Hello everyone! Hope you have all had a great week thus far & have found something to be thankful/happy for. I have been thankful for many things these past few days. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are a few things: Sleep, air conditioning, my friends, coworkers (who are my friends), family, reliable transportation, food in my cupboard, money in the bank, dogs (unconditional love), resilience. Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness (Google search)
The Trip: I packed my car and headed for Grand Island, ” behind meNebraska to race the Nebraska State Fair Marathon, touted as the “flattest, fastest marathon in the nation.” Due to work obligations, my traveling companions bailed out. So it was just me and 296.8 miles (or 4 hrs. 44 min, give or take) alone with my thoughts (and radio). Boy, did I do a lot of thinking! Very boring drive. I felt numb for most of it. Made one fill up/pee pee stop. Wanted a blasted banana-do you think I found one? If you guessed “no” you would be correct. All I packed was water for 2 days, and a few snacks- Chex mix to be exact, and oatmeal for the AM.
So I admit that I procrastinated somewhat in booking my hotel. I guess that I didn’t quite realize that it being state fair time that hotels would fill up quickly. So I booked through Expedia about a month or so out at Regency Inn & Suites. I originally booked for 3 people, so you know-2 beds. The room price was well, pricey. Ok, I thought, at least if I have the dreaded night sweats, I will have an extra bed to hop into. You know, since I was a solo traveler at this point. I pulled into Grand Island a little before 7pm. I checked in at the office and they gave me key cards to room 223. I still needed to get to the YMCA before 8pm, so I parked, took my belongings up to the dank little room on the upper level (in the corner, out of sight) and left to find the Y. I sort of noticed that the few people that were there were also being shoved into the same little niche. I found the Y, picked up my packet and headed back. By the way, there were scant vendors there so the process was very swift. Reminded me of the “expo” at the Scout Strong Challenge in Kansas. I knew I should eat something the eve of race day, but my stomach had been in knots all day & I really wasn’t feeling it. I decided to go to Arbys and get a turkey wrap & some potato wedges-carbs, right? Went back to my room, now realizing how dirty it was, tried to turn on two of the lights (didn’t work), tried to turn on the TV to watch my beloved KC Royals (didn’t work), and sat down to my “pre-race” meal at the desk. I was mulling over how this was the shittiest crescendo to a shitty day. Well, it got shittier. Two roaches ran across the desk as I prepared to consume my delicious cuisine. “Screw this,” I declared. So going against my nature, I raced back to the office and proceeded to tell them what a dump I thought this was. Magically they came up with a newly remodeled room for me. It was at least cleaner, but left a lot to be desired. I am kicking myself for not taking pics. I ate about 1/3 of my wrap, made a few phone calls, watched the Royals win and called it a night.
Race Day Morning:
I had asked for a wake up call at 0400 since the race started at 0630 and it was only 3 miles down the road give or take. Glad I set my phone alarm because my wake up call came at 0448. All I could think of was that I needed to get out of this pseudo “Bates Motel.” I was not stressed at all about the race because I was just using it as another race to knock off of my quest for a half or full marathon in each state. As far as I was concerned, it was just another long run. I made sure I had all of the necessary components, packed my car, checked out, grabbed coffee and a muffin and headed down the road. It was 0600.
State Fair Grounds:
Parking was simple and easy to navigate. I had my fuel belt filled with GUs and a new product called Glukose, and my beloved SaltStick, my ticket and wrist band. I didn’t plan on using the wrist band as I wasn’t going to stay for the fair afterwards. First line of business was finding the Johnny room.
As I stood waiting for the race to start I had about 10 minutes to spare.
The National Anthem was sung, and a first at any race I’ve ever been to-a prayer was said. I definitely was not opposed to that. I have my beliefs and you have yours, and we can agree to disagree. Now I’m going to be real-I had hoped to have the morning constitutional before I left the hotel room. That didn’t happen (don’t look at me all smug like you don’t poop)! Well, with 2 minutes to spare, mother nature called. Thank God (see, prayer is important), there was a porta-potty just a few yards from me.I thought well, better to have to catch up at the start than to have to stop in the middle. So away I went. I am usually a hoverer, but I actually sat my sorry butt down on the seat-gross! I was coming out as the gun went off. “Good plan” I thought to myself.
I couldn’t have asked for better weather conditions. It was about 59 degrees with a slight breeze, overcast & foggy. The fog made for a bit of humidity, but it fell nicely to cool the skin through most of the race. In fact, the sun didn’t come out until 3.5 or so hours later. The course was well marked with plenty of aid stations with water and Gatorade. There were scant medics and porta-potties though. Another reason I am thankful I listened to my body and did the deed beforehand! A Vietnamese guy that was keeping the same pace as me had to find a group of pines to do the pee pee. Being a rural city, there were lots of irrigation fields to pass by. I ran over I don’t know how many railroad tracks. I was running behind a girl with a LONG braid for the first half. I had this weird thought of grabbing her braid the whole time, lol! I was feeling good and my pace was comfortable.
At mile 16, we ran through a cemetery. How convenient, I thought, as I’m sure most people felt like dying at this point in the race! I tried to keep the Vietnamese guy in view as he bounded ahead of me after pee pee stop. There were 2 musicians along the route if I remember right. One was singing “In the Ghetto,” and the other “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.” I was amused as I thought how not too many younger ones would have even know these songs! By mile 21, I was feeling the lethargy set in. Legs were getting heavy and feet were cramping. Like a dummy or inexperienced runner, I chose to wear my new Brooks Pure Flow 4 shoes as I had ran in them for an 8 mile training run and felt great. I had also not been taking my potassium supplements for a week or so, so I believe that contributed (I ran out). I had not really even contemplated that I might Boston Qualify again. I had not really trained for, nor set out to do it. By mile 23, I was doing the math. It was all I could do to keep putting one foot in front of the other. At this point, most marathoners know it is like an out of body experience.
So GRATEFUL to see the finish line! I was definitely hurting. The medal was placed around my neck and I wanted to hurl myself into the iced feed troughs that held the water. I grabbed my water, chocolate milk, and found a place to lie on the grass and put my legs up on a bench to drain the lactic acid. Good plan? Not sure, as I took off my shoes and socks and tried to get my feet to stop cramping. Whenever I tried to sit up and get up, my calves would start cramping so bad that I had to throw my legs back in the air-a casualty of a flat course. I didn’t know what to do. I tried to get up again, and the pain was so bad I started writhing and screaming (I have a very high pain tolerance and am not a screamer). I knew that if I could just get up, I could walk it out. I screamed for someone to please help me up. A nice family with a teenage son came to my rescue. I walked around for a little while barefoot until the cramps eased up.
Shower & Heading Home:
I hobbled to the race results table and found out my time was 3:39:19. A Boston qualifying time yes, but maybe not enough cushion to get in with 41seconds. If it is meant to be it will be. I drove to the Y and got my shower. I will never really get used to the concept of undressing in front of others, but I AM getting more comfortable with it. I could travel and live/sleep/bathe almost anywhere I think.
In a word-BORING. Long stretches of nothingness. I was getting droopy eyed so I stopped in a little town called Percivel, Iowa at an Antique/Coffee shop. I looked around a bit just to wake up and bought some Iowa wines, a cup of coffee, and headed out. I got home around 6pm.
Would I do this race again? Most definitely. It is a great race to PR or get a Boston qualifying time. If I had pushed myself harder, I would have had a bit more cushion. Would be a great race for a marathon first timer. There could have been a few more porta-potties along the route and medic stations, but overall, I would give this race a 4/5 rating. The cap is 5000 and they had a total of runners in the 800 category with all races combined (full, half, 5k). There were 159 Marathon finishers.
27/60 females (all ages)
2/5 age group (females 50-54)
I cannot be displeased with that. Not too bad for an antique!
“I’m so grateful to have running as my go-to drug of choice. Running is a true spiritual experience that
detoxes the brain, enriches the soul, strengthens the body, rearranges emotions, and lets all the pieces
fall into place so that after each run I’m a new being.” -Mark Matthews “Chasing the Dragon”
Until We Meet Again,