Yesterday was the Lincoln Half-Marathon. I have run this race for the past three years, and there are several coworkers of mine who do it with me. I had been training since about January, building up the length of my runs in the process. The previous Sunday I had easily completed a10-mile run, and for the most part, my training had gone really well. Probably the best training season I've ever had. Certainly better than last year, when I barely got through it. It was like year one, when I was continually surprising myself with how well I was doing.
So we packed up the kid and went to Lincoln, NE. Stayed in a fancier hotel than the dive I normally book. Went to dinner with a coworker who has also run the last three years and her family. Sometime after that, it all went downhill.
We got back to the hotel, and Chelsey threw out her neck/back/shoulder/everything else trying to reach for Edith. This was a small issue earlier in the day, but somehow the Edith lunge made it much worse.
After that, we went to bed, but now that Edith is more coordinated, sleeping in a non-crib is kind of a joke. So instead of going right to sleep at 8:45 like normal, she wrestled with Chelsey in her bed for like 45 minutes. Chelsey finally got her to go to bed by holding her down. Which I think is funny. Holding babies down is funny.
I woke up at five on race day. The great thing about half-marathon day, is that you have to both eat and evacuate as soon as possible. Which means it's the only time each year that I get to eat while sitting on the toilet. That's right. Get that image going. I finished half my power bar and took a shower. I was also trying to kill a 32oz Gatorade before it got too close to the run which is also gross at that hour. After the shower I had to lube up all the parts that would take on extra rubbing over the course of two hours and twenty-five minutes. Thighs, butt, nipples. I have this stuff that goes on like solid deodorant. It's great.
The important thing about Lincoln on Sunday is that a huge storm rolled through at like four o'clock in the morning. So when we got out to the starting area at 6:30, it was really really humid. I can run and run and run in dry air. I have no chance in humid air. So I didn't have a good feeling from the get-go.
Adding to this feeling of doom was the fact that I had just purchased new shoes two weeks before the race. This proved to be my undoing. In the days and weeks that came after I had tried to make these shoes work. I exchanged them for a pair 1/2 size smaller. I had purchased new inserts and socks to make things better. But nothing seemed to solve the problem that my feet did not fit in them very well after like 6-7 miles. At that point they became really painful. Turns out that feet swell at that distance. Oh well. Back to Sunday.
They started the race at like seven, but there are 10,000 runners and they stagger the starts, so I didn't actually start running until like 7:30. In the meantime, I made my way back to the other people who run eleven minute miles. I was all by myself at this point, because all my co-workers run faster than me. I arbitrarily dropped in to this mass of people getting ready to run, and was greeted by "Hi Brent."
Turns out this girl Sarah was standing right next to me. Sarah is someone who I met like five years ago, and only hung out with once. But I see her in the most random places. She and her husband were in the same obedience class we would bring Deuce a couple of years ago. They also had a baby like two weeks before we had Edith. There's just all this weird parallel stuff between us and them. So Sarah and I talked from when I got in line to when we actually took off. It was nice catching up. Her baby apparently growls instead of crying.
About a minute into the actual race, I just had a feeling that this wasn't going to go well. Talking with Sarah had thrown me off. I went from smalltalk to "holy shit, it's time to run." That's not how I normally do things. And since I had stretched at like 6:30, I wasn't really all that limber anymore. My shin was all tight on my right side, and I just didn't have any umph. Also, the song that came on while I was taking off was "Sorry Is the Hardest Word" by Elton John. Not exactly ideal, opening thirteen miles with "What have I gotta do to make you love me?"
And that's just kind of how things went. I didn't enjoy the race like I normally do. I just kind of suffered it. My shoes were fine until about mile seven, so that wasn't really an issue. But everything seemed off. For a while I thought things were fixed, when "Acid Fight" by Blood on the Wall came on the ipod. I'm going to put a link on here, but I'm not going to recommend you listen to it unless you're having a really good day. It's not a pleasant song. But I've always liked it.
So that held me over for a while, but I kept wondering where Chuck and Chelsey were. Last year I saw them like five different times along the route. The were conspicuously absent for the whole first third of the race. Then the second third. In the meantime, the humidity was definitely taking its toll.
There is no way of overstating how great it feels to have people cheer for you when you are running that long. Lincoln is great. People come out and cheer on the runners, and this year they put the runner's names on the bib, so I was able to have "Floyd" as my running name. And lots of people were yelling it out as I went by, which I believe is almost entirely because I went with Floyd over Brent.
After 10km, we leave the city streets of Lincoln and move to a bike trail. I know it was 10km, because at that point I was running right next to the pacer (a person who runs the race at a certain speed, so people can keep pace with them) yelled out, "We just passed 10k!" which would have been okay but I thought I was further than 6.2 miles. So my heart sunk a little.
The next two miles take place on the bike trail, and it's a real nightmare. It's very narrow, and that's when people start cashing in their chips, so you have to constantly navigate people who are walking in front of you as well as people who are coming up from the rear still. You end up resorting to going around people by jumping into the grass along the outside of the trail. Normally a fun part of the race. But not so much when your shoes are starting to hurt. The trail took forever. I hated it.
The trail ended, bringing up the most difficult part of the race. There are two hills that take you through a neighborhood, before you make your way though downtown to the end. The first hill pretty much killed me. The second hill killed me more. When they were done with me, I was no longer running. I had stopped in the hopes that it would make my feet stop hurting. Its did not. If anything, they hurt worse when walking. So I started running again. That still hurt. I didn't know what to do.
I was ready to stop, but there's no way to stop when you are four miles from the end. Mercifully, Chelsey and Chuck showed up in the distance. I hobbled over to them. They both looked at me horrified. I said something about shutting it down. They said something about my bloody nipple. Wait. What? I looked down. My left nipple had apparently been bleeding for quite a while. Giant blood stain on my sweat-soaked shirt. I didn't feel anything, but apparently the lube didn't work.
As I made my way to the car with Chuck and Chelsey, they explained that they just didn't have a good day. Chuck got lost on his way to the hotel in the morning. Then they couldn't get where they wanted to go. None of their decisions worked out. They kept getting stuck in traffic. When I saw them at mile nine, it was the first time they were able to find a spot. I'm sure Edith didn't make any of this any easier. Nor did Chelsey's neck/back/shoulder issues.
We all agreed it wasn't our best outing. We went to have breakfast instead. The restaurant was full of runners who had finished the race. I felt a tinge of regret. But mostly I was just glad that my feet didn't hurt anymore. In the booth next to ours a mother and father were giving their daughter a congratulations gift for finishing the race. I asked Chelsey and Chuck where my gift was. They both said that they had gifts, but they had thrown them away after I quit. The girl's present turned out to be a glass butterfly, and I didn't feel so bad.