Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Race Recap: Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon

State #21 is done!
On Sunday, I made Nebraska state #21 on my quest to Race All 50 during the Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon. This is an event that sells out fast (less than a day!), so you gotta decide quickly if you're in.  Registration opened at midnight on New Year's Eve. So while everyone else was raising a toast and playing kissy face, I was at my computer trying to get into Lincoln. With such demand over a race, I assumed it was 'thee one' to run in Nebraska.

On Friday afternoon, my friend Anna and I began the 7 hour drive across Illinois and Iowa to reach the eastern edge of Nebraska.  Ugh - Iowa is one long and boring state to drive. It was nice to have someone to travel with - especially someone whose BFF lived in the race city. Thanks for hosting us Bry!

We had a nice leisurely Saturday morning (coffee and a magazine on a warm sunny deck) and finally got motivated to hit the race expo around lunch.  It was a busy moderate-sized expo. Easy in; easy out for the most part. I tried not to shop much, but I did snag an autographed book from Dane Rauschenberg after chatting with him.
Most important part of the race expo is THE BIB of course!

Saturday evening, Bry brought us to the Project Purple pre-race dinner. I felt a little out of place and awkward at first - since I wasn't "on" the team, but everyone made us feel welcome. (And I sure was thankful I had preciously donated.)  I met some truly amazing people that night. Their stories touched me more than they'll ever know. I left the party wishing I had joined the Lincoln Project Purple team - running to beat pancreatic cancer.

Race morning came and **TMI Alert** I was constipated. Some people have problems with going too much and have to take immodium. I have just the opposite problem, but thankfully just when I travel. So my body was not feeling light and quick like I want it to on race morning. All I could think about was... well, you know. The first place I headed when we arrived to the starting line was the the bathrooms. Unlike most races, there were no outdoor porta-potties. The only restrooms were inside the Coliseum, which was packed. As we entered, someone told us, "Go downstairs to the locker rooms." It was better down there, but still a jumbled mess. Men had no line while the womens wound down the hallway. And oh dear, hold your nose once you got inside the locker room, where everyone was pooping... Not a pleasant start to race morning. All that and I still couldn't go.

We all wore purple to support Bry's run for Project Purple.
Anna and I waiting for the start
The race began with a staggered start to accommodate the 13,000 runners. It was the kind of start where everyone picked their finish time and basically hopped in wherever they wanted.  I was waiting on the sidelines for the 2:05 pacer, but after nearly 27 minutes of watching people start before me (whom I knew I would pass later), I finally jumped in.

The race started smoothly and we had the full road to run. I tried to find a comfortable pace and just settle in. Once the first couple splits ticked off, I'd have a better idea how this race was going to unfold. I had originally selected this race for a sub-2 run. Training had not gone as planned (at all). I knew a sub-2 was not going to happen today, but I wondered how close I could get. After all, someone had told me this was a flat fast course. (P.S. It's not.)  At mile 1, we passed the Nebraska State Capitol building. Other than that, the sights along the early part of the course were basic city streets.
Mile 1 - 9:27
Mile 2 - 9:27

Inside the third mile, we hit a long gradual climb, which my Garmin stats say was the largest elevation gain on the 13.1 course. We entered some nice neighborhoods and the spectators through this area were in plenty and very supportive. The course continued to roll...
Mile 3 - 9:41
Mile 4 - 9:29
Mile 5 - 9:35

The course suddenly crunched and became congested. I could feel the slow down all around me.  I found myself wondering what was going on... Is there something up ahead? or are they just getting tired as we near the halfway point? I pushed onward trying to hold my pace and weaved around people.  And then we hit the trail... a paved bike trail that is not big enough for a race of this size.  The next several miles were finally flat, but oh so frustrating... weaving around walkers and the side-by-side friends that create a wall. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who block the course for others.
Mile 6 - 9:20
Mile 7 - 9:13
Mile 8 - 9:35

Finally, we turned off the trail. I'm pretty sure a "Thank God" slipped out of my mouth as we spread back out on the street. And then I looked up to see another climb in front of me. Aw shoot! The sun was out in full force all morning and the temps were on the rise. Combined with the unexpected hills and congestion and I was turning into one crabby runner.  I realized that I hadn't taken an energy gel yet, so halfway up the mile 9 hill, I walked to eat my Caramel GU, that squirted out all over my hand. Seriously, can I catch a break? I wanted to quit.  But as I crested the hill, I came upon the highlight of the race - ORANGES!!  Everyone knows how much I love oranges when I run!  I dodged across the road and grabbed me a big ole fist full. I tried to pace myself as I popped piece after glorious piece into my mouth.
Mile 9 - 10:04
Mile 10 - 9:34

I don't recall much of the last part of the race... except desperately looking for the finishline. At one point, I thought I might have passed the half/full split. The final miles were quite boring as we made our way back towards Memorial Stadium. I wish I had my normal finishing kick, but it was missing today. We had to make a little climb to get up to the stadium entrance and I'm pretty sure I cursed out loud.  As we entered the football field, the grass felt squishy under my feet (unlike the other fields I've run across at Illinois and Marshall).  Instead of a sprint, I slowed and concentrated on my stepping... Oh please don't let me trip and fall. My feet were like dragging bricks across the finish.
Mile 11 - 9:59
Mile 12 - 9:56
Mile 13 - 9:41
The finish pictures show National Guardsman along the finish.
Funny, I never noticed while I was running.
Wish I hadn't been so worn down at that point.

I crossed the finish and collected my medal. It was pretty crowded in the finish chute and we were being pushed off the field quickly. Despite volunteers constantly telling me to "keep moving", I paused to take a photo on the field and collect a space blanket.

Half #26 
State #21 - Nebraska
Official Chip Time 2:06:27
average pace 9:39 
overall  #3299 out of 7175
females  #1582 out of 4347
F35-39  #300 out of 817

So Lincoln wasn't my best feeling race, but it was my best time so far in 2014.  I can't lie; I was disappointed in my run. It just proves that you can't fake it without putting in the training, which I clearly did not.

It was crammed quarters trying to find my way out of the stadium, but I finally found Bry and Anna (who crushed her PR by over 4 minutes!) for a post-race celebration.
Thanks Bry for your hospitality, and Anna for the great road trip!
Rumor has it this was the best Lincoln medal in years. Score!
The official race shirt. I kinda liked it, but not everyone did...


  1. congrats!! love the recap and all the purple too :) You are doing awesome

  2. For the record, I didn't enjoy my race in Nebraska either. But, any state with good friends can make it more fun. Congrats on a 2014 PR! On to state #22!!

  3. Great race! Your time is outstanding, and you had lots of obstacles in your way, too! Weaving in and out of runners and walkers on a small bike path is the worst!! So tough mentally, too! Congrats on finishing another state!

  4. Not that it matters now, but there were a ton of porta potties at the start! In 2 different sections. One section at the back the of the pack and the other maybe a block or so back from start.

    This was my second half, having done my first one in San Fran. I live in Lincoln and it was pretty cool for me to see all of the crowd support.

    Sad part about the bike path is that it was widened from last year! Still kind of a mess.

    Where next?

    1. Aw man, really?! Shawks, we didn't see 'em. The crowd support WAS awesome; perhaps best part of the race. Next up is Idaho & Wyoming (June 13-14).

  5. I wonder what all the hoopla was about this race to make it sell out so quickly. Maybe because this is the most exciting option of all the lackluster races in Nebraska? haha- clearly Kim and I ran our NE together and were not a fan. At least you go a 2014 PR out of it :)

  6. I always be careful about people saying it's a flat course, prerequisite is where do they live. What us flatlanders call "flat" and what others call "flat" are another story!

  7. This reminds me I need to do my recap! Tonight...hopefully. I had such a great time traveling with you, your an excellent travel partner! We must do a race again!

  8. Good job! I kind of like the shirt as well. It is different, but not bad.

  9. Congrats for your new race!Half Marathons are great, I love running Half Marathons!

  10. I LOVE the shirt! It would look good with a silver sparkle skirt.


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