Nebraska State Fair Marathon
August 26, 2017
I hadn’t attempted a marathon since October of 2015 (Wichita), when I had to drop out 9 miles in, due to hiccup/breathing issues. I hadn’t finished one since April 2014. Hadn’t been to Nebraska since we left Holdrege (an hour:10 or so Grand Island) in July of 2015.
Let’s get this out of the way now: I wasn’t ready. I’ve had major struggles getting my weight back down where I want it. When I started running, I dropped 71.6 pounds — from 233 to 161.4. My ideal weight is somewhere in the 180 range. But it’s been over 200 for quite awhile now (almost the entire time I’ve been married) and was sitting around 215 when race day rolled around — the heaviest I’ve ever been heading into a marathon. I have no doubts that is the key factor in my struggle in this race and in my general struggles to get and stay faster. But anyway…
We went straight to packet pickup, where I was thrilled with the cool bib and shirt that fits okay, but will fit better if I can ever get my fitness level in check. (See also: a smaller gut)
Shirt, bib and state fair ticket.
While I held on to an outside hope of running my first ever sub-4, I knew just shooting for a PR (4:12:37) was more likely, and at the very least, perhaps running a 4:30 or so. Turns out, none of those were even close.
I started out running a perfect race (for me) the first 8-plus miles. My pace was exactly where I wanted it. I was steady, I was calm and I was enjoying the race in the early going.
First 8 miles — 8:46 | 8:45 | 8:42 | 8:46 | 8:45 | 8:44 | 8:45 | 8:43
But the same old breathing issues popped back up, making it damn near impossible to continue. Not to mention the humidity that hit me like a punch in the face. The early cool-ish temps almost masked the humidity, which was a bit deceiving. But it was near 100% through most of the morning.
I was determined, though, that no matter how awful my time was, I was going to finish. I didn’t drive 4.5 hours to another state, get a sweet shirt and bib, only to DNF. Not happening.
I ran a 9:33 and 9:58 the next two miles, but otherwise, it was almost entirely walking until the end…
I knew from my ultra experiences, that if I could just throw up, I’d be able to breathe better and automatically be able to run more. But no luck.
So I had several miles of mostly walking to cope with the fact that my race was going to be complete crap, and try to make the most of it throughout the duration.
A grape icy pop helped. So did a fist bump from a little kid and a few random chats with some aid station volunteers.
Marathon course map.
I really liked the first 18 miles of this course, except for a stretch through a creepy cemetery — is there any other kind? After that, though? No, thank you. It was enough that I likely would not return unless they changed it in the future. I was told it’s been considered, but who knows.
A long out-and-back stretch along a fairly busy highway, several cattle trucks zooming by was finally enough to make me puke around mile 24.
Naturally, I sped up from there, just as I knew I would. Mile 26 was a 10:49 — my fastest since mile 10. I was also running a 10:32 pace the final 0.67 (course was almost half a mile long). If only I could’ve puked sooner…
Oh well. The second biggest medal I’ve ever gotten, just a bit smaller than the one from the 2013 Kansas City Marathon.
PSA: I reeeeally hate hearing “at least you finished.” Like, it’s super annoying, you guys. That’s never been my goal. But, yeah, at least I finished.
To finish 38:16 slower than my previous slowest time is unacceptable to me. No other way around it. I’ve just got to be better. I know that and I will be. Eventually.
In the meantime, I’ll be playing in a fall basketball league and a fall softball league and focusing on being a dad soon, as well as coaching basketball.
I have a few other races on tap, but nothing I’m training hard for. I need to be in much better shape before I’m capable of racing to race again. Maybe that day will never come. I’d like to think it will, but for now, I’ve gotta be content just having as much fun as I can.
Silly finish line pose.
After the race, I was determined to have some fun at the fair — my first state fair outside of Kansas. I wanted to ride a ride, play a game and eat some fair food. I wound up doing none of those things.
We walked around for a bit, which hurt. I was having a really hard time breathing (still), felt like I was going to pass out at one point. Knew I couldn’t stomach any food yet, so that was out. Knew I’d puke on people if I tried a ride, so that was out. And I couldn’t justify any of the silly fair games.
It was cool to see another state fair, but it wasn’t really much different than the one in Kansas — except quite a bit smaller. It was getting really hot and we had a long drive, so we hit the road after circling the fairgrounds a couple times.
Hey, this thing is on my medal. Neat.
Some pretty sweet dirt sculpting.
Mad skills, bro.