Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lincoln Half Marathon Race Recap

As I mentioned last night, we had a 4:00 a.m. wake-up call on Sunday morning.

Let's talk about why we opted for such an early rising for a 7:00 a.m. start time. First, Lincoln is about 45 minutes from Omaha, and we were unsure of the traffic situation in downtown Lincoln, near the start of the race. Second, we wanted enough time to digest our food, poop it all out (I apologize to all of you non-runners who read this blog, but runners like to talk about the gross reality of the sport), and get in as much last-minute hydration as possible.

It turns out that we could've slept in a bit longer: even though the race started at 7:00 a.m., my corral didn't end up crossing the start line until about 7:49 a.m. That was a lot of standing around in the cold.

But, in that time I was able to have some pre-race poopies (in the field house, not the porta-potties), which was nice.

You're welcome.

Around 6:30, we decided to head outside and scope out the starting area.

We were so far back in the corrals that we actually had to turn a corner before lining up.

We listened to the National Anthem (and got a bit teary), an invocation (first race I've been to where that happened), a cannon to signify the start of the race, and lots and lots and lots of witty remarks by the announcer -- as we waited nearly an hour to get the heck out of the corrals.

Good thing there was ample time for pre-race selfies.

I was going to listen to my pre-race get-focused playlist (more on that at a later date), but instead, I found myself chatting up the people around me. I was in a group of first-time marathoners, and they were all super nervous. It was awesome hearing them talk about the marathon -- and being able to reassure them that they would do great, that it is such a great accomplishment regardless of time, etc. It made me super pumped for them. I hope their races went well.

Finally, I turned the corner!
Getting closer!

Finally, at 7:49 a.m., I was off.

I had my beats bumpin', my Garmin going, and iSmoothRun telling me when to run and walk. And interestingly, I ignored iSmoothRun for quite a while -- 3.5 miles to be exact. I just felt so good.

For quite a long time (up until the first water stop, actually), I was with the 2:25 pace group -- and, I was feeling good with the 2:25 pace group. After huffing and puffing up a little hill, though, I decided that if I wanted to keep feeling good, I should probably start occasional one-minute walk breaks. So, I did. But, I did not walk every time that iSmoothRun told me to; instead, I gauged how I was feeling and responded appropriately. And that worked very well.

Around mile four, I felt a pretty sweet blister starting to develop on my left arch. I could tell that it was going to be quite the doozy since I had to run another nine miles on it, but I kept on truckin', knowing that if I stopped to treat it in anyway, getting my shoe back on was going to be quite the disaster.

I knew that my family (my dad, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my nephew) was going to be cheering at mile five, so I ran quite a while from miles four to five so that I could look strong and amazing when I saw them.

Pic stolen from Aly @ Here Comes Happiness

Unfortunately, they weren't right at mile five and were in fact about half a mile later. I spent that time feeling very annoyed, thinking that I missed them or that they missed me. Then, when I saw them, I got super excited (and likely cut off 18 runners trying to get over to say hi).

Pic stolen from Aly @ Here Comes Happiness

There's not much better than seeing your loved ones on the sideline of a race. I am so incredibly thankful for them.

I also have to say that the crowd support on the Lincoln course was quite possibly the best of any race that I have ever run.

First, there was not one spot on the course that was not lined with people. And absolutely everyone was cheering, often using individuals' names since they were printed boldly on our bibs. Because it was the National Guard Marathon, there were many uniformed men and women along the route, and each time I saw them, I got a little emotional. (Race days are killers for those darn tear ducts, I tell you!)

Second, the spectators were so kind: people had everything from Kleenex to Vaseline to water (between water stops) to oranges. It was so much appreciated.

Third, there were some amazing signs: "Smile if you're not wearing underwear" may have been my favorite. Another sign that followed said, "Or swap it out here" and had about five pairs of whitie-tighties taped to it.

But I digress. Let's get back to me running. :)

After I saw the fam, I headed down a bike trail. Here, a man in front of me took a nasty spill, likely due to walkers.

I need to get on a little tangent here. I love marathon walkers: my mom and my sister are marathon walkers, and I am so incredibly proud of them. And, I know that they have race etiquette. There were so many walkers on this course that walked right in the middle of the road as opposed to on the right side, so runners were constantly having to dart between them. There were also many walkers who walked two or three across so that it was very difficult to pass them, especially in a narrow area like the bike path. (There were two that walked two-across but with one just a bit in front of the other so that it was nearly impossible to get around them.) And third, there were several people who were doing a run/walk like I was but who would stop in the middle of the road/crowd to walk.

This is not okay!

And, I'm pretty sure this is why the poor old man stumbled: he likely tripped over a walker. Anyway, he had a couple of people assisting him, and I ran ahead to get a police officer.

And this leads me to my only other complaint about the Lincoln Half Marathon: there was not a lot of course support. There were a few cyclists, but not too many, and none offered to help runners (at least that I saw); in Des Moines, cyclists often ride next to runners to ask if there is anything they need (Kleenex, Ibuprofen, ice, candy, etc.). The water stops in Lincoln were great -- tons of tables at each one -- but there were not enough. For instance, the first water stop was not until mile three, and there were stops about every 2-2.5 miles thereafter. It'd be nice if there were fewer tables but more stops.

While I was on the bike trail, I passed a man who was wearing a t-shirt that said, "For this race, I'm carrying so-and-so (likely someone who had passed away). We all carry something. Who are you carrying?" The emotions were already running rampant, and that sentiment really got to me.

Shortly before mile ten, my iPhone decided to completely shut off. So, I lost my iSmoothRun stats, my music died, and it totally broke my rhythm. I finally got it to turn back on, but like I said, my rhythm was shot.

At this point I was walking quite a bit more than at the beginning, too.

But, luckily I was on a running stretch when I saw the fam again:

Pic stole from Aly @ Here Comes Happiness

All I remember saying at this point was, "I don't like Gatorade right now. All I want is water." Why I felt the need to share that with them, I don't know. But it was true: Gatorade made me want to puke.

That last 5k was really, really hard. I was mentally beat, and my blister was pretty much raging. But, around mile 11.5, one of my super great friends from kindergarten through high school ran into me. Becki and her friend and I ran together off and on for a little over a mile, and it was so nice to catch up with her and to have some company on the run. Thank you, Becki!

During that last 5k, I also passed a Native American man who was holding up a sign that said, "Remember the Trail of Tears. You can do this" (or something to that effect). Again, I got quite emotional and kept on trucking.

Finally, I approached Memorial Stadium, home of the Huskers. The finish line at the Lincoln Half Marathon is pretty amazing:

Yep, the 50-yard line of the field -- with your picture broadcast hugely on HuskerVision. However, I was too delirious to really appreciate this fact at the time.

I was so delirious, in fact, that I didn't really realize I was done running. I stopped across the finish line and really felt like I was not done yet, that I still had more to go.


After I finished being crazy, however, it was hard not to get emotional for the bazillionth time that day. The patriotism was running rampant: it was nearly impossible to not be a proud American at this event. The field was lined with huge American flag, and there were military men and women everywhere -- they lined the chute, too, which made me super emotional (and, despite being utterly out of breath, I was sure to thank each and every one of them on my way to the finish).

I tried to find my family, but they were stuck in traffic, so I sat down on the sideline and stretched for a bit before leaving the stadium.

Oh, and of course I had to take a finisher's selfie:

This is the first Mylar blanket I've gotten after a race. Those things sure make a difference.

Finally, I reunited with the spectators:

Pic stolen from Aly @ Here Comes Happiness
I finally have a picture with my sister-in-law, which means I can stop stealing them from her Facebook page whenever I talk about her! Now we just need one where one of us is not covered in sweat.

We cheered my mom and my sister across the finish line, and then we all headed back to Aly's parents' house for a hot shower and an amazing brunch spread. (Thank you so much, Lucy, for such a wonderful post-race gathering! It was so greatly appreciated!)

My official time was 2:45:20, just 36 seconds off of a PR. Considering I was sorely underprepared for this particular race, I am not disappointed in the least. I know that I will be much more prepared for Dam to Dam (at the end of May), the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon (at the end of July), and for sure the Des Moines Half Marathon (at the end of October). I'm hoping I can hit 2:30 at one of those.

But, like I said, I'm so very proud of my Lincoln race. I pretty much kicked its ass.

And, now let's talk about that blister, shall we? (Warning: graphic pictures ahead.)

Here's what I looked like at school yesterday (and what I'm planning on looking like at school today):

Not so bad, right? Well, that is until I noticed later in the day that I was both oozing and bleeding through my bandage (zinc oxide covered by gauze held together by pre-wrap).

When I got home, I saw the disaster that was underneath:

Yep. That'll be fun to run 10+ miles on this Saturday.

But you know what? It's a battle wound -- and I totally earned it.

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  1. I teared about reading this. Especially the part about the t-shirt and carrying someone with us. Great job on the race! Hopefully you foot doesn't cause too many problems with the next race.

    1. Thank you so much, Kristin! I'm crossing my fingers for Saturday. :)

  2. Loved reading this! I am running my first half on Saturday, and I am TERRIFIED! I'm afraid that I won't be able to run the whole thing, worried I might shit myself or throw up on a runner next to me...ugh!

    1. Cara, you will do awesome! First, walking is okay if you need to (and you CAN run/walk 13.1 miles -- I know it), you are not going to shit yourself (take two Immodium before you run, just in case), and you won't throw up on anyone (that's why there are sidewalks and trashcans). :) In all seriousness, you will be amazing. Please let me know how it goes!