I signed up for this race months ago and was hoping for cooler than normal weather for this Labor Day weekend race. We’ll, that did not happen. In fact, I believe I got a warmer than normal weekend. And I am not a hot weather runner. Let me repeat, I am not a hot weather runner! In fact, I turn into a running vampire in the summer only running my weekly runs in pre-dawn hours! So, when I checked the weather on Friday night and saw it was going to be in the 80’s when we started and then creep into the 90’s by the finish, I was not looking forward to this.
On Saturday, I left the house and made the six and a half hour drive to Omaha on Saturday, stopping in Kansas City to stretch my legs a bit. I made it to packet pick up by mid afternoon, picked up my race bib number four, yes four, and checked into my hotel to binge watch some more of The Good Wife while I rested my legs for Sunday’s race.
The race start was seven am, so when my alarm went off at six, I got up and had some time to stretch, get all my race gear together, and walk the half mile to the race start. When I made it to the start I started chatting with a fellow runner and learned that the race course had changed since I last looked at it (which I have to admit was over a month ago when I signed up for the race). The looping course I was looking forward to that took us through Omaha and over into Council Bluffs, Iowa was no longer the route. It was now an out and back on their trail system. Boo. Now I had heat, no shade, and a mind-numbing out and back route to look forward to.
I headed to the starting line and joined the 4:30 pace group. I figured with the heat and lack of shade (remember, I’m a running vampire!) that I needed to take this one easy. I started feeling good, running a slow pace. Within the first couple of miles I pulled away from the 4:30 pace group, but ended up visiting two bathrooms in that time (oh, heat tummy!). By mile 7 I had caught them again and passed them. I was keeping a nice steady, easy pace and passing folks. In fact, between mile 6 and 26 I was only passed once. So, we ran about 8 miles out before turning around and headed back towards the start. At that point I was glad I made the call to run with my earphones in. Since I was running solo most of this race, music kept me company. It totally reminded me of the marathons I ran when I lived in Mississippi when I use to race every one by myself instead of with running friends. So, back to the course. At mile 2 the half marathoners split off and then at mile 3 the 10k racers turned around, which left the marathoners without other race distance company for the vast majority of the race. Considering the marathon had a field of 85, it was a pretty lonely run!
As I hit the halfway point, I was feeling pretty good – just keeping my steady pace, drinking at every water spot. When we got back to the starting point of where we hopped on the trail, we headed north out and back a few more miles. The turn around there was around mile 21.5 and it was getting quite warm. I saw lots of walking, lots of struggle bus folks! I was still running. I think my biggest accomplishment during this run was my pacing so that I didn’t overheat and I kept going the entire race. At that point my sunscreen had worn off and I was starting to really feel the heat. I could feel my mile time dropping into the 10:45 – 11:00 min/mi range. I felt like a turtle, but I kept going. The entire race course was pretty flat, minus when we went under an underpass and the last .2 miles that was a decent hill up to the finish. I was feeling that hill! My watch hit 26.6 right at 4:30 and the course ended up being a little long (according to the trusty Garmin) and my clock time was 4:33:01. I finished 11th overall female, and 34th out of the 85 marathoners. No to shabby for the hottest marathon I’ve ever done. I checked the weather when I finished and it was 90 degrees, feeling like 94. Holy moley, that’s hot!
I grabbed a quick shower, hopped in the car and headed back to Kansas City. I arrived in KC and thought I’d power through the drive home and made it home by 8 pm. So, a marathon and 13 hours in the car later, I am back in Fayetteville where I’m hoping it’s cooler than 90 degrees today!