Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lincoln Marathon

In what may prove to be my last full marathon, the Lincoln Track Club in Nebraska put on a great finale. From beginning to end, this race was top notch.

Sue, Ringo and I headed out on the 3-hour journey Saturday afternoon, May 2. We checked into the Days Inn near the airport and then headed down to packet pick up. The expo was typical, vendors hawking fancy antioxidant concoctions, chiropractors that will straighten your spine and loads of clearance running gear. Packet pick up was smooth and soon, we were on our way to the race sponsored "Pastathon."

In the neat little Stadium Club, across from the University of Nebraska's football stadium, the Pastathon was available to anyone who walked up and wanted to eat. No need to show that you were entered in the race; they welcomed everybody. The meal was nothing fancy; salad, pasta with meat sauce or marinara sauce, bread and fudgesicles for dessert. I loaded up a heaping plateful and settled down at one of the outdoor tables, since the dog was with us. One of the volunteers commented that this was the first time in many years that we didn't have to worry about rain, wind or cold. Today, the weather was perfect! The meal was quite good considering it's simplicity. After dinner, we walked around campus a bit and found a track meet in progress. We hung around awhile and watched some of the pole vaulters and long jumpers.

Race morning came early, I always seen to wake before the alarm; 4;30 am to be specific. It looks to be another beautiful day, around 50 to start with the sun warming us nicely through the mix of clouds. The race begins in the center of campus and the football stadium, along with the Coliseum, is open for bathrooms or just a place to keep warm. There were no pace groups, so I lined up at the 10-minute mile pace marker. The goal today would be to finish in 4:20 or at least beat my best time of 4:24.

The course itself was decent, a mix of campus, neighborhoods, bike trails, and park areas. It's not the most interesting course, but there are almost no hills. The first half is a loop and the second half is an out-and-back. I would say it's a fast course, but for a mid to back of the pack runner, the first half is crowded with all the half-marathoners, especially along the narrow bike trails where it's hard to keep a pace, weaving between walkers and slower runners. The course is great for spectators, as Sue was able to easily find me numerous times throughout the race. There seemed to be plenty of cheering fans---OK, it's not Chicago---but they were everywhere and enthusiastic. The aid stations were THE best I've ever seen in a race. Gatorade and water were clearly distinguishable by the type/color of the cup and half of the cups would have lids and straws, so it was easy to keep running through the station if you wished. They also had numerous stops with orange slices, Vaseline and a couple of GU stops in the second half.

My day started well, I felt good through the first half, but lost a few minutes to my pace and a few more for a bathroom stop. At the halfway point, I was 4 minutes behind, so I began to pick up my pace a bit to try and get back a few of the minutes. This worked fine for miles 13-16; I got back to only 2 minutes behind goal, but the strategy would prove faulty. In miles 17-22 I had to pay back exponentially for the extra burst used earlier and thus came to the realization that I would not meet my goal today. I began to employ some walking in the mix, but pain in my right knee became overbearing. It hurt so much to try and start running again after the walks, that I abandoned the walk and just kept running at a snail's pace. Once the finish line was in view, like any proud marathoner that's feeling defeated, I forced my legs to sprint the last quarter mile and finish on a strong note.

Final time: 4:49:47

Friends and fellow bloggers Kim and Doug also run the race

After the race, the Coliseum was open for massages and showers. What a great touch! This was the first time I've ever had a massage after a run and believe me, this felt wonderful. There were loads of masseurs and masseuses (wow, I had to look up how to spell those words!) with empty tables waiting. A shower before the long ride home I'm sure was appreciated by Sue.

While I was disappointed today in my results, this race was one of the best overall experiences I've had.

Early on, still looking fresh
Later around mile 22, not so much!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The New Career

Well, it's been quite some time since I last posted and many changes have taken place since then. Back in early October, I was given notice that my position at work was being consolidated and eventually our group would no longer exist. That day has finally come, and I am now spending my first week ever on unemployment.

I've been through many different emotions since the announcement, but now I have made peace with this change and am ready to move on. At 55, there's not a whole lot of career left in me, but with the economic situation, I'm likely to have to work for another 10 years. Relatively speaking, 10 years is a short time, so I plan to pursue a career that I will enjoy, not one that may be financially the best option.

Since I was a kid, I've always loved to travel. My parents always took us somewhere every summer, mostly up and down the east coast. When I turned 18 and took my first vacation as an adult, my buddy and I drove from Michigan to California and back in a week. Being on the road and seeing the country was thrilling to me. So, what do I want to be now that I've grown up and need a job; a driver of course. What's the best job in the driving industry; ya, that's right, a truck driver.

I've made the decision that I'm going to pursue a career as a truck driver, fully prepared to drive OTR in a big rig. Some people think I'm crazy, but I'm excited. Yes, a part of me has always thought about driving a truck, so why not now! I've enrolled in a 6-week truck driving school, which starts in May. After graduation, I'll be qualified work in an industry that is always in need of drivers, so finding a job shouldn't be too difficult.

In the meantime, I've kept up with my running and am currently training for the Lincoln Marathon on May 3. The training seems so much more difficult this year; I don't know why, but I seem to struggle on every long run. Sometimes I think it's mostly mental as it's been hard to keep focused the last few months.

Going forward, training while being on the road in a truck will prove to be quite a challenge. Realistically, I doubt that I will be able to train for long races anymore, but I do plan to try and put in a few miles every week. It will be exciting to be able to run in a different state or different city every day.

Wish me luck.......