There are many reasons to run a marathon; a bad week is one of them.
After a tough few days personally and with no big Labor Day plans on the horizon, I found the Logan View Marathon. My logical self said, “hey idiot- weather forecast is calling for 90 degrees on race day. The course is run on 90% gravel road and is described as challenging. You’ve only been running regularly for 5 weeks. Seriously? This is a good idea?!” I didn’t listen. I had a bad week and running is a coping technique for me. This was also held in a state I hadn’t marked off my list yet- even if I crawled across the finish line with a ridiculously slow time, it would contribute to my 50 state goal. I really needed something to celebrate.
|7 hour one-way trips require compression tights, ya heard?!
Three days later, I found myself at the starting line. I love small races like this for a number of reasons: just a table setup on race morning instead of a busy expo, no waiting in line or running out of toilet paper at the porta potties, convenient parking at the start/finish, no bottlenecks or corrals to battle, reasonable entry fee. I find the other runners to be more enjoyable at small races, too- with only a hundred or so of us for both distance options, everyone was easy going and out there simply for the love of running. No last minute type A freak outs or large charity group chaos, lots of starting line chatter. The race was not chip timed, so we all chuckled a bit when the start of our day began with the RD giving heat precautions and simply shouting, “Go!”
Those running the half marathon turned off about one mile into the race, leaving about 40 or so for the full. Most of us belonged to the 50 State Marathon Club and/or Marathon Maniacs. As usual with this crowd, I had the honor of running with some really fantastic people:
- Maniac on her 3rd circuit, meaning she has done what I’m trying to do twice and is making a 3rd go of it!
- Gentleman earning his 150th lifetime marathon…and yes, his knees are just fine.
- Collegiate cross country coach, who confirmed nixing long runs from one’s training schedule and replacing with high volume intervals. His rule? Never extend mileage to the point where you can’t at least hold race pace. Any slower and cadence falls off, form deteriorates, and you end up hurting yourself more than helping. This is consistent with everything I learned at Crossfit Endurance and have been practicing with success in my own training. Like a sponge, I soaked up a lot of wisdom from this guy- helped a good 5 or 6 miles fly by!
- 50 Stater completing the lower 48. Y’all know me- I gave my two cents on the Alaska race he should finish with (Equinox).
- A guy who registered even later than I did. He couldn’t find the motivation to do his long run the day before and thought, “if I sign up for a marathon, I’ll be forced´to complete it!” Wonder if he ran that 26 mile long run by the cross country coach…
- A Rocket Scientist. No, seriously! I found this out after a good 30 minutes of nonstop chatting…which goes to prove that running is the ultimate common ground. I mean, I had to spell check the word “scientist” for this post.
- Dude who went to undergrad in Greensboro NC! Isn’t it random that we’d meet in Nebraska?! We talked about PieWorks, an amazing pizza place everyone must visit if you find yourself in the ‘Boro (well worth a cheat day, paleo people).
- Marathon Maniac who remembered me from last year’s Eugene Marathon, where I bawled hysterically during the National Anthem having just seen Trey off on deployment. I had the pleasure of updating her about his safe return and she mentioned she had prayed for him after meeting me and then seeing our picture in the Maniac newsletter shortly thereafter. This is just one example of the support I’ve received from fellow Marathon Maniacs. It is truly awesome to be a part if this running community and it’s about a lot more than wearing the same yellow jersey.
Around mile 14, my Garmin (fully charged that morning) gave out. Something about being so far out in the country and it taking a lot to constantly find the signal. Just last month in class, we ran without watches and estimated our own 400m times as an exercise in feeling pace with our bodies, not through a watch. Karma or foresight?
The course? Well, there is truth in advertising here.The website was 100% accurate: You will be greeted by rolling hills and cornfields dotted with farms and acreages. Running along the ridge of the picturesque view of the Elkhorn Valley you will be able to see the towns of Hooper, Scribner and Uehling. This will not be a flat fast course, there are some challenging hills!
|Seen at mile 25. Behind the sign? View for the entire race.
The gravel we had been warned about in another description was less ‘golf ball’ and more ‘aquarium rocks’- much easier to handle. Anyone doing this race should definitely opt for trail shoes and perhaps throw on some gaiters. I forgot the latter and ended up with socks full of gravel. There was very little shade, so I appreciated aid stations every two miles- especially the one at mile 19 with the jellybeans (not the sport kind, straight up Jelly Belly!).
As expected, it got pretty hot during the last few miles and I slowed considerably. I finished in 4:13:03- far from my fastest time, but quick enough to secure a podium spot. I was the 3rd female overall and 1st in my age group. Before my logical self could convince me this wasn’t worth celebrating (real talk: there were only 16 women total in the full marathon), I remembered what inspirational runner Dane Rauschenberg says: “you can only race who SHOWS UP”. No need to sell myself short because only a few of us decided to brave this beast of a course!
|Given the choice, I’d have taken the chocolate milk over the medal at that point.
Hats off to the RD and volunteers at this race- they were organized, enthusiastic, provided showers afterward, and a great post race food that included…wait for it…ice cold chocolate milk (it really is all about the food for me, huh?!). I would recommend this race to anyone who needs a Nebraska, likes a challenge, and doesn’t require lots of bells/whistles/spectators to stay motivated.
Bad week? Run a marathon. Nebraska crossed off and 3rd place medal in hand, I drove back to Missouri in a much better mood.
|Add “opportunity to podium finish” to my small race love list.