The Hospital Hill Half Marathon has come and gone again, perhaps for the last time, for me. Guys, that’s a tough race. It’s not just the hills, it’s the weather conditions too. Let’s get into my recap.
Friday night, Amy came over, and brought my packet to me. She went and picked up our packets earlier in the day, to save us both time and money! I cooked up some super fancy spaghetti and meat sauce, and we had garlic bread and wine, too. I got flat Renee ready, and went to bed, as my alarm was set in the 4’s for Saturday morning.
We got to Crown Center and parked at Union Station, and boy, was it humid. You could just feel the thickness of the air. We found some of our running buds, quickly checked our bags and used the port-o-potties.
Ok, onto the race itself. Amy and I had planned to stay together, something we haven’t done before during a race. Typically, we start the race together, and run our own races, meeting up again at the finish line. This race, each of our 10th half marathons, we wanted to stick together.
Miles 1-3: I knew this was going to be a tough race from the very first mile. It was humid. The air was thick, and miles 1-3 felt rough. That’s never a good sign. After the 3 mile water stop, we stopped to walk. I wanted to cry; I felt like we were barely moving, and I felt like there was no way I could possibly go 10 more miles.
Miles 4-6.5: Rough. Walking, running, uphill. Please just rain, it would be less humid than this. Did I also tell you it was hot? I’m sure it wasn’t that hot, but the start was 70 degrees, and about 90% humidity. An angel of a spectator had his sprinkler set up to cool the runners in the street. A reader said hello as she ran by (great job, by the way!), and I think I mumbled something back at her and maybe tried to smile.
Mile 6.5-7.5: Internal struggle, and struggle with Amy. I convinced her to go on, as I knew my race was all but over. My knee was in pain, but ok. My feet were sore from walking. I was drenched with sweat and water. Around mile 7, I began drinking gatorade and dumping water down my shirt and on my head at the water stops.
Miles 8-10: Another kind spectator and his family had ice cold water bottles they were handing out. I saw my first downed runner, the first of 3 that I saw. I believe one person tripped and face planted, the other 2 appeared to be in heat distress. More hills. More water dumped on my head. I walked. I cried. I called Kristen and Mom, yes, while walking, in this half marathon. Who calls someone during a half marathon? Me. I was mentally completely checked out. If anyone would have asked me if I wanted to quit, the answer would have been yes. But nobody asked me, and I kept moving forward.
Miles 10-12: Broadway Blvd. For anyone who has run this half marathon before, it’s about a mile and a half of steady uphill. It’s not overly steep, but it just doesn’t end. A group of women had orange slices, buckets of ice, and bubbles. Why bubbles? No idea, but the ice down my sports bra felt amazing, and the orange was a nice change from yellow gatorade and gu. I saw Paul at almost mile 11, and he had a big smile and yelled some encouraging words. I stopped and hugged him, and I think I apologized for being wet or sweaty or something. I promise, it was maybe half sweat, half water, and some melted ice and bubbles.
Mile 12-13.1: I imagine I walked at least 5 miles during this half marathon, which is probably the most I’ve ever walked during a half. Once I got to the top of the last hill, Trinity Hill, around mile 12.5, I knew I had less than 10 minutes of pain left, even if I kept walking. I saw a photographer with about a half mile left, so I made myself smile, and I started running. I ran down that hill, turned the corner down another hill, turned the last corner, and I could hear the announcer at the finish line just up ahead.
I came across the finish line with a smile, and finished my 10th half marathon with my slowest time out of all. It was the very opposite of a PR, it was still a win, because I didn’t give up. I wanted to, I cried, I walked, I wanted to lay down and call someone to drive me to the finish line, but I didn’t. It may have been my slowest half marathon, but it won’t be my last, and I didn’t let it beat me, though it tried hard.
I met up with Amy at the finish line, got my medal, had some chocolate milk and an ice cold sponge. After a few pictures and chatting with friends, we changed clothes and went to brunch. I’m glad Amy and I tried to run it together. We made it over halfway before splitting. After all our training runs, it was neat to run a race together, and I’m sure we will do it again, and finish together.
The course support, spectators, and volunteers are great, but for the second year in a row, this race kicked my ass. The hills, yeah, they are hard, but KC is hilly, and I know that. I think the toughest part about this race is the heat and humidity. In the first week of June, it’s usually getting hot, truly hot, for the first time of the year. My body hasn’t acclimated yet, and it’s apparent when I run Hospital Hill, at both last year’s race and this year’s race.
Hospital Hill, you are a beast, and I conquered you for the second time, but I probably won’t again. This was my third half marathon in 3 months, much like last year, when I ran Rock the Parkway, Scout Strong, and then Hospital Hill. This year, I ran Rock the Parkway, Running with the Cows, and Hospital Hill. I have yet to feel truly confident in the half marathon distance, and I feel like focusing on one or two each season, instead of several, might help. Plus, the course for the KC Half Marathon, in the fall, has many of the same hills, but I like the course, and the fall temps, better. I’m not saying I’ll never run Hospital Hill again, but not anytime soon.
After a delicious brunch and a much needed pedicure, I spent the rest of the day relaxing. Sunday morning, Amy and I ran a few shakeout miles, which felt pretty good.
This year’s Hospital Hill Half, and my 10th half marathon, may have been my most difficult to date. But I’ve learned a lot from it, and I’ll be running more half marathons in the future, just you wait.