What can I say? I've been busy. I worked, I traveled to Los Angeles, and oh, I ran a half marathon.
Yes, the 35th Annual Lincoln National Guard Marathon and Half-Marathon was this past weekend. And let me tell you: I was a ball of nerves leading up to this race.
First, despite being a Nebraska native, I have not spent any time in Lincoln. Sure, I went there for my fourth-grade field trip to the capitol, and yeah, I went to the training facilities when I was in the Olympic Development Program for soccer. But I have not been there as a grown-up.
Therefore, I had no idea what to expect for the race.
Give me any route in Des Moines, and I'll know exactly what the hills look like, exactly how far I'll be running, etc. Not the case for Lincoln.
So on Saturday, my mom and I headed to the expo to pick up my packet and drive the route. It was so cool being among all the Nebraska regalia - since I've lived in Iowa the past eleven years.
The course was marked really nicely. At every mile, there was a giant flag and a mile marker. Maybe I was delirious, but I don't remember this about Des Moines. (It also helped my mom and I a lot on Saturday try and figure out what the route was - on Sunday, it wasn't that big a deal since I just followed the thousands of runners.)
After driving the route, my mom and I headed back to Des Moines to catch a movie (The Five-Year Engagement) since we figured I shouldn't be on my feet too much and then headed to Spaghetti Works for a salad bar and all-you-can-eat pasta.
We headed home early and set out everything needed for the race in the morning:
- Tennis shoes: I went with the tried-and-true Asics as opposed to my minimalist Sauconys. It might be time for a new pair, though, as this was their second half marathon, and I've put countless miles of training on 'em.
- Socks: I found a pair of blister-resistant socks at the Nike Factory Store, and OMG - do they work wonders or what?! Aside from a blister on the medial side of my big toe, my feet do not look like they just ran 13.1 miles.
- Water bottle: duh. I've been using this particular bottle my sister brought me back from Estes Park non-stop lately. I love it.
- Sports bra: I found a new one from Champion (only $15!). It actually holds the girls in place (shockingly) and doesn't chafe. Now I need to go buy eight more of them.
- Spibelt with fuel: I packed gummy bears (yum) and sports beans. More on this later.
- Headband: my mom and I found the "One Hot Mess" headband at the expo, and she bought it for me since it's just about the most perfect sentiment ever. (Thanks, Mama!) Also, these headbands that they sell at every expo are amazing: they stay put, and they totally keep the sweat out of the eyeballs - a definite necessity.
- Earbuds: duh.
- Garmin: I don't know what the heck happened, but despite charging it all night long, I started the race with only 29% battery life. My watch died before the race was over. I was not happy.
- Pants: I bought a pair of Nike tights that I love. I swear: Nike makes by far the best workout gear for women.
- Shirt + bib: I did, however, stray from Nike and went with an Under Armor top because it was super lightweight (and super cute). I need to buy a few more of those guys. More on the bib later.
- Pace bracelet: I was shooting for 2:30. Oops.
- Immodium: I take it before every race - just in case.
- Earrings: I have to look cute - duh.
At 5:15 a.m., my mom and I braved a torrential thunderstorm and headed west to Lincoln. Thankfully, the storm cleared before she kicked me out of the car to find a parking spot.
I spent about 45 minutes just milling about. First, I had to find the porta potties.
Unfortunately, I couldn't poop right away, which really stressed me out. (I'm sorry that this is TMI, but it's a part of running - get over it.) So, I jogged around a bit, stretched a bit, jogged around a bit some more to try and jostle the intestines, and finally - about 15 minutes before race time - the "runners' trots" hit me.
It was kind of nice just chilling before the race. I didn't know anyone, so I put on some Mat Kearney and just calmed myself down prior to running.
Eventually, I wandered over to my pace group:
I was shooting for 2:30, which I know was a lofty goal. In Des Moines, I ran a 2:55, but I figured I could do much faster this time because last time I was severely injured. However, I didn't take into account a few factors (to be discussed later).
Unlike Des Moines, Lincoln had a staggered start. So, we all lined up according to our projected pace, and then we were able to start by groups. I liked this a lot, as we weren't super fidgety waiting to cross the finish line.
Soon enough, my corral was off. For the first four miles, I did a really good job of sticking with the 2:30 pace group. Then at one of the water stations, I had to tie my shoe, and it all went downhill from there: I had to sprint to get back with my group, and then I was worn out, and then I just kind of fell back. But, I was okay with that: running with a bit of walking is more my style anyway.
Around mile eight (maybe?!) another woman who had dropped out of our pace group caught up to me, and we ran the rest of the race together. It was really, really nice. We chatted a little bit (but we were also pretty darn tired), and we paced each other nicely: walked a little, ran a little, walked a little, ran a little, etc.
Mile 11 was pretty difficult, but we told ourselves that we were going to run the remaining 1.1 miles if it killed us. My new best friend's knee was about to fall off, though, and she started walking right when we were passing Memorial Stadium. So, I became the cheerleader and kept repeating all those darn mantras I tell myself every time I run:
Your body is stronger than your mind thinks it is.
You're almost there - just a little further.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
And, we made it. We entered the chute and sprinted to the 50-yard line.
And were projected on the Jumbotron:
And we got our medals:
And then continued through the chute and ran through the tunnel where the Huskers enter the field on game day:
This was my first time ever in Memorial Stadium, and it was pretty freakin' cool.
And, I finished my second half marathon nine minutes faster than I did my first: 2:46.
It was not the time that I was shooting for (obviously), but I'm still pretty proud of myself and recognize the factors that played into the increased time. Also, I like to make excuses, so bear with me.
- When I ran Des Moines, I was actually training for a full marathon (but got injured) and therefore felt a lot more prepared.
- Due to my trip to Los Angeles the week prior, I really shirked my training and instead had a little too much fun making unhealthy choices.
- I had to take some medicine prior to running that causes drowsiness, so clearly I was not at my full energy level.
- While I ate a good pasta meal the night before, I don't think I ate enough, and I don't think I ate enough throughout the day.
- I need to really work on fueling during the actual race: I have a very hard time eating anything (GU, sports beans, gummy bears, oranges, etc.) while I'm running, and that obviously depletes my glycogen stores, making running extremely difficult.
- Despite driving the course the day before, I didn't know the course. That's hard.
I had an overall good experience in Lincoln, but there were a couple of things that I didn't like: first, girls had pink bibs and boys had blue bibs. Don't get me wrong: I love pink. I just thought there was something a little wrong about that. Second, I thought there could've been more water stations - and better spaced-out water stations. Third, GU would've been nice to have offered at some point on the course. Fourth, there was relatively no on-the-course entertainment (whereas Des Moines has live music at least once each mile).
Don't get me wrong, though: it was a good experience, and I'm very proud of myself for having accomplished it - especially by myself.
Running - especially in races - is truly an amazing thing. It is inspirational, it is motivational, and for me, it is almost spiritual.
There will definitely be more of these in my future.