As I’ve written before, I’ve been working on running a half marathon for most of this year. Back in May, I registered for the Kansas City Half Marathon and have been putting in quite a few miles since, especially recently. I did 45 miles 3 weeks ago; 37.7 miles 2 weeks ago; 47.4 miles last week; and then scaled down for this week, “only” running 19 miles in the days leading up to today’s race (and I took off yesterday).
Brooke and the kids stayed home this time, mostly because there isn’t a whole lot for kids to do for two hours between 7:00 and 9:00 am in downtown Kansas City. It also afforded me the flexibility to get down there, use public transportation to get around, and go to bed when I needed to. To that end, I left home yesterday around 2:30 and headed to Union Station where the race packets were being held. I picked up my shirt (which is really nice, btw…) and race bib, checked out a few of the “wares” from various sponsor companies, and then headed to my hotel. We had originally scheduled an Airbnb for the night, but the owner cancelled about a week ago (hmmm…wonder why…), so I ended up staying at the Marriott Downtown, closer to the convention center. In the end, this was probably best because I was a). close to the Power and Light District (for dinner options) and b). the hotel was a block away from the KC Streetcar stop I needed the next morning.
After I checked into the hotel, I went around to the corner to a sports bar called Yard House, which was packed (because Friday, ya’ll). I ate my turkey club and fries at the bar, along with a few beers from Torn Label, which were quite good.
I was done with dinner by 7:00, so I went back to the hotel and watched Netflix for a few hours before trying to fall asleep, which thankfully happened around 9:45 pm.
It was a brisk 46 F when I walked to the trolley around 5:45 am Saturday morning. Honestly, it was supposed to be worse earlier in the week, when the temperature forecast was closer to 36 F, so I was fine with this. The worst part about this aspect of the experience was that, because of the number of people running and parking being at a premium, using public transportation requires getting down there early, and when you are by yourself, there’s no one to hold a coat for you, so I just had my running gear to keep me warm (read: not really warm). Thankfully, Union Station was open, so I could hang out in there until the race was to start.
I should also note that, before leaving the hotel, I had 40 oz of water and a Cliff Bar. I took along some Scratch Labs energy chews (effectively fruit snacks with more salt than usual) to have closer to start time, and I washed it down with a 20 oz water from a vending machine in Union Station. I did not carry water with me for the race.
Note: You can “check” gear at one of the tents at the end of the race, so I could have taken a coat along with me, but having not run this race before, I wasn’t sure what that process would look like with a few thousand people being down there. If I run this again sometime, I think I can get away with doing it this way again. If it’s any colder, though…who knows…
There were a lot of people racing. Official tallies indicate 3,987 finishers for the Half Marathon; 1,263 finishers for the Full Marathon; and 1,363 finishers for the 10K. All of them started at 7:05 am, so it took a bit to get off the starting line. The 5K runners (1,272 finishers) started at 7:30 am.
My goal for this race was to do it in under 2 hrs. My understanding from perusing the internet is that 13 miles in 2 hrs is a perfectly “respectable” time (indeed, the average was 2:19:16 from those that ran it). The two times I’ve run 13 miles before, at least around Marshall, I’d done it in 1:56 (back in May), and then again at 1:51 a few weeks ago. Granted, I didn’t know the Kansas City landscape, so it was still a bit of an unknown how this route would go, but I hoped I could at least do it in close to 1:50.
Relatively early on, I noticed the pace runner in front of me maintaining an 8:00 min/mi pace, which would put runners nearby on track for a 1:45 half marathon. After I spotted him, I thought I’d try to keep up for as long as I could, thinking that would push me beyond 1:50. And for most of the run, I kept up or was in front! I didn’t stop for water (which was provided every 2 miles) or restrooms (which were also provided about as often), so that helped me keep moving. My legs didn’t really hurt all that much until I got closer to the 8 mile mark, but more on that shortly…
The organizers made a big deal of the fact that the race course was “reversed” from usual, and this is the second year they’ve done this. I guess it used to start with a giant hill to go up at the beginning, and then slower declines for much of the rest of the race. However, by virtue of reversing things, that meant there were more slow inclines for much of the race and a mile long decline at the end. Around mile 9, I definitely started feeling those slow hills…and wasn’t a fan… Still, knowing the end of the race would be on a downhill kept me going.
That last hill, though. Whoa. For comparison, I was going uphill at 8:24 min/mi for mile 11, then 8:03 min/mile for mile 12…then 7:34 min/mile for 13…
…and 6:36 min/mile for the last 0.2 miles of the race…
In the end, my official time was 1:44:06 to run the 13.1 miles, which I was very happy with. I not only beat my goal, I killed it. I placed 49 out of 286 people in my age group (35-39) and 276 out of 1773 males who ran the race. 336th place overall (out of 3,987). For my very first official Half Marathon, I thought that was pretty good!
At the very end of the race, at the “Finishers Festival,” you are given a beer and some BBQ, which I wouldn’t normally be all about, but after burning 1,600 calories before 9:00 am, I can’t say I was eager to refuse…
People have asked if I’m going to push on for a Full Marathon next and, at this time, I’m thinking “no.” After I finished the race, took the trolley back to my hotel, and took a shower, it was around 10:00 am…and I just thought about all the Full Marathon runners still going. I’m not sure I’ll say that I’ll never do it, but it’ll be awhile. With that finishing time, I’m not really eager to do another Half for awhile, either – I’ll probably stick with 10Ks for awhile. But when I’m ready, perhaps I’ll hit up the Half Marathon in Columbia or St. Louis where I know more people and don’t have to deal with public transportation quite as much.
For now, though, I’m going to take a few days off!