Cruel Nebraska

Date: October 13, 2013

Distance: 13.1 miles

Time: 2:34:27

The inaugural Monument Half Marathon in Scottsbluff, Nebraska was certainly memorable.

Denise with Scotts Bluff in the background–before the skies opened up.

Pros:

  • Very friendly volunteers and race organizers.
  • Amazing, plentiful swag that included such random items as an air freshener, a bag of pinto beans and a bean cookbook.
  • Hospitable hotel that even gave out its own race swag bag and provided a free, pre-race feast.
  • Nice course that included a portion of the Oregon Trail.
  • Ten hours of road trip, girl time with BFF, Nis.

Cons:

  • Worst race weather ever!
  • Denise’s calf pain during the race.

Several days before and after the race included cloud-free skies and warm temperatures, but the day of the race (of course) we were met with menacing clouds and winds. The winds were so high that I wasn’t even able to wear a hat because it kept blowing off of my head. The three hundred or so half marathoners gathered at the start and apprehensively looked to the sky, trying to predict what the day would bring. Following the singing of the National Anthem, we made our way towards a famous local landmark, Scotts Bluff–a large sandstone formation that served as a landmark and signal to pioneers who traveled along the Oregon Trail in the 1800s.

The first three miles of the course included the biggest incline of the whole race where we were greeted with (I’m guessing) 30 mph headwinds and the beginning of slight rainfall. The winds were so strong I couldn’t even hear my music through my headphones, despite the loud volume setting. Denise and I both knew from the beginning that this race would not bring PR times. We simply gritted our teeth, put our heads down, and forged ahead at a slower pace than normal, expecting things to get better once we made it to the top of the hill.

Me–windblown and soaked at the finish. Forcing a smile.

We enjoyed the next four our five miles after we were greeted with a gradual downhill descent, subsiding winds, no rain, and picturesque scenery along a gravel and dirt road with sandstone formations all around. At this point, our pace quickened and we realized that 2:20 was well within reach.

Until we hit about mile eight, that is.

Just past the mid-point of the race, Denise experienced severe cramping in her right calf. She was hurting to the point of saying she might not be able to finish. This has been a recent nagging injury for her that she only experiences on long runs and seems to be aggravated by cold and hills–which we were certainly experiencing.

I’m glad she was able to continue running the rest of the way. She did finish, and I’m amazed. I could tell she was in severe pain the whole rest of the race. To make things worse, at this point, the menacing clouds dumped torrents of rain and brought more winds until the end.

The finish line was a more welcome sight than it is at most races and the announcer read our names, where we were from, and announced to the sparse crowd of spectators that Denise and I had both just completed races in eighteen states.

When the race was over and volunteers removed our timing chips, handed us our medals and wrapped us in space blankets (thank goodness), I realized that I was so cold I couldn’t feel my fingers.

No dawdling in the food lines, looking for the free beer garden, chatting with other racers, or savoring the moment for us–we immediately made our way to the parking lot and drove as quickly as we could to the hotel which promised hot showers and dry clothes.

Nebraska is over. Thank you, God.

The first messages I received from Denise after getting home? She’s got a doctor appointment scheduled and she’s found two back-to-back races in neighboring states the weekend of May 4th and 5th.

That’s my girl.

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