Today, a new group of runners was born, and I got to watch.
Here’s the man, himself, Ron.
I started calling my siblings to see if they’d run one with him. There were a few takers, and then it spiraled into a couple cousins saying they’d join us, a sister-in-law, and then, a handful of friends. In all, 12 agreed to run the Lincoln Half-Marathon.
We trained in temperatures that hovered just above the freezing point, we dodged ice patches, we braved gusts of 40 mph wind. I found out I was pregnant right before the start of training, so I got the added bonus of some morning sickness thrown into the mix.
And, after 12 weeks, we were ready.
Well, as ready as we were going to be.
Sunday morning was a cool, breezy May day in Lincoln, Neb. It wasn’t raining, so we couldn’t complain.
We joined 9,988 other fools for the half-marathon and marathon. Only four out of our dozen had run a half-marathon, so most didn’t know what they were in for.
They were nervous, but pretty excited at the prospect of becoming runners.
After a slow cattle drive-like walk to the starting line, we were off! I started off with my dad, while I watched my sister-in-law Jen and friend Shawna take off with my cousin Kevin.
Mile 1 was no problem. We saw Elvis, and that was cool.
Mile 2, we passed some port-a-potties with two people in line. I thought that was too long of a wait … surely, the next ones were near and had no line.
At the 5K point, and shortly after the first water stop, it was time to seek a port-a-potty for real. Naturally, the line was 10-people deep and taking forever. Really. My dad continued onward, and I lucked out having Jen and Shawna waiting in line with me for the johns.
Relieved, we three ladies continued on our way, giving a nod to my cousin’s wife Mandy and her friend Jessica, as well as my sister, Kelly, as we passed.
At around Mile 4, Jen’s bum knee started to mess with her. She slowed and after some time, I kept going onward, thinking I’d catch my dad in no time. Turns out, the old man has a pretty good pace.
It took 4 miles to catch up with him – 4 miles, a donut hole and an Uncle Mike spotting later, that is. Shortly after Mile 7, I caught up with my dad on the bike trail portion of the race. He was still chugging away. Smiling.
Smiling Dad, before his youngest child got on his nerves.
Mile 8, we heard “Eye of the Tiger.” Life was good.
Mile 8.2, the darn hill was a little steeper than I remembered, and the wind was uncool. And my shins started to hurt. Smiles, they were a-fadin’ a little.
I think my optimism started to wear on my dad, too.
“Mile 10! Woo hoo! Double digits!”
“Mile 11! Just two more to go!”
“Two more miles left?” followed by silence.
After Mile 11, we saw some belly dancers.
I don’t know why they were there other than to confuse runners a little (I mean, the kid playing the drums made sense, right?). Oh well, it was something to look at other than pavement or the butts of the runners in front of us.
A little before Mile 12, Shawna caught up to us. She still had a good spring in her step. Then, we spotted my cousin Bryce on the sidewalk. He told us we were so close we could see the stadium (aka, the finish line). There it was. Memorial Stadium. The end was near. Shawna took off and I decided to tone down the pep talks for my dad.
That was one of the longest miles to run.
The course wrapped around the stadium, and then turned back (that darn .1 always means some sort of winding path to the finish). We walked for a little bit before we made our final turn.
We tried to pick up some speed as we neared the entrance onto the field. We could see the green turf. There it was, the finish line. Time to book it.
I finished in about 3 hours, 4 minutes … it was more than 30 minutes slower than the first time I ran the Lincoln Half, but back then, I didn’t have a toddler and I wasn’t 20 weeks pregnant. I wasn’t going to complain.
Finishing ahead of me was my 17-year-old nephew Austen, my brother-in-law Dan, family friend Kim, my husband Kevin, cousin Kevin and Shawna. Then me and my dad, followed by Jen, Mandy, Jessica, Kelly and my sister-in-law Amy. There were tears, there were seriously swollen knees and sore feet, but we all made it.
The race was followed by a deep fried lunch at The Red Fox. Some even celebrated with beer. The Kevins demonstrate:
Tomorrow, I’ll post some of my favorite funny shirts spotted on the course.