Well, that weekend went by really fast. I’ve been struggling all week to write-up my recap of the race I’ve spent the sum of 2016 preparing for. I honestly wasn’t prepared for it to go by so fast. Mentally, I was ready for a long grueling experience. My mindset was all business and I totally overlooked all of the fun a race weekend brings. At the end of the day I got to spend 3 days with Chelsea (which was so needed), meet-up with some great people and oh-by-the-way run a marathon.
On Friday Chelsea and I set out from Sioux Falls around noon. We traveled to Omaha were we met up with storeowner Logan and his wife Jenna. From their house we made our way to downtown Lincoln for packet pick-up.
I’ve never been much for buying swag or shopping in general, but at the packet pick-up Chelsea demanded that I buy a tee shirt with Abraham Lincolns face on it stating that “I run this city”. I thought the packet pick-up was very well organized and easy to navigate. There were multiple vendors and many other races being promoted at the expo. After visiting the expo it was off to dinner.
This was the real treat of the night. We got to enjoy a pasta dinner with the Lincoln Running Company Racing Team. The night was full of fun conversation about the race and featured plenty of good food. Chelsea and I agree that we will need to host something similar for our Sioux Falls running friends leading up to the Sioux Falls Marathon in September.
On Saturday morning we woke up to drizzling rain and cool temperatures. Logan and I agreed that a run was in order to stretch out my legs and shake off some car ride rust. We ventured off into the rain for a light 5k run in the rain – although it was cool and wet, the consensus was that the conditions were manageable for tomorrows race. We shared a light breakfast at the Watley house and made plans to meet up in the AM for the race.
From there Chelsea and I ventured off for a day of shopping at the Nebraska Crossing Outlet Mall. Located between Omaha and Lincoln this has become a favorite shopping destination for Chelsea and I as we usually find good deals and they have Voodoo Taco, which is where we grabbed lunch (yup tacos for lunch!). After our shopping trip we ventured to Lincoln to find our hotel. We stayed at the Chase Suites hotel - $70 a night, full kitchen, plenty of space, located near shopping and food, and most importantly clean. Once we found where we’d be staying for the night we did some more shopping and exploring. Dinner was at Granite City (I knew the menu and had a sandwich that I trusted). We ended the night at the movie theater that featured select seating with reclining chairs – Jungle Book!
All things considered I slept remarkably well. My alarm was set for 5am and I woke up at 4:40am. For breakfast I had a Clif Energy Food oatmeal pouch (Banana Maple), a Honey Stinger Waffle, Gatorade, and coffee. Chelsea awoke at 5:30am and we packed up our room and got ourselves ready for our Watley shuttle service by 6am. Logan and Jenna scooped us up and we were off to the starting line. Traffic near the race was a nightmare. We got somewhat close and pulled into a parking lot – with that we said our goodbyes to the girls and we were off. We jogged a couple of blocks to the starting line, snuck into a bathroom, and in no time at all we were in the coral listening to the national anthem. It all happened so fast. Before I could blink we were running the race.
Miles 1-3: We started off pretty easy – in total we had three different watches to track pace and time. Logan quickly realized one of his watches was not going to work so we planned on discarding that the first time we saw the girls. For those first few miles we averaged around an 8:50 pace and took things pretty easy. The girls were at mile 3 where we dumped the watch and my jacket.
Miles 4-8: As we settled into the race we began to pick up the pace mile after mile. At around mile 6 Logan encouraged me to take things easy. At the next split we slowed down my 2 seconds. I joked saying something to the effect of “I really toke that one easy eh”. Logan in his wisdom pointed out that had we not backed it down we may have run significantly faster. Having Logan there to guide me through the first half of the course was amazing. We spotted the girls again at mile 8 cheering us on – things were going very well at this point.
Mile 9-14: This section felt like a parade to me. We continued to glide along at a perfect pace and Logan was pumped about how things were going. This put me at ease and made the 1st half of the race very breezy. After the first 13.1 miles I had secured a half marathon PR and was cruising into the second half of the race. Logan dropped at the halfway point and from there I was on my own.
Mile 15-19: The majority of my training was focused on this section of the race. I knew that the second half of the race was a long out-and-back course. My hope was to find a group I could settle in with to maintain pace, but it didn’t take very long for me to discover that that strategy was not feasible. If I wanted this it was going to be done on my own. During these miles I found myself focused, but my pace was slowly starting to fall off just a touch. My fueling strategy was to take something every 6 miles; I got a little thrown off here as I fueled at mile 17 slightly earlier than scheduled. At mile 19 I passed Logan and the girls for the final time and dumped my belt and held onto my last GU like it was gold. I had made the turn and was still ahead of pace.
Mile 20-23: Mile 20 is no joke! I originally thought that this is where I began to do the marathon shuffle, but looking back at my splits I did a decent job of maintaining a pace. I was a little off my goal pace, but continued to battle through these miles. This is the point where the weather started to change a bit and I noticed I was getting cold. It had been dizzily most of the morning, but here I found myself facing more wind, more rain, and more struggle. My mental game needed to be on-point here and I found my self focusing on the fact that this was the furthest I’d ever run, things had been great thus far, and I was nearly home.
Mile 24 – 26.2: This was the marathon shuffle. I worked all race to be prepared for this moment. My hands were now numb from the cold and I was actually happy it was my hands and not my feet. I knew I was close to the finish and that I had enough time in the bank to finish within my allotted goal time. While my body was sore I found myself enjoying this portion of the run a lot more than I thought I would. The grain was in the silo; all I had to do was cross the finish line. As I entered Lincoln Memorial Stadium a surge of adrenaline hit me causing my pace to quicken. I heard Logan yell my name following that I was announced over the stadium PA, which was pretty cool. After crossing the finish line I grabbed my medal and following that I finally got my blanket.
Post Race: While wondering through the post race food line I enjoyed a class of Pepsi, a sugar cookie, two donut holes, two bottles of water, and a bag of sun chips. I found my crew, hugged my bride, and without much fanfare we headed to the car. Once we got to the car the most entertaining part of the day took place. My left leg went in just fine, but every time I’d attempt to raise the right leg my hip would cramp up. After what felt like 10 minutes (actually probably 3) I was finally in the car with my jacket on and a bottle of Gatorade in my hand. We ventured over to Logan’s parents house for a much needed shower. Following that we grabbed some post race pizza and Chelsea and I were on the road home.
Pace: 9:06 per mile
Place: 471 out of 1063
For the time being I’m done talking about marathon running! My next adventure will be riding the Mickelson Trail with Chelsea on our bikes. Following that I haven’t scheduled any races yet, but I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted.
Greg “PEPSI” Koch