Run for the Bridges - Wilderness Park Lincoln, NE - 3/14/201I arrived at the start line area at Wilderness park at 7:00 Am for an 8:30AM Trail Marathon. I like to be early but ok that was to much earlyness for such small race. I did however pass the time by sitting in my truck drinking coffee and reading "I am an Ironman" book that follows the life's of people training to complete an Ironman. Somewhere in the back of my mind little ninja like versions of me are fighting through the idea of me attempting to complete one of those things. Meanwhile in the front of my mind real life goes on and I start thinking about the 26 miles ahead. I didn't however work my nerves up all crazy for this race. I had a big week of training; ran 50+ miles; not counting the 26 ahead, including 9 miles of hills the day before. I felt loose & ready. I loaded up my Orange Mud Double Barrel Vest Pack with 1 bottle water, 1 blue Gatorade, 1 package of cliff shot blocks & 1 Kind Bar. 8:30 finally rolled around & I was lined up ready for 26.2 miles of trail bliss.
Miles 1 - 5
They staggered the start so the marathoners had more room on the single track trails. The race starts by doing a 1.8 mile single track loop to get you warmed up; from there we went to a road for a bit and then a limestone bike trail for just about a mile until we entered the wooded area. The bike path went around a big bend & I could see some runners i recognized out in front of me. We hit the single track trails again at about 3 miles and I felt at home again. I'd catch a glimpse of Miguel from Omaha in front of me every few minutes when the path straightened out a bit.
Mile 6 - 10
Around mile 6 I caught Miguel; it was hard not to run outside of what my body was telling me and catch him as soon as i first saw him. Part of me wanted to speed up to be able to chat and gain some knowledge from such an accomplished runner but i stuck to what my body was telling me. My splits at this point were showing up at between 8 & 8:30. The trails were very soft & muddy in spots so i knew not to let the times throw me off. Soft trails are challenging especially late in the run. I talked with Miguel for about a mile and was still feeling good so kept going at my pace.
By mile 11 i was still feeling pretty fresh and hydrating and fueling well on my cliff shots. I believe I'd had 3 by the 1/2 way point. Some of these miles got a bit confusing because we were meeting up with 1/2 marathoners and i wasn't real sure what their route was so I was trying to mentally figure out why i was seeing them now. Their were a couple creek crossing here but the water was low enough the mud covered shoes didn't get wet or cleaned off. I really wish i would of grabbed a few shots of the steep decline then the crossing and the inclines but i was in race mode and didn't want to stop. It was at about mile 12 i saw another awesome runner i had spotted early in the race on the bike path. Kaci passed me as she had already made the turn around and was headed back in. This gave me a little confidence because she is such an awesome runner and not that far out in front of me. I hit the 1/2 way turn around point and filled up my Orange Mud water bottle. I had a little over 1/2 of my Gatorade left. I petted a nice older yellow lab and made a quick turn around and headed back out.
Thru 16 miles & I still hadn't looked at my overall pace. I had my watch set to show me my Avg HR, Current HR & total time since start. I did have it set to beep on the mile and show me that split but i didn't want to watch the Avg Pace this run and just run. I did however watch my HR and kept it under 170. I told myself if i felt like i could improve my time and still fresh at 20 i could turn it to Avg Pace and try and improve it by finish. Legs were tightening up quite a it from the soft trails at this point. I was still able to maintain pace though and hadn't done any walking up hills.
At about mile 20 I elected to not worry about pace and time and just stick within the mile. I had to fill up my water bottle one last time at about mile 20. At the last aid station around 22 miles the gal said "Are you the last one" this shook me a bit. I thought to myself; I really don't think so; wait last one. i think I'm in the top 5. What if i total screwed up and i'm in the wrong place. last one... hmmm... then i realized she's probably seen all the 10K runners & half marathoners & then us so it's been a long day.
The finish was a great feeling; not only to be done but to feel like i ran a smart race. I felt like i ran within myself and never pushed it to hard. I finished in 3rd place; good enough for a $20 gift card and water bottle. The company in whom I finished around made my day. Coming in near runners that i admire and inspire me day in and day out really made the finish feel great. To me that really sums up running; other runners inspiring and making you feel great.