My personal journey as a runner, the highs, the lows, the training and the races, and my thoughts and feelings on all of it and life in general.
Lincoln Marathon Race Report
"Make friends with pain and you will never be alone"
- Ken Clouber (Leadville 100 Founder)
Lincoln Marathon shirt & bib
What a crazy weekend!! This is almost not even a race report as much as a wild weekend report!! It's hard to even know where to start with this one. I guess I'll start with the fact that this was my 4th marathon so far in 2012. I had already decided that after this event it would be time for a little break to let my body and mind recoup a little bit. It's been a fun first just over 4 months of the year, but it's also been tough. This weekend was quite a way to bring this first part of the year to a close and move into a nice rest, I earned it for sure!! Let's start with Friday.
Sculptures on the Kansas City Art Institute campus
The race was on Sunday, but I took Friday through Monday off work to enjoy a nice, long weekend. I went to the Roeland Park Aquatic Center in the morning for a good workout. I managed 1,200 meters in 55:57, my highest total distance in a swim yet! The Kansas City Art Institute was having an open showing at their campus Friday evening and one of our friends, Laura, from the Karate classes we used to attend had some works on display in their photography department. She invited Kristy, another friend Amanda and me to come out. We were happy to go. In my younger days I was an artist myself, so I love a good art showing! We saw Laura and her works and walked around the campus seeing lots of great photography, sculptures, painting, drawings and more. It was a great evening and a wonderful showing.
My Schwinn OR2 & bike trainer
I slept in a little bit on Saturday morning then pulled out my new bike trainer (given to me by fellow ORC member Tim) for a quick spin. I hooked up my bike and took a nice half hour spin on low resistance just to get the legs moving but not put in too much work. I did 7.58 miles with very little resistance. It was interesting playing a little with the resistance settings on the training in combination with the gears on the bike to adjust the total resistance. It was a nice workout, but it's definitely more fun to ride outdoors! My legs felt great after the ride, but I still wasn't all that excited about a 3+ hour car ride up to Lincoln!!
HCR Group at the pastathon (left to right starting in
the back: Mark, Ron, Bobbie, Penny, Me,
Kristy and Jill)
After that it was finally time to load up the car and for Kristy & I to head out for Lincoln. It's not a bad drive since it's short, but there isn't much to see between Gardner, KS & Lincoln, NE. The time does NOT go by quickly!! We got to our hotel right around 3:00, got checked in and rested for a bit. We headed out to the Expo to pick up our packets, meet our friends Mark & Jill, Team Ruhs (Ron & Bobbie Ruhs) and finally get to meet Penny from our HCR Facebook group! It was great to finally meet Penny and catch up with our old friends. This is the largest event I've ever run in with 10,000 registered participants (8,000 half marathoners and 2,000 full marathoners). Packet pickup was a disorganized mess, in my opinion, but I'm spoiled by the small events I generally take part in. I fought through the crowd (only two tables with about 3 workers each for 10,000 participants) and got my packet. After that we all met in the lobby of the hotel and headed over to the free pasta dinner. We had a great time and enjoyed some good pasta and salad before heading home and getting everything ready for the morning.
Memorial Stadium; Nebraska's home football field and
start/finish point for the race
We got up bright and early to get showered and out to the race. We did misjudge the time a little and didn't get to the race until right as it was starting. That's where it was a bit fortunate this is such a big event!! With so many runners they set up a wave start. Every few minutes they would allow about 1,000 runners to start; in fact, with this wave start I wasn't even lining up on the same street as the start line!! I had decided that I would take a shot at a PR. I figured that after this race I'd have about 2 1/2 months before my next marathon/Ultra (Psycho Psummer 50k 7/14) so I'd have time to take a rest after this. I found the 4:30 pace group and lined up with them and Mark joined as well. My PR is still from my first marathon ('11 Napa Valley Marathon) with a 4:36:20 so I knew 4:30 would be tough, but I felt if everything worked out well it would be doable. About 35 minutes after the official race start my pace group finally made it to the line and got on with our race.
Lincoln Marathon course map
Everything started out great, although a little crowded. It was nice and cool after a night of thunderstorms and there was plenty of cloud cover. It was a little humid, but not stifling. If these conditions held I knew it would be a great day. Our pacers were pretty great and kept us almost perfectly on pace mile after mile, having good conversation and tips the whole way. I really enjoy running with Smart Pacing pacers, I like the even effort concept so much better than even pace. I always burn out too fast with even pace, whereas with even effort I can warm up and build into the overall pace. There was a ton of community support for the event; more people out watching and cheering than I've seen at almost any event before. Also, the aid stations were FANTASTIC!! They were large, well staffed, all stations had Gatorade and water, and all but 1 or 2 had cups of ice as well. Each station I would drink a cup of Gatorade, dump a cup of water on my head and dump a cup of ice into my hat. This really helped combat the humidity.
Mark, Ron & me at the pastathon
Everything was going wonderfully and I was easily keeping with the group. I was feeling strong and felt that as long as I was still with the group at the half way point I would easily PR. The first real issue with the course came around the 10k mark. At that point the course funnels down onto a jogging/biking path (for my local folks it's about 2/3 the width of the Indian Creek Trail). Okay, so we are cramming 10,000 runners onto this little path? Not a great plan. It's a nice trail, and it's scenic, but there were still far too many runners together to squeeze onto such a small path. I was managing the crowds pretty well for the most part; making a move to stay with my group wen I could and slowing a little to let someone squeeze in when it was obvious they were going to do it anyway. Then one idiot lady decided she was the only important person on the course. She came around me on the grass and started to move in front of me. As I said, my plan was to give everyone room and make up any lost time once we got off the trail, so I just let her step in front of me. Well, her (and the headphones blaring in her ears) came to a slow walk the instant she stepped in front of me! I ran into her because she was no more than a foot away from me when she stopped and she stepped on my right foot. I gave her a few choice words about trail etiquette and how I felt about her stopping right in front of me right after passing, but I don't think she heard me anyway over her music, and she certainly didn't care. This little move certainly turned my attitude negative for a while and caused my right big toe to be a bit tender for a few miles. I got over it, but it definitely showed that this was far to small a trail for such a huge event.
The back of the chairs at the pastathon. I hate the
Nebraska Cornhuskers, but it was a neat experience
Around 8 1/2 miles we got back off the trail and back onto the roads. Things opened back up a little at this point and the giant crowds that had packed together again broke back up a little. Things went pretty well from that point on to the half way point where the half marathoners turned off to the finish and we continued through an out and back for the final half of the race. At that point thing were really warming up. The sun was out strong and almost no clouds in the sky, also there was little or no shade on the second half of the course. Add that to the humidity we already had and things were getting tough. After about 14 miles or so I dropped back a little from my group not wanting to push too hard with the heat. I was feeling good still since I was putting ice in my hat at each aid station. The volunteers at this event were great! Encouraging, fun, enthusiastic and eager to help. They certainly had a hand in making this a fun event. I was feeling good and staying within sight of my pace group. I knew as long as I could keep them in sight I'd still be set for a PR.
The video board showing finishers in Memorial Stadium
As some of you may recall, I've been having a random knot in my left calf from time to time over the last couple months. Well, it hadn't shown up for the first 17 miles, then, suddenly, there it was. There was all the sudden a knot in my calf. I was now hobbling a little. I kept fighting through; mostly running, but walking some more to let the pressure off my calf. At 19 1/2 miles I final hit the turnaround and was headed back. I knew my PR chances were gone as my calf was getting worse and I was mostly walking. Just before the turn around I suddenly realized a sudden pain in the front of my ankle. Apparently in my attempt to compensate for my calf I had aggravated my ankle. I was upset at this point, but knew I could still fight through for a decent finish. I was mostly keeping to myself. I was just hoping my ankle wouldn't get worse. I ran quite a bit, but walked as well. Running made my calf lock up, but walking made my ankle feel like it was being hit with a hammer. Under the circumstances I might as well run as much as possible rather than walk; at least that way I'd be done faster! Not too far after the turn around Bobbie passed me. She could see I wasn't doing well so she asked what was up. I told her about my calf problem and she offered me electrolyte tablets, but I told her that it's not a cramping issue, my electrolytes were good. She continued on and not long after I saw Lindsy shortly followed by Ron. Everyone seemed to be struggling a little for their own reasons.
The finish line on the 50 yard line of the football field
I was able to keep up more running than walking until about mile 24 when I was stuck with mostly walking; well, limping actually. It didn't feel like anything serious, it felt mostly like an inflamed tendon. I had a strong feeling that struggling through the last couple miles would do no major damage so I just kept on going. Eventually as I was nearing 25.2 miles an aid worker on a bike came up behind me. He asked if I would be able to finish or if he needed call someone to come pick me up. I told him I appreciated it, but he'd have to cut my foot off to keep me from finishing! That and the fact that I was coming up within a mile of the hated Cornhusker's home field kicked in my stubborn streak and I started running again. There was no way I was going to slowly limp across their 50 yard line! My ankle wasn't hurting while I ran, but my calf was on fire. As I came down the tunnel and through the end zone headed toward the finish line just 50 yards away, I was full of pride wearing my purple K-State shirt with a big, grey Powercat right up front!! Several people yelled at me that I was brave to wear that on that field; I just laughed and kept going! I came across the finish line in 4:59:33, got my medal and moved enough to be out of the way and laid down to give my ankle a rest.
After a few minutes I got up and headed out toward the opposite end zone where Mark and Jill were waiting; Kristy was on the other side of the field watching for Lindsy & Ron. I sat down and Jill went to get an ice bag for my ankle. Jill was not real happy about how her race had gone and Mark was downright pissed. Apparently he had struggled with the out and back section of the last half of the course and finished just about 5 minutes before me. We waited around for a while after heading back out on the field so we could see Lindsy & Ron finish. It was cool sitting around on the Nebraska football field watching runners on the big screen and as they crossed the finish line. It had been a long, hard race for us all, but we had managed. Unfortunately I never got to see Penny. She had been struggling the last few weeks of training and that morning and had dropped to the half marathon. She was disappointed in herself, but I was proud of her for doing the right thing for her health. I've heard it reported that the average finish time was down 13 minutes from last year and a record number of runners had either DNF'ed or dropped from the full to the half. This doesn't surprise me looking at the results. It was a tough day and we all struggled. Penny should be proud for making the right decision; heck she still beat my half marathon PR by 8 minutes! Even if she's disappointed, I'm proud for her.
Artwork on the univerity campus
The art from below
After everyone had finished we headed over to the place the pastathon had been held for some post race food and conversation. We all hung out there for a while, had some food and cake and chatted about our races, past and future races and life in general. Just good time hanging out with friends that had all shared in the struggle together. Eventually Scott from the Greater Omaha Area Trail Runners group (GOATz) came along. Ron and Bobbie are members of the group and I have interacted with the group quite a bit on Facebook so it was cool to meet him face to face. They are a fairly new group and as a member of 2 trail running groups I'm of the opinion that the more great trail running groups we have in the Midwest the better so I'm doing my best to support them. It was fun to spend time with my friends and meet a new one before leaving town. As we all walked back to our cars we saw this cool art work on the university campus (pictured above). It was a bunch of soda bottles hanging with some coloring in the bottom of them. From below they look like flowers. Pretty cool!
Yeah, I earned this Wendy's Classic Triple Combo!
So, you thing this reports almost over? Hardly!! The day got A LOT more interesting from here!! What a day. Kristy & I headed back home to Gardner. This was going to be a long drive, but we were both anxious to get home. After a little while we were both getting hungry so we stopped for some gas and my favorite post race meal; a burger!! We found a gas station with a Wendy's next to it and I ordered up a Classic Triple Combo!! Three greasy patties of post race greatness!! It was great and could only have been better if Wendy's served beer! After eating we got back on the road and had about 2 hours to go before we'd finally get home.
A pic from a local TV station of the funnel cloud
we saw from the highway on our way home.
So it's over now? Not yet! As we were a mere 15 minutes away from home we saw a pretty good size funnel cloud between us and home. Kristy was freaking out; this was the first time she'd actually seen one. I'm not sure how that's possible living in Kansas, I've seen several. We headed towards Kristy's mom's house at 151st & Ridgeview in Olathe as the funnel dissipated and went back up into the clouds. There was a ton of rain and hail, but as we got closer to Rosie's house the rain lightened and the hail stopped. Sometimes that is a sign that tornadic activity is coming so we got inside and got caught up on the warnings from Bryan Busby on Channel 9. Things were for the most part letting up at that point, but we waited until everything was safe. We finally got a break in the weather so we got ready to hop in the car to get home before things got out of control again. Well, not so fast!! We heard a thud come from the basement; there was no one in the basement, so we went down to check out what caused the noise. It wasn't good. She has two basement windows with wells on the outside. There was water literally pouring through the seems of one of the windows. We went over to it and there was about 5 inches of water built up in the well that was all making it's way in and had knocked a picture off the wall that had been hanging below the window. Kristy grabbed a shop vac and started trying to get the water cleaned up and Rosie & I headed outside to see what was causing it. She had recently done some landscaping and the paving stones and mulch she had used had formed a dam forcing all the water from the torrential rain to pile into the well. I immediately started pulling up stones and throwing them aside out into the yard and standing in the giant pool trying to move as much of the mulch as I possibly could. Eventually I managed to clear it enough to let the water pool away from the window and piled enough up close to the window to create a barrier to prevent the water from pooling against it again. We spent about and hour to an hour and a half cleaning all this up. We finally got to leave and head home where we had just enough to take our dogs outside then head over to one of Kristy's pet sitting client's house to take care of their dogs. After all this we settled into our bed to watch some TV and let our minds settle down and catch up with how tired our bodies were. Then (go figure) the power went out!! We decided to just call it a day at that point and right as we were laying down to go to sleep the power came back on. It didn't matter, I was ready to sleep.
One side of the finisher's medal
Now it's done. A long, crazy weekend with another tough but fun race. Marathon/Ultra #8 all time, #4 for the year is now in the books! Also, Nebraska is now only the second state (joining my home state of Kansas) with more than 1 marathon/Ultra. I now have a bit of a break. I'm going to take a week or so off running to let my calf and ankle recover before I get back into building up. I'll jump back in in plenty of time to be ready for the races I have this summer and for the Hawk 50 mile in Sept. This was yet another step. The next big step is the Psycho Psummer 50k; that'll give me 8 marathons/Ultras in 10 months making me a 2 Star Marathon Maniac!! I know to many of my Maniac friends that isn't much, but I'm excited at the possibility of an extra star!!
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