Sunday, June 12, 2011

Marathon to Marathon Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Storm Lake/Marathon, IA
Saturday, June 11
Half Marathon #35
State #30/50
Weather - Sunny, Upper 50's

Iowa is another state that didn't have a lot of choices for races. We picked the Marathon to Marathon half marathon because we were trying to schedule races as close to possible for the summer so we wouldn't have to fly.

Even though the race was close enough to drive, the race was scheduled on a Saturday. That meant that we would have to leave on Friday. Meaning L wouldn't be able to help me drive since she can't miss any more work. So we recruited her boyfriend, R, to ride with me. L planned to fly into Omaha after work, and we would pick her up.

I took A to her last day of camp, and R and I left the city just after 10:00. We had decided to take Bee Rad since the car gets about 40 mpg. The drive? Long. Pretty uneventful. What can you really say about driving for hours and hours across eastern Colorado and Nebraska. We had lunch at a Subway in the middle of nowhere.

Subway. The only food option for an hour.
We nearly ran out of gas because I let the tank get low and we were out in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, even though the car claimed I had 0 miles until I ran out of gas, we somehow managed to get to a Shell station.

I really DID drive that far on one tank of gas
Made it to Omaha with enough time to eat at Applebee's for dinner, ate the usual. Had pretty awful service. Hate it when you ask for the check to be split and they do it wrong.

We headed out and picked L up at the airport. The highway our GPS wanted to take turned out to be closed because of flooding. We were detoured down a "boulevard" that was really a one way dirt road.

The "Boulevard"
We were detoured on another highway that was also closed, although not until we had been driving on it for a while. We had to turn around and then we could NOT figure out where to go next. The last detour sign suggested we get back to I-80, but we didn't know HOW. We were so turned around from all the detours we didn't even know what direction we were going.

After about an hour of driving around, we finally got out of Omaha and found the detour we needed to take. The detour unfortunately added some miles and of course time, so our estimated arrival at our hotel (30 minutes from the start line) was about midnight. Most of the last part of our drive was on a two lane road in light rain. Arrived at the glorious Best Western in Cherokee at 11:45. I really hoped I'd be able to get four hours of sleep.

Even though it was the most comfortable bed in the world I just could NOT sleep. I bet I was up for hours before I finally dozed off. Too bad we had to be up before 4:30 to get ready and be at packet pick up (remember, a 30 minute drive) before 5:30.

I was way more tired than usual when the alarm went off. Got dressed quickly and headed out the door. We arrived at the high school in Storm Lake at about 5:15 and went inside to pick up our packets. It was a bit overcast and chilly, so I was hopeful for decent temperatures during the race. I'm pretty sure that at least 20% of the participants of this race were Marathon Maniacs...

The marathon started at the high school at 6:00, and the bus for the half marathoners was to leave the school at 6:05 for a 7:00 start. When the marathon runners lined up we finally realized just how small this race was. There was no banner, just a line spray painted on the ground. After the marathon started, I made a quick stop at the bathroom, then we got on the bus for the drive to the start.

Full Marathon Start Line. Seriously.
Arrived at the half marathon start line at about 6:30. I won't even try to describe the starting area. An example of when a picture (or eight) is worth a thousand words? Here.

I think L managed to get MOST of the half marathoners in this picture
Me. L. Corn.
So yeah. This is probably the smallest race I have done, and maybe the smallest race I ever WILL do. We saw the one wheelchair racer go by and about 10 minutes later, we lined up. We also just had a line spray painted for the start.

Of we went...

The race is described as fairly flat and fast. I was worried about a few things. With a race of this size I was worried about missing course markings and/or running alone. Didn't have to worry about either one of these things. It was IMPOSSIBLE to get lost. At least 10 miles of the race was on a straight road without a single turn of any kind. And as for "running alone," it's hard to really be by yourself when you can see a mile or so ahead of you at any time.

How to describe this course? You, me, and the corn. Other than the volunteers at the aid stations, there was virtually NO crowd support. There was seriously nothing but corn fields. Maybe a half dozen farms. I never saw any cows or horses or birds. It was not the most interesting course I have run, but it also wasn't the worst.

Pretty much what the whole course looked like - about mile 4
The aid stations were well stocked with water and Gatorade at all stations. They were about 2 miles apart for the first half of the race and about every mile for the last 5-6 miles. They even handed out GU around mile 8. One of the aid stations even did a Christmas theme, complete with wooden decorations and ugly Christmas sweaters (on race day it was 196 days until Christmas, FYI). I wish I would have taken a picture, might have been the most exciting part of the course.

As for how the race itself went? Like last race, I tried not to go out too fast and I tried to have more of a positive attitude than I have been having lately. It was pretty sunny by the time the race started so I was a bit warm, but at least the actual temps were in the upper 50s so it was bearable. I also had a few other goals in mind (NOT walking anything but the aid stations and finishing sub 2:10), but mainly I just wanted the race to not suck.

I accomplished the first goal, but missed the second by about a minute and a half. I kept a pretty decent pace most of the race, but I struggled miles 4-5 with some very tight and sore quads. I guess I'll just blame that on just being tired. I hadn't slept well the night before we left (getting maybe 5 hours) and only getting 2-3 hours the night before the race can't have helped. Overall I feel good about the race. I passed a few people mid-race, and managed to keep ahead of a few people I had been playing cat and mouse with.

The most "exciting" part of the race was the last mile or so when we entered the town of Marathon and finally had something to look at besides corn!

Turn to enter Marathon
A cute little town that I wish I would have taken some time to get some pictures of. For the first time in ages I didn't feel 100% drained at the end. I was tired of course, but it wasn't as bad as it has been.

Thanks, R, for the finish line pic!

Overall Place - 44/62
Gender Place - 24/36
Division Place - 10/14
Garmin Time - 2:11:33
Garmin Distance - 13.14 Miles
Garmin Pace - 10:00
Mile 1 - 9:20
Mile 2 - 9:44
Mile 3 - 9:29
Mile 4 - 10:20
Mile 5 - 9:47
Mile 6 - 10:39
Mile 7 - 10:08
Mile 8 - 10:21
Mile 9 - 10:18
Mile 10 - 10:10
Mile 11 - 10:11
Mile 12 - 9:45
Mile 13 - 9:59
Mile 13.1 - 8:46

After crossing the line I found L and got some water and Gatorade.  An older man approached us and asked if we were from Colorado. He proceeded to say that he was from North Carolina, but he worked with someone that was from the same city that we live in and he asked if we knew the name. Strangely enough, not only did we know the name, but L had been in an "relationship" with the son in 5th grade. And her ex-husband had dated the daughter. Talk about small world.

Of note:
  • First time I haven't had to use the bathroom during a race in months.
  • Didn't get passed by the first marathon male until almost mile 8
  • Didn't get passed by the first marathon female until after mile 12
  • Finally placed top 10 in my division (so what if there were only 14 of us :-/ )
  • Smallest race I have run - only 62 finishers in the half marathon (just over 180 for the full)
  • NOT running related - Bee Rad *did* average over 40 mpg. Over 1500 miles driven and we only spent about $115 in gas.
Walked to the car and then headed back on our 30 minute drive to the hotel so we could take quick showers before the long drive back to Denver.

We got back on the road at about 11. Our only stops were for meals and gas, and trying to pick up a few souvenirs. Since we already knew about the road closures, we didn't have any trouble getting on the right roads. L had left her car at the airport, so we had to make a quick stop to pick up her car. Managed to get home at 11:45. What a long few days.

Pioneer Museum over the highway in Nebraska (R took this picture from the backseat... does my window look like there are a *few* dead bugs on it?)
Sorry for the blah report. There is only so much you can say about 1500+ miles of driving through corn country just to run for two hours :D


  1. The start line for the half made me laugh out loud. That, and the "you, me, and the corn." Great job on no sleep!

  2. Congrats on another state and another run. the start line made me laugh out loud.

  3. Blah is right! I had to drive from Oregon to Florida, then Florida to Oregon - and I was soooo bored in the middle. Corn corn corn. I was totally over it. So I can only imagine what it would be like to run straight for so long through non-stop corn!

    Love the story of the people in the Christmas sweaters!

  4. Okay - got interrupted. I'm back to finish my thoughts!

    I'm glad you had more success - no pain, no potty breaks, no freezing, no melting!

    And your travels scare me. I was thinking it sounded like a sci-fi movie where the all-American kids get lost in the middle of corn and the crazy locals terrorize them. I'm glad this wasn't the case for you!

    Ooh - I went to Applebee's a couple of weeks ago - ordered what you order minus the chicken - and our service was horrible. I had no napkins for our appetizers, then we had no silverware when our food was delivered. Not sure how you are supposed to eat pasta without forks. So Biker Boy did an online customer comment card I guess - they called him, apologized, asked questions and gave him $30 in gift cards to come back!

  5. wow. that's a lot of corn.

    The spray paint line is hilarious. I did a "small town" race recently too and it was very...different.

    congrats on your race!

  6. Now THAT is some serious dedication. I'm always inspired by your travels and tenacity to complete your 50 in 50.

    I've had the same kind of bizarre six degrees of separation thing happen to me many times. It always makes me think "Good thing I'm not cheating on my husband (I'm not married though) because you always run into someone who knows someone you know."

  7. I've driven through IA a couple times and had a similar experience. Me, the car, and corn. Blah. Adam from I Am Boring (funny blog!) ran the full marathon. Too bad he didn't get to see you & L.

  8. Loved this! And I agree with everyone else, the 'you, me, and the corn' comment cracked me up.

    What an adventure!

  9. You are living the dream -- a different half marathon every weekend. How do you do it? I'm barely managing to churn out 9 states this year!


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