Touching the Tundra

By Jacob Klug

If you have ever seen me at one of the local races here in Springfield, you can see just by looking at me that I am a Green Bay Packers fan.  Over the last two or three years, on race day, I have dressed myself in the Packers color scheme of some sort for a couple reasons.  First being, that I am a huge fan.  Second, it makes it easy for my family and friends to spot me at a distance.

Jacob Klug

So naturally, when I decided to try my hand at marathoning two years ago, I picked the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon as the place I wanted to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  I figured why run a marathon without a goal…right?  As a selling point for this particular marathon, you are allowed to run on the paved ring on the outside of the grass, inside Lambeau Field.  This was most of the reasoning behind my choice of this race.  With all the great athletes that have occupied that small patch of grass inside of Lambeau Field.  This would be my personal way of doing something special on the same piece of hallowed ground that they once did.

This would be only my second marathon to date, 2008 was my first, which was also in Green Bay.  Why go back? I missed qualifying by a little more than 6 minutes last year.  So, I made it a point to go back this year and get my goal of qualifying on the Frozen Tundra!

As soon as I got back from the trip “up” there in 2008.  I tried, to the best of my knowledge, to tailor my training for one sole purpose, to be a more efficient marathoner.  Everyone knows that has run a marathon that doesn’t use coaching.  Which is most likely most of us.  How clueless you are the first time you run a marathon.  It is kind of an empty feeling because one doesn’t know what to expect on race day.  You try to put more emphasis on getting more miles in on your training runs.  But, before you know it the marathon is here, and you really aren’t so sure of how well you trained.  At least I was.  As they say, “you never forget your first marathon”.  I know I won’t!  To put it bluntly…it hurt like hell!

So, after a hard lesson learned last year.  I tried training harder, longer, and smarter.  I was putting on average about 40 miles a week in 2008.  This year I put in on average about 60 miles a week, with some speed work in there.  So, I knew from the get go, after reading many peoples training regimens online that I was in a much better position to accomplish my goal.

With that goal in mind…literally!  I say “literally” because, the night before the race I got about 4 hours of sleep.  Due to the amount of times my head kept going over all the possible ways to run this race as fast as I could while being efficient.  I just kept telling myself 6:50 – 7:00 minute miles.  I practiced that, time and time again on the LMHM course in Springfield, to pace myself.  I am usually the kind of runner that will try to lay it all out on the course and go as hard as you can the whole race.  As some might tell you, under certain circumstances, that isn’t always the smartest thing to do, even more so when running a marathon. This train of thought has definitely taken some time for my mind to adapt to.

Jacob Klug

When I finally toed the start line, after some stretching and a little Gatorade inside the Lambeau Field Atrium, the horn blared for us to start.  I hit start on my watch and away we went down Lombardi Avenue.  The start was cramped and hard to keep a pace through the first mile.  But when I hit that first mile, my watch said 6:55.   I told myself at that point; don’t get caught up in all the excitement.  Just keep this pace.

Every mile that went by after that, I would glance at my watch and do the math to figure where my pace was at.  I couldn’t believe how evenly paced I was running this race.  I was hitting pretty much every mile around the 6:55 mark.  I came through the half marathon right around 1:30.

After passing the half mark I told myself.  Just stay loose and put on the cruise control.  I told myself this for two reasons.  One, this is the part of the course where the race course leaves the confines of the tree covered suburbs, and gets into a bit of a desolate area between Green Bay and DePere.  DePere is actually south of Green Bay.  So this is where you have to run without much encouragement from the crowd and really try to focus.  Second, this is the half of the race where the dreaded “wall” seems to hit people, as many people are well aware.  It hit me last year pretty hard right around mile 20.  So like said before, I just tried to stay focused and loose.

While I was able to keep the 6:55 pace as the miles went by.  I was approaching mile 20 where there is a water stop called “the wall party”.  This is a spot where there were probably 150 people to help encourage you through the last 10K.  When passing here, unlike last year.  I thought, “I am a bit sore, but overall feel pretty good”.  I wasn’t hurting like the previous year, where it was hard to lift my feet an inch off the ground.

Having past mile 20 without a hitch, the excitement of my goal coming to fruition was a light at the end of the tunnel.  A 26.2 mile tunnel that is!  But, at this point, I told the guy I was holding a bit of a “Brett Favre” conversation with to help melt away some of the miles “I am going to give it all I got from here”.  I told him “good luck” and was on my way.

Jacob Klug

From here I told myself, “Why not try for a sub-three hour race, I feel good for the most part!”.  So I tried kicking it in high gear for the last 10K.  I say high gear, but high gear at that point was not high gear!  It felt like it though!  What felt so good this year about the last 10K, was that I was not agonizing through them and getting passed.  I was doing the exact opposite.  I was passing people who were having the same problem as me the previous year.

With my legs feeling pretty good Lambeau Field (the finish) finally came into my sights. I could hear the music and smell the brats from the race festivities.  As I approached the loading dock area where you enter Lambeau Field, I tried taking it in as much as possible.  This is what I was here for, to give myself a little bit of the Lambeau Field Mystique.  At this point I knew a sub-three hour marathon probably wasn’t going to happen.  So I let the nostalgia of Lambeau Field take its precedence.  I turned the corner from the loading dock and headed down the player’s tunnel that leads out to the field.  I made sure I stepped on the block of concrete that was retrofitted from the original player’s tunnel during the stadium renovation.  That all the Packers legends have trotted over for so many years.

After stepping where Vince (Lombardi) once stepped. I made my way out onto the field.  I found my family sitting up in the stands waiting for me and cheering me on.  I then made my way around the rest of the field, back down the player’s tunnel, and out into the parking lot.  I came around the small bend to the finish line and peered up at the clock, just to take in what I had set out to do a year prior.  I finished with a time of 3:01:25 and a place of 58th overall.  All the aches, sweat, and time being away from my wife and son training finally paid off.

– Jake

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