Marathon #5 is in the books, and I'm mighty excited about it!
I ran the 2013 Omaha Marathon this past Sunday and had just about the most perfect race. Sure, there may have been a pants-wetting incident, but I'll get to that in a minute. First, let's talk about the weather. From a week out it was shaping up to be a beautiful day, and as the day got closer and closer things didn't change. Lows in the 50s, highs in the 70s, no rain, little wind. At one point I actually saw it say 0% chance of rain on weather.com - so bold! Anyway, all of the good weather predictions actually made me nervous. Nervous because it looked like an awesome race may be possible...Was I prepared to give it my all??
My nerves got the best of me both Friday and Saturday, and I found myself with butterflies in my stomach and sighing heavily constantly (my telltale sign of nervousness/anticipation). Luckily I woke up feeling great on Sunday morning and was ready to go run my race.
I drove myself downtown and headed to the start line. (Katie, my family, and some friends would be joining me out on the course later.) I lined up in the corral near the 4:15 pace group, not really committing to run with them, but leaving the option open. The race started a few minutes late, but we were soon on our way.
As usual, the first few miles flew by. We shared the course with the half marathon and the 10K, so it was quite boisterous for the first few miles but, luckily, not crowded. I didn't pay much attention to my pace and found myself back in stride with the 4:15 group around mile 5. I decided to stick with them for a while to see how it felt.
Around mile 7 I was surprised to see my running buddies! I've been training with Lisa, Andrea, and Sherry all summer, and they were so great during the race - driving to several sections of the course, holding hilarious signs (Mr. Miyagi!), and even running along with me for a few miles.
At mile 11 I got to see my family! My parents, sister, nephew, and Kate were all staked out with signs, cowbells, and lots of cheers. It always boosts my spirits so much to have a cheer squad on the course!
This was an out-and-back course, so I got to see the fam again just a short time later, at mile 15. I smiled for the camera and then we bid farewell until the finish.
Around that time I started making a game plan for the rest of the race. Others in the group were starting to fade, but I was feeling great. My knees were holding up, but I didn't want to push my luck. I decided to stick with the pace group until mile 18, and then if I was still feeling good I'd pick it up a bit.
Turns out, that was a pretty good plan! Mile 18 came and I was still feeling strong. I picked up my pace with no issue and soon ran into my running friends again. Lisa jumped in alongside me and we chatted for a mile or so, which was a nice distraction. I told her my plan was to put my headphones in at mile 21, duck my head, and bring it home. She told me they'd see me again around mile 24, in case I needed them.
The next few miles were hard, not surprisingly. It was the end of the race, and I was pushing as hard as I could. A mile seemed really far at that point, so I stopped counting down and just concentrated on making forward progress. I kept passing people, so I knew I was getting there, but I didn't look at my watch. I just did as much as I could.
At mile 24, Andrea hopped in next to me. She asked me how it was going, but I couldn't really talk at that point. She said, "Do you want to talk?" No. "Do you want me to run with you?" Yes. "Do you want me to talk?" Yes. I desperately needed distractions at that point, so I just pushed, pushed, pushed, while Andrea told me about her weekend. Occasionally I'd just shout "walk!" and we'd take a short walk break. I told her I thought I was gonna pee my pants, and she told me to just do it. Runners understand one another. I was able to hold it in and told her at mile 25 I'd be ok to make it to the finish on my own.
Oh, right, mile 25. So this was the first race ever that my Garmin aligned with the mile markers on the course. I mean, they were right on. Except mile 25. (Of all miles to get wrong, this may be the worst!!) As we approached the 25 mile marker I glanced at watch to see 25.4. I shouted, "No way this is only 25! Please tell me it's wrong!" The guy next to me said his watch said 25.4, too. It was enough to calm me down, but that just shows what kind of a mental state I was in at that point. Running an extra 0.4 miles seemed completely undoable. (Luckily, the marker was in the wrong spot, so I didn't have to run extra.)
Just before mile 26 we entered TD Ameritrade Park (the new baseball stadium where the NCAA College World Series is held). I couldn't tell at first where we were running in there, but I thought to myself, "please don't tell me we have to run around this entire field." Yep, that's exactly what we had to do. The warning track was our path around the park, so I just ducked my head and forced myself to keep moving forward. I was using every ounce of energy to move at that point. In fact, I even had to use the energy that had previously been keeping my bladder muscles tight. Yep, it happened. I peed myself on the warning track in TD Ameritrade Park. I figured it was better to do it there where no one was around, as opposed to in the finish chute, where it was bound to happen. Oh well. I'm sure it was 99% water anyway.
We exited the park and headed back to the street which was lined with cheering crowds to the finish. I was happy to see my family there, although I didn't even have the energy to smile or wave. Katie said she could tell I was hurting just by the way I was running. I didn't even lift my head as I crossed the finish line.
I got my medal and a bottle of water, which I handed right to my dad. I tried to ask him to open it for me, but my face muscles just twitched. It was weird.
I knew crossing the finish line that I had set a PR. (My previous PR was 4:20:50.) And the fact that the 4:15 pace group never caught up with me had me believing that the time on my watch could be right. I checked it against the official times, and whaddya know? They matched exactly! 4:14:21 is my new marathon PR!
Here's how it broke down. It bounces around quite a bit, but you can see how I picked up the pace at the end. And according to the personal race stats that were sent out later that day, I passed 45 people between mile 23 and the finish, and was passed by no one! Pretty cool. I can proudly say that I gave it my all and ran the best race that I could that day.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the well wishes! And special thanks to my cheering squads on the course - you guys rock and truly helped me have a great race!!!
p.s. The junkfood dinner I had later that night. The best!
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