Monday, July 19, 2010

University Of Okoboji Marathon~ Post Race Thoughts

Saturday was The University of Okoboji Marathon in Okoboji, IA-- Marathon/Ultra #39 and State #36! This was my 4th race in the past 4 weeks, including RnR Seattle and Foot Traffic as well as the 50-miler last weekend. I get the next 2 weeks off from marathons, then we pick it back up again with the HURL 50K trail race in Minnesota.

About the Race
I didn't do a RUNdown, so I'll sum it up here. This is a small race in Okoboji, IA (Milford technically) that goes around the lakes that are central to the area. This is NOT an actual University but a store with "university" gear holds events all year. This weekend was the "homecoming" weekend which included the marathon, half marathon, triathlon, etc. Check the website above for more on the "university."

Race Morning
The marathon started at 6am at a small park and looped around the lakes to finish at Arnold's Park which is about 5 miles from the start. So yeah, we run 26.2 miles to make it a whopping distance of 5 miles. MB, myself, and Brent (another maniac) all carpooled to the start and got to meet the few other maniacs there.
This area is BUGGY! Prior to the start I think I lost a pint of blood from mosquitoes. It was in the 80's when we got the the start area with 90% humidity-- and the sun wasn't even up yet. Uh oh! The start line is a spray painted line across a the road. We all lined up, they counted down, then we were off.

The Race
As soon as we took off we realized that NONE of the streets are blocked for this race. So, we shared the road with some speedsters as they came flying through. Not only that, but to run the proper tangents to only run 26.2 miles, you HAD to constantly be crossing the roads as they winded through the area. If you failed to do so, you could have added up to a half a mile (that's the most I heard somebody recorded on their garmin). I risked it (what's new) and managed to add only 0.03 miles onto my race. This race was HOT! SO hot. The course did loops around the lakes and suburbs and would have been very pretty to appreciate if it weren't for the thick humid air and the blazing sun.

Judging from the notes on marathonguide water, GU, and bathrooms were a pretty serious concern and as it turns out, the last 2 are STILL a concern. They actually did an excellent job with water/powerade stops about every 2 miles. However there was 0 GU (and you REALLY needed something to recover some electrolytes out in this heat) and on top of that-- almost 0 bathrooms. There was supposedly one around the 13 mile mark, but I didn't see it. I found 1 spot along the cabins on the lake that had a girls/boys room and ran in quick.

As we made our way out to the highway around mile 17, the sun came out in full force-- as did the triathletes! They started a few hours after us and had (I believe) a 5.5 mile run. As their leaders came barreling through I was a little confused, thinking I must have slowed down a lot-- then I realized it was another race. This got even more confusing as the half-marathoners then 10K runners (also starting after us, but their course intersecting with the marathon) started coming up from behind. It made it impossible to tell what place you were in until the end.

Around mile 20 I noticed a few of the lead women I was once with were starting to come back and looked pretty bad. 3 of them, I had noticed, were not carrying water bottles and I guess relying on the partially filled cups they had at the stops. However, due to the note above, I still had no idea how I would finish. Speaking of...

The Finish
The end of the race re-wrapped us through the first 5 miles of roller-coaster hills. There was a little more shade, but by then we were all very much overheated. I came to a finish at a sluggish 3:54, but happy because sub-4:00 means I can cross IA off my list! I found Gary (another maniac) at the finish who had not only won the race, but had finished just under 3:00! If you think I'm crazy, Gary is trying to do all the states in under 3 hours. Oh and the GF, Morgan, is currently doing all of her marathons on crutches because she broke her hip. These 2 are much more maniacal than I'll ever be!

After grabbing a water we found Brent at the finish who had finished in just under 4:00-- no more Iowa for him! Then, the search for food! We heard there wasn't any food at the end, but could that actually be possible??... YEP! There was 0 food except for bananas. Albeit there were places to BUY food around, but the start (and our cars) were 5 miles away, so unless you carried $$ on you, you were SOL!

Go Maniacs!
They had computers to check the results. We confirmed that Gary had won and SURPRISE... somehow one of the slowest times I've had this year, managed to get me 3rd woman overall and 1st in my A/G. Apparently I wasn't the only one affected by the heat. Not a bad day for Marathon Maniacs at this race. They had a little awards ceremony while the race was still going on. They only gave out award for 1st overall but handed out 1-3 for A/G (little weird). Unfortunately the A/G award was the EXACT same medal as the finishers medal with "1st place women" written on the back." Hmmm... Kind of weird.

I felt a little bad because immediately after the awards (around 5:40 marathon time) they closed down EVERYTHING. They took down the clocks and just left the "finish" spray painted line on the ground... and there were still quite a few runners out there!

Fun in the Sun
The finish is at Arnold's Park, which is on a huge lake. They had a beach area not far from the finish line where you could go and cool off. They also had boats, jet skis, kayaks, etc available for rent. MB and I played in the Sun, then later that night they had a free country concert in the park! Woohoo!

The Curse of MB takes out Okoboji...
After the marathon MB was commenting on how lucky we were with weather/flights/etc that all the marathons we've signed  up for went off without a problem (except my Myrtle Beach marathon that got cancelled) and what happens?.... The Curse of MB! The night of the race, the whole area gets hit with a huge storm and a Tornado! As we were sitting in the basement of our hotel with no power, I asked MB if she really HAD to mention that today. Oh and I'm sure there are some children in the hotel that still believe in Santa Clause if she wants to squash that too. I had to leave early in the am, so I didn't get to see the whole aftermath of the lightening/winds/tornado but MB did. She said the piers where all the boats were had been torn up and were all over the place and there were signs/trees/etc down ALL over what would have been the course, had the race been on Sunday instead of Saturday. Woooah! Close call!!!
A little storm/tornado aftermath...
1) The beer tent that the weather gods crumpled up. 2) There WAS a dock here...


  1. Nice job!! Sounds like a bit of a mess..but hey another state crossed off.I have two questions?
    - What is the worst injury that has sidelined you? and
    - How the heck do you manage to keep that kind of mileage up without getting injured....any tips and tricks to share with someone who is looking at doing their first marathon in spring 2011...i'm pretty injury prone:(

  2. Congrats on another marathon and another sub-4!!

    That's some crazy damage... I'm glad you were okay!!

  3. I bet you're glad that one's out of the way! Congrats on finishing state #36!

  4. Congrats on the AG win, Steph! Glad I couldn't make this one. I will get my IA in October with Des Moines.

  5. congrats to university of okoboji to second marathon