When Running Breaks Your Heart {Eugene 2013}

This is not the post I had hoped to write following this weekend’s Eugene Marathon. My mind had crafted a post filled with sunshine and roses and tales of awesome PRs. And while there were several awesome PRs achieved this weekend (Meggie, Jocelyn, Mollie, Sarah, Kristina, Robyn, to name a few), unfortunately, mine wasn’t one of them.  No, my race ended with yet another “close but no cigar” on the ever elusive BQ quest.  

I worked harder in this training cycle than I can ever remember working since I did my 1/2 IM in 2009.  I had a great coach, I PR’d every distance I raced all while training- i.e. no taper racing.  When we moved to Jacksonville in February, we were fortunate to immediately find an awesome running club, PRS, full of runners who have pushed us and improved our running in just a few short months.  I BELIEVED going into this race.

Sometimes running breaks your heart.

Miles 1-8:
Things started off well with Corey and I running together and “close” to several others we knew.  We immediately passed the Oiselle cheer squad and settled into our pace.  Thanks to Mason’s course preview we were correctly positioned to run the tangents- my Garmin beeped on the mile marker through 10 miles!  We sped up a little through the downhill between miles 5-6, but settled back in and efficiently climbed “the” hill at 8. 

Miles 9-13:  The cheer squad was once again ready for us at mile 9 – handing off much needed hydration (thanks KMet for being my sherpa!).  As we rounded the corner to mile 10, Corey mentioned possibly needing a bathroom stop.  If you know me at all, you know bathroom stops are my middle name in races.  I saw a group of porta potties coming up and said IF they are 2 open, we’ll stop.  Scored 2…less than 30 seconds later, we’re back out on the course.  I had been fighting my “urge” until that point.  I thought a quick stop would be a magic cure, and I could settle back in for the rest of the race.  We finally hit the trails and super pacer Mason was waiting for us.  He asked how we were doing and Corey admitted she was having a moment.  I chose not to speak- I felt ok (except for a slightly cranky hamstring) + wanted Corey to get the verbal encouragement she needed from Mason.  We kept on trucking and crossed the 1/2 in 1:45 and change.  Right on pace.

Miles 13-17:  Just past the 1/2, Meggie scooted around us, and I decided her rhody shorts + hot pink socks were just the visual focus I needed to zone out so I latched on.  I don’t even think I realized who she was running with at the time, but about 2 minutes later, Stephanie ran up beside me on her way to catch up to Meggie.  Yes, Ben and Steph were running a few miles with Meggie so I was definitely all about hanging on to that group of awesomeness.  Around mile 16, we again hit the Oiselle Cheer Squad then wound our way to the river path. 

chasing the rhodys eugene 2013 
Following my leaders at Mile 16- photo stolen from mbsthinks instagram

It’s here that I made my first critical mistake of the race.  I gave in and stopped at a porta potty.  I let my rabbits go and stopped…for 2 minutes…EPIC race fail.

Miles 18-23:  My stomach was pissed.  It never settled back down.  Anything in= something out.  Nutrition and hydration disaster.  And with that, mentally, my focus was gone.  I couldn’t get out of my own head.  I felt like I was hyperventilating multiple times.  I tried to do mental math and figure out how bad my race was going to end up.  And my run haze brain actually thought if I just kept my pace around a 9 I still had a shot at sub-3:40.  A mental mathematician I am not.

Miles 24-26.2:  Realizing I’d dumped my mental calculator in the last porta potty, I now knew it was highly unlikely I could make up the time running solo, but I kept begging my legs to try.  I definitely picked up the pace through here and again, thanks to knowing the course, I knew to give all I had as soon as we made the final turn onto Agate.  The Oiselle Cheer Squad had now grown (all those who ran the 1/2 were now cheering on the full) and was literally lining the course on both sides at 26.  In classic ‘smile even when you’re crying’ form, I grinned and waved pushing on to the field of dreams- or nightmares in my case. 

Mile 26 eugene 2013 
Photo cred Steph

Head up, {clipped} wings out- I made the final turn onto Hayward Field.  I hate that I couldn’t appreciate the moment.  Like OUaL, I had a little visit to medical so I’ll take that as a sign I left it all out there.  (it was brief, and definitely a result of my GI issues)


16 seconds shy of BQ…again.  Speechless, heartbroken, frustrated, angry.  I have a lot of great memories from this weekend which I can’t wait to cover in a different post.  For my own sake, I just need to get this all out there.  Consider it my virtual form of PT.   

I learned a lot of things this weekend.  The hardest lesson being that sometimes running breaks your heart…fortunately, it’s not a permanent injury.


About fashionablemiles

30-something runner, triathlete and wannabe fashionista
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27 Responses to When Running Breaks Your Heart {Eugene 2013}

  1. Sarah OUaL says:

    Oh Holly. I just can’t imagine that sinking feeling at 24, especially with the bathroom stops. So impressed with the smile you mustered out for us – your BQ is right there, you’ve run some great races this year. A stars-align day and you’ll blow it out of the water! More hugs – so glad we got to spend the weekend together!

    • thank you! it was a STELLAR weekend overall and i’m so glad i got to be part of it- even with the race outcome. i definitely think we should make it a tradition- i’ll just plan for the 1/2 so i can just eat, drink and plank. 🙂 had a blast- thanks for the type-A planning to make it great for all!!!

  2. This recap absolutely broke my heart for you! I think we were on the same shuttle in Portland going back to the airport – I remember someone saying they missed their BQ by seconds 😦 I hope you’re recovering well and mending your spirit. It sounds like you have a great group of supporters!

    • oh my gosh, yes- the shuttle from the rental car to the terminal! sorry i wasn’t more friendly. i was tired and still in a bit of a funk about the race. i remember you saying you did well though- so congrats!! 🙂

  3. Reading this recap totally broke my heart for you 😦 I think we were on the shuttle together in Portland going back to the airport on Monday – I remember hearing someone say they missed their BQ by seconds. I hope you are recovering well and mending your spirit. It sounds like you have a great group of supportive people there for you!

  4. Nicole Hart says:

    That is a tough one, Holly. I Don’t even know what to say. If you can just get your bathroom issues out of the way, you are totally capable of the BQ. The marathon is a tough beast to conquer. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve done it yet, as I just strive to get under 4 hours! That’s why I keep doing them. Keep your head up, you still ran a time that most of us would be proud of. You’ll get that BQ. You have it in you.

    • thanks nicole! i know the time itself isn’t bad (my first marathon was 5:09 and change)- i just didn’t run the race i trained for. but, you’re absolutely right – the race day unknowns go with the nature of marathons. thanks again for the support. 🙂

  5. Oh Holly, I wish I could be there to give you a hug. Running can have some amazing highs, and sadly often a lot of lows. You are an amazing, strong runner though, and I know you’ll get that BQ soon.

  6. Terzah says:

    Broken heart here, too, though it’s weirdly easier when you miss it by a giant margin like I did (and my failure was due to my own dumb mistake in going out too fast–everything else was perfect). When I saw your tweets, I practically shouted NOOOOOO in the hotel room. I was convinced it would be your day. That day will (obviously!) still come.

    I’m glad you linked to those folks who got PRs, because I was starting to worry that everyone had missed it. My two girls Kathy and Cynthia both had to drop the marathon because of injury, my race stunk, I heard about you and Corey….and then to top it all off I met two girls in line at the airport who had both missed it by four and eight minutes respectively.

    Is Houston your next shot? I’m doing Chicago–but taking a bit of a mental break in May and June! Hope you’re planning to be nice to yourself too–you deserve it.

    • I was so, so sad for you too. I know you’ve been trying for this goal as long if not longer than I have. Huge bummer- sending BIG hugs to you!! not sure my next move yet…few things swimming around in my head. I’m planning to be in Chicago cheering (with Corey) so hopefully I’ll see you there!!!

  7. Kristen L says:

    Oh no! Sorry to hear all your hard work didn’t result in the race you had hoped for that day. Sounds like you definitely have it in you to make that 16 seconds. Keep on trying — you will make it!

  8. I wish I had known to tell you not to go to the bathroom! You have a BQ in you. I know it. You don’t even need the stars to align…just the stomach stars! You’re well trained and wish your stomach didn’t give you such a hard time. You handled yourself with such grace after the race. A great example for us less mature out there (ie me!).

    Hugs and on to the next!

  9. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast says:

    Argh… so, so frustrating. Especially knowing that you were on track and without those bathroom stops you would have HAD IT! Running can definitely break your heart. I cannot believe you came within seconds again… hope you bounce back quickly. You know you’ll get there!

  10. Pingback: Where the Magic Came From | Once Upon a (L)ime

  11. elizabeth says:

    😦 my race stalking had me sad for you at the end. you’re right, running can break your heart-but when you do get that BQ you will cherish it even more. I know it’s coming. damn that stomach of yours!

  12. runwithholly says:

    Aha! So you’re the other running/blogger Holly. 😉

    Just found you over here from Sarah OUaL (I think…or someone else who was with your crazy crew in Eugene!), and juuuust realized you were also a ‘Holly’…probably the one I’ve been noticing in the Eugene posts. 🙂

    I’m new here, but I don’t have to know you well to know that missing a BQ like that (for…the second time…) SUCKS. All I can offer is:

    1. It’ll be all that much sweeter when you actually DO it.
    2. You’ll have a rather hilarious story to tell when the sting wears off (probably after #1 happens).

    Until then…remember the time with friends, laugh at yourself a bit, and don’t give up. With time, your broken heart will heal. I promise. Until then – hang tough.

  13. Reading this, what stands out to me is that you came in 16 seconds over your goal even with a 2 minute bathroom stop and major GI issues during the second half of the race. That kind of mental tenacity will get you your BQ! I was sad I couldn’t join the flock in Eugene this year, but planning on it next year!

  14. The marathon is such a beast. I totally feel your pain – my story was very similar – great training cycle, never missed a workout, PRed at all distances w/o tapering, coach says I can run 3:30…..and I run a 3:40, missing my BQ (my qualifying time is 3:35) despite every piece of data and every person I know saying I can do it. You are SO close – I know you will get it but I also know how hard it is to hear someone say those words because if you run marathons you know how FREAKING HARD they are, no matter how fast or slow you run them and the thought of training for and running one again can be daunting. My advice would be to take a mental break from all of it and then go back out there fresh and it’ll come to you 🙂

    And PS it was great meeting you at Eugene – maybe I’ll see you again next year and we can make that course our bitch 🙂

  15. Page says:

    Oh Holly. That feeling is just horrible and I’m so sorry it didn’t all come together. The good news is that you are strong, resilient and amazing. Maybe it didn’t happen this time, but it WILL happen some day. I promise. ❤

  16. lschwecherl says:

    “It’s not a permanent injury.” That is FOR SURE, and I’m so excited for you to reach your BQ in due time. I know you have it in you (and you do, too, which makes it that much more frustrating…) but it’ll come. And hopefully I’ll be there to see it! (:

  17. Jocelyn says:

    I know it was NOT the race that you wanted, but just think how sweet it will be when you BQ! And what a story to tell everyone at that Boston Start Line. The downs are what make the ups so great.

    But can I say that I think you looked the best in all the pictures of anyone racing!!!! So PR in photogenic-ness. 🙂

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