Race report: Nebraska State Fair Marathon

Nebraska State Fair Marathon

Marathon #7

August 26, 2017

Place: 154/181

Time: 5:35:16

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.

logo

Race logo.

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

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.

map

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.

medal

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.

finish pose

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.

ferris wheel

Hey, this thing is on my medal. Neat.


dirt sculpture

Some pretty sweet dirt sculpting.


dirt sculpture 2

Mad skills, bro.

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Race report: Ele-fun Run 5K

Ele-fun Run 5K

5K #40

August 5, 2017

Place: 1/82

Time: 21:31

This whole marathon attempt in a few weeks may very well not go as hoped. I haven’t lost the weight I wanted to lose, I haven’t done the speed work I should’ve done and the weather, as always, is unpredictable.

But my summer of small, mostly low-key, fun races has allowed me to keep my sanity through it all and have kept me from “over-training,” as I’ve done in the past. My legs have stayed fresh.

I swapped my 22-mile run from Saturday to Thursday to make room for this fun little inaugural 5K at the Topeka Zoo.

logo

Race logo.

With all-morning rain in the forecast and it being a first-year event, I didn’t expect much of a turnout. It was better than expected. The guy running the thing said 93 registered and 82 showed up to run or walk.

bib

Bib ready to go. That turquoise dot (indicating 19+ age category) would be completely washed away by the end of the race.

Sure enough, it rained throughout the race. Nothing torrential, but enough to form several puddles to run through. The course was four loops around the zoo, so I was able to get some cheers all along the way, which was nice.

start

Blurry, rainy start line shot, courtesy of Kami.

I jumped out to an early lead and unlike most races, when I start super fast and can’t hold it, I was able to maintain a mostly steady pace and led throughout the race.

By early on in the third loop, the guys in second and third were out of sight when I turned around to look behind me. I figured as long as I kept it steady-ish, I could hold on for the win — and I did.

win

Overall winner with a time of 21:31.

I crossed the finish line in 21:31 — a good 2 minutes and 59 seconds slower than my PR. Buuuuut, it was good enough for the win and faster than I expected to be — especially two days after running 22-plus miles. So I was happy with it.

award

Fun little awards ceremony after the race.

This was my 11th overall victory (2 10K, 7 5K, 1 4K, 1 1-mile) and my 40th 5K. I don’t run many of those any more these days and never truly try to race them, but when I have a chance to compete, I take it.

Update: I’ve recently added the virtual races I’ve done to the count of my race totals, making this actually my 42nd 5K. 

This race came with an entrance to the zoo, but in the rain, we didn’t get to see much — specifically, no elephants. Bummer. But we did get to see the giraffes (indoors) and walked around the rainforest exhibit for a bit.

I love the zoo and had a lot of fun with this event — and not just because I happened to win the race. But, yeah, that wasn’t a bad bonus.

swag

Bib, medal, drawstring bag, water bottle and medal.

The consensus was that they planned to do this event again next year. I hope so. I would return to do it again.

Race report: Rodeo Run 8/4/1

Rodeo Run 8

8-mile #2

July 22, 2017

Place: 14/39

Time: 1:10:05

Before I get into the RD stuff, here’s a photo of me from the 8-mile race — since I’ve got stats from that one leading this thing off…

mid 8

It got hot fast. Cruised in the second loop and got the chance to chat with a bunch of friends.

Months of preparation came to fruition with my fifth edition as Race Director of the Rodeo Run this year in my hometown of Pretty Prairie. It’s never my fastest running, especially this year with the heat — but I never really care.

I’m just happy when there are no issues and everyone has a good time.

Turn

Marking turns before the race.

Dean + Silver Lake

The corner of Dean and Silver Lake prior to the race.

Escape window

Windows got a little dirty on the back roads. Ah, home.

Pre 8

Giving a few pre-race instructions before 8-milers took off.

Pre 8 2

Waiting for the RD to shut up so we could all run already.

I had a blast seeing the phenomenal turnout this year, seeing old friends and making new ones.

This year, I chose Kelly Green for our shirts, because, well… I like green.

RR shirt + bibs

2017 shirts + my bibs for the 8-mile and 1-mile this year. I pick my own numbers first and I’m not even sorry about it.

We got some great sponsor help this year, too. This was the busiest the backs of our shirts have been, and that means good helpers.

Like this kid…

water kid

Thanks to EMS and their helpers for the assistance once again this year. They rock!

Shirt back

Props to my grandpa, too.

Rodeo Run 1

1-mile #11

July 22, 2017

Place: 65/190

Time: 9:49

The 1-mile is always a fun time and this year was no exception. Our finisher total jumped from 75 to 190 as Main Street and Park Street were a bit on the packed side this year. What a fun sight to see in Pretty Prairie, Kansas.

pre 1

Prior to the start of the 1-mile on Main Street.

pre 1 2

Giving some pre-race instructions to the 1-milers.

end 1

Having a good time near the end of the 1-mile.

I had a great time at this year’s race once again and I am extraordinarily grateful for all the support along the way. We raised a bunch of money toward PPHS athletics, specifically the cross country and track programs.

This year’s total reached $3,440, while I have now helped raise $9,295 since 2012 for PPHS athletics. So proud to be a Bulldog.

And now, here are some shots with me and some friends. I missed getting photos with several others. Next year, guys!

Alli

Me and my awesome friend, Alli.

Jennifer

Me and one of the most inspirational humans alive, Jennifer White. Jen does amazing things with ICT SOS and as RD of Race 4 Freedom in Wichita. So happy she was generous enough to join us!

Mel

My friend Melissa came from far away to run with us! She was my pacer when I attempted Heartland 100 last fall. Thanks for all your support, Mel!

Rachel

Me and my friend Rachel. She’s one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.

Mike

THE Mike B Stout. Love this guy. He’s so fast and has a great beard. What a guy!

Lastly, major props to Jessie Cable Photography for getting so many great shots at this year’s event. The link to the album of photos can be found on the Rodeo Run 8/4/1 Facebook page.

Results from this year’s race can be found online [here].

Visit the Pretty Prairie Rodeo Run  tab on the blog to view results from every year from 2013-2017.

Thanks again, everyone! Hope you’ll join us next year.

Race report: Cauldron Run 10K

Cauldron Run 10K

10K #20

July 15, 2017 —Topeka, KS

Place: 27/66

Time: 53:52

Another on my list of fun summer races. Well, this one wasn’t so fun. Glad I did it and all, but man, the three Hs were brutal — heat, humidity, hills.

Always nice to run a race close to home, though.

bib on shorts

Pre-race bib ready.

Weird to think I’ve lived in Topeka long enough now to do the same race twice, as I ran this one last year after living in town for six or seven weeks. I run in that area up by Lake Shawnee quite a bit, but racing in those hills is not preferred for this flat land kid.

with torch

Posing with the Sunflower State Games torch before running the Cauldron Run 10K race.

Anyway, I forgot my watch at home, which turned out to be a blessing. My goal of just maintaining a steady pace would not happen, though, as I started out fast and slowed down dramatically throughout as the heat (and my clingy black shirt) got to me — hard.

start line

Shot by Kami right after the start of the race. I look way cooler and relaxed here than at the finish, for sure.

While I struggled quite a bit running a mere 6-plus miles, it’s easy to say after the fact that it was an enjoyable experience. If you’d asked me during the race, I might have cursed a time or two.

But, not all run is great and that’s fine. Glad I did it and somehow managed to come out with third place in my age group.

bib and medal

Another item for my office bulletin board, I suppose. Most races, I put the bibs and medals in a box at home, but these I’ll post up at work — Parks + Rec connection and all.

They ran out of shirts at the race. Not sure how that even happens. Oh well. The guy seemed stunned that I didn’t care. I told him we were entered in SSG Mini Golf later that morning and I’d get one there, so it was fine.

shirt

Grey isn’t my favorite, but this is much better than last year’s white shirt.

Oh and by the way, Mini Golf went okay, too. We had to play singles separately since doubles took place during the race earlier in the morning. Mixed doubles tennis last year, but that wasn’t a suitable option this year — being six months pregnant and all.

So Mini Golf it was. Goals going in: Have fun, don’t get last and don’t fall down and hurt ourselves.

Check, check and check.

I took 14th out of 17. I’m happy with how I played. Five holes-in-one. A bunch of real golfers in that group. Kami tied for 5th out of 7. We both did better than we’d done during our practice round the previous weekend — and earned that post-event Qdoba.

SSG logo

Another fun year at the Sunflower State Games.

Race report: Freedom Run 15K

Freedom Run 15K

15K #3

July 4, 2017 —Lyons/Sterling, KS

Place: 8/24

Time: 1:14:27

Made my way back to the Freedom Run for the first time in a few years. I had run the 15K in 2013, then the 5K in 2014 with Kami. Hadn’t been back since. This run is an incredibly monotonous course, starting at Lyons High School and finishing in Sterling. Basically, 8.7 miles of the 9.32 mile course is one straight shot along the highway with no turns.

It’s a small-ish race (the 5K had a good turnout of 131, although quite a bit smaller than the 255 in 2014) with only 24 finishers in the 15K. The shirts in year’s past were not exciting at all, as I wore each probably twice each.

This year, however, was different.

shirt

One of my favorite race shirts so far. I don’t even like red, but combined with the blue, the faded look and the boot design, I’m a fan. Doesn’t hurt that it fits pretty well.

Kami dropped me at the start at Lyons High School. We chatted with some running friends before she took off toward the finish.

flag

Here’s a picture Kami thought I would like. I present to you: A wall. And a flag. And some flowery things. Enjoy.

Always good to see Wyatt and Kristina Clifton and Bev Exposito. Made a new friend in Delaine Wright, who wound up proving to be a challenge. I finally caught up to her around the 5 mile mark and only beat her by a minute and change.Saw some other old running friends at the finish — ones who had done the 5K — Mark Kauffman and Ron Blanton. I know my friend Courtney Wilkey did the 5K as well, but I didn’t get a chance to see her. I’m sure there were others I’m missing. Point being: It’s a good time to run some miles and see some friendly faces.

I planned on just trying to run a steady, goal marathon pace somewhere between 8:30 – 9:00 per mile. I had no interest in flying out of the gate and racing anyone or any particular time.

That plan didn’t really hold up too much. I threw down a 7:52 first mile and knew I had to slow down, so I did. But not for long. Ran an 8:12 mile two and figured I might as well see how long I could hold a pace around 8:00 or so. Turns out, a while.

7:52 | 8:12 | 7:55 | 7:53 | 7:57 | 8:02 | 7:57 | 8:07 | 8:02 || 7:34 = 7:59 / mile overall

I finished in eighth place overall, seventh male and first in my age group. I’ll never understand the age groups for this particular race, as my age group was 26-35.

I got edged out in the last mile by a guy who was 38 and would be in my age group in many races. But… I’ll take the age group win, all the same.

plaque

My collection of plaques is limited. I’ve got medals, trophies, even a few ribbons — but only one or two of these bad boys. I’ll take it.

Hung around a bit after to chat with friends and get results before changing and hitting the road. Had a good time.

w Cliftons

Me and the Cliftons. Good people.

w Bev + Delaine

Bev, Delaine & me: Age group winners.

It sure was good to be back near family over the weekend.

I played in the Sterling Tennis Tournament on Saturday, July 1 — yeah, you read that right. No, I don’t play tennis. I finished 8th place…

There were 8 people in the tournament. But, man, I had a blast. I even won a set. Yeah, I know, it’s not running stuff. But it was part of my holiday weekend — and the main reason I hadn’t shaken off the soreness until probably right before the 15K began.

Final results:

First match: 0-6, 0-6

Second match: 3-6, 6-2 (4-10)

Third match: 0-6, 0-6

tennis 1

I managed to hit a few good shots. For a guy who doesn’t play tennis, anyway.

tennis 2

Tennis Skill Level: Novice.

Race report: Firecracker 8K

Firecracker 8K

8K #1

June 24, 2017 — Hutchinson, KS

Place: 4/53

Time: 37:01

Always good to be back close to home. Had 10 miles planned as part of my marathon training, but I had signed up for the Firecracker 8K in Hutchinson. I had done the Firecracker race twice before as part of the Hutch Rec Race Series, but this was the first year for the 8K distance — automatic PR!

shirt

Cool shirt + bib

Since I didn’t care about my race time, I got five-plus easy miles in before the race, then ditched the watch before the race began. Man, that has been fun and liberating to run tech-free this summer. I’ve gotten a few solid training runs with it, so I’ve really enjoyed just getting out there and running without looking at my wrist every five seconds.

Side note: I couldn’t have possibly asked for better weather for a run. Late June and a race start temperature of 60-62 degrees? Phenomenal.

I tried to hang with my friend Lisa for a bit. Managed to do so for about three miles or so before she inevitably started to pull away. She was just one of several familiar faces I was able to see throughout the race. Good times that made me a little homesick. That’s likely to maximize when I’m back home (like — home, home) next month for the Rodeo Run.

with Lisa

My friend Lisa Johnson. Great runner, better person.

Lisa mentioned at the two-mile mark that our first mile was 7:25 and our second was 7:38, but otherwise, I have no idea what my splits were.

She had told me earlier in the week that she hoped for 37 minutes. I’d told her I wasn’t sure I could manage that. I was right. I crossed the finish line in 37:01 — 57 seconds behind Lisa.

I was fourth overall; second male. The first place guy finished about six hours ahead of me — or so it seemed. That dude was blazing. I was just happy to hold off the guy behind me by six seconds.

8k finish 2

Crossing the finish line.

One complaint about this event: Reading the results took about a week and a half. I enjoyed everything else about the race, but that part was incredibly tedious. I could’ve run another 10 miles while we waited. No big deal, though. I almost left without the medal, which I didn’t need — but, like I said — PR.

AG win

Should’ve worn shades, man.

All, in all, a good day. I feel like I ran a good race with all things considered.

I told Lisa and Kami that until about mile three of the race, my brain had forgotten that I’d actually run eight-plus miles up to then — but that’s about when my legs remembered.

Safe to say those last couple of miles were one part coasting and one part trying like crazy to hold off the guy behind me. It wouldn’t have hurt my feelings if he’d passed me — he was nowhere near my age group. But it’s always good to remain competitive.

This race isn’t on my must-do list, but we were back in town anyway, and it’s a course I enjoy. I would do it again.

8k medal

8K medal (first place age group) + shirt

Next up: Freedom Run 15K in Lyons/Sterling on Tuesday, July 4.

Race report: Tonganoxie Library Run

Tonganoxie Library Run 10K

10K #19

June 10, 2017 — Tonganoxie, KS

Place: 6/41

Time: 49:17

logo

30th annual Tonganoxie Library Run

This is a race I was intrigued by as soon as I came across it. As a book nerd with an English degree and a past as a newspaper editor, I loved the idea of running a race to benefit a library.

I’m in the early stages of marathon training and my runs so far have been geared toward trying to maintain a certain pace. That is to say I did not go into this race with the intention of racing 6.2 miles. That being said, I thought it would be a fun opportunity to run without a watch and just sort of let loose. I was fairly curious if I could pull off a steady pace without a watch — which I admittedly look at far too often when I wear it.

It was a cool atmosphere, for starters. Small town compared to Topeka, but obviously much bigger than back home in Pretty Prairie. Lots of friendly folks, though and a good course with great volunteers. Great morning for a run weather-wise, too.

Another cool thing…

Flag

Giant USA flag above the Start/Finish chute.

I picked up my packet inside the Tonganoxie Library when we arrived in town about 30 minutes before the race began.

Shirt + bib

Love the shirts — the design, the color, the logo, the feel. Good shirts.

My optimistic, yet “so what if I don’t get it” goal going in was to maintain a pace of around 8:00 per mile. Ideally, I wanted to be faster than 8:15 or so per mile, but didn’t want to go faster than 7:45 per mile. I’m capable, but didn’t want to burn myself out. I had 10 miles scheduled for Sunday and again — this one was supposed to be for fun.

At one point, I told Kami I wanted to finish between 48 and 51 minutes. Then I said maybe I’d like to be in the 49 to 50 minute range. My goal marathon pace is in the 8:40 – 9:00 per mile range, so I thought maybe I could get down into the low-8s for this one. Maybe. Running without a watch, I wasn’t so sure. When I saw a few of the hills and had no idea what kind of pace I was running, I was even less sure.

I gave lots of high fives. I chatted up a few volunteers, joked about them moving the hills and even high fived a guy driving a moving truck going the opposite direction down one of the streets near the finish. That was cool. Just a flat out good time at this one, I tell you.

I resisted the urge to ask numerous volunteers or fellow runners “Hey, how far have we gone?” or “What time is it?” I knew if I knew the answer to either of those questions, I’d start doing math. And I’m really good at math, so I would’ve figured out my pace had I asked.

Told myself going into the last turn that I was having a great time and genuinely did not care if I was in that 48-51 minute window or even my more exact 49-50 minute window. Then, I made that last turn and eventually the clock was in sight. Forty-eight something. I’m sure I gave a shrug and a chuckle. Cool. Or whatever.

Saw it tick to 49:00, but I was close enough to the finish, I had it easily. Official chip time: 49:17. That’s a pace of 7:56 per mile.

10K finish

49:17; sixth place overall

I finished in sixth place overall. I was the fifth male and first in my age group. Earned myself a medal for it, too.

Medal + bib

My first place age group medal and bib.

Didn’t go expecting that, but I’ll take it. I was far enough behind fifth place and far enough ahead of seventh place that I didn’t kick myself for pushing it any harder.

10K AG win

Me and some other age group winners.

I really couldn’t have asked for more from this race. Kami even got to catch up with her friend, who lives in Tonganoxie. They mentioned something about a running group that meets on Monday evenings. Maybe one of these weeks, I’ll make the 40-minute drive, run with a group there so Kami can hang with her friend again. Could be fun.

Either way, I would love to do this race again next year. It’ll go on my race calendar for sure. Special thanks to David Frese and all the volunteers that put this race on. I’ll do my best to be back.

10K post-race

Dueces, Tonganoxie.