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The 38th running of the National Guard Lincoln Marathon was held on Sunday May 3, 2015.
This race started in 1978 in Lincoln Nebraska and is organized by the Lincoln Track Club. This race has gained in popularity over the years to the current number of 12,500 starters.
It also holds a distinction that few marathons do in that it sells out quickly. In fact, registration opened Jan. 3rd and sold out within the space of a few hours.
My Recap of The Lincoln Marathon
Although this marathon would be considered a mid-sized race is one of the largest events put on completely by a team of 2,800 volunteers (with not a single paid position).
Lincoln is also home to the state capital of Nebraska and is a beautiful city. I have to admit that this isn’t exactly a destination we would have traveled to without my 50 state marathon quest. Per our family tradition we were able to tour the capital building and from the upper level you could enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
The race expo and packet pickup was located at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel on Friday and Saturday before the race. They also offered early morning packet pickup. You were required to know your race number and have an ID to get your packet. As we were in line to get ours we had the opportunity to meet Christy from northern NE who’s been a listener for 4 years.
The expo was small which made navigating packet pickup very easy. We got a very nice technical race shirt as part of the packet and spent a few minutes walking around.
The featured speaker was Lincoln native and Hanson-Brooks Distance Project team member Mike Morgan (who took 2nd place in the marathon). He finished 7th at the LA Marathon and is hoping to make the US Olympic Team in 2016. We weren’t able to hear him speak as we got into town too late and had to check into the bed and breakfast we were staying at (since Trevor waited until 2 weeks before to find a hotel).
A couple other pre-race events was the Mayor’s 1 mile run for children around the state capital and the Pastathon—a free carb loading dinner for runners, their families and volunteers. We didn’t attend this because we had the MTA meet up to attend and aren’t big pasta eaters anyway.
MTA Meet up
The official MTA meet up was held at a Mexican restaurant (of course). We were delighted to meet Pat & Monica from TX for the second time and make some new friends including Dan & Christine from KC, Sharon & Theresa, and Megan & Ignacio from CO. My mom and our kids were also there.
We had a fairly short drive to the marathon starting line but had to make a very important stop for coffee as there wasn’t any at the B&B. I’m afraid to report that Trevor didn’t scope out parking options beforehand so we ended up parking at a parking garage. According to race info there were many parking lots located on the University of NE-Lincoln campus, city parking garages and at parking meters (free on Sunday).
We got there a bit later than I like so I took off by myself to go find a bathroom and found the bathroom situation somewhat dire. I didn’t wander around extensively looking for port-a-pots but found that the main gymnasium building on campus was open for runners to sit pre-race and use the bathroom. Unfortunately the women’s restrooms had extremely long lines and I only managed to get into my starting corral about 3 minutes before the start time.
The marathon was very good about sending out pre-race information and communicating with runners. In fact, as race day neared it was looking like the weather was going to be very warm on Sunday (starting temp of mid 60’s and highs in the 80’s with wind and humidity.
The race started at 7am and they incorporated a wave start. You were assigned a colored bib based on your expected pace and then approximately 1,000 runners were released at 2 min intervals. Since there were around 12,000 starters the process took around 40 minutes. The marathon had pacing teams for both the half and full marathon. It was interesting because I recognized a pacer who I’d seen at the Garmin Marathon a couple years ago in KS (she wears giraffe ears and tail).
The marathon course had a 6:30 time limit and was open from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. If marathoners didn’t reach the halfway checkpoint, approximately 12.8 miles, by 10:30 a.m. they were directed onto Stadium Drive to finish as a half marathon participant. Since the slower corrals didn’t get released until last they would need to post a time somewhere under 6 hours. The race is predominated by half marathoners with over 80% choosing this distance.
The aid stations were approximately 2.5 miles apart and provided water with lids and straws for easy drinking, Gatorade and ice. Each aid station was staffed with a physician to assist runners. They also offered Vaseline, band-aids, orange slices, gummie bears and jelly beans at some.
Port-a-potties were located near the aid stations throughout the course and there seemed to be a sufficient number available. There were local bands along the course—most notably one called Polka Police. During the first half we went through the downtown, by the capital building and through some nice neighborhoods where spectators turned out in good numbers.
There were timing mats on the course at the 5K, 10K, 15K, half, 25K and 20-mile point along the course. This allowed athlete tracking for friends and family and access to split times. The course was well marked and intersections were controlled by law enforcement, National Guard or volunteers.
After the course split off at the 12.8 mile mark full marathons continued toward an out and back that included a bike path. It was rather narrow in places and offered little shade as the day continued to heat up. The course also had a few hills.
Both the half and full marathon finished at the 50 yard line in Memorial Stadium. Prior to entering the stadium there was a camera and your image was recorded so spectators could see you coming toward the finish line. The race also sent out a link post-race so you could see your finish video.
The male marathon winner was Edward Tabut of Kenya who trains in MN in 2:27:38; Kelly Harrick of Iowa was the first woman in 2:43:22. For the half marathon Katie White was first in 1:18:16. Apparently she lost steam around 600 yards from the finish and had to stop momentarily to gather her reserves. Sammy Rotich who lives in Des Moines was the first male in 1:06:36.
Even though my recovery had been going well post Boston I was still feeling fairly fatigued going into this marathon. We were also in the midst of packing and moving my mom which was taking extra time and energy. Then the reports of warm weather on race day made me a bit nervous too.
Looking at my splits there wasn’t any of the nice pacing from Boston. I stayed between an 8:30-9:00 pace through the halfway point, faded to 9:44 by 25k and then slowed to around 10:15 from mile 20 to the finish. My strategy was to get as far as possible before the weather got too warm but I was already feeling overheated by mile 7.
One cool experience was seeing an MTA listener named Brian out on the course around mile 15. He passed me like I was standing still. I also saw my coaching client Pat running with the 4:00 pace group on an out and back and MTA member Dan.
By mile 16 I was starting to see warm weather “carnage.” People were slowing down and there were already several getting medical care along the course. I decided not to continue pushing my pace and instead focus on finishing on my own two feet. So the rest of the race included taking some walk breaks, being careful about my hydration and taking all available ice to suck on, put in my sports bra and rub on my face and neck.
Around mile 20 there was a lady I’d been leap frogging throughout the morning and she was staggering along. I asked if she was okay and she said, “this sucks.” I asked if it was her first marathon and she said, “my third.” When I asked if this was her hardest she kind of laughed and said, “no, I guess my first was harder, but I didn’t train for this heat.” I encouraged her to start using the ice and listen to her body.
Reports were that 29 people were taken to the hospital with heat related issues and many more received on course treatment. It’s definitely sobering when you see runners hooked up to IVs or being loaded in ambulances. A good reminder that races are for fun and should not be a risk to your health.
I fueled with UCAN before and during the race but I couldn’t pass up a popsicle around mile 22 (mainly to take advantage of the cold). I finished in 4:07:02 and was very happy to be done. This was my 32nd marathon and 26th state.
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Since the race finishes in the stadium there is lots of space for friends and family to see your finish. There was a screen inside where they film your finish and spectators at the finish line can see you coming in. Your name and hometown also flashes on the screen. The lane into the stadium splits between the half and full but needs to be wider as at one point there was no way to get around a lady in front of me.
After getting your medal which was a new design this year (but the same for the half and full) you can go inside to a great food area and hang around and cheer other runners, stretch or take advantage of the massage area. Food and beverages offered included water, soda, sports drink, cookies, soup, bagels, oranges, bananas, chocolate milk, and chips.
They also offered a post-race celebration and awards ceremony that was held in the Champions Club with a free light lunch consisting of pork sandwiches, salads, chips, cookies and cake beginning at 11 a.m. followed by the awards ceremony at 12:30 p.m. The event is open to runners, their families and volunteers.
After the race we walked back to the car, ate at Chipotle, showered and then started driving back toward home to cut down on our distance for the next day. We were able to stay at a Kansas City location of the Drury Hotel that night.