It’s amazing what a flat course and lower altitude can do for your race time. Especially when one doesn’t really train for a race.
It’s also amazing what a little humidity does to the body while running as well….
So, this last weekend, I ran the half marathon for the Buffalo County Stampede! It was held in Kearney, Nebraska (pronounced CAR-ney not KER-ney like I’ve been saying the whole time………Nebraskan’s need to learn to spell. If you wanted it to be CAR-ney, don’t put an E in the name….just sayin’). No, offense to my friend that lives there, but my first impression of this town wasn’t very good. Maybe it was too “small town” ish for me, or maybe watching the locals while we were out made me think they didn’t really care much about the same things I care about, I don’t know, but the next day, I found people more on my level.
I arrived in CAR-ney Saturday night and met up with my friend. It was a good time! I hadn’t seen him in a really long time. We got dinner so I could carb-load and then hung out with a few of his friends for a round of beers and bowling. There’s not much else to do in CAR-ney, but we had a good ol’ time at “The Big Apple.”
I slept like crap that night, but then again, I always sleep horribly the night before big races. Of course, it probably doesn’t help sleeping on an unfamiliar couch. I woke up bright and early the next morning (ugh 5 am came way too soon), made my way over to the local grocery store (there’s NO starbucks in this town!) and got myself some food and coffee then headed to The Trails and Rails Museum where the race kicked off.
I got ready in my car then made my way across the street. There wasn’t too many people there, but not knowing anyone, I sat down on the curb and people-watched while I waited. This year was the first year they were using timing chips so it was kinda funny to watch them set all that up. A nice, older gentleman sat down next to me and made me feel welcome as we chatted about running. He was a pretty cool guy – he’s been running for years, and now that he’s older, he still likes it but it’s hard on his body. He told me that his main goal is to finish, but he also said something very nice….in referring to the heat and the hopes that people will hydrate adequately he commented on the fact that if someone does fall down, he’ll be the one to come along and pick them up. I thought that was really sweet.
Then it was time to run!! And I had a great run! I have a new PR to brag about! I finished in 1:57:19!!! I’m so ecstatic that I broke 2 hours! With proper training, I think I get get my half marathon time down even further! I think the half marathon is becoming my favorite distance. I do have to admit that I did stop and walk for just a few minutes. At mile 10 or 11, I got a HORRIBLE side cramp. Which was weird, I felt fine the WHOLE way until this point. I tried to run through it like I usually do, but it was pretty sharp, and higher up and under my ribs than normal. I stopped to walk, taking deep breaths and pinching the area that hurt. I waited until the pain was completely gone and started running again. Happy to report, the pain did not come back! (That’s my secret to fixing side cramps, it works every time…anyone else have any good tricks???) Besides the few minutes of the side cramp, like I said before, I felt great for most of the run! Sure, my feet hurt, but otherwise, it was fantastic. I made sure to drink water at every water station (they a TON of water!) because of the humidity/dehydration factors. I really focused on the mental aspects of running and just keeping myself going.
Speaking of humidity: Holy crap was it HUMID! I’ve never really run in humidity! I’ve been to humid places, and I do not like humidity (hence one of the reasons I love CO so much), but I never though Nebraska would be this humid! It wasn’t really even that hot…but that humidity made it feel way worse! It was gross! Hopefully this is not TMI, but I haven’t realized how lucky I am running in CO, I have never experienced the pain of really chaffing before, and have some lovely blisters to take care of now. I guess I need to think of a new running outfit, especially for humid races.
The course itself was very flat, but it went through a beautiful park. So, it started at the Trails and Rails Museum and wound through what’s called Yanny Park, and followed a river for about 7 miles. It was an out and back course and the turn around was at the “great platte river road archway.” I guess it’s a historical thing. I tried researching it: It’s history about the western movement (here’s some info on it if you’re curious). We ran by part of the outdoor display stuff and the archway itself which is this huge building thing built over the highway. It’s weird.
I do have a really good story about this race though. After my side cramp incident, there was only 1.5 miles left. I caught up to a woman who didn’t seem much older than me, and she stopped to walk. As I passed her I said, “we’re almost done!” in a sympathetic voice. She started to run again, and we ran together for about a mile. At one point I started to slow (I was getting really tired) and she said to me “Come on! We’re almost there” So I picked up the pace again. As I saw the finish line come into sight, I got a burst of energy and finished strong! I found her at the end, and we both told each other good job. But I don’t think I would have broken 2 hours if she hadn’t pushed me to keep up my pace. I have no idea who she was, but I’m glad she was there!
Although I have no real desire to go back to Nebraska (just not my kind of place) the event was great. Well organized, great course, adequate water stations, good post-race snacks and nice people. And for being a smallish event (about 200 people for the Half and 50 for the 5K), the race packet was pretty awesome. A sweet racing t-shirt and lots of food/protein powder samples!