Category Archives: TRAVEL

Madison [Half] Marathon Recap

Last Sunday, two friends and I ran the Madison half marathon.  Sticking to my goal to do marathons in capital cities, I suggested Madison, WI when a friend mentioned her desire to do a full marathon…that’s right, her first!  It was Memorial Day weekend, so we’d have some solid recovery time and I’ve always wanted to visit Madison.  Who doesn’t love a good midwestern town and as a UofI grad, I’d only heard great stories about State Street!

So, LMGB and I signed up for the big race and started training.  Eventually, we talked another friend (KP), who is a rockstar runner and triathlete into coming with us and running.  So last Friday, the three of us left for the city of recent political unrest.  Unfortunately, the forecast wasn’t looking all that great.  I’m not talking about freak winter storms in May.  This was 93 degree temps with midwest humidity.  With the type of humidity they were predicting, not event a breeze from the lake were going to do us any good.

To back up for a minute, I had another good friend, who we’ll call N.Bisou run the Green Bay marathon the weekend before.  They cancelled the race after 3 hours after sending 18-20 people to the hospital and running dangerously low on medical staff.  N.Bisou was at mile 18…yuck!  With that in mind, the Madison Festivals sent out an alert on Tuesday before the race, warning of an upcoming cancellation of the full marathon.  They announced they would let us know on Friday, which didn’t leave any time to change plans if we were depending on the outcome.  So, we sucked it up and went anyway!

About 1:00 pm on Friday and one hour into our drive, we got the alert that the full marathon had been cancelled and we would have the option to run the half marathon, as well as a $20 credit to next year’s full.  This was disappointing, to say the least.  I’ve been lucky enough to run a few marathons, and this certainly wasn’t going to be my list, so my biggest disappointment was breaking my streak of running capital city MARATHONS (Des Moines, Lincoln, Sacramento).  My feelings were the least of our problems.

My good, good friend LMBG had just trained for many months (like 5 or 6) for a full marathon and she’d done most of the runs, if not all, on her own, with her own motivation.  She worked her freaking butt off and she was ready and excited…I’m not really sure I’ve ever felt that before a race!  I’m really lucky to have some awesome, similarly crazy friends who like to go out and run massive numbers of miles with me, but  I promise you, I’m not sure I’d be as dedicated without their support and the fact that they’re counting on me to show up in the mornings to join them for runs.  I’m very good at coming up with excuses when I don’t really want to do a run – don’t ask me for help on this, because you might never run another day in your life.

My point…LMGB handled the cancellation with grace and ease, but I know it was killing her knowing that all the work she spent the past months putting in wasn’t going to follow the timeline she planned for.  In true kick-ass fashion, she started looking up races in the upcoming weeks and months that might work in her’s, mine, and KP’s schedules.  We’ve got some ideas, but nothing confirmed at this point.  We’ll definitely be using that $20 credit for next year’s Madison full!

After the initial disappointment, we started planning for all the good shopping, food, and beer we’d be enjoying in Madison!  I want to get to the race recap, so I’m not going to spend much time on Madison.  I’ll save that for another night.  I will say that Madison was fantastic.  We stayed across the street from the Capitol, which was beautiful!  The restaurants we found were phenomenal and we certainly made some good “American Hero” memories! (Yes, sorry for the inside joke…that’s for LMGB and KP).

It was already about 75-80 degrees when we woke up around 5:30/6:00 am.  At least they had made the right call!  I had been a little worried that midwestern weather would pull a trick and give us sprinkles and “great” running weather.  We made some crappy packed hotel coffee, had a quick snack and took our sweet time getting out the door…I mean, we were just across the street from the start line anyway!

The three of us jumped into the pack and took off with the gun.  The good thing about running in unfamiliar territory is it doesn’t get boring and there is always new stuff to look at.  However, this also means that when I go back to remember the race, I barely remember any of it.  I think the memory part of my brain shuts off during runs to remind my legs and muscles what to do.  I know the route contained a lot of turns, not a terrible number of hills, and had a great mix of neighborhoods.  We did run by the Governor’s mansion and I wondered how he felt about seeing his opponent’s signs in his neighbor’s yards.  Speaking of that…I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s election results!!  Did you vote??

I think it was around mile 10, we were headed towards the “out and back.”  Now, don’t get me wrong.  A lot of my morning runs are an “out and back,” and sometimes it’s a good strategy to tell yourself that all you have to do is run 5 miles.  Then after 5 miles, you then tell yourself that you have to get back home, so you better keep running.  However, that’s usually when I know how far the “out and back” actually is.  This time, the end did not appear to be insight…for quite a while!  I think all three of us founding ourselves cursing at one point, questioning when the heck they were going to let us turn around and run back downtown.  At least this was along the river and we had a slight breeze!

Once we turned back, I think there was just about 1.5 miles left.  I knew I had enough juice in the take to kick it into gear and keep my pace up.  By this time, it was really hot out.  They ended up getting some fire hydrants going to spray the runners.  I think I just missed that!

Right as we’re about to run up to the Capitol, which was a great view, they throw one more, fairly steep hill at us.!  Then the last 100 yards were downhill/flat to the finish line.  I finished the race and then went to find KP and LMGB.  We grabbed some water, snacks, and then went to find the beer tent!  Some cool grass in the shade around the Capitol, with beer in our hands, was…well, heaven.

Personally, I wasn’t out beating any records, but my official time was 1:48:25, just a few minutes slower than my PR, so I really can’t complain. The timing chips they gave us were disposable, which was something I hadn’t seen before.  They were plastic, laced through our shoe laces, and we could just throw them away.  Once less thing to worry about right after crossing that finish line!  The only other thing I want to mention about the race was the awesome support from the crowd.  This is, by far, the most support I’ve ever seen throughout the course!  It seemed like we were never without a cheering crowd…even if it was 5 college guys cheering us with their keg beer from the front porch as we made bets about whether they got up early or were still up from the night before. 🙂  I should also mention the “rogue” beverage stop – they were passing out cups of beer and slices of bacon.  KP’s kind of heaven!  Other than that, I think things were pretty standard.  If KP or LMBG remind me of anything, I’ll post an update.

Here’s to another half marathon and a commitment to the full next year!  Oh, I should probably get to bed…Dam to Dam is going to come way early.  Good thing for Saturday naps!

Until next time…




Busy Start to 2012

Wasn’t it just Christmas?  I had my (I mean our) tree up…

Andrea C. and I headed to Sacramento for the California International Marathon, a visit to my good friend Matt, and a tour of the California State Capitol.

My favorite two facts about the California State Capitol was that they don’t allow the Governor in either legislative chamber.  Not on the floor or in the gallery.  Also, their State Senate still does every vote by roll call.  So much for technology!  Oh, and I also enjoyed the first portrait of current Governor Jerry Brown.  It’s unknown whether he’ll get a second commissioned after this second stint in office.  I think I would if I were him!

Then it was off to Mexico…

Holidays with the family, NYE at where else? Carl’s in Sherman Hill!

And then came a new job!  Though I’m still up at the Capitol, I’ve now moved out to the lobby and I’m working for LS2Group and loving it!!  What a great group of people to work with and I still get to walk into this beautiful building everyday.  And walk I do!  Our new office is just a few blocks away, so I’m barely driving.  Exercise, check.  Helping the environment, check.  Lucky for a mild winter, check!

It’s great walking to work everyday and yes, the weather has made it a little easier, but in other news and 2012 excitement, I finally got a new car!

Luscious (the name we gave her in high school) was with me for 9 1/2 years and we went from 65,000 miles as a senior in high school to almost 198,000 this January.  We’ve been through a lot, she’s seen the backside of many tow trucks, been hit by a deer, hit a deer and a yellow pole in the Wendy’s drive through, she’s driven all over Iowa, to Los Angeles and back, and although it was hard to see her go…

I couldn’t be more happy with my new purchase or the service I got at Karl Chevrolet!  A big thanks to Steve Ames and Brandon Williams for their help in getting me set up!

The only problem is that with all this walking, I don’t get to drive it much.  It’s already been to Creston with GW and I’m sure there are many more road trips to come!  And yes, I’ve decided to grow up and stop thinking of my car as a he or she and I promise, no nicknames!

So, now that I feel caught up a bit, maybe I’ll get around to doing this more often.  It’s not like I don’t have a lot going on that I can’t share.  Just finding time is the issue!

Speaking of time, sleep takes some, and I’m starting to ramble.  Off to bed!

Till next time…



I’m Still Alive!

Hey all –

Wow it’s been a busy year.  I promise I haven’t forgotten about the blog, but I’m having a big of a blog idenity crisis.  I’m hoping to do some brainstorming on vacation next week and I’ll be back with some nice posts. 🙂

In the mean time, I wanted to post my favorite photo from capitol #3 in Sacramento, CA!  A nice tour before we ran the marathon on Sunday and it was a gorgeous day!  Not quite my Iowa Capitol, but beautiful, nonetheless.


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Filed under TRAVEL

Animals on Airplanes and Crazy Date Formats…Traveling to Italy

For years I’ve dreamed of traveling to Europe and while I’ve never had a specific destination in mind, I’ve had this desire to just see it all!  About a year ago, my college roommate, LB decided to move to Florence, Italy to teach English and explore life beyond the Midwest.

When she broke the news, I figured it would be a great opportunity to make my first trip overseas.  While I’ve been to Canada and Mexico, from what I understand, those don’t count…especially since I didn’t need a passport to get to either destination.

When LB emailed to say she was ready to come home, I knew it was now or never…so I booked my flight from Des Moines to Italy for one week.  A lot of folks were a little shocked by the short trip, but in my case it was a week in Italy or none at all, so I jumped.

The weekend before I left, GW and I were back in Grinnell for his college reunion, so I really didn’t get to packing until we returned Sunday night.  Basically, I didn’t get much sleep that night, as I rushed to finish laundry, get travel documents in order, clean up any messes I’d left behind, and oh…book my train ticket from Rome to Florence!

My flight took off from Des Moines around 12:30 pm, bound for the Atlanta airport.  Putting forth an effort to keep my meals healthy while abroad, I found a decent lunch spot for an airport…Nature’s Table.

A fairly short layover in Atlanta and I was en route to Rome!

To occupy my time, I had a couple of books, lots of Sudoku and logic game puzzles (yes, I’m a huge nerd), and a journal to record my journey.

Thanks to GW’s friend, BJ for helping me get my nerd on with this one! 🙂

One new experience on this flight was the sharing of precious space with animals.  I was shocked to see the couple across the aisle from me with a small dog in a bag carrier under the seat in front of them.  The dog looked like a miniature poodle (I didn’t have the courage to snap a photo) and it barely moved for the full 9+ hour trip.  I am so impressed.

That wasn’t the case for another animal on the flight.  Our plane sat at the gate for quite a while, no one seemed to know what was going on.  After about a 30-45 minute delay, we were finally told that the barking dog had been removed from the plane.

While that was fantastic since I could still hear it from about 10 rows away, the cat got to stay and it meowed the entire flight to Rome!!!  Unnoticeable after a while, I sure felt bad for the strangers in that row!

It had been a while since I was served an actual meal on the plane.  Here was our dinner…

Not the worst meal I’ve ever had.  They gave us a breakfast as well, as we were nearing Italy.  I forgot to snap a photo of that.

Once off the train and in the Rome airport, I knew I had to find the shuttle to get me to my luggage.  There were a large number of Americans headed in the same direction, so I followed along, trying to understand some of the more recognizable words on the signs.  (I totally should have learned a few things before traveling there).  We all hoped on the shuttle and after just 2 minutes, the doors opened.  No one seemed sure of what
to do, so we figured our stop was probably next.  That was until the car changed directions and headed straight back from where we came from!  Oops!  So, we stayed on for the 3rd (and final) 2-minute ride to the baggage claim and customs.

After all that, which honestly went pretty smoothly, there was a small train station that would take us to the larger train station (where I had my ticket already purchased).  After jumping from one line to another, trying to decide whether efficiency or accuracy was better, I found a small booth that sold tickets to Tremini Station, the main train station in Rome.  Fourteen Euros later and some pretty lucky timing, I was on the Leonardo Express headed for downtown Rome.

I arrived in one piece, took a few minutes to look around before trying to find some signs or some people who looked like they might direct me towards the right train platform.

After getting directed to a board of arrivals and departures, I found that I would be departing from platform #5.  The trains from the airport were quite a ways from the main part of the train station (at least it felt that way), so after about 15 minutes, I finally figured out where I was going and I hoping on carriage #7 to find my seat.

This is where things got a little dicey.  I appeared that someone was in my seat…a sweet Italian couple who spoke no English who showed me their ticket and the fact that it had the same seat number.  An Australian women (who’s name I never asked) knew a little Italian and tried her best to help.  Everyone in the area agreed that I was on the right train, in the correct carriage, and that both me and the sweet little man had the same seat number.

After searching for a train employee, I returned to find an empty seat across from the Australian woman.  Apparently a gentleman had the wrong seat, so I sat there and finally took a moment to breathe.  Phew!

I started to drift off…after taking this picture of course…

…when I was awoken to a train employee making his rounds to validate tickets.  I handed him mine, while trying to tell him I had the same seat as another, when I heard “we have a problem.”  I think that may have been the only English he knew.  Australian woman (AW from now on) tried her best to help, explaining that another man had moved, so they had me sit there since it was clear there were two people assigned to the same seat.

Well, that wasn’t really the case.  So here’s what happened…it appears that the  only one of a few (if not the only) country to use the date format month/day/year.  I guess most countries use day/month/year, which makes more logical sense, right?

Anyway, when booking my ticket for June 7, I accidentally booked it for July 6.  Well, take note…the man showed me that to purchase a new ticket while on the train would cost me 95 Euros (that’s $136 folks!)!  Instead, he had me give him 8 Euros and let me keep my seat.  Good thing, because we were already 20 minutes from Rome and I’m not sure how I would have found my way through that beautiful countryside.

Two hours after leaving from Rome, I made it to Florence!  I lugged my bags off the train and found LB waiting on the train platform for me.  After hugs, we headed to her place before we started our week of adventures.

Well, more to come, but here is a teaser photo.

Until next time!


What horror stories do you have from traveling to foreign lands?

If you could go anywhere in Europe, where would it be?  Or where is your favorite city in Europe?

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Filed under FOOD, TRAVEL

Guest Post – Lincoln Marathon Summary

Guest Post From AC (Lincoln Marathon Partner In Crime)

April 30th Andrea Jansa and I left the comforts of home to begin the drive to Lincoln, NE.  After three hours of lively discussions about politics, races and life we arrived in Lincoln. Andrea J. was immediately saddened by the fact that she forgot to bring her Hawkeye glitter to spread on the field across the “Big N” at the finish line in the Cornhusker stadium. I guess those Hawkeye cheerleaders keep that spirit alive well after graduation, although she is only 26. We soon discovered that Lincoln is a small town and very easy to negotiate. We pulled right into downtown and went to the Expo at the Embassy Suites. We avoided all the vendors and headed right to the race pack pick-up. After pick-up we hit the streets to find food. We ended up at Noodles. Although it was a chain the carbs seem appropriate. We really tried to find a local joint, but there really were very few choices that did not include red meat as their specialty.

Our afternoon consisted of a tour of the capital building and relaxing in the Microtel hotel room. Yes, I said a tour of the capital building. Andrea J’s goal is to see all 50.  I learned some very interesting facts about this building which has been called the (a male body part) on the prairie. It stands over 14 stories tall and has a 19 foot statue on top of a farmer sowing seeds which also serves as a weather vane. It actually was quite beautiful with some impressive marble mosaics and art work. Dinner consisted of more pasta in a cute little section of downtown called Haymarket Square and more relaxing as well as race strategizing .

Race morning was a breeze. We pulled into downtown, parked on the street and walked about 4 blocks to the starting line. We kept warm in the coliseum and then headed to the starting line just before 7:00 a.m. Our pacer showed up soon after and we moved in close to him. Our goal was to run a 3:40 and trust in the process of running with the pacer. Online they gave a full description of their strategy which included going slow to start, then picking up the pace while accounting for slower miles where there were hills. Lincoln does have hills despite what you have heard.

Bang! The gun went off and we waited. After about 5 minutes we made it to the starting mat. I started my watch and off we went. The first thing I noticed was wow, this really is slow. I wanted to sprint away, but Andrea J. kept me in line and would fall back with the group. We hit mile one at maybe at 9:15 pace. “Trust in then process Andrea!” I kept telling myself. Soon the pace picked up. We weaved through downtown into residential neighborhoods. By miles three and four we were running 7:50 minute miles. The roads were packed with people and it was all I could do to stay with the group. I was jumping curbs and running though packs of friends, “On your left!” This was supposed to be the most beautiful part of the course with the tree line boulevard with stately mansions. It was all I could do to watch the group and keep up. I missed the beautiful houses, for the most part.

Finally around mile five we evened out and Andrea J. reported to me that we averaging about an 8:10 pace and doing great. We eased in front of the pace group but could hear their conversations and see them out of the corner of our eye. I saw a bank with the temperature on the sign, 50 degrees. It was a great day for running. We plugged along for a bit more before Andrea J. reported that we were about to hit the trail. We scurried to the front of the pack and burst on to the trail as quick as we could to avoid the stampede. Basically all the runners that were spread across two lanes of traffic were now suddenly smashed onto one 10 foot bike trail. We knew this was coming and knew this could potentially be a spot were we lost our lead on the clock. We picked up the pace again. We passed people in the grass on the left and the right and squeezed through friends. All I kept thinking is, “these people had no business lining up at the start where they did, because they are way too slow.” I am crabby when I run. The trail offered other obstacles as well; curbs. At the streets we had to jump curbs to get back on the trail. This was definitely something I was not used to in marathons.

One huge plus to Lincoln: they put lids on their cups and have straws!! I ran through ever water stop because I could sip through the straw while running instead of splashing most my drink across my

Finally we got off the trail and back into a neighborhood. This was the dreaded hill I had heard about. It really was not so bad. It was like running up Grand Ave. in Des Moines from downtown to the Art Center. Andrea J. reported that our time had slowed, but we were still ok with an 8:18 pace. The good news was were ahead of the pace group, so we knew we were ok. We spotted some people who had also started in our pace group ahead of us, so we fell in behind them and kept moving. We looped through another neighborhood until we got close to downtown, then once again we smooshed together into a single traffic lane. The crowds were terrible. We could not get around people. All I kept thinking was, “Why can’t we have another lane?” It was Sunday morning and there was hardly any traffic. Andrea J. and I once again hopped curbs, ran in the gutter and ran around cones to get past people. I was so ready to get rid of the half marathon people.

As we neared the stadium I knew those halfers would be leaving us soon. As they veered off our road Andrea J. and I looked at each other and said, “Ahh space.” We looped around the outside of the campus and soon saw the 14 mile sign. Andrea J. looked back and reported that she could see the 3:40 pace group about 100 yards back. Rats!! But that is ok, we are right were we need to be. Right? We eased our way onto what I can only describe as a viaduct. It was a cement gully with a cement trail down the middle. It seemed to be for rain water. The trail rolled up and down under brides and back up. We felt the heat. The pace group eased up behind us. I could hear them talking as if they were on a leisurely Saturday morning run. Was I the only one getting tired?

The pace group took us over and we fell in with them. I would say I stayed with them for about a mile, and then they began to pull ahead, taking my running buddy with them. More power to Andrea. J. I wanted her to stick with them even if I could not. I could still see them so I convinced myself that was good enough. After the viaduct we jumped more curbs and ended up in another single lane of a street. Once again pushed to the side because now the leaders were returning on the same street. Yes, that is right for the final 13.1 miles you run out and back. Lots of thought put into that route. I plugged along telling myself it is like a short out and back run- I can do that, no problem. The miles passed me by.

By mile 19 I saw a big hill. In my mind I said, “Oh please don’t let me have to climb that hill. I am sure we turn around before we climb that hill.” But sure enough we climbed the hill. There were people walking up the hill at this point. Bummer. I plugged ahead. Next, a lake, and a short hop down a side street where we ran around a cone and headed back the way we came. It is like the Des Moines half marathon were you have to go down the street and run around a cone before you head back to MLK, but in true Lincoln style you have to jump up a curb on the way back. Do you how bad it hurts to hop curbs after running 20 miles? As I was heading down the road, Andrea J. and the pace group were heading back to the lake. She mouthed, “Are you ok?” I smiled “yes, go!”.

I turned right back onto the road we came out on and a wall of wind hit my face. Now I really started to doubt whether I could do this. Had I had a tail wind helping me the whole way out and I was completely unaware? If so, I am screwed. My visor was blowing off, so I attempted to hold on to it while running. That was fun.  I plugged ahead. One foot in front of the other. I saw several solders running in their fatigues with their packs and thought, “If they can do it, you can do it.” There were great fans along this stretch too cheering on #526. That we me! How nice of them. It really does make a difference. I was down to five miles left.

I broke down five miles in my head. That is a run from my house up Polk Blvd. to Kingman to MLK and back. Piece of cake. I completely stopped watching my pace at this point. I lost sight of the pace group, but knew I was ahead of the 3:45 pace group, so I was still good. I kept thinking of those t-shirts that say Pain is Temporary, and others that said I am a Drinker with a Running Problem. What is another 40 minutes? I can handle that. I plugged ahead. I passed two ladies who had been in the pace group and had fallen off. Ok, that made me feel good. I was sure to drink water at every stop and had a gel every 45 minutes. I finished my last one at 3 hours in.

With about 3 miles left I saw Andrea J. walking on the road ahead of me. She fell in with me and I said, “Let’s do this.” She had hung on with the pace group for the last 8 miles. She is amazing.

We pushed on, jumped another curb and got back on the viaduct trail. This is really just like running from 31st street to my house. Big deal, right? Andrea J. would walk through the water stops and then would catch back up to me. I started watching my time again. We were doing ok. We weren’t going to hit 3:40 but we were pretty darn close.

At the 25 mile marker Andrea J. declared she was walking. My response was, “No you are NOT, this is like running from University to my house down Polk Blvd. You got this.” We pushed ahead and she picked up the pace. For someone who was going to walk she sure seemed to be in better shape than me. We turned the corner and the stadium was in sight. I could have cried but that would have taken too much energy. Andrea J.  declared that we had .2 left to go. Thank God! That was the longest .2 of my life. We finally entered the stadium. There were announcing Andrea J.’s name as she sprinted to the finish. I maintained my pace and pretty much walked across the finish line. A lady handed me a rose, we got our picture taken and we wobbled away. 3:45:53 (8:38 pace) Andrea J.’s Garmin said the distance was 26.42. Bummer.

On the way home Andrea made a list of all the state capitals and we discussed which marathon we should do next.

Cheers, Andrea C.

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Marathon #2 – Lincoln, NE

I know, I know…this is long overdue.  What a race!

I improved from October by 12 minutes, sped up my pace from 9:03 minutes per mile to 8:38, and I made it to work the next day!  My official time was 3 hours, 45 minutes, and 50 seconds, which was only 5:50 from qualifying for Boston…bummer!  After September the qualifying times are dropping by 5 minutes, which is about 11-12 seconds faster per mile.  I’ll just have to keep on trying!

Enough math already!

Here is a little breakdown of race day… (My apologies for the lack of photos today)

5:00 am – Wake Up!!

Alarm goes off and AC and I are awake and making coffee.  Remember those snacks from my last post?  I went with a banana and pop tarts.  I can honestly say I have not had pop tarts since high school…they were delicious!!

We got ready, took our time to wake up, and left around 6:00 am to find out way downtown and to the start line.

6:00 am – Find our pacer

AC and I decided to run with the pacer.  This is something we’ve both done or tried in the past (me in October, until I fell behind and lost them).  We had our wrist bands declaring the pace we’d run during each mile.  The idea was to start out slow, because this is when our bodies are warming up and are the most inefficient.  You increase your speed in the middle of the race to make up time so that by the end of the race you’re able to slow down a bit.  You can find information about the “Lincoln Marathon Pacing Strategy” or the Domino Effect on their website.

Our pacers had red shirts on and we actually had two different guys that switched on and off.  Personally, it would be been fine, but one of them was really inconsistent and didn’t stick with the pace schedule very well.  Oops, I’m still talking pre-race, huh?  Well, on to the start!

7:00 am – Ready, Set, Go!

An interesting start, they shuttled us through a little corral to keep people spread out a bit over the start.  We stayed with our pacer and quickly felt like we were going too fast, but that’s why you have a pacer…to keep you from jumping the gun and using too much energy at the beginning.

We ran the first half of the race with the half-marathoners.  I have to say I’m not a big fan.  Though Des Moines is not my favorite course, I do appreciate that the half marathoners separate fairly early on in the race, leaving more room to move around.  In Lincoln, this was especially frustrating when we got to a trail and were running 3-4 people across, trying to pass on the grass.  A lot of your energy goes into avoiding runners at a different pace, spectators standing close to the trail, and just making sure you’re not losing too much time.  AC and I chose to get ahead of the pace group during this part of the run.  It’s hard to say whether it hurt, helped, or maybe didn’t make a different.

Either way, I wish there weren’t so many people during the first full 13 miles.

9:00 (ish) am – Separate from the pack

We were finally able to separate from the half marathoners, which was such a relief!  One thing I haven’t mentioned that I absolutely LOVED about this race…the water cups (and Gatorade cups) had lids and straws!  Now, I’m normally one that doesn’t mind walking through an aid station to sip my water, but this totally allowed me to simply slow down for better breathing, but keep moving.  After so many miles it can be really difficult to get moving again.  AC on the other hand, rarely stops…the whole “starting again” thing can be really painful!  I only wish I had her level of motivation!

The second part of the race (miles 14-26.2) was done in an out-and-back fashion.  At first I was feeling pretty good about that.  Mentally, it’s easy to think…ok, out 6.5 miles and back 6.5 miles.  Plus, once you get out, you have to come
back.  For some reason this wasn’t as calming as normal.  There were all these rolling hills for the first part of that second half and it wasn’t appealing to know that’s what we’d be finishing the race on.

Overall, the route had more hills than I expected.  Though there were only two larger hills that really stick out in my mind, it still wasn’t as flat as I expected.  That being said, it was much better than other routes I’ve ran on (part of Des Moines, New Bo half in Cedar Rapids).

10:00 am – Finishing the final 45 minutes

Once the pace group caught back up to AC and I around mile 14 or 15, I stayed with them until about 20 or 21.  AC dropped off at one point in there, but after a while I lost the group and had started walking occasionally, so eventually
she caught back up with me.  We finished together, though with one mile to go I was ready to stop and walk.  With AC’s motivation I actually finished pretty strong, walking through the aid stations and then catching back up with her before the next.

We finished the race on the Big N in the center of Memorial Field at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  This was pretty cool, but I still wish I’d worn some Hawkeye gear. J

Something I still have not had confirmed, was the fact that my Garmin GPS read 26.43 miles…0.23 miles more than a marathon distance.  It killed me to see 26.2 and know we still had a ways to go into the stadium!  I’m hoping there was something off with my watch and that it wasn’t a longer race.

Either way, I consider it a success!


I felt extremely nauseous after the race, for about 20-30 minutes.  It was so hard not to sit down as soon as we were done.  We grabbed bananas, water, and some chocolate milk and headed to the football field to attempt some stretching before heading towards the car.  Of course they had to lead us out of the stadium right up a pretty steep concrete hill! 😦

Compared to the Des Moines marathon in October, this recovery was so much better!  We made our way back to the hotel for our late checkout, showered, changed and hit the road.  To reward ourselves, we hit up Taco Johns (which didn’t help the nausea).  To keep our legs stretched out, we stopped a few times throughout the 3 hour drive back just to walk around the use the bathroom.  I cannot thank AC enough for driving us there and back…especially when our legs had turned into Jello. (Thank goodness for cruise control)!

Also compared to Des Moines…I actually made it to work on Monday!  In October I couldn’t even move and I felt utterly exhausted.  This time I was certainly sore and tired, but as long as I walked slow and took the elevators, I could manage.  It’s got to get better each time, right?

What’s Next?

After my first marathon and the pain it caused, AC sent me an email that simply said, “Marathons are like childbirth.  You forget what it feels like so you just keep doing it.”  I’m beginning to see the truth in this.

As I mentioned in the last post, I have a goal to visit all 50 capitols in the U.S.  I misspoke…it should actually be 51, because I have yet to visit the U.S. Capitol in D.C.  Either way, I have a lot more to go (49 more)!

I’ve started doing some research about marathon races held in capital cities and I’m not sure which one is next, but there are a lot to choose from.  Not every capital city hosts a marathon, but there are others held within driving distance and no one says I can’t do a half marathon instead.  So many options and lots of other races not even close to the capitals.  Plus, who wants to visit Honolulu and go home feeling that sore?!

In the meantime, I’m thinking of spending the summer switching it up and trying a triathlon.  With some swimming lessons under my belt, a new bike waiting to get outside, and legs screaming for a little bit of a break, we’ll see where this takes me.

Stay tuned for updates, as well as AC’s update from the race on another post!

Until next time!


Are you running or competing in any races this summer?

Got any suggestions for good races throughout the U.S.?

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Twas the Night Before…the Race

When my good friend, AC asked me about running a spring marathon, I first remembered how awful I felt at the end of and after the first and most recent race.  But the competitive side of me decided that I had to do better than the first race.  So,Lincoln it was.

Something on my bucket list (are you surprised I have another list?) is visiting all 50 capitol buildings in theU.S.  I wish I could say I’ve got a good start.  Fortunately, I haven’t visited any before I could appreciate it.  I know the Iowa Capitol intimately and as of today, I’ve gotten a chance to visit the Nebraska Capitol. 

We realized that my two marathons are both in capital cities (Des Moines and Lincoln).  So I plan to make a list of all 51 capital cities and begin the process of brainstorming marathons in each city.  The ultimate goal will be Boston, because that requires more than a sign-up fee. 🙂

AC and I left for Lincoln this morning thinking we’d need a lot of time to find our way around the town and get our packets.  Boy, were we wrong!  We made it to Lincoln in good time, picked up our packets, found lunch at Noodles and Company, checked into the hotel, took a tour (details to come)…all before heading to dinner a little later.  There was a little of wandering around involved as well…how could we not enjoy the nice weather!?

Since AC was kind enough to drive (props to volunteering, since she’ll have to drive back, too!), I brought food for snack and breakfast. 


Oh, and bagels were in the mini fridge. 

Best part of the trip?  A tour of the Nebraska State Capitol!

So very different from the Iowa Capitol, but beautiful all the same.  Did you know Nebraska is the only state in the nation with a unicameral legislature?  It’s non-partisan, which presents its own pros and cons. 🙂

Here are some photos I snapped during the tour from our great tour guide, Jamison!

 Another great part of our day?  A good restaurant find! 

More pasta…gotta love tapering and carb loading!!

We sprang to our feet, to the A Team gave a whistle,
And away we flew like a runner out of the blocks.
We heard the crowd yell with all of their might,
“Way to go runners…only 26.2 miles to go!!”

Yeah, that’s me trying to pull us back to my title. 🙂

Sweet Dreams!

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