Friday, September 29, 2006

RR Omaha

Race Report
Omaha Marathon
Omaha, NE
Sun, Sept 24/06
#272 – State # 45 (2nd loop)
3:40:39 – 1 AG - 1st Senior Masters

Where did I leave off in my last report? Oh Yes! I was hurting at mile 23 of the Crested Butte Marathon and worried about my legs recovering for this marathon! I knew I would be running the Omaha Marathon the following weekend because I wanted/needed to run Nebraska to scratch State #45 off my list as I complete the 50 States for the 2nd time.

Thus we left our summer home in the High Country of Colorado on Fri in a snowstorm to begin our drive home to Florida for the winter. We arrived in Omaha Fri night so that we could rest and explore the city on Sat. After picking up my race packet we decided to take a free bus tour of the course. I had researched the Net to learn that the winning time in my age group last year was 4:12? That seemed very slow so I needed to check out the course. It was described as “hilly and tough” but surely it wasn’t that difficult?

The course started at the Civic Center in downtown Omaha and ran east to the Missouri River and past the Lewis and Clark Landing. The first two miles were downhill and/or flat as they ran along the river and through the ConAgra campus (an agriculture and food conglomerate). Then began nine miles of hills including four nasty/BAHs (Bad Ass Hills) as the course headed south through the Henry Doorly Zoo to a turn-around point about 7 miles and then back past the Rosenblatt Stadium (home of the College World Series) before it looped back to the initial course through ConAgra and back to the Civic Center. The Half finished in the Civic Center while those lucky/crazy enough to run the full marathon got to run a 2nd half marathon loop north of the city. That loop ran north through a depressed/dilapidated section of the city to Carter Park and along Carter Lake that separates Nebraska from Iowa. At 20 miles the course climbed out of the Park into an old/poor neighborhood to a turn-around point at 21 miles. From there it was a straight and boring 5-mile shot back to the Civic Center. The 2nd Half was relatively flat except for the BAH at mile 20! I was glad we had taken the bus tour because I realized that the 1st Half would beat the crap out of our legs and I would have to run SMART!

Thus I finalized my goals:
1) Win my Age Group
2) Finish at least under 4 hours and hopefully under 3:45

The rest of the day we spent exploring the city and the Old Market – an old section of the city with warehouses that have been converted to shops, pubs and lofts.

Sun was ‘M’ day. I lined up at the start line with another 1500 runners – 350 in the marathon – the rest in the Half and 10K. The weather was good – cloudy and temps in the low 50s. The wind was the only concern since it was 10/15 mph? The sports manager waited at the start line to collect my warm-up clothes (perhaps she read that report from Stowe?) Since the first 2 miles were downhill/flat I passed mile 2 in 15:41. Then the hills and pain began. At mile 3 an old fart passed me. He was wearing a ’50 State’ T-shirt with the name ‘Rick’ on it. A ‘Rick’ from FL had emailed before the race asking to share a room so I asked if he was Rick from FL? Yes! We started running together and I told him I planned to run ‘smart and easy’ (an 8:30/9:00 min pace) through the hills so that I would have something left for the 2nd Half! But somehow we started pushing each other and I felt we were pushing too hard/fast through the hills? When we crested the final BAH at mile 10 in 1:23:06 I was concerned that we had used up too much energy in the hills. When Rick decided to make a pit stop I continued on and expected that I would not see him again? I followed some Half-marathoners to the Civic Center and passed the Half in 1:48:31 – about 5 minutes faster than planned?

I slowed my pace a wee bit to let the legs rest but that didn’t last long! As I turned a corner at mile 14 I glanced to my right and saw Rick closing on me - fast! Soon we were back together and pushing the pace again. I became concerned. We were in the same age group and I really didn’t want to run the whole race with a competitor. What would happen when we approached the finish line? How serious and painful would the pissing match be? I didn’t want to find out so I played a mean game. I figured Rick had to be hurting more than me because he had to play catch up so I lowered the pace to 8 min/mile. He stayed with me until mile 16 and then started to complain about a side stitch and slowed down. I continued on to the turn-around point at 18 miles in Carter Park (2:30:19) where I was able to confirm that I had built up about a ¼ mile lead on Rick. I slowed my pace again until I reached the BAH at mile 20 and charged up the BAH to gain more lead! I passed mile 20 in 2:47:10 and reached the final turn-around point at mile 21 where I noted that my lead had increased to about ½ mile and Rick was still having problems with his side stitch.

I knew that we were 1st and 2nd in our Age Group and figured Rick would fade/slow on the last 5 miles so it was decision time. Should I slow and coast to the finish line - OR? The race provided the answer! At that point I could see about one dozen runners spread out over the next mile in front of me. I decided to use this as an opportunity to teach the old bod how to cope with pain while pushing the pace to pull all those runners in! I passed 12 younger runners – the final runner on a short steep hill up to the Civic Center at mile 26! When I passed mile 25 in 3:30:26 I struggled desperately to finish under 3:40 but that last short hill felt like a friggin mountain and slowed me down so that I entered the Civic Center and crossed the finish line in 3:40:39!

I was expecting cheers and a nice hug from the Sports Manager – but NO sports manager? I had told her I expected to finish between 3:45 and 4:00 and she wasn’t there – I was too early? But to be fair and to give her credit she had left to bring the car closer to the finish line so that I wouldn’t have to walk too far to the car. So she was forgiven!
After the required finish line photos we headed to the hotel for a quick shower and late check out and then returned to the Civic Center to check the results. My official finish time of 3:40:39 was good enough to win my Age Group and also collect an additional award for the 1st Senior Master to cross the finish line.

No time to celebrate – we had to continue our drive back to Florida – 3 more days and 9 more states to drive across before we finally arrived back in Florida.

Now that I have had time to reflect I am pleased that I achieved both goals on a tough course. Even Maddog seems pleased that I ran 4 marathons in the past 3 weeks and won my age group in all four! He is giving me this weekend off from racing so that I can rest up for our international trip next week to South America – 3 marathons and 2 countries in one week!

Stay tuned for the trip reports!

No comments: