May 1, 2016
Lincoln Marathon marked my return to racing, and really more importantly running in the morning. I had not run road since October 2015 (Monster Dash 5K). Or morning since Pi Day Half in March 2016 (when I bonked). Or completed a half marathon since April 2015’s Rock the Parkway.
I had been successfully completing my long runs on the trail in the evening, but I had no idea how my body would react to running in the morning. My strategy was to run my easy evening trail pace and hope my tired-morning body could handle the road.
I had signed up for Lincoln Marathon months and months ago, thinking surely I would be “better by race day.” But like many race entries over the last year, it was not the case. I dropped to the half in April when it was evident that I wasn’t going to have a dramatic recovery. I have a lot of family in Lincoln and was very excited for them to see me run a marathon. (This will for sure happen next year!!!)
After a delay due to the rental car company giving our mini van away, we found another van, loaded up the kids and were on our way late Friday night. We made it to Lincoln LATE and checked into the hotel. Saturday, we puttered around Lincoln and visited family. Saturday night, I took an Ambien and hit the bed extra-early to be ready for race morning.
Sunday morning, I was awake long before the alarm went off. I had plenty of time to change into my race outfit and start waking my body up. Since it was cold and rainy, I decided on a long sleeved singlet, capri pants and a light rain jacket. I also grabbed gloves and a hat to help with the rain. I wrapped my phone in a Ziploc — keeping it classy there.
I ate a cinnamon raisin bagel and sipped on tea, hoping for some caffeine kick. It didn’t seem to work and I was still hungry, so Steven bought me a donut and a Coke Zero on the way to the race. I was actually still hungry but I couldn’t handle the thought of eating the GU I had thrown into my pocket.
We could not find parking anywhere, so I jumped out of the car at a red light and followed the other runners to the start. I was really not sure where I wanted to line up, but then I saw Gay, a pacer I knew from KC, and decided to run 2:30 with her. (She is seriously an amazingly enthusiastic and sweet pacer!)
After 45 minutes or so, our wave started. Serious kudos to the event staff for managing that giant start. Very well done.
Right away, I was in awe of the amazing spectators along the course. Seriously. Even in the rain, there were people cheering for us at every block like we were running Boston. The aid stations were very frequent and well-staffed. The cups had lids and straws, which made it very easy to grab a drink and keep going without sloshing and choking down a drink.
And let’s just talk about the bands set up along the course… So many bands, from polka to rock. One that really stuck out for me was one called “The Polka Police,” who were wearing cut-off police uniforms and rocking out heavy polka. Very cool.
There were many aid stations beyond the standard Gatorade and water stations. One was handing out jelly bellies and fruit. (Those orange wedges at mile 9 were magical!) One was GNR themed and Slash was handing out drinks. One had guys dressed like penguins firing confetti all over us.
I just can’t say enough good things about this race. (View the course map and essentials here.)
The only downsides I can think of was the narrow bike trail that made it difficult to stay with the pace group when it was hard to get around the walkers, and the finish at Memorial Stadium.
About that finish… It was really cool to run up on Memorial Stadium, home of the Huskers. They had a big screen outside as we approach the stadium and that was neat. then we turned and ran into the tunnel where we were shown on the jumbotron as we took the field. And how cool was it running across the field? I received my medal from a uniformed National Guardsman who even took the time to put it around my neck instead of just handing it to me. But then, we were herded into the stadium, packed in like cattle. It took forever to navigate through the blankets, water, milk, yogurt, chips, etc. I just wanted to leave! I was so cold!
Finally I made it outside and found my family waiting for me. I was so cold and shivering, but we eventually made it to the parking garage where I could change out of my wet shoes. (And later to a gas station to change into dry clothes).
I really had a wonderful time at the race and can’t wait to be back next year, in better health! I was happy simply to finish this year. I ran 10 miles without stopping, and ending up walking up the hills on the last 3. Given that I wasn’t even sure I would make it 2 miles — I was take it! 🙂