I didn’t expect my first run in Eugene to be a race. But here I am, in yet another race, the Turkey Trot Eugene, in the city referred to as Track Town U.S.A. A 4 mile race along the Willamette River bike path. Chad registered Brit, Ellie and me along with himself, his daughter Rachel and his son Collier, thinking we’d want to work up a sweat before feasting later.
The weather could not be more perfect. About 30° at the start, no wind and full sun. I run a brisk 2 mile warmup and feel comfortable running in just shorts and a single long sleeve t-shirt. I time the warmup well as my heart rate is still elevated at the start and I run the first mile in 6:16. I’ve never run this fast for a 5K (3.1 mile) race. I figure this is partly due to the cold temperature and maybe the lower elevation, but also because I’m excited. Eugene is the most storied distance running town in the country. They invented the jogging craze in the ’70s. And this is a Pac-12 town – home to the University of Oregon Ducks. I’m obligated by my alma mater CU to represent and I’m in race mode.
Chad doesn’t need motivation. He just does everything with gusto. Here he is crossing the Greenway Bridge near the end of the race. He might be in a hurry to get back because he’s responsible for starting the turkey.
Collier runs in close behind Chad. I miss his photo because my glasses are fogged over. The girls come in running together.
I slow down after my first fast mile to a 6:43 pace. Not exactly slow for me but enough to catch my breath. I find myself in a race after 2 miles with a guy who looks about my age. We cross the Willamette River here on the Defazio Bridge and head back toward the start on our 4 mile loop. The trees tower along the river, letting me know I’m in Orgeon. Leaves as big as backyards float down onto the trail while fog steams up from the river. This is one of the prettiest courses I’ve ever run, so perfectly fall.
I feel great, running in the shadow of Prefontaine. I race to the end with a 6:27 mile 3 and 6:25 4th mile for a 26:03 final time and 3rd place in my age division. Eugene is as competitive as Boulder. The Campbells are prepping dinner now and we expect Matt and Ashley to drive down from Portland any minute to join us along with Karen’s parents who are up from Austin. Happy Thanksgiving.