not the case in Eugene, and they used the chip to monitor me.  No problem with the lack of my bib, except that I got all stressed again.

The entire race was quite perfect.  My pacing was at least as good as I had hoped.  Coach Bob had advised me to keep the first 6 miles between 7:30-7:40, and I opted for the faster side of that.  But I did faithfully hold my speed back, as instructed.  When I hit the 6th mile, I felt wonderful, so I increased speed to 7:15, knowing that I could continue that for the remaining 7.1 miles. 

Somewhere along the way, I saw 2 very cute little blond girls holding up a poster that read, "We love you, Mommy!"  They were much younger than my little blondies, but I chose to allow myself to pretend that the poster was for me, which gave me more energy.  Tim and I had discussed it, and I didn't expect the family to come down and cheer me on for this race because of the expense of driving two vehicles.  Well, imagine my surprise when I saw four cute blond kids who looked exactly like Esau children!  I'd have thought that my imagination was becoming scarily potent if it hadn't been for Ellie, who ran about 300 meters with me, confirming that she was my daughter.  (When she could no longer keep up, she turned around and collided with the woman who was trying to pass me.  Ellie can't stand the thought of anyone passing her mama!  I'm sure she did it on purpose!  Right, Ellie?) 

At the 10th mile, I was still feeling like a million bucks, having run 3 miles already at the 7:15 pace.  Alongside came Coach Bob, who was really concerned that I wouldn't be able to continue that pace till the finish.  He asked me to take it easy, but I'm telling you, and I reassured him, I felt great.  I knew I had just one hill left, and I was sure I could do it.  My plan was to run 7:15 all the way till the last mile, then let loose and just do the fastest I could.

In every race, certain words or thoughts will give me energy and strength.  This time I kept reminding myself that I was staying in Prefontaine's locker mate's house, which made me vicariously fast.  I repeated that this was my race, and that I was a tiger.  I planned to become a cheetah in the last 2 miles, but till then, I was only a tiger.  See, Coach Bob calls me "Mama Bear," and that conjures up images of a fat, lumbering, 500 pound furry creature who eats blueberries.  So I had to choose another animal.

After I became a cheetah at mile 11, I finally passed Susan, a woman whose pink kinesiotape on her calves I had been watching from behind all the way since the start line!  As I passed Susan, she said, "How old are you?"  I replied, "How old am I?"  What a weird thing to ask during a race.  I told her I was 39, and she said, "I'm 48."  I wasn't sure what she was looking for, so I replied as any woman would:  "Wow, you look so fantastic!  I have been admiring your back muscles for this whole race.  You look so strong."  I paced her, silently by her side for the next mile, till I perceived that she was slowing down, at which point, like a cheetah, I leapt ahead.  She called out, "Good job!"  And that was the last I saw of Susan.

What struck me as funny about this was Coach Bob's response when I told him about my exchange with Susan.  He replied, "You were polite because you are women.  When men pass each other, they call out, 'So long, @(*#@#$#!' "  I laughed, but as I considered Bob's words, it crossed my mind that I have never heard men in my pace group being rudely competitive toward one another.  You know, I don't think the difference is actually a gender thing.  I believe that it's a "level" thing.  I'm running among the Really Strong Runner Group.  But I'm not with the Elites--yet!  We might think those pushy words--of course, IF I do so, it's with very clean pushy language--but we're simply not elite enough to say them aloud.  I remember when I was a beginning marathoner, the pacing groups I'd hang out with for 26 miles were the people who wore headphones and said things like, "What a lovely day." Now, the sight of an ipod is rare, and people have kinesiotape on their legs; they mean business. 

OK, so back to the 12th mile.  My energy was nearing its end just in time, which means that my pacing was absolutely as it should have been.  Coach Bob seemed wowed and delighted.  I hadn't had the easiest time with some of my training runs, plus I had collapsed the 2 days prior, so he expected that I'd struggle.  This was the first race he had coached me through, and he seemed genuinely surprised by how well I race.  Of course, that made me feel pretty good.

It was a wonderful surprise to have the family with me. When I'd heard that Eugene has beautiful rhody gardens, I had wanted to take my kids there, and now I had the happy opportunity to do so.  It was beautiful; I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day and place.  Having showered, visited more with my hosts, packed up, and headed out to the gardens, it seemed so strange that in the background, I could hear that the race was still going on.

Now I'm home, with a nearly healed up hip, ready to start running again, as soon as it's wise to do so.  It's too early to start sabotaging the next race, so I'm taking good care of myself for now. 

For my stats-loving friends, here are my splits:  7:31, 7:22, 7:21, 7:22, 7:31, 7:09, 7:08, 7:12, 7:10, 7:07, 7:03, 7:10, 7:00.  I was 9/385 in my division; 54/2783 among women; and 194/4058 overall (meaning, not only did I beat women like me, but a whole lot of young punks in Eugene too!  Whoo-hoo).

Always thankful for all of you,



From Burt on Mon, May 03, 2010 at 20:21:21 from

Can't wait for the report! So many good showings at Eugene from the bloggers!

From Burt on Tue, May 04, 2010 at 13:10:15 from

What a great report! I loved the part about sabotaging yourself. And I loved the part about forgetting your bib in Bob's car. And I loved the part about your family surprising you. And I loved the part about your little girl tripping one of the other runners. I bet she was T-O'd! And I love the part about cursing someone out as you pass them. That really doesn't happen. And I loved the part about cheetahs and tigers and bears, oh my! Rock and roll Coach!

From rAtTLeTrAp on Tue, May 04, 2010 at 13:40:56 from

What?! another blogger in Eugene and I didn't get to meet you? Did you see a scary looking dude in a flaming dress shirt and board shorts? Good job on your race! Top 2% in your division and 5% overall is very impressive.

From Coach Cara on Tue, May 04, 2010 at 13:50:13 from

Thanks Burt! I loved the food part--in fact, I'd like to do the food part all over again!!

Rattletrap--I didn't see you. Did you see the beautiful red head who ran like a cheetah? :-) I'm kidding, I'm kidding!! But really, that sure would have been fun to connect with a fellow blogger. I have yet to do so. Do you have any other Oregon races coming up?

From rAtTLeTrAp on Tue, May 04, 2010 at 14:48:37 from

I don't have anything else planned for Oregon, it's pretty far from home. The only reason I ended up down there was because my original target marathon had to change the course this year and won't be a Boston qualifier. It cost me a couple hundred bucks, but I am very, very happy I made the trip! Next on my list is the Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay in July. After that there's nothing on the radar until the 2011 Resolution Run Series which should prep me well for Boston if I don't get too lazy in the mean time :)

From Coach Cara on Tue, May 04, 2010 at 18:52:34 from

Those sound like great plans. However, you really need it make it a life's goal to run the Columbia River Gorge Marathon one of these Octobers. It's such a fantastic race! Hood River is a community of orchards and craftsmen, and the post-race food and awards reflected that. The medals were all handmade and painted ceramic. The food was locally grown produce, along with fresh baked crusty bread and made-from-scratch bean soup. I won in a couple of categories, so I received a huge basket of local produce and wine, along with 2 handmade mugs and a knit beanie. (I'm not a beanie-wearer, but it's awfully pretty.)

Finally, the course. Oh, what a course! The scenery is shockingly beautiful, breath-taking. It's VERY hilly, but basically you run straight up for the first half and straight down for the second, so you can truly fly at the end.

It's worth several hundred bucks to run it! :-)

From rAtTLeTrAp on Tue, May 04, 2010 at 19:45:59 from

That sounds awesome!What is happening to me?I'm not even a marathoner. My first one was just a bucket list thing. My second was only because it was the inaugural in my hometown (Tacoma) and I know the race director. I swore that would be the last one. When a friend talked me into doing the inaugural RnR in Seattle last year I decided I would try to BQ and joined FRB. Unfortunately, that one was a DNF due to injury, but by then I was on a mission and couldn't let go of my goal. So I've finally reached that goal in Eugene and you already have me dreaming about another one before I even get to Boston. Where does it end? :)

From Coach Cara on Tue, May 04, 2010 at 23:08:02 from

Soon you'll be hooked!

It will all be worth it when you set your eyes on the Columbia River, winding through the dramatic cliffs of the Gorge; when you bite into a tender, sweet, juicy pear that was freshly picked for you, as your reward.

Sorry, but you still need to do just ONE more marathon! :-)

From baldnspicy on Fri, May 07, 2010 at 00:25:50 from

Well, one more other than Boston, right Cara? :-) One day I'll make it out there for that one too! Great report!!

From rAtTLeTrAp on Fri, May 07, 2010 at 01:53:36 from

I've got a strange feeling that there will be several more.

From Snoqualmie on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 14:02:25 from

I enjoyed your race report very much. Extremely entertaining! I'm happy to have discovered your blog. Maybe I can learn some new tricks. :) Sno

From Coach Cara on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 18:45:30 from

Thanks, Sno! Just be sure to not learn the trick of stretching too long in the sauna. ;-)

Actually, the real reason I stayed in the sauna too long was because I was engaged in a debate about whether barefoot running is a good fad or not. I just didn't want to give up on the argument.

Hey, here's one more event you all should consider:

I'm doing that one in Sept!

From Burt on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 19:49:59 from

Coach - you know the sauna just sucks the moisture right out of you. You'll get dehydrated in a heartbeat. No wonder you passed out.

From Coach Cara on Sun, May 09, 2010 at 19:56:22 from

I know it, I know it! But I was having so much fun! :-)

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