Sunday, May 1, 2011

05/01/11: Lincoln Half Marathon RR (updated**)

Today was the day.

I was going to hurl my body along 13.1 miles of asphalt, having not trained for the last three weeks.

What was I thinking????

Steve picked me up at my house at 5 am...and drove me to Lincoln.

Lauren and my sister (how did you escape the camera????) were there to watch.

Mot had to work yesterday, but got off at 7 am this morning (the event started at 7 am) he came as soon as he could.

I crossed the start line at right around he just missed seeing it, but not by much.

As Steve and I drove to Lincoln from Omaha, I took some time to think about my game plan for the day.

I actually didn't think about my game plan until I was LINING UP in Des Moines, so doing it on the way to Lincoln was a marked improvement!!! (giggle)

Anyway, back to the game plan.

My winter training hasn't been all that it should be. Lots of days where the darkness kept me from getting up before work like I should have. Lots of days I didn't feel like running on the ice. Lots of physical therapy (again) deal with pain in my lower legs. And, on top of it all, nearly zero running for the past three weeks.

The outcome was looking grim before I even toed the starting line.....but I've got my dad's blood in me. I wasn't going down without a fight.

On my way to line up at my last (and only other) half, I decided to throw my "I'm just here to finish and prove to myself I can do it" plan out the window...and adopted a "I'm going to finish in 2 hours 30 minutes" plan.

By complete and sheer luck (I didn't keep track of my pace, elapsed time, or even, in most cases, how far I'd come or how far I had to go), I ended the race at 2:30:23. 23 seconds from being dead on my goal!!

Since October, I've been planning to run this event, and I've been planning to take it easy and not make some of the same mistakes along the way.

But, AGAINST what I'd been telling myself for the last 6 months, I decided on the way to Lincoln that I was going to aim for the same 2 hour and 30 minute goal. I knew that it wasn't gong to happen, but I still needed a solid goal. Just going to finish doesn't keep me going, doesn't give me the motivation I need.

I lined up behind the 2:30 pacesetters and figured I'd see how much I'd fall behind.

30 minutes later, by the time we FINALLY crossed the start, I'd revamped how I planned on accomplishing my 2:30:00 goal no fewer than 4 times.

This is basically what it boiled down to.

Start with the 2:30 pacers.....then I always have them to judge my progress against.

I started with them directly in front of me......and left them behind me very soon after.

You see, I use run/walk intervals. I've yet to figure out what my running and walking pace goals should my plan was to run my normal stride when I run, and walk my normal walk when I walk. I knew that I'd be passing the group right off the bat, but would eventually find them catching up to me as the race progressed.

Next thing I know, I've passed the 2:25 pacers.....then the 2:20 group.

It was then I realized I was going to BOMB and bomb hard if I don't reel it in a little. So I backed my running pace back slightly and increased my walking speed.

It seemed to be working. The 2:20 group passed me at 8 miles (or so).

I also dropped my camera just after taking this picture.

"Camera down, camera down!"

It got a giggle out of the folks around me, if nothing else.

About 11 miles in, I could feel some annoying ankle pain starting up. I have new custom made orthotics waiting for me at home, but because I'd rec'd them a week before the race, I was instructed not to start using them until next week.

My legs weren't hurting at all, but I was starting to feel those uber flexible ankles, and over pronated feet. And, I could tell I was getting a blister on the outside edge of my big toe, for the same reason.

By mile 11, I was really starting to feel the miles, and hard! I even went two cycles of 1 min on, 1 min off (instead of my normal 2/1) just to get my mind back in the game, and off the pain.

I'm not sure what mile this was. 12 (ish) I think. My hubby, niece and sister were there cheering for me! I don't think non runners understand how AMAZING it is to have a friendly face watching and cheering. After two hours of complete strangers.....seeing someone you know is beyond words!!!!!

If you live in Nebraska, chances are you're a Nebraska Cornhusker fan. (I'm a transplant from Iowa, so I don't share the same love.)


The race ends on the 50 yard line on the football field, which seems to be very popular with the participants and spectators alike. (though I have to admit, running on grass, instead of concrete, felt great!!!)

As you come across the finish, they announce your name over the loudspeaker, and show you crossing the line on the large big screen at the end of the field.

The medal looks like a penny, with Lincoln's head in front of the stadium.

I made my way through the SNAIL SPEED slow line to get off the field and out to meet up with my support staff.

Mot made me biscuits and gravy when we got home. I don't eat before running, and was STARVING by the time we got there.

Now for the exciting part........not only did I finish, but I got myself a PR. 5 minutes and 43 seconds worth!!!! 2:24:40

(5K, 33:02....10K, 1:06:18....15K, 1:40:50....finish, 2:24:40)


Just looked up my official stats.
4900 out of 7212 overall
2902 out of 4802 females
460 out of 734 in my age group

I averaged in the top 60-65 % in all three groups. Granted, I would LOVE to see at least a top 50% finish. But it's still not tooooo shabby I guess. :-)

I've also been asked for my opinion on the Lincoln half, in general. Overall, I'd have to say it was a great event that I'll do my darndest to run again and again. It might just become my staple spring half marathon.

1) It's pretty flat. Lincoln has maybe two hills...and they make you run them both. Neither are very high....but the uphill is on the way back. Very cruel. :-)

2) The support of the community is amazing. There were people along the route cheering the ENTIRE way! Kids, adults and pets. Cowbells, vuvulezas, and quite a large number of people beating on pots and pans with wooden spoons and such. All sorts of people volunteering, and the support of the city (via police and rescue workers) was amazing! Most of them were right there cheering us on right along with everyone else.

3) And the route...minus a certain 3 mile stretch, was great. It's that three mile stretch I'd like to talk about now. You see, the event has grown in leaps and bounds. And it seems to be suffering some growing pains between mile 6 and mile 9. From the start, up until the turn just after mile 6, they shut down streets. There is plenty of room to run, and I didn't find myself dodging around people nearly as badly as I'd expected. The same goes for the end of the course.

But the section between mile 6 and 9 is in need of a revamp. All participants (half and full) run together until just before the end of the half. And, just after you pass the mile 6 flag, the route turns onto a bike path. You can fit three people across.....if you aren't afraid of touching.

I'm not a speedy runner....not a bit. But, if you were to look at my mile splits, I went from averaging around 10:30 per mile, to 11:30 and higher per mile.....and it started right after I rounded into mile 6.

Most runners were in pairs, at least, that's what I noticed. There were pairs occupying the right and middle of the path.....and there were pairs occupying the left and middle of the path. And when those two groups would one could get around. You could jump off the path and run on the grass....but I'm not used to trail running, and my uber flexible ankles just don't handle varied terrain the best right now. So I, very often, found myself stuck behind roadblocks of slower runners and walkers. Most of them were wearing headphones, and couldn't hear when someone was trying to get by.

(please don't misunderstand, I'm a slower runner and a walker myself....I just happened to be running at a faster pace than the folks I was coming up on, along this stretch....and I'm sure there were others having the same issues as they were following along behind me and my slow pace)

I read a newspaper article about the marathon this morning, and the author of the article brought up the same point I hopefully they will take a second look at this stretch for next year.


twilighttwinsjewels said...

Congrats on a great race!

Faith Ann said...

That is amazing!!! Congrats on the PR!!!

Hmmm, is the moral of the story that less running will help you PR? I could get behind that strategy! Lol

Pat said...

Congratulations! You did fantastic! Great pics too.

Fran said...

Oh my God Jen what a great time! I'm so proud of you. Well done my girl!

Funny that you have pacers for that times. When I did my half (or when I tried :) ) they slowest pacer group was for a finish in 2 hours. Maybe if I had a pacer group for 2:30 I just might have made it because I would have others to hold on too.

Congrats girl!

C2Iowa said...

Congrats!! Outstanding work. You should be very pleased.

Nej said...

Thanks everyone!!!!!!!! The day was a surprise all the way around!

@ Fran - they had pacers for the half every 5 minutes up to 2:30...then every 10 minutes up to 3:00. Very well run event. The route had places that weren't so good...but I guess you can't have it all. :-) :-)

The Running Mama said...

Congrats on a great race!

Anonymous said...

With all the ups and downs lately with your injuries, coming away with that PR is awesome.

Nej said...

@ Mike - that's definitely what I was thinking. I'll take it! :-)

Anonymous said...

You did awesome!