Archive for January, 2016


THIS BLOGGER JUST BECAME A RACE AMBASSADOR FOR THE EUGENE MARATHON

01.18.2016

logoFollowers here know I decided a year or two back to try new things when the chance arises. A NEW CHANCE JUST AROSE!

One of my favourite races, the Eugene Marathon selected me to be one of their 2016 Ambassadors!

I am pretty thrilled for a bunch of reasons, but I realized that this is the “10th YEAR RUNNING and will be my FIFTH time of running either the full (3X) or half (2X as of this year). Let’s face it folks, there aren’t that many races of which any of us could say we’d done HALF!

Eugene Marathon - 2010 - Passing Hayward Field.

Eugene Marathon – 2010 – Passing Hayward Field.

This is a great job for me! I think I’ve been doing it unofficially since the first time I ran Eugene in 2010. That was a pretty big year of running for me and the Eugene Marathon was one of the highlights. It was also one of my personal best marathons. I really have two adult distance running careers. Well, maybe that should be RACING  careers. My first marathon was run in 1988 in Vancouver, but I didn’t run the second one until the Victoria Marathon of 2000. Oh yes, and there was that thing about a ruptured disk and back operation that happened between #1 and #2. On a raw time basis the first was the fastest and the second was, well, second fastest. Many of you know how I do love age grading to keep track of myself (then and now). Eugene, run in 2010, some 22 years after my first, was (and remains) my third best raw time and second best age graded (out of a total of 26 marathons – Eugene 2010 being #13). Oh yeah, and to my everlasting surprise and delight, I was THIRD in M65-69.

Still wondering why I love Eugene?  OK, well here are some other reasons.

Harry Jerome - Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

Harry Jerome – Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

1. Track Town USA!  I am of an age when Eugene was the epi-centre of running excellence, at least for West Coasters. I knew a number of promising runners who took their careers forward in Eugene and under the expert coaching of Bill Bowerman and his staff. The biggest name among them, I suppose, was Harry Jerome. I am not going to try to pretend Harry was a friend, but we did belong to the same track club and did train together under the same coach. I even raced him once! And hey, how many of the people you ran with over the years have a statue to commemorate their achievements?

2. Hayward Field. If Eugene is ‘Track Town’, Hayward Field must be City Hall! The Eugene Marathon FINISHES on Hayward Field! #goosebumps #Imighthavecriedabit

"Pre's Rock" - Eugene, OR

“Pre’s Rock” – Eugene, OR

3. Running in the Footsteps of Legends. The long-time ‘tag line’ for the race. Nothing could be more true! The people who have run in that stadium are truly legendary. I think the first that would pop to mind, at least for anyone my age, is ‘Pre’. Steve Prefontaine, even though his true potential probably went unrealized, ranks near the top of the list of Legends. Truth be told, the legendary performances continue to be recorded to this very day at Hayward Field, and who knows how many more will emerge in years to come.

4. A First Class Race. Never mind what was and everything included in the first three points. The Eugene Marathon (and Half) is a top quality race in its own right. The course is fast and essentially flat, with a good return on PB and BQ aspirations. Even if you aren’t looking for those outcomes, the organization is superb and volunteers as good as you will find. Post race is pretty much top shelf too.

As an official Ambassador, I can help you out with information and a special discount on registration if you are running the Half or Full Marathon. More on that later.  But, the weekend has more happening than just those two races, so if you are bringing kids or someone not quite ready for a marathon or half marathon, there are other options. On Saturday (April 30) there is the Run Track Town 5K and the “Duck Dash” (1 K) for kids.

Forerunners crew carbing it up in 2015

Forerunners crew carbing it up in 2015

Metro Vancouver and British Columbia runners seem to have a strong affinity for the Eugene Marathon. In 2015 I personally ran the half marathon, but was part of a group of 28 from the Forerunners marathon and half marathon clinics that descended on Eugene for one or other of the distances, coming away with something like 8-10 PB results, 8 BQs and 3 age group podium finishes, including one First and a total of 7 Top Ten placings. Although not there for 2015, Jeremiah (Jerry) Ziak of Forerunners North Vancouver has won the 5K (2011 in 14:46). And this is just the story for my Forerunners friends, not counting those running with Peninsula Runners as well as other clubs and clinics. I mention Peninsula in particular, because they have sent some pretty big contingents over the years and I am sure have produced some very satisfying results among their runners.

Why and How you run any race is up to you. I mentioned my 2010 result above. It was one of my best and I trained and raced with the intention of making it so. The next year I had every intention of repeating (only faster) but a late training injury put the result somewhat in the ‘pathetic’ category. I should have just said ‘not this time’, but I thought I was OK when the race started. OK to run, not to better the previous year. Wrong. But, I did finish. 2014 was a slower time but good for me at the time and age. 2015, the Eugene Half Marathon was the second of four half marathons done in a total of 15 days. To the outside observer the time was far from stellar, but for me it was just what I needed as the second step in my project to ‘moon up’ to Level Four in Half Fanatics! I also used the 2013 Eugene Marathon to scoot myself up to the Silver Level of Marathon Maniacs. I only mention these things because they are examples of the literally thousands of personal goals expressed on the road on any given race day. What will your goal be??

OK, let’s get down to basics.

Eugene Marathon puts on a great weekend. I recommend you think about making it part of your personal race calendar.

If you do feel this is for you, I have a special code that will give a discount for either the half or full marathon. Send me a Personal Message on the Facebook Page for Running in the Zone. OR, you can e-mail me at :  dan@runninginthezone.ca

The main race day is Sunday May 1, 2016. The Expo and package pick-up starts April 29 going through April 30. The Run Track Town 5K and Duck Dash are on Saturday April 30.

Registration fees and deadlines are found HERE.

Accommodation in Eugene should be booked early. Of course the Race Web Site has a page for hotels and many offer discounts. If you are of that sort of mind, Air BnB is an option to consider too.

Marathon Start - Eugene 2010

Marathon Start – Eugene 2010

The ROUTES for the marathon and half start on Agate Street just outside Hayward Field, running into South Eugene and Amazon Park, eventually looping back right past Hayward Field just around nine miles. Runners head toward the Willamette River, crossing over on the Bike Bridge around 10 miles, after which the two routes separate. with marathoners running up-river into Springfield and half marathoners heading into the ‘beginning of the end’ on the pathways on the North Side of the Willamette, from time to time quite near and even paralleling ‘Pre’s Trail’. After a foot tour of part of Springfield, marathoners follow the streets to Autzen Stadium where they too get onto paved pathways following the river. For most of the last 10 miles, runners are quite near the Willamette River, first on one side and then the other as they turn back toward the finish at Hayward Field.

Hayward Field - The Finish is Nigh

Hayward Field – The Finish is Nigh (Photo by Eugene Marathon)

Regardless of half or full marathon, everybody finishes by running along Agate toward those iconic gates that welcome everyone back to Hayward Field. If you have any kind of a ‘runner’s soul’ or sense of the history of this place, I challenge you to pass through those gates without having some kind of chill up the spine or maybe even a sudden surge of emotion, including a tear (if you are me). Everyone hits the track just about where a 200m race would start and then runs the curve and down the straight to the finish arch. If you aren’t so concentrated on the clock or finish mat that you forget, you can actually watch yourself finish on the JumboTron screen!

The courses are fast, mostly flat with just enough roll to keep your legs loose. There are two bumps that actually qualify as hills and you are done with them by about 8 miles. The race has been in the Top 15 BQ producers for some time. I suppose that should tell you something, whether you are looking for the BQ or just a good personal result.

Is Eugene the only race on May 1? Hardly. First of all, there is no running season weekend that doesn’t offer multiple options. It is the reality of the times and popularity of our sport. For Vancouver runners, the obvious situation is that this year, the BMO Vancouver Marathon is the same day. Last year that wasn’t so. I actually ran the half in both places, my 11th time for Vancouver and fourth for Eugene. I guess we just have to realize there are choices to make. This year I will be choosing the Eugene event. Others will need to make their own decisions.

For those who do pick Eugene, I will really look forward to greeting you at the Expo and Package Pick-Up. That is part of my job as Race Ambassador, but one I love. The Expo of any Marathon is one of my favourite places to be, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding me! For all my Vancouver area running friends please feel free to look me up and chat about the Eugene Marathon      “10 Years Running

So whaddaya say?  See you in Eugene in May!?

 

 

IS IT REALLY JUST A MONTH TO THE “FIRST HALF”?

01.13.2016
pacific road runners - bright blue

A Well Recognized Logo!

The short answer is YES.

People who know me, this blog and the race, also know this post was to be anticipated. Unlike some races I am known to love and promote unofficially, The “First Half” Half Marathon sold out months ago. Registration will not be impacted by even one runner through the words of this blog. One thing that might is VOLUNTEERS. Unlike most races of its size these days (over 2000 finishers), this is still a 100% club organized and volunteer delivered event, supported by super generous partners such as Forerunners (from day one) and Mizuno (now with the race for some eight years). Excess proceeds from the race go to Variety – The Children’s Charity and now total well in excess of $650,000!

Pre-race crowd FHHM2014

Pre-race crowd FHHM2014

For the first 20 years, members of Pacific Road Runners (“the Club”) were not allowed to run the First Half. We all had to be the core of the volunteer brigade. It did create a bit of a tension in that some really good local runners were prevented from running what is arguably Vancouver’s best half marathon. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are some fine races here, but the First Half is still the only half marathon that sells out over 2000 spots in 24 hours or less. I see that as a direct vote by runners. Some might argue that having been Race Director for several years and stage MC ever since, that I could be biased. Could be.

Anyway, it just happened that when I took over RD duties, it was coming up on the 20th Anniversary of the race. I decided an experiment was in order and the Race Committee agreed. On a one and done special deal, we would let five PRR members run (chosen by lottery) as long as they got their volunteer hours in before or after the race. Well, long story short, it worked just fine and we did not have to invoke the ‘special circumstance’ argument to return to the old policy. A small number of club members now get to run each year. A big plus is that PRR gets a runner’s eye view of why the event is held so high in the collective opinion of the running community and to keep a direct eye on any issues on course.

Normally, this post is all about what a great race it is shaping up to be and how hard everyone works and wishing runners well. All that still stands, but this time I have something very major and personal to announce. For the first time ever, maybe the ONLY time, I will be running the First Half.

For the weather, this is kind of what I had in mind for race day.

For the weather, this is kind of what I had in mind for race day.

I will put down my microphone and lace up my running shoes and find out first hand, just what it is all about. I am hoping that the running gods will favour me with one of those great running days for this experience. My argument to the current RD was basically that I wanted to do the race (please and pretty please) while I am still able. Not to be morbid, but I just had my 71st birthday and at that age your next injury might just be the last. I am very excited to have this opportunity and intend to take full advantage the experience!

Forerunners Pace Group Leaders at Eugene Marathon 2015

Forerunners Pace Group Leaders at Eugene Marathon 2015

I continue as a pace group leader at the Forerunners Saturday First Half clinic, but instead of telling tales of the event to those who will be running, I am now sharing my own excitement at being ONE OF THEM. While I’ve never run the race, I’ve run almost every part of the course at one time or another. The difference now is that I am not just giving advice to the pace group runners, I am making my own plans and strategies on how to approach each segment.

There are probably only two ways for me to run this race. One would be to just go really easy and take a couple of photographs (if weather is as spectacular is it has sometimes been), talk to volunteers and other runners and just make it a celebration. The other is to honour this race that has hosted so many of Canada’s top distance runners over the years, and do the very best I can. That means training well and running the race for time. Guess which one I will be doing! I’ll save the celebratory run for if I ever manage to BQ.

Now don’t get the wrong idea when I say I will ‘run for time’. Nobody at the pointy end of the race has anything to worry about, probably not even the better runners in my own age group, for that matter. Although I am thrilled to get a podium place when I can, I have mostly run against myself throughout my racing years. So, when I say I will run for time, it will just be the best time I can produce. Only I will know for sure how successfully I will pull that off. Whatever, I do intend to take this race as seriously as any race I’ve done in a long time.

Dylan Wykes (yellow and black) FHHM 2015 winner and event record holder.

Dylan Wykes (yellow and black) FHHM 2015 winner and event record holder.

I will be writing about the race again, nearer to the event. While I am a great proponent for running for your own reasons and to your own standards, I also have a deep love and appreciation of excellence. So, once we know who the top prospects will be, I will be talking about that a bit. This year being an Olympic year and a couple of our better runners and event winners not having yet qualified for the marathon, there may be some race strategy determining who will run and how fast. More on that when we get closer. As a teaser though, here is a list of former First Half winners. For the men: Peter Butler (won the very first First Half), Carey Nelson, Colin Dignum (2X), Phil Ellis (2X), Norm Tinkham (2X), Art Boileau (3X), Bruce Deacon (5X and record holder 1992 – 2007), Ryan Hayden (2X and record 2007), Rob Watson (2X) and Dylan Wykes (3X and current First Half record holder at 1:04:21, set in 2012).

Dayna Pidhoresky hits the tape for the 2015 Win.

Dayna Pidhoresky hits the tape for the 2015 Win.

On the women’s side: Isabelle Dittberner (won the first First Half and again in 1993), Lisa Harvey (4X), Tina Connelly (3X and event record holder at 1:12:47, set in 2004), Natasha Wodak (2X), Lucy Smith (2X) plus several notable one time winners including Ellie Greenwood, Leah Pells and Sylviane Puntous. For those who might remember, the Puntous twins were world class Triathletes, but also very good runners. They were famous for finishing One-Two and the 1991 First Half was no exception with Sylviane first at 1:15:08 and Patricia second in 1:15:13. The family that runs together…..

One should never get the impression that these wins were the complete record for these athletes. I only listed the wins, but many of these fine runners recorded other podium finishes as well and some went on to win the Masters division. And, the book is still open on the current crop of elites as to how many more First Half wins and podium places they will record.

BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh heads back through the Start and on to the Seawall

BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh heads back through the Start and on to the Seawall

The event has also been graced by the presence of some amazing older athletes, first among them being BJ (Betty Jean) McHugh, a regular at the First Half and an inspiration to all. According to the records posted at the First Half web site, BJ holds the age group records for W60-64 through W80+. The times range from 1:39:40 for W60-64 to 2:07:07 for W80+ (by my calculation, done when she was 82). Another runner of note is Herb Phillips who posted a record time of 1:23:19 for M65-69. I almost hesitate on mentioning these few people because it leaves out so many other superb athletes.

Everybody must now go to the Start!

Everybody must now go to the Start!

I would be remiss in not mentioning that a huge number of the less noteworthy runners out there are doing their own amazing races. I will tell just one story here but think it sums things up and because it was personal and moving for me. I guess it is also a great example of why we all need to give back to the sport we love. As I usually do when being stage MC, last year, after making the final announcement that the race was about to start, I went out to actually watch the start of the race. My usual spot is at Pacific and Davie, about 200m down-course from the starting line. You can get some great photographs from that point, and for no extra cost, if you just wait a few minutes, everybody comes right back past that location after the initial approximately one mile loop around BC Place. Because things start to string out a bit, it is also a great place to spot people you know.

Random mid-pack photo from around the time the following happened. FHHM 2015

Random mid-pack photo from around the time the following happened. FHHM 2015

I was standing there cheering and photographing and chatting with Karen and Peter Butler from Forerunners and my co-MC, Anjulie Latta (who actually has a personal link to what now follows).  The elites had passed by as well as a good many strong runners, when all of a sudden a young woman dashed over to me yelling as she came, “Are you Dan??” Having no time to think of why I might deny it, I said “YES”. She proceeded to give me a big hug and thank me profusely for getting her where she was (running the First Half). So, here is the deal. Several years before I had been her Sun Run InTraining Clinic Coordinator and had helped her get started on the road to running. Anjulie, as it happens, was the Area Coordinator at the time and thereby, my ‘boss’. The conversation was brief as you might imagine, but this young woman told me she had done every Sun Run since that first clinic and some 11 half marathons to boot!  Then, she was gone. The whole thing took just a few seconds, but it was very emotional for me and apparently for her because it was important enough for her to run off course to thank me. It made me realize that contributing what you can to assist others can have an impact far beyond anything you might imagine. No, not every time and not for everyone, but often enough and to a level most of us would never understand. I cried a little.

And for all of this, and because so many work so hard to put on this race, I just have to give it my very best come February 14, 2016!