Lincoln Marathon 2003: Tumbleweeds, Thunderstorms, and Tornadoes
I left CO on Saturday for the great state of NE, a full-on seven hour drive from Boulder to Lincoln. It’s an easy drive – basically taking one right hand turn and then a left hand turn from my street to I-76, then to I-80 and one right hand turn off the exit to the Holiday Inn parking garage in downtown Lincoln. It couldn’t have been any easier. The skies were blue, the plains were green and the wind was blowing tumbleweeds across the highway. Driving I-80 is always fun as it connects the East to the West and it brings back fond memories to me from when I packed up my life and drove out to Boulder in August 1995. Good times.
I got into Lincoln at 2:46 PM Saturday, met up with Tim Dolan my gracious host. Tim is an up and coming D3 Athlete who lives in the Husker state, though we won’t hold that against him. We took a quick run around town, and he showed me the course start, the old fraternity house he lived in, and other various famous Lincoln points of interest.
On Saturday night we hit the old pizza place, with Tim, his sister and nephew. I put down 3 pieces of pizza a coke, and I am ready for bed. We hit the hay at about 9PM but the wedding party that was downstairs is now upstairs pounding on all the doors. I call the front desk at around 2AM. The noise stops shortly after. I don’t think I got more then 3 hours sleep. Oh well – who needs sleep?
I wake up at 5:45 – race start is at 7AM. I look out the window, and it’s raining. I like rain. Actually I love rain. I love running in it, and love the cool and fresh feeling of it. In New England, I was either training in the heat or in the rain/sleet/snow. I am used to it and I am ready for it.
I head downstairs for a quick jog around the block as I wanted to check the wind direction. I ran about 1 block and I was absolutely soaked. Not only is it pouring rain, its sideways rain. Yep – wind at about 20-30mph. I like it even more. I head up to the room, throw my race clothes on, eat 1 banana, and one 12 ounce serving of Sustained Energy. I am ready to go.
We get to the start at 6:45 and the race has been delayed 15 minutes so the storm can pass. Has anyone noticed the 6 inch puddles? Letting the storm pass isn’t going to keep anyone dry….it’s pouring buckets and every few minutes it just downpours like crazy. Pretty funny how people are trying to stay dry – they are gong to be wet within 1 mile – so why not just get out there and get it over with. I love the rain!
I warm up some more, stretch and get ready for the start. The gun goes off and I run of the right side, right through a few deep puddles. If I am going to get wet, I might as well get it over with. I hit mile 1 in 6:55, very easy pace. I end up running with a couple of guys in the National Guard – they try to talk me into joining – yeah right – you won’t find me in one of those funny looking ARMY uniforms bubba. It’s Dress Blues for this kid, or nothing. These guys tell me they want to run 6:45 pace. So – we decide to run together. I am hitting miles, 3, 4, 5, 6, right at 6:44 -6:48 pace – but one of the guys decided he wants to speed up, and he surges every 2 miles. I keep the same steady pace, and every once in a while I catch him. This happens like 3 times in 4 miles. I keep thinking this guy is going to burn himself out. I hit 5 miles in 34:16 – an easy pace but below target, and its time to pick it up. The first 6+ mile were to the East –uphill and into the wind. We turn just after 6 miles and I run the next 5 miles in 32:50 just cruising at 6:33 pace. I founds out the lead woman is behind me, which is a good sign since she is a solid 2:53-2:58 marathoner on this course with 8 wins in a row (and counting). I stop at mile 12 or a port-a-potty brake and then still run a 7:05 mile. I am feeling good and I haven’t run over a 6:40 mile since mile 5-6. I hit 13.1 in 1:29 or less, just like my half-marathon two weeks before. I am gong to PR today, and have a negative split. I am even thinking that the 6:35 pace is maintainable for the next 13 miles. As soon as we cross over the mat at mile 13.1, the wind hits me like a wall. I run hard on my way out of town, and even with a few hills and the wind I am running 6:50 pace. I am pushing hard to do this, so I decide to back off. If I can maintain 7:00 pace out into the wind, I can surely run 6:30 pace coming back to town with the wind at my back and it’s downhill, so piece of cake!
At mile 16 four guys go by me, and I can go with them, but decide to go it alone, keeping to my plan. I’ll catch them later. I finally hit the turnaround at 2:17:41 – falling off the pace more then I wanted with the wind, but now at least, I am on my way home!
By now the wet socks are taking their toll on me. My feet have been ‘hot’ since mile 8 or 9, but like most things, I just put it out my head. By this point every step hurts, but really it’s the feet that are hurting, the quads are completely fine.
When I started my push back toward the finish, I caught a few guys pretty quickly. I was now on the downhill stretch but the rain was still coming down and the damn wind changed direction. I pushed real hard from 21-22 but only managed a 7:05. I pushed harder on the next mile, but still the same result. I was passing a guy here or there, but I wasn’t running the 6:30 pace I had hoped. I knew my mid-2:50 finish was gone by this point, and even my sub 3:00 was out the door as well. Now I was just going to take out as many people as I could along the way. I passed one at mile 22, and another at mile 25.5. I saw another guy struggling in front of me right before the 26 mile mark. When I got closer I realized it was the guy who was surging on and off in the beginning of the race. He really looked strained. The good thing was that I remember him telling me his splits as we started out, and he crossed the starting line before me, so, I actually had 7 seconds on him. I closed on him fast and ran just behind him to the finish. So, even though he crossed before me, I nipped him by 5 seconds. You gotta love new technology. My last 10k was 44:37 or so, a far cry from the 42 I was looking for. Final time was 3:02:19 – my 2nd best marathon time, missing my PR by 2:21.
My five mile splits:
1st 5 mile split: 34:16
2nd 5 mile split: 32:50 (1:07:06 or 6:42 pace)
3rd 5 mile split: 34:41 -includes a port-a-potty stop – (1:41:47 or 6:47 pace overall)
4th 5 mile split: 35:54 (2:17:41 or 6:53 pace overall)
Last 10k: 44:37 – really slowed down here!
After the race, the rain kept coming down – when I finally hit the road for home, I actually drove right through the tornado that hit Kansas – the sky was blacker then black and I must driven though the end of it, because on other side was just sunny skies and a hint of wind.
Summary: Great race, I highly recommend it. Well organized, and a very fair and fast course. Any marathon is hard. It’s a long way to run, period.
The miles I put in during my consecutive weeks of 70, 80 and then 90 miles paid huge dividends. I am hardly sore, more like I just ran a hard 20 miler, then a full marathon. I expect recovery will go quick and I will back to triathlon training very quickly.
What is really interesting is that during my build up I did ZERO hard running. All my big weeks were at 8:00-8:30 pace in a steady aerobic state. I would imagine that I increased my aerobic fitness more then enough to compensate for the lack of lactate threshold training.
I was very surprised to see that I was capable of 6:30 pace when it seemed like I was stuck at 8:00 pace for three weeks.
The only pain issues I had during the race were the feet. The quads hurt a little, but that didn’t start out until mile 24. Later I saw that my blisters on the bottom of my feet were blood blisters the length of my arch. Ouch.
My taper was very solid, and I could tell last week that the race would go well. My workouts were all snappy.
The only thing I would change would be to have one more week of rest. I did my last long run 12 days before the marathon, and I would back that out to 20+ days next time.
Thanks for reading!