Nebraska

“My heart belonged to Omaha but my head knew it should be Lincoln.”

That is a quote, by me actually. It is the feeling I always had when it came to running Nebraska. When runners plan to run all 50 states, I always get annoyed when they stick so hardcore to their schedule they only run those runs. Example: I read an article about a lady from West Des Moines who was running her 25th half marathon (I think I need a better publicist – she got in a paper for halves?!?) and she stated she wanted her 25th to be special so she chose Hawaii. I will never forget the next line – “it will be her 25th marathon overall and her 25th state.” Whereas I agree with my buddy Adam that these things can be damn expensive and it is not easy to pay for them so he only tries to run marathons in new states, I don’t think I could ever only schedule runs in states I have yet to accomplish. Since I have started on my quest I have yet to double up but if there is one state I would double up on? It would be Nebraska.

There are more interesting states to run and there are plenty of runs I would love to double up on but Nebraska is close and any buzz I have ever heard about Lincoln is positive. I knew it was the run to do. But me? I wanted to go to Omaha (more on that later). I have friends in the area. I thought it was happening. I don’t have to deal with as many annoying Cornhusker fans. But my head knew, I have heard nothing but fantastic things about the Lincoln marathon, why haven’t I hear much about the Omaha marathon?

I could sense there was trouble when we arrived in Omaha and the hotel where the expo was located? It was hard to find. I forget which chain the hotel was but if it was a Holiday Inn? It seemed like a Holiday Inn Express. It was about five stories big and not that large at all which bad signage that made it impossible to see until we passed it. Certainly the inside had to be better? Nope.

The inside was CROWDED with runners! You could barely get in the door and people were crowded around a folding table searching for their BIB numbers (some marathons ask you to get your race day packet by number and not last name). Then once you got inside it was all asses and elbows and honestly, I did not look at a single vendor stand. I am not claustrophobic but I just wanted out of all those people! You couldn’t even walk around the circle without tapping a couple people and asking them to move. I was able to get my shirt and the lady was nice enough to offer me a smaller shirt when she saw my shirt was too big for me so it was pleasant enough. But I could not wait to get back to the crowded mini lobby rather than the ultra crowded meeting room (I am sure they qualified it as their ballroom).

The Omaha Marathon had one advantage over all other marathons – a free buffet of carbs! It was pretty tasteless spaghetti with other options of food as well but it was free so I’m not going to bitch too much at all. I think I even went back for seconds. After that, it was a nice rest and then the big run the next morning…

I was in the movie, Fortnight, and one of my favorite lines has something to do with “I hear Omaha is rather up and coming” mostly because I believe it. As Rilo Kiley says, “Then we’ll go to Omaha to work and exploit the booming music scene.” I may live only a state away from the city referred to some as a former cow town, but in reality I don’t know the town from say, Sacramento or any other cow town. But I do know that they have good music in The Faint and I do know that it did seem up and coming with a new stadium for the College World Series and the Omaha Zoo is always worth looking at. Right?

Right… the marathon even starts by the College World Series stadium in downtown Omaha! Sweet! We took off. Then I swear three miles in I passed by a row of boarded up businesses. Then I knew I was wrong when in the first seven miles I passed by two if not three closed children’s daycares. Is there really a sight more depressing than a boarded up daycare? Those happy faces with boards over them? And the marathon chose to run by a couple of them? There were plenty of other boarded up businesses as well. It was depressing – where was the music scene to exploit or some hipsters for me to pretend I hated?

The route broke off to allow the 10K runners to finish and seriously it said 10K with an arrow to one side and Marathon with an arrow to another side. There was no mention of half and I know of at least one marathoner who got lost along the way (and I really don’t blame her). The half  should have been mentioned as well. We rounded the ten mile point and started to go down a pretty steep hill. I could see that we were just circling to come back and it suddenly occurred to me and pretty much every runner on the course – they just made us go half a block down this side street just to… yep run up one of the steeper hills I have found in a marathon. I have never stopped to walk in the first half of a marathon but that is the closest I will ever get – it was pretty damn steep! I can still hear my aunt bitching about that unneeded turn just to make us run up that hill!

After that, I got a second wind and really looked fantastic until Mile 19. I was lucky enough to pass by the first boarded up childcare center yet again around Mile 16. At Mile 19 I fell apart about that time going from first in my age group to sixth by the end of the race. My hip really killed me and I fell apart watching the 3:15 guy whiz by me around Mile 22. I did have my third best finish and a Top 50 overall finish so it was a good run for me even as much as I did not enjoy the entire ordeal.

But in what I know now as, typical Omaha fashion, two or three things really stuck in my craw after the run. 1. Everyone that ran that day got the same shirt. I am sorry. I am an elitist. Marathoners have a much, much more difficult task than a halfer. They should not get to wear the same shirt. In this case, even the 10K (6.2 miles or exactly 20 miles less than a marathon) got the same long sleeve t-shirt. I call shenanigans! 2. The Omaha Marathon does a big push about the run being for a cause and being green so when I saw the shirts were made in China it lost a bit of the sincerity. There is no arguing those shenanagins. 3. I would be fine with these little things that seemed not so right with this marathon especially considering the floods had even made them change the route? But when I got that shirt and it said 36th Annual Marathon on it? Honestly that may make this the oldest marathon I have ever run in and there was this many problems? I do not think this will change next year. That seems more like incompetence.

I did get to meet fellow Marathon Maniac Brian Wright that day and he was celebrating getting to join 50 Sub 4. Way to go Brian! He really has helped me on my quest to 50. Without Brian, there would have been no Delaware. So there is that. And there is also the fact that I did complete a marathon in 3:23 and got another state down in Nebraska. I also got to spend some time with some family members I wish I could spend more time with as well. So in retrospect… maybe Omaha was…

I got an email from the Omaha Marathon the other day and it informed me that the Lincoln Marathon was already full and not accepting submissions for the upcoming year so if I needed Nebraska as a state goal, please come run Omaha. It wasn’t like they thought they were inferior to Lincoln – they knew they were inferior to Lincoln!

I should have run Lincoln!!!!!

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