Home Road Running The Worst Marathon Experience of my Life: The Lincoln National Guard Marathon Race Recap

The Worst Marathon Experience of my Life: The Lincoln National Guard Marathon Race Recap

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***Let me first start off with that this terrible marathon experience was all on me and not the Lincoln marathon itself. The Lincoln marathon is a very well organized race, with a great course, and great crowd support. My terrible experience was due to personal unfortunate occurrences that made up my worst ever marathon time.***

Training

The Lincoln marathon was for the purpose to continue doing long distance running in order to be prepared for ironman Wisconsin in September. It was recommended to my by the volunteer distance coach at Kansas State University who I worked with very closely. He is from Nebraska and talked very highly of the race and stated it was one of his favorite races. Because I value his opinion and since Lincoln, Nebraska wasn’t too far away from Manhattan, Kansas it seemed like the perfect race to do for ironman training. The difference between this marathon and my past 3 marathon is that with this marathon is was more triathlon/bike focused than marathon focused on training. I kept telling myself, “I feel strong, I know I can run this distance.” But I hadn’t been doing the +18 mile runs like I had with the previous marathons I trained for. I thought, “If I can do this marathon and not have had to do those gruesome long runs I will be ecstatic!” I had been really bike heavy focused with some very long swim as endurance and partly recovery but I had felt very strong. From October at the Wichita marathon to May at the Lincoln marathon my body type had changed as well. With strength training my legs became massive and I had put on 10-15 pounds. On that aspect I felt heavy and not in marathon body type shape.

Leading up to the marathon

The weeks-days before the Lincoln marathon were absolute hell. Like I have said in my other blog posts, I am a graduate student and a graduate assistant. I was in the middle of outdoor track season AND defending my master thesis! I was barely sleeping, not eating enough, eating too much, just plain out stressed. Running this marathon was the least of my worries in the spring semester. I wanted to view it as a reward for finishing everything. As a way to celebrate everything that I accomplished during my time in graduate school.

The day before the marathon was May 5th and we had a home meet to host. Thankfully I knew this home meet, since it is one of the last before conference, would be a short one, meant that I could book it to Lincoln right after the meet. My boyfriend was able to visit me that weekend from Texas and help me by driving to Lincoln and drive back home after the race. After an 8 AM- 4 PMmeet day in what seemed like the first really hot day in MHK we made it to Lincoln and stayed with my friend and her family who was also doing the race. (13.1) We ate, relaxed, hydrated, and got to sleep at a reasonable time.

Race day

Race morning was great! The race started at 7 AM and the Airbnb we were staying at was actually located on the race course! This meant that we were fairly close to the start line and didn’t need to wake up extremely early to get prepped. 5:45  wake up time, toast, black coffee, and head to the start line.

At the start line I felt nervous because I just felt tired. I felt like even if I had slept 24 hours I would still be tired. But I was definitely excited to run this race. The crowd was fierce and it seemed that Nebraska folk really loved this race.

My friend Haley and I repping RunUnited located in Mansfield, Texas all the way in Lincoln, Nebraska. Perfect tanks to wear on such a hot day.

It was time to race! I told myself, “Control your pace, it’s your race! Don’t focus on others.” I wanted to avoid what I did in October where I went out too fast and then didn’t have anything in me in the end to push it to even a further sub-4.

I was feeling great. Honestly the best I have ever felt running. It felt effortless, I had gotten into a rhythm, non-existent hill. It was great. I was cruising in my 8:30 pace plan where I would hope to drop pace after the half way mark.

And then it all went to…

I started fading. I felt nauseous. I saw my friend Haley around mile 11. She was dominating. It was pretty set she was going to meet her sub 2 hour PR (HECK YEAH!) and I was so happy for her but around then, I was feeling horrible. At mile 12 I threw up. It felt acidic and even after throwing up I didn’t feel any better. I thought I wasn’t dehydrated and it couldn’t be signs of heat illness but I felt so terrible. I felt like running just one more mile to make it to the end with the half marathon group but I really wanted a medal and did not feel like I deserved a medal if I didn’t finish the race I signed up for. (26.2)

Stubborn me kept running. I saw my boyfriend and Haley’s husband and kids at around mile 13.5 and I told them I felt like crap. My boyfriend asked if I had it in me to continue and I do not remember what I said but I just remember I kept going.

At mile 15 I made a friend on the course that was just as miserable as me! I do not remember her name nor her bib number. We ran for 3 miles together barely talking and both suffering as we attempted to run in the 91 degree weather with no shade. At mile 18 shortly after a water station she collapsed from the street onto the side walk. I was barely functioning myself but when I noticed she collapsed she then started seizing. I moved her to the grass to make sure she would hurt her head, started timing the seizure, checked for any medical jewelry or tags that indicated she had a history of seizures (none.) and yelled for help. It seemed like an eternity before anyone arrived. Thinking back on this moment I believe I thought I was yelling for help but I was probably barely loud enough since I myself was on the brink of passing out as well. I dumped all the water I had on her to try to cool her off. Her heart rate was so fast and she wasn’t calming down. I kept “yelling” for help until the National Guard finally arrived. They took her from there to medic and didn’t even notice I was delusional myself.

I kept running. I cried about what had just occurred and I wanted to quit. I saw my boyfriend (TJ), Haley, her family at the marathon turn around. I told them I was miserable and I was walking. I told TJ that no matter what I needed to finish this marathon. I knew that another sub-4 or even a PR on this race was lost but I wanted my damn marathon medal.

TJ, my weight lifting, non-cardio, boyfriend, ran with my in khakis and converse for the remainder of the 6.5 miles that were left. Seriously crazy. I met a girl after the race that asked me if TJ was my boyfriend and if so, that she thought it was such a sweet thing of someone to do. She had even put it on her snapchat story.

Throughout these 6.5 miles I believe I cried, nearly passed out, stated I was COLD, drank a lot of water, walked, and barely ran. I remember at times the support on the course kept asking if I was okay and TJ would lie to them saying I am okay just takinga break! If TJ hadn’t lied for me I am sure I would have been pulled off the course and taken to medic because I wasn’t fully there at times. He made sure I drank a lot of water. So much I was finally able to talk normally and I needed to pee! (Yay for normal bodily function!)

I peed and was determined to finish. TJ kept telling me, “We run until we catch that guy and then you can walk a little bit!” That really kept me going. I started to notice that the seizure girl and I were not the only ones struggling. There was many more people pulled out of the race, people hurting like me who were walk/running, and people cramping. Although I wouldn’t want anyone to have a bad race day, it made me feel so much better to know I wasn’t the only one suffering. The last 2 miles seemed impossible. I had never been on my feet that long for a race ever in my life. My half ironman time was 6 hours but only a portion of that was the run (13.1.) I had entered the 5 hour running time range. My feet were killing me, my body ached, it was HOT. The finish line was at Memorial Stadium home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Entering that stadium seemed impossible. TJ kept pushing for me to finish. He ran with me until the entrance of the stadium for marathon runners only. I finally made it.

This was definitely the coolest marathon finish I had experienced, to run on the football field of the Nebraska team! Afterwards, I walked into the tunnel where runners were directed to and found a placed to collapse at. I had done it! The medal was well worth it!

My time of 5:27:34 was officially my worst marathon ever in my life! The events experienced at the Lincoln marathon still scare me. I have been trying to avoid the heat so I don’t throw up but I also know that that is what summer training is for, adaptation. In September in Wisconsin, it can be a cool day or a heat wave of a day. I have got to be prepared for all of it so that the events that occurred at Lincoln marathon do not occur again. I think in a couple of years I would like to tackle this very same marathon again so I can come back with vengeance and a purpose. The course is flat and well supported and I would definitely do this again.

What’s next?

Now that school is done with and it’s summer mode it’s time for rest and training! All of June I will be busy in Mexico enjoying time with family and being active exploring the terrain. But afterwards, July will be back to heavy ironman training and moving to Madison, Wisconsin for PhD school. Before I know it, it will be time for that 140.6! I am hoping to get some quality training in, maybe some races in but more focused on longer training sessions for the big day. Hopefully after ironman I can try to tackle another marathon and redeem my sub-4 time once again.

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