Yesterday was the Siouxland Half-Marathon in Sioux City, IA. I ran at the invitation of our friends Jessi and Jared, who live in nearby Elk Point, SD; they invited a bunch of their friends to run with them, and we thought it sounded like a good chance to get home for a couple of days with my folks as well. All in all, it was a GREAT weekend - we got to see some of my family and friends, I got to watch my high school football team extend their winning streak to 20 games (defending Nebraska Class C-2 State Champs!) and I hit both of my goals for the run, even with precious little training. So, here's the weekend report.
We begin our coverage with a cute baby picture:
I'm happy to report she is not falling down the stairs...often.
Anyway, on Friday, we ate lunch with my mom at the hospital where she works, then drove over to see my Grandma Janke at her senior living community. We had a very nice visit: even Ainsley enjoyed the chance to see her great-grandma.
Friday night was the big Wakefield - Laurel football game. Wakefield was undefeated and ranked #1 in the state in most polls, while Laurel was also undefeated and ranked #6 in at least one poll. The game was every bit as good as it was supposed to be. My dad and I watched most of it from the north end zone, with my youngest brother and his girlfriend for the second half, and we saw most of the scoring for the evening up close. Wakefield prevailed 14-6, preserving a win streak that dates back to the start of the 2006 football season. Go Trojans! I will say this: it's a tough year to be a Husker fan, but getting this close to a high school football game reminded me what competition, heart and guts looks like. Boy, was I impressed with the kids on both teams for the way they sold out time and time again in pursuit of victory. You wonder sometimes how the game can look so different at the next level, and also what the difference is like at field level - would I see the game the same way if I could be that close in Lincoln? Hard to say. Anyway, if you need a boost of excitement, get thee to a good high school football game - it'll cure what ails ya.
I would be remiss if I didn't note that the only reason I got to watch said football game was because a certain someone who is short and has only two teeth was being a bit of a pill on Friday (no, Cletus, I don't mean Great-aunt Gladys). Our beautiful little one woke up five times Thursday night-Friday morning, wouldn't go down for her morning nap and basically scared us into cancelling a much-anticipated dinner date with LutheranHusker and his family. I'll admit that I was happy to be going to the football game as an alternative, but it would have been doubly nice to see friends instead. *sigh* Maybe over Thanksgiving, guys?
Saturday morning was the big race. I got up early, had some breakfast and left for Sioux City. The marathoners were divided into sub-4 and 4-hour+ groups. I pulled into the parking lot just as the 4-hour+ marathon group was toeing the starting line. This was one part of the race that I thought was just not well-planned. I realize that it's tough to run a marathon, but putting us slowbies at the starting line before the sun comes up? Come on, folks, give the runners the respect they deserve for trying to do this and start everyone at the same time.
Beloved and my dad headed for Sioux City later, and caught up with me at about mile five or so. Here's some pictures they took while waiting for us to get to them.
That's my girl, waiting for poppa!
Beloved, Ainsley and my dad at their post, waiting for us to get to them.
The half marathoners started at about mile 13 on the marathon course and ran to the same finish line. After a fairly flat first mile, we turned into Big Stone State Park for miles 2-4. By the time we got through the park I thought we had actually CLIMBED the "big stone:" those hills were KILLER and we were only getting started! I can't imagine what the marathoners did when they hit those half-mile, 6-10 degree hills at mile 17-19. Talk about hitting the wall. Anyway, Beloved and Dad had to wait for us on the other side of the park since they shut down the roads, so we got to them on our way downhill.
I was running with our friends Nora (l) and Jessi (r) when we got there. Beloved couldn't quite get the digital camera to shoot motion shots, so I got cut out of this one. But you can see in the picture below that we jogged right on by and kept movin' right along (I'm the widebody on the right).
Beloved did get a couple of nice shots as they zoomed past in our car on the way to the finish line. At this point we were still doing great and having fun with our 9:00/mile pace.
Somewhere around mile 9 we went into this bizarre grass alley that took us from an asphalt highway onto a concrete sidewalk, a loop around a park and back toward downtown Sioux City on a concrete road. Then we moved onto a concrete running path for a good portion of the last few miles. All that concrete really wears on your feet and joints, and I found myself really laboring to keep the pace going. But here's a first for me: I ran through two stitches by focusing and managing my breathing. Before yesterday, I never would have tried to keep up my pace, but I wanted to stay with my friends and I managed to do it. That was pretty awesome.
Of course, it was also pretty hard. To make matters worse, most of the last two miles traveled down a rather ugly stretch of 2nd Street that just seemed to last forever. It was the worst closing stretch of any race I've done so far - really miserable, as you can tell from the picture below, taken when Beloved shouted, "You're almost there!" about 400 yards from the finish:
We did finish strong, though, and wonder of wonders, the idiot boy calling out finishers actually got all three of our names right (who the bloody hell hires a high school kid to announce finishers for a marathon?). Here we are, coming down the chute and crossing the finish line.
AND even though I hadn't trained particularly well, I managed to break two hours:
Congrats from the Jessi the Ironlady, who could have run much faster but chose to stay with her friends (cause she's awesome):
Jessi's husband Jared finishing - Mr. Incredible crosses the finish line!
Daddy getting Ainsley all sweaty and not caring a bit!
Nora, Jessi, Daddy & Ainsley celebrating another fun run:
And, the whole gang: Ross, Dawn, Jessie, Jared, Jessi, yours truly, and Nora, all finishers. We rock!
And now, public pronouncement of the next goal: Grandma's Marathon, Duluth, MN, 21 June 2008, sub-4 hours or bust!