Saturday morning came early for us. We were awake at 3:30am to get up, something to eat, send me on my way north and The Mike to get prepped for the morning. On the one hand, it is a little hard to get up so early, and on the other hand, you basically have ants in your pants and nervous energy to dispense with before the big event!
We had breakfast again in the dining hall, scrambled eggs for me, I had some steamed veggies too (which I admit, I didn't verify how they were cooked), and a few slices of ham and cheese for the road in case I got hungry along the way. The Mike and I were both dressed and ready to go. I had difficulty figuring out what to wear and wore a thicker pair of Athleta capri tights to wear. I also packed other clothes thinking I'd have time to change along the way if need be. I didn't want to wear shorts in the car, and have my legs and calves stick to the car seat on the 3.5 hour drive.
|The Mike in his new kit. Bike is Salsa Vaya, titanium of course, with a feed bag on the handlebars, water bladder in the tangle bag and another water bottle with Cytomax in it.|
|I 'had' to stop along the road (50) west to take a picture of the sunrise. I could see it in my mirrors and it was beautiful.|
|The view changed when I got on the Interstate(135) to head north. The sun was gone behind clouds up above and fog over the ground as well.|
|Another picture "drive by" style further north on I-135.|
The funny thing about terrain is that it can change at any time. All the way north on I-135 which turned into 81, the road was basically flat. Sure, there were some hills and such, but not enough to worry me.
Once I turned west on 36, the road got more hilly up and down and around curves. Road construction was experienced too. Beautiful alfalfa fields ready for a cutting of hay, or a field that was ready for the hay to be baled. I wasn't sure how far I had to go to Esbon, but knew that I was going to be pushing getting there before the race started. I was freaking out a bit, trying not to, but my half hour of leeway time was taken up by the intestines and road construction delay. I wasn't going to have time to change my pants or shirt into something lighter, as the temps had cont'd to climb and it was much warmer. Ah well, the run had turned from a chance to see what I had, to a race to see if I could endure. I was already dehydrated and this wasn't good.
I put the hammer down some more and pulled screeching into town (okay, maybe not quite screeching!). There was a parking spot right at the elevator, across from the bar/starting point, so I was happy about that. I got my race packet (shirt, bib number, and safety pins), barely had time to put the number on, no time to change pants, I quickly put on the running shoes, my water belt, clip for the phone/mp3, and everyone was walking around the block to the starting point. EEEK! I couldn't find my Cytomax either, so GU it was all the way. My intestines had finally settled down, I figured I looked goofy in my purple top and gray pants, and loud yellow shoes and you know what, I didn't care. I was just more worried about the terrain! Mike had said I'd probably be on gravel roads as they wouldn't be paved. He was partially right. The race is on rural roads but they were dirt-not gravel! No recent rains, so no mud.
There were about 30 people at the race. Others have said, "that's it?" when I've talked about this great race and I look at them and say, 'it's a first year race in a rural area. I thought it was a good start to something that will continue to grow!'.
I started off running a little faster than I normally do (don't we all when we start a race?), and had to tone it back a little bit. I needed to get warmed up at the same time I needed to keep running. I chose to walk the very top of the hills again, and think this was good, as I was able to run well on the downhills and keep going that way.
|About mile 4 I decided to take this picture of a hill we had just descended and climbed.|
While my grandfather was originally from further east in Kansas than Esbon, the terrain was about the same where he grew up, and where he moved to in my state, which is where I grew up. By mile 5 I was feeling rehydrated with my water, the ice cold water provided at every couple miles by the race, and was feeling like I was out on a run at my dad's farm--a feeling that was helped by being on the course almost by myself. Everyone else seemed like they sprinted away (they didn't, but that was a feeling I had). A slight breeze helped cool us off as we ran.
|Beautiful train trestle|
|Livestock corral with interesting clouds|
|Off in the left center is the town of Esbon. No till fields were giving rise to a new crop.|
|I ran up most of this hill, but decided to conserve some energy and |
slowed to a fast walk and to do a quick shot of the 'ditch'.
|I couldn't resist this photo of the town due north and the beautiful field of green wheat.|
|panoramic of the wheat field, right up to the edge of the road.|
|Did I mention I loved the clouds, cloud coverage, sun protection, heat shield?|
Mile 9 we crossed the road that went into Esbon and we were into another square mile with the clouds disappearing (i.e. sun / heat coming out). I was on pace to this point to finish in about 2:40, which is longer than my best time, but okay for how I'd been feeling thus far this day. I kept up the run/walk philosophy for the next couple miles, but then we were routed onto two roads that were gravel, or were limestone anyway--which means they were blinding white roads with the sun being out. I had chosen to wear my sun visor rather than sunglasses and on these last two-three miles it was a decision I was regretting. More ice water was to be had. This was perfect for filling up the water bottles on my waist, which in turn helped to cool down my body. (the second marathon I did, I was overheated, and firefighters were handing out mini bottles of water. I tucked one into my sports bra which helped immensely to cool down my heart/core and helped me finish the last two miles).
We came up on the road that ran north/south on the east side of town and I kept looking for the spray-painted arrow to head west to the main street finish area. The heat was a bit worse at this point, or so it felt. I saw the spray painted line, turned, and I had about four blocks to go before turning again at this sign:
|The end is near!|
I was so happy to finish, and I finished under 3 hours, which is probably my second longest half marathon, and slowest since 2009 when I started running. Last year I didn't do a lot of running, trying to figure out why I was run down/tired/lacking energy. I think there are things I've done to combat this, but then being dehydrated at the start of this race didn't help either.
So there I was at the finish, thinking I was the next to last to finish, I knew there was another person behind me, when the race folks tell me there are three others out there. The two walkers I assumed were doing the 10K were walking the half marathon! WOW.
I was informed there was food with a free will donation and that 'it's all gluten free except the brownies'. OH BOY! Very exciting to have people I don't even know to be aware of needing gluten free (it probably didn't hurt that I registered under the QuirkyGfRunner email!).
Freshly grilled--Kansas grass fed--ground beef burgers, chips, jello (which was so good to have after a long run!), and the giant pan of brownies which looked fabulous. Definitely worth the money I put in. While I was eating, several ladies came over to chat and I learned about the local area, the school system, the town, the loss of the school due to cutbacks. I shared I was heading up to Red Cloud, Neb where Willa Cather lived for quite some time (English Education major--I can't not go there when it's so close!) and was informed that I'd pass through Lebanon, KS which is the center of the geographical US, not including Alaska and Hawai'i. Definitely a site to see, as The Mike and I had been to Belle Fourche, SD where they have the center including Alaska and Hawai'i.
Before I left town I changed into a SkirtSports dress I had picked up on clearance, my compression calf sleeves since I'd be sitting in the car for a long time, and then headed back to take a picture of a stop sign--yes a stop sign.
|aw, come on, isn't this funny?|
I headed west on the road towards Lebanon and the thoughts of pioneers just entered my mind, as it often does when I venture into the states west of the Missouri river. So much determination for the pioneers to come west, and the awfully cramped cities and poor work conditions they left behind where living in sod houses was better than what they had. I always wonder about the letters they wrote home. Sure they probably didn't put in there, 'rocks everywhere, poor soil, stay there'. Instead, most letters probably were more along the lines of, 'things are great, fresh air, big skies, our own land'. No one wanted to write the letter home that said, 'ma was right.'---even when they were going through the badlands of South Dakota!
|I got to the center at the same time of two Harley riding gents. I took their picture, they took mine!|
|A beautiful reminder of the settlers/homesteaders who came before us.|
As I headed north I encountered large rolling hills of beautiful prairie and thought, 'this is what the pioneers saw'. To me it is beautiful, to a modern city dweller, no cable, no cell phone reception, might not be as beautiful a thought as it was 150 years ago to have no tenement living, no city air pollution, our own land.
|The elevator in Red Cloud, Neb.|
My home town just tore down their old elevator, which was not this large.
The city of Red Cloud was beautiful with its architecture and long main street full of gorgeous historic bldgs still in use today. Even the Subway shop was in an old bldg. This was the Museum and the Willa Cather Foundation gift shop was across the street and up the block. I went there first, spent some time, and realized I'd been up close to twelve hours already and had a long drive ahead of me.
I had planned to stop in Concordia where there is no an orphan train museum, but I didn't have time to do that either, as I passed through there after 4pm and figured they'd close up at 5pm. My grandfather had an orphan train brother. I use to recall seeing an older gentleman when we'd go to Illinois to visit my mom's relatives. I always thought he was someone she knew in her youth, but it turns out it was someone my dad's family knew! (Since I was about 9 the last time I saw him, I think it's okay I didn't know he was grandpa's brother of a sort). I thought to stop in Abiline as well for a walk about, see the Eisenhower presidential library, again though, I need to get back and cleaned up. The Mike was hoping to finish by 8:30, if all went well.