When I heard that Blazer, Nooner and Doughboy were running a September marathon in Omaha, I was excited to join in the fun. It's only a 3-hour drive and Mrs. Rob was happy to get rid of me!
My running this summer has been going well. About a year ago, I decided that I would force myself to always take at least one day off per week. In the 17 weeks, since the Joplin Marathon in May, I had 10 weeks over 60 miles, 10 long runs of 18+ miles and 9 days of speed work.
I have been battling achilles tendonitis and knee-itis since April and my calf that gave me fits over the winter would tighten up occasionally. Every night I would ice and elevate my legs while Mrs. Rob forced me to watch HGTV.
During the day, when I thought of it, I would ice while I was at my desk. On my days off I would take 1 Ibuprofen (yeah, only 1). The issues did not get worse and really did not improve either until my vacation in late June when I took 3 days off in a row. After that, I continued with the ice and once-a-week-Ibuprofen. I started doing heel-raises on the stairs and added other stretches before every run. Gradually things improved and by race day, my knee was good and my achilles pain was minimal.
I got to Omaha on Saturday about 5 minutes before the arrival of Doughboy and his incredible brownies. 15 minutes later we picked up Blazer with her wonky calf. About an hour later Nooner arrived with his vast knowledge of Omaha beer and restaurants. We went to a local tavern for lunch and chose to sit indoors since outside it was 90+* with a dewpoint in the high 60s.
After lunch Doughboy stopped at an ice cream place, bought a bowl of Mojito ice cream with 4 spoons! It was awesome. After a couple hours of rest and a short nap for me, it was time to eat again! Rick’s daughter, Susie joined us for dinner. It was good to meet her and I found out she shares her Dad’s passion for beer.
Race morning it was 70* but at least there was some wind :tryingtobepositive: The forecast called for a high of 90 with plenty of sun so this was no day to try to run fast. I decided to just run by feel and try to stay comfortable. There was a serious uphill in the first 2 miles with other ups and downs until mile 5, when the route was basically flat. Following are a few comments and thoughts:
In the first couple miles, I was 20 feet behind a fellow Marathon Maniac and I noticed his legs were kind of going all over the place. At one point I got closer to him and I could hear his right foot hit his left leg/foot on EVERY. SINGLE. STRIDE.
Crazy Legs was a good runner though, he stayed ahead of me for about 10 miles.
After the big, early, uphill I was very consistent on my splits. Miles 3 through 20 were from 7:30 to 7:45 except for a 9:33 mile after a Porto stop at mile 6.
Almost all the race was on a paved running trail winding around and through Council Bluffs, Iowa. There were zero spectators with the only crowd support coming from aid stations and relay exchange points. It was a life-saver when we could run into the wind. There were some areas with a tailwind or a protected area that were just miserably hot. Of course, it got worse later in the race.
A large part of the trail section was an out-and-back with a couple shorter out-and-backs thrown in to make it more aggravating. Within a couple miles of the furthest turn-around, I started counting the returning runners. Then, I forgot to keep counting and lost track.
I did see an old guy that had a pacer sign early and then no sign later. I figured I would have to pass him to win my AG. After the turn I started looking for my fellow Runangoers. I saw Chris first and he said I was in 12th or 13th place. That was nice to hear but I had no plans to try to speed up. I saw Rick about a mile later and he said he left Cathy back near the ½ split and he didn’t know what she was going to do. A couple miles later I looked ahead and saw a woman wearing a maroon singlet (Cathy had on a maroon TX A&M singlet). So, I pumped my fist in the air and screamed out “Let’s go Aggies!!!” There was no response and as we got closer I was getting a weird look from someone who was NOT Blazer.
Mile 21 brought the first 8+ mile split since the early part of the race and my pace gradually got slower to the end. My final mile was just barely under 9 minutes. I saw Cathy hobbling about ½ mile from the finish.
Finally, marathon #86 was done; finishing 3:27:52 (7:56 pace). I was 9th overall and 1st in my AG.
It turns out the old guy that was ahead of me was a pacer and he was not eligible for an AG award. Ha! The AG award is a magnetic bottle opener, which will be useful.
Post-race was more beer, more food and the leg-stiffening drive home.
Today is 3 days later and my achilles, which was sore post-race, feels good. My calf is tight, but not bad and my knee is good. I plan to pick another race later in the fall and shoot for a fast time. I would like to run Boston again in 2019.
This weekend was another reminder and confirmation of how great the running forums have been in getting all of us together at different races. The FEs are always so enjoyable causing the races to become almost secondary.