Challenge Completed

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!

A Different Fourth of July

Decent weather for July 4th? Craziness.

Independence Day fell on a Wednesday this year, which threw scheduling into something of a tizzy.  Our usual plan is to head to Hannibal for Tom Sawyer Days, but they separated events between the surrounding weekends, so we were actually home with the kids on July 4th for once.  Marshall has a fireworks display and I picked up a new grill (oooooooo, it’s so nice…), so Mom and Dad came in from Columbia for some BBQ and Fourth of July festivities.

Marshall moved the fireworks display to the old Habilitation Center about a half mile from our house, so we took the wagon and set up shop for the evening.  We watched the Marshall Municipal Band play a patriotic set before the fireworks were set off, so we were up there for a few hours.  Not a bad way to spend the Fourth!

Long. Run.

The rest of the week went as normal and we left for Hannibal on Friday, when the Tom Sawyer Days events were going to kick off.  We watched some mud volleyball Friday night, as Rachel and Jimmy were playing again.  Diana and I ran the Hannibal Cannibal the next morning and, shockingly, the temperature was 61 F on July 7th, so I ran far better than I had been for the week prior.  My goal for this 15K was 1:20, as that should keep me on track for the half-marathon I’m running in October, and I beat that by a few minutes.  The 15K is where the marathon runners live, so my competition was substantially greater than it was when I ran the 10K last year, but hey…whatchoo gonna do…

Fireworks!

We spent quite a bit of time downtown for mud volleyball during the weekend, went swimming back at the house, and shot off some fireworks for good measure.  It was a fun weekend, as always!  The kids stayed in Hannibal with Mimi and Poppy for the week, so Brooke and I have some time here to catch up on things (read: work).

Summer’s half over…

Progress

Boom.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been thinking of running a Half Marathon this October in Kansas City.  “Early bird” registration is due at the end of May, so I have been pushing it to get as much training in before the kids are out on their summer vacation so I know whether I can even meet my goals of a). running for that far without stopping, and b). doing it in under 2 hours.

Well, I did it.

Honestly, I started out the run this morning a little later than normal, on account of the weather being somewhat mild at 76 F this morning.  I grabbed a few cups of coffee, something I haven’t been doing for the last few runs.  I ran 6.25 mi yesterday and didn’t run at all over the weekend, though I put in four days of 6.2 mi runs and a 20 mi bike ride last week.

Not too bad…

I hit 8 mi and still felt pretty good, so I decided to keep on going.  Another change from last time (when I only got 10.5 mi in) was that I took along some “hydration mix” for the run rather than just water.  Did that really make much of a difference?  I dunno.  But Brooke picked up a few packs in her last Sierra Trading Post order so I could check it out and it seemed to do alright.  I’ll probably order more of it, or something similar, for the rest of the summer.

I’m nothing if not consistent…

I’ll be signing up for the Half Marathon soon enough, as I’ve proven to myself I can do it.  I’ll likely keep doing between 6 and 10 miles on runs for the rest of the summer, and hit up 13 mile runs when I get a chance (e.g. when Meg and Calvin are elsewhere).

Oh yeah, and I needed a nap this afternoon.  I had 20,000 steps after I was finished running.  :-/

My Legs Hurt

Ouch…

I went for a “long run” today, as the rest of the family were elsewhere and the weather was passable for part of a weekend (it’s snowing in KC right now…seriously…April in Missouri…).  I was hoping I could make it the full 13.1 mi today, but settled for breaching the “double digit” line for the first time.  I ran around much of Marshall, which is almost required when the town isn’t all that large, but I still only hit the 10 mi mark when I was within a block of our house on the return trip.

I spent much of the rest of the afternoon laying on the couch watching the Cardinals game, and as of now, it sure feels like I pushed those leg muscles to their limits.  I wouldn’t say it “hurts,” per se, but I feel my legs every time I stand up and move from room to room.  I’m interested to see what tomorrow brings…

I suppose I’ll need to step it up more slowly, but the next few weeks will get more convoluted due to various meetings and work.  Once we’re clear of school, I should have more time for these longer runs (and they’ll probably need to be in the mornings…I ordered a hat to keep my bald head from burning if I run in intense sun…).  Based on the time I put in today, I suspect that I’m on track to do a half-marathon in under 2 hours, and honestly, I think I could have finished it off today, but it probably wouldn’t have felt all that great tomorrow (or Monday, for that matter…).  Assuming I can keep on schedule, I’m pretty confident I can achieve a respectable time by October.

“And I ran…I ran so far awaaaayy…”

#supercatspeed

I’ve beefed up my jogging a bit in the past few weeks. Over the Winter, I was able to get in some frequent jogs despite the chilly weather.  Around that time, I started investigating the possibility of trying for a Half Marathon sometime this year.  Based on how long I’ve got available over the Summer, and distance to travel, I decided the Kansas City Half Marathon in October seems like an appropriate option.  As such, I upped my nearly daily jogging time from 20 minutes daily-ish to 25 minutes whenever I could get around to it.  In the last few weeks, I’ve consistently fit in 3.5 mi runs on a semi-regular basis.

Over Spring Break, the weather wasn’t particularly pleasant so I had to go jogging at the Malcolm Center on campus to get some treadmill time in.  Meg was in school, so I had plenty of time available to push it a bit further, hitting 8 miles on one occasion (in ~75 min) and the next day, another 7 miles (in ~60 min).

That second run (literally the day after I ran for the longest I’ve ever run…) got a bit painful, so I’ve tried taking it a little easier since.

Consistency!

This week, put in a few more 60 min runs, hitting 7.21 mi the first time (Sunday) and 7.44 mi today.  The extra rest between days helped my feet (though I threw in a short-ish run yesterday), but I also picked up some new shoes late last week.  I broke them in yesterday, though I wore them around the house this weekend to flex them a bit.

As I alluded to, today’s run went significantly better than Sunday’s did, despite the temperature being a little colder.  The new shoes are certainly “bouncier” than my old pair, though I’m sure I’ve put enough miles into the old ones that they’re past their prime.  This is my third pair of Asics and they’ve been serving me well enough.

New kicks.

I’ve got a few months to keep pushing, and once school’s out in early May, I should have plenty of time available.  I’m hoping to try running for 13 miles sometime next week when the kids are out of town for their Spring Break, just to see how far I can get.  If I can actually maintain my pace, I should be able to do 13 miles in under 2 hours (a valiant goal!)…but as I’ve never actually run for that long, who knows what my legs will feel like when I’m done (my guess: probably bad).

Still, I want to give it a try when I have fewer responsibilities to take care of during that 2 hour period of time.  If I can do 13 miles in a semi-reasonable amount of time next week, a half marathon in October should be a piece of cake!

Or I’ll wreck my legs and quit running for awhile.  Whichever comes first.

Hannibal Cannibal

See? I run!
See? I run!

A few weeks ago, I ran my first 5K! My first “official” one, at least (I ran more than 5 km per day for 5 days in a row before actually running this race…).  Brooke’s family has run in the Hannibal Cannibal for the past few years, a fundraiser for the local hospital that always takes place on the Saturday morning of Tom Sawyer Days, which is held around July 4th.  This particular 5K is notable because of it’s “Lover’s Leap” climb, which is a steep 100 ft elevation that kinda sneaks up on you.  I’d never tried this course before (obviously), so though I knew how difficult the HW-79 portion would be (another hill, but a bit slower in grade), yet I wasn’t sure how Lover’s Leap would go.  I didn’t quite make it up to the top without stopping, but I made it further than I would have had I not been training.  Jogging around our neighborhood here gave me a little practice with hills, but for next year, I’ll have a better idea of what to prep for.

Baumann Brigade!
Baumann Brigade!

Again, the Baumanns (Baumenn?) run this 5K frequently and Mallory and Diana both placed in their divisions (yay!).  We’re all running a 5K in Colorado (Mallory’s doing a half marathon), so in some ways, this was a good trial run for us, or at least for those of us that have never actually run a 5K before…

S Health's display.
S Health’s display.

Also, a brief  aside, but I got a new fitness tracker in late June.  The Samsung Gear Fit 2 has a built-in GPS function and barometer that I find particularly useful, as it’s able to keep track changes in elevation, as well as running times.  For that race, my official time was 26:51 with an average pace of 8:39/mi.  My Gear Fit 2 recorded 8:39/mi as well, though the distance was off because I started it before actually crossing the starting line.  For the most part, I’ve been pleased with the performance of the tracker, though its battery life leaves something to be desired.

Overall, I placed 7th out of 18 in my age group, so I felt pretty good about that.  A 27 min 5K is respectable, though I’d have to work quite a bit to beat the 19:48 winning time in my group…  To get to the top 3 and win a medal, I need to shoot for 23:27, though, I’ll move up in age bracket next year where they actually ran a bit faster than those numbers this time around (ranging from 20:13 to 22:02 for the top 3).  There probably won’t be a medal in my future for awhile, but I suppose that isn’t the point of running a 5K, eh?

Lastly, I should note that Brooke’s also planning on doing the 5K in Colorado, though she thinks she may have hurt her ankle and may not be able to actually run for it.  The ankle’s on the mend, but while it’s been swollen, she hasn’t been able to go jogging all that much.  Perhaps we’ll get her in the Cannibal in time for next year!