Starting in Lincoln, NE-June 14th
Our second- to last day of crewing johnny-
I went out for a 10 mile run along johnny’s route today while he was running. after a few miles, I saw a hitchhiker up ahead. I thought it weird to see a person out in the middle of nowhere, far from any highway ramps or businesses. She- yes, SHE- surprised me as I ran by, yelling “woo! Go Brandon!” I had planned on stopping to say hi and offer water anyway, but now, she had my undivided attention. I stopped, introducing myself and asking if we knew each other haha. Kendra had also stopped and told her about me and that I would soon be running by. (aww man, I’m not famous)
She was traveling across the country and blogging about her journey as she went. In specific, she was following the Keystone Pipeline and writing about that. Whether for her own interest or for a school project, I left the questions and politics out of it. It was neat just to see someone out chasing a passion and doing something unique. I asked how she survived the tornados and storms a couple of nights ago, which leveled a town nearby. She said she snuck into a grain silo and slept in there, watching the lightning through a loading window at the top.
On the way back, we gave her a ride back to highway 6, and she played her banjo, singing comedy songs along the way.
We are at the Kamp-A-Way in Lincoln, NE right now. Johnny just got done running his segment. He ended at Haymaker Stadium in downtown Lincoln, which is where many of the Lincoln teams play baseball. The staff offered us all a private tour of the stadium. Of course we took them up on it! We toured the skyboxes and saw the media room the tops of the bleachers, and the locker rooms, which were basically a team lounge/office/movie theatre with a lockers in it haha. It was a locker room you could probably live in.
That night, after setting in to the campground, Kendra and I went for a run around the campus of University of Nebraska. We both love to run by headlamp, so it made the run all the better. We went into one of the classroom halls and ran through, exploring the 9 levels of the building. At the top, we got a great view of their stadium- I’m not too literate in football, but I believe they are a big 10 school, judging by the immensity of the stadium.
We took the stairway down to the ground level again and resumed our tour of campus. We went through the commons area, where there was a large fountain. A few people sat around it, and we stopped for pictures. As Kendra was taking pictures of me, I exclaimed “YOLO!!” (you only live once) and jumped into the fountain- shoes, vest and all- and went playing in the water. The people all thought I was a bit crazy (I am I guess), but the water felt so good in the nebraska humidity and heat.
Our next stop was the capital building, which you might mistake for the White House. We walked up the dozens of stairs to make it to a nearly 1-mile loop on the lit balcony that wraps the perimeter of the building, made of white stone and swirled marble, passing the windows with grand chandeliers and painted cielings on the inside of the building.
After that, we ran a lap around the Justice Center, weaving in and out of the “tunnel” of huge pillars that surround the buildings. I spooked up a cat that “rawwrr”-ed and flew across the path in front of me, startling me equally.
The next day Kendra and I woke up early to get chores done, and we went over to the walmart to look for a french press, since ours fell off the countertop and shattered to bits on the floor. We had some luck and found one at starbucks, after failing to find one at walmart. Once groceries were back at the RV, we drove to the campus and rented bicycles. We spent the day touring the town stopping at outique shops, antique stores, and trying a couple of microbreweries. Back at the RV, we took advantage of the pool and hung around there for about an hour.
Laurie, our new runner joined us that evening.
She ran 26 miles for her first day, and we were finished at noon. (when you wake up at 3:30am, a lot can be accomplished.)
We drove the RV about an hour up the road to her house, which we would call home for the next few nights. Brian, her husband, greeted us with bacon, eggs, and pancakes upon arriving. I was so happy to see all three haha. After eating, I crashed on the couch, under the cieling fan, and drooled as I took a hardcore nap. I was awoken by their rescued three-legged jack russel jumping on me and giving me dog kisses. At that time, I decided that it was time to wake up and get moving with my day. Brian told us about a lake with a 6 mile loop around it, so Kendra and I went out and ran it. The path was very pretty and was in view of th ewater for the whole six miles. I realized on the run that I am lucky in michigan, where I can see sometimes 40 feet deep in the water, and this water, you couldnt even see the ducks feet as they paddled. either way, it was good to be by the water again.
That night, Larry, a previous runner, met up with us at Lauries house, along with Ashley for steaks, chicken, and veggies on the grill, courtesy of brians phenomenal grilling skills.
I slept in an actual bed for the first time since vegas on april 23rd, and slept so hard I didnt know where I was for a moment in the morning. It was amazing. We were out of the house at 4:15am and running by 5. Laurie had a meeting with the Omaha Morning Blend news show that morning. She literally ran to the studio, right before being aired live on TV. It was cool to be in a news studio and to get a back-stage view of what goes on.
Back on the road around noon, the day was taking a turn for the worse. It was a HOT, full sun day. Temps were in the 90s. I had drank 2 cups of coffee at McD’s that morning, and had had been neglecting to drink waterI didn’t feel thrsty, but the heat and the caffeine had dehydrated me more than I knew. In almost an instant, I went from feeling perfectly normal to tired, confused, lightheaded, and if somebody was squeezing my brain. Kendra was running with laurie, and I was in the camry. I cranked the AC and put the car in neutral, revving the engine to crank colder air into it. I drank up a bunch of gatorade+water. I just kept feeling worse. I called kendra and told her I was going through a heat exhaustion attack and needed to get back to Lauries ASAP. They arrived at the camry a few minutes later. I was feeling sick, and moved to the backseat, chugging down gatorade. We emptied the cooler onto me, putting cold bottles under my armpits, icepacks on my chest and neck, and an icebag on my head. Back at lauries, I slept on the couch for almost two hours with icepacks and cold cloths across my body. Kendra was forcing me to drink up gatorade and pickle juice to restore my electrolytes. I woke up feeling almost completely better… maybe 80%. I got some food into my system again as well, and was pretty much good to go. Heat exhaustion sneaks up fast and can wreck your day!
Saturday, the next day, was the Dizzy Goat 3 hour race. Dizzy Goat is put on by the Greater Omaha Area TrailrunnerZ, or GOATZ. They are essentially a bunch of crazy trail runners like myself who like to run, race, get muddy, and do shenanigans. We got along well, needless to say.
I started running at 4pm. Dizzy Goat is named due to the fact that you run in circles- albeit 3.25 mile circles- continuously. The course is known for the what everybody refers to as “What The Hill”, a 300+ft gain in a quarter mile. Each lap has about 550 feet of gain total. The rain from the day prior created a fun mud bath out of some areas of the course, which I happily ran through.
My first lap came in at 22 minutes even according to my watch. I was in first place, and it felt good to be leading a trail run. Each lap, you go the reverse direction of the lap that was just completed, so essentially, I turned around and ran it backwards. It was cool doing that, because you were able to constantly be near the other runners, cheering them on and being cheered and you passed eachother. The aid station was located in the middle of each lap. I already had drank through my 40oz of water on my Ultimate Direction vest, and stopped for a quick fill up. The crew knew exactly how to do it, and I was back running in about 10 seconds. (great job GOATZ!)
Back as I passed the finish line, Larry, Kendra, Ashley, and Laurie crewed me with a water refill, ice in my pack to drip down my back, PBJ sandwich, and some salt tabs. The ice was a huge mental boost. It felt so nice to be cooled off in the insanely humid 90 degree weather. Even in the shade I was hot- the half mile of sunshine on the course felt like Death Valley every time. (okay, so I exaggerate a little bit on that one)
After 5 laps of this, I checked my watch. I was at 2:32 and had 2.1 miles to go to the finish line/lap check. They allowed you out for another lap as long as you came in before 2:45. With 13 minutes left, I knew I had to make every step count, and kicked it in to high gear, floating around the muddy corners and watching my foot placement closely. I bombed down What The Hill, and made it to the lap check with 16 seconds to spare. I continued on to my 7th lap, and finished the lap around the 3:10 elapsed time. It was good enough for a first place and a course record, beating the previous 5 lap record. I give the GOATZ a lot of credit for their phenomenal aid station work, and for all the encouragement along the way, as well as a well marked course. My own crew helped me out greatly with making sure I was taking in fuel on each lap.
I snagged a massage from one of the sponsor tents. It hurt so good! My back was tight from the race and the masseuse worked out all the knots. There was pizza and burgers at the finish, and I took a few of each haha.
We moved out to Anita Lake State Park for the next couple of nights. Laurie was usually finished by noon, so the later parts of our days were spent on the beach for the most part. I was able to see a great sunset on the lake while running the 5 mile loop around it one night. I also had the first campfire of the trip, complete with fire-roasted corn on the cob, which turned out to be delicious.
On lauries last day we started running right from the door of the RV. We had to make some detours on her route due to construction and no-maintenance dirt roads. Our campground just so happened to be right where we should have been in terms of distance to the end.
Laurie finished at Raccoon Lake Park in Des Moines, IA. Her family and friends all joined to meet her there.
Once she left, I went and swam in the lake. It was my first time swimming in open water on the whole trip. It was so relaxing. I swam straight across the lake to the opposing shore, about half a mile away. The water was the typical mid-west green n’ cloudy. I kept the idea of seaweed out of my head and kept on moving, unable to see my hand as it passed underneath me.
After swimming, Kendra and I met up with Laurie and her family at PF Changs for some good lunch, followed by Cheesecake Factory for dessert. Of course, I tackled the Oreo Dream cheesecake.
_ June 25th
This begins our first of two days off. I began the day with a 13 mile run through the countryside. I found dirt roads with big rolling hills that passed alongside a nature reserve. There was plenty of shade to hide out in on the run, as well as some streams to look at that paralleled me.
Kendra and I went out to a town named Cumming. We were told we had to visit on wednesday night for steaks, and for the provocative stickers that were sold in town. Cumming was a three building town with only two ways in- dirt road, or bike path. Building one was a bar, where all the cyclists hung out for steaks and beer on wednesday night. They were all out of steak and stickers, so we hung out and watched people pedal up and away for a while. The other building was a micro-distillery. We toured the historic building, which took about 5 minutes. It is an artistic process, distilling a drink. However, I’m not so sure Iowa Lightning Moonshine is something that would go well with me, so I had to pass on the sampling. (building three is an auto repair shop. Ironic?)
Back in Des Moines, we kinda ate the day away. We started with pizza at Gusto Pizza in West Des Moines. Their Italian was delicious. We watched some of the wold cup, USA v GER and pretended like we both knew sports. After pizza, we explored some boutiques and saw the brand new Fleet Feet running store. We asked them about more good food and they suggested Exile Microbrewery. I had a veggie wrap and a porter from them. Both were excellent. Our waiter, Nathan, was a nice guy and invited us to do yoga the next morning. He is a yoga instructor on the side. Next was Court Avenue. I was in the mood for nachos. They honestly were not good, and much smaller size than what they should have been. Finally, Kendra and I split a spaghetti dish from Latin King. It was some of the best pasta I may have ever had. Larry suggested we go there, and we are glad we did. Their home made bread almost melted in my mouth.
The next morning we went to yoga at the park to meet Nathan. We yoga’d for about an hour, and then went our separate ways. (for a while) Kendra and I checked out the Raygun printing store, where stickers, t shirts, and accessories with hilarious sayings and designs on them are printed and created. It is a neat shop, and the artist/owner does the work right in front of you. I wound up buying a few stickers and a shirt from them.
We went back to Exile and had another veggie wrap and sweet potato fries before calling it a day and heading to Walmart for the weeks food.
Pictures can be found on Instagram @brandon_yonke_running