Independence Half Marathon Race Recap

It’s been a hot little minute since I’ve had a race recap! In fact, the last “recap” I wrote was for my knee surgeries last summer, and the last actual race recap I wrote was for the Longview Half Marathon back in November of 2016! Chris and I had initially signed up for Rock the Parkway, I had a rough spring of training, and was feeling super stressed about doing a half mid-April. Chris and I decided to do the Rock the Parkway 5k and move our spring half back a couple weeks, so we signed up for the Independence Half Marathon.

I did not know much about this half marathon before signing up. This was the 3rd year for this race, and there were about 400 expected for the half marathon. I prefer to run larger races, as they are generally better supported, and having lots of runners around me makes me feel more comfortable and a part of something. I’ve had a few small half marathons as well over the years.

Saturday, the day before the race, Chris and I drove to Independence to pick up our packets, and had our normal pre-race dinner of spaghetti. I laid out my flat runner, and I was as ready as I would be for the half marathon early Sunday morning.

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We got to the race about 45 minutes early, and one of the huge benefits to a small race is the close parking! We parked about 50 feet from the finish line. I got to chat with a good friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and after using the bathroom one last time, we were off!

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One thing I was aware of for this race, but not prepared for, was the hills. The elevation map, below, looked rough, but doable. The course itself, once we were on it, was a different story.  The three large hills just never ended! They were super steep and the last hill was ass kickingly relentless. The course was mainly an out and back, with several small out and backs on different roads as well. There was not a lot of shade on the course, which I was prepared for, and luckily, there was some cloud cover, or the temps would have skyrocketed pretty quickly. Chris and I had sunscreen on, but I feel like I sweated it all off by the halfway mark.

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I cannot say enough good things about the support on the course. There were water stops just about every mile, with water at every one, and gatorade at lots of the stops as well. They even had gu available at mile 9, which was unexpected; I had my own gu, but it was nice to have it as an option.  As I expected with a smaller race, there were not a lot of spectators, but what was lacking in spectators was made up in course support and fun signage along the whole course.

In training this spring, Chris and I had been doing intervals of .35 miles running and .15 miles walking, repeated for as many miles as necessary. One of my goals was to stick as closely as possible to this ratio. The first several miles,  I was able to do this ratio, aside from a couple hills that we walked. About halfway, my feet and glutes were sore and tired, and my shins and calves were quick to follow.

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This was around mile 4. Already very hot out but I was still smiling! Photo courtesy: Corey Stark.

I definitely did not put in enough training to do a half, but at the end of the day, the course doesn’t care if you put in enough training, 13.1 miles is 13.1 miles, and all of it had to be completed. Throughout the rest of the race, my hamstrings tightened, then my back and hips. I was in quite a bit of pain and it took quite a bit of convincing by Chris to make me keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The last 3-4 miles included a heck of a lot of walking. The last 2 miles included almost all walking, some stretching, and a bit of crying as well. My quads started siezing up during the last few miles, and I hit the wall hard, and did not want to have anything to do with finishing the half. Chris was such a rockstar and the best support I could have had out there. He encouraged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and we cussed the last hill out together.

When we could see the finish line, but had to still complete about a mile loop around the end before finishing, he grabbed my hand and told me how proud of me he was and that we were going to finish no matter what. I am certain I would not have completed this half without him by my side.

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We finished, hand in hand. It was my slowest half I’ve ever done. Slowest out of 14. But I’m proud of this race. I’m proud that I went from 2 knee surgeries and 8 weeks on crutches to completing a half marathon in 40 weeks.  I hit some low lows in this race, and have nowhere but up to go in my personal running. I gained the confidence that I can keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when I think I can’t. My love for Chris grew even more, knowing that he is by my side no matter what.

Looking below at the 14 half marathons I’ve done, I can see each race in my mind. I can feel the pain, and feel the happiness, I can feel the accomplishments I’ve had, and I can’t wait to feel this again. I’ve got nowhere to go but up. Those 13.1 miles won’t run themselves, so I’d better keep running so I can do it again and again and feel the happiness, the pain, the pride, and each mile of my next half.

I’m a half marathoner, again!

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Running with the Cows Race Recap

The Running with the Cows half marathon and 5k was this past weekend, and I’m here to tell you all about it!

This year was the 7th year for Running with the Cows, and I can attest to how well everything is run.  The pre-race and post race festivities are top notch, the course support was fantastic, and there were more spectators in the middle of nowhere, cheering for us, than I thought there would be.

Thursday and Friday, my parents and sister got to town.  We had a great pre-race dinner Friday night at Grinder’s, then headed back to my apartment to get our clothes ready to go.  While Mom and I were setting out our flat runners, Dad said he wanted to have a flat Dad, so Kristen got that all set up too.

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Very very very early on Saturday morning, we made it to Bucyrus Kansas, which is south of Kansas City, in the countryside just south of Olathe.  We were able to hang out inside the school until it got closer to the race.  There were tons of fun cow things to see near the starting line, including this huge Hiland Dairy cow.  It was chilly, but the sun was out and it looked to be a beautiful day.

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After a couple bathroom stops and bag drop, we made our way to the starting line.  Kristen was running the 5k, so she waved us off before starting her warmup.  I even met a few blog readers! Thanks for saying hi, ladies! I really enjoyed meeting you! (I should have gotten a picture, dang it! – I had some pre-race nerves, and wasn’t even thinking to grab a photo!)

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The race started right at 7:30, and we were off! I don’t have any pictures from the course, but it was sure pretty.  Rolling hills, vast countrysides, it was gorgeous.  It was also windy.  And chilly, and mostly windy.

I really really wanted to do well at this race.  I’d been working on figuring out my dizziness problems lately, and hoped to stay strong and get through the race feeling that strength.  I decided to hang with the 2:20 pacer, and not have to worry about my pace, I’d just have to hang with the pace group.  (I’ve gone back and forth on my thoughts about pacers and pace groups, but I’ll save that for another post).  I was able to hang with the pace group through mile 7, and then I just couldn’t anymore.

I was between the 2:20 and 2:25 for another mile or two, and had no dizziness issues, but just couldn’t hang onto the pace.  It wasn’t too crazy fast, but I just haven’t put in enough longer runs past 7-8 miles, so I had nothing left.  I do think I went out with a faster pace group than I should have – it felt good, but comfortably hard.  At the beginning to middle of a half marathon, I don’t think it should have felt comfortably hard, it should have felt comfortable to easy, then push the last half to comfortably hard.

The last 5 miles were rough.  I did a walk-run-walk-run through the last 5 miles, and unfortunately probably walked more than I ran.  The course was basically an out and back, and the out was mostly into the wind.  The wind was pretty strong, and that’s also where I was pushing with the faster pace group.  I think the combination of a faster pace, the headwind, and not having lots of long runs under my belt just wiped me out, and resulted in a rough last 5 miles.

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Photo courtesy Running with the Cows Facebook page.

I was feeling pretty discouraged during the last 3 miles.  I was tired, I wanted to be done, and I was frustrated that I wasn’t performing like I’d hoped.  I was happy that I didn’t get dizzy; I think I’ve figured out what my fuel, hydration, and electrolyte timing need to be, but I was very frustrated with myself that I couldn’t keep running.  I didn’t want to let my dad and sister down – Kristen had finished her 5k and she and dad were biking around the course to cheer Mom and I on.  I didn’t want to let my friends down, my readers, or myself.  I finished, and it ended up being my third fastest time, but I missed my PR by 7 minutes, and finished 3 minutes slower than Rock the Parkway.

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In the end, I finished, and I’m very proud of that.  This was my 9th half marathon, and it definitely won’t be my last.  I’m stronger than I was in my first half marathon.  I’m stronger than I was last month in my last half marathon.  I’m learning more every time I run a half marathon.  I’m learning about me, I’m learning what works and what doesn’t for a half marathon, and I’m learning about what I’m capable of doing.  I’m very proud of what I’ve done, and know that if I keep going, keep running, and keep working, I’ll run a half marathon that feels strong from start to finish.  When that happens, I’ll be on top of the world, but until then, and even after then, I’m going to keep on working and running and trying.  Running, just like life, is about the journey.

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After the race, we changed into dry clothes and hit up the feast in the church.  The entire town seems to come together to bring tons of food for the finishers and spectators.   There actually were cows along the course near the beginning and end, and I saw lots of horses in the fields as well.  This adorable baby cow was hanging out in the petting zoo area for the race too.

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We made our way back to the car, and stopped by this huge silo on the way home for some pictures.  I’m so happy that my parents and Kristen were here for this race.  It was a ton of fun to do it with my family.  I’m so thankful to have an amazing family and such supportive friends to have all of these adventures with.

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After the race, we celebrated with margaritas and Mexican food.  By the way, my sister WON the women’s 5k race! WON IT!  Congrats Kristen, you speedy beast!  She’s running a marathon (her second marathon!) this weekend, so she opted for the 5k last weekend, and completely rocked it.

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Sunday morning, after sleeping in a bit, we went out to Shawnee Mission Park.  Mom and I ran a bit of a shakeout, then Kristen ran 8 miles while Mom, Dad, and I biked along.  Mom snapped this picture while I was finishing my run and Kristen was starting hers.  Dad’s up ahead on his bike.

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Kristen finished her 8 miles, and I walked my bike up the big hill at the end because my quads were over it by then – they were a bit cranky after the half, and the bike ride just pushed them right over.  After our shakeouts, and Kristen’s run, we grabbed a late lunch and had to to say goodbye to Kristen at the airport.

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Between the fun with my family, meeting some awesome readers, and finding the beauty in the misery of the half marathon on Saturday, then a fun adventure at the park on Sunday, it was a great weekend.

Next up is the Hospital Hill half marathon, in 2 weeks!

RnR Las Vegas 13.1 Race Recap

Last weekend was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon! Mom, Kristen, and I traveled to Las Vegas for a fun little girls’ weekend and to run the 5k and half marathon.  Read all about our Las Vegas trip here!

We picked up our packets and went to the expo on Thursday afternoon, and enjoyed a couple days exploring the city before the 5k on Saturday night and then the half marathon on Sunday night.

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Sunday morning we laid low, went to a movie to rest our legs, and eventually got ready for the half marathon and made our way to the start festival!  The weather decided to treat us like crap, and it got pretty chilly, and very windy in Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon.

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Kid Rock was playing at the start festival.  He was pretty good, and even said at one point that this was the fittest crowd he has ever played for! Hah!

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We checked our bags into actual UPS trucks, that would then drive our stuff to the finish line, further up the Strip.  There were also more porta-potties than I’ve ever seen.

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Mom, Mark, and I walked Kristen up as far as we could, she was to start up in the 4th corral, and we then walked back to the 35th corral to wait.  We heard the countdown, and the fireworks for the start of the race… and then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And got cold and stiff.  And waited some more.

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Photo courtesy Rock ‘n’ Roll website.

About 55 minutes after the race officially started, our corral got to the start line, and then we were off!  It had rained a bit while we were waiting, and started raining more after we started.  Between the rain, the wind, and the chilly temperatures, as well as standing around getting stiff for over an hour, it was a pretty rough start.

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The first few miles were spent trying to shake out our legs and get into a groove.  We were pretty cold, windblown, and getting rained on! It was a pretty miserable first few miles!  Mom, Mark, and I ran past the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, and had to stop real fast for a picture!

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After 2-3 miles, I was feeling pretty good, I was warmed up, there was lots of music, lots of spectators braving the cold and wet weather, and lots of fun signs.  It really was neat to run on the strip while there was nobody but runners on it!  The Las Vegas marathon/half marathon is only 1 of 2 times each year that the strip is closed to traffic – the other is New Years Eve.  Lots of high fives were given out during miles 2-6.

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I tried for some running selfies, but the dark really makes it hard!  I managed to get a couple where you can kind of see what’s going on, just ignore all the blurs!

 

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I found a few pictures after the race that the helicopters and drones took during the race, they look pretty spectacular.  If only it wasn’t so cold and windy!

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Photo courtesy Rock ‘n’ Roll website.

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Photo courtesy Rock ‘n’ Roll website.

Just after mile 4 or 5, we had to stop and take a pit stop at the porta-potties.  This is the very first time I’ve had to utilize the porta-potties during a race.  Standing around for over an hour before the race made it hard to hold it!

A mile or so after our quick stop, we came across the finish line on the other side of the street.  With some kind of voodoo luck, Mom and I actually SAW Kristen cross the finish line!  What are the odds of that?  We yelled and yelled, but the music was too loud, but WE SAW HER finish!!

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I had to get a quick selfie with one of so many Elvis’ on the course.  This particular Elvis was pretty cute.  We ran behind them for about a half mile.

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Sometime between miles 5-7, we lost Mark.  He ended up about 7-10 minutes behind us I think.  There were so many people, it was hard to keep track of everything.  Mom and I just kept trucking forward, struggling with the cold, very very tired feet from walking around the strip for 4 days, and really defeating weather conditions.  We were very lucky that we didn’t fall or get blown over – I heard of several people who got blown over, or got injured with things blowing into them.  We also saw a lady right in front of us trip or slip on something and face plant.  I hope that everyone who fell or blown over was okay.

Miles 6-10 were pretty monotonous and tiring and cold.  So cold.  During this time we were at the very old part of downtown, and off the main Strip.  We made our way through some neighborhoods, and through a few shady areas that I wouldn’t want to be alone!  Then we went through Fremont Street, gained a bit of energy, and started making our way back to the Strip and the finish line.

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I’d have to say that miles 10-13 were the roughest ever, out of any half marathon I’ve done.  R.O.U.G.H. !!! My feet hurt so bad.  I was so cold to the bones.  My nose was running, my nose was cold, my ears were cold, my shoulders were cold, my feet hurt.  It was a rough few miles.

But somehow, we made it.  Step after step, walking and running and shuffling.  Really everything but crawling.  Mom and I finished hand in hand, and then all we wanted was to sit down and warm up.

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Photo courtesy MarathonFoto.com.

We were handed our medals, then water, then a space blanket, then sample after sample of food, gatorade, milk, cranberries, etc.  So much stuff.  I didn’t have enough arm space for all the stuff.  And that finish chute was SO long.  I heard someone say it was almost a half mile long finish chute.  Walking and walking and walking!  We finally found the UPS trucks and put on jackets and dumped all our extra stuff into our bags.

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We also were given our remix medal for doing the 5k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.  We slowly made our way back to our hotel on very foot sore feet.

I must say, if the weather was a bit warmer, less windy, and dry, this would have been a super fun half marathon.  It was fun, in retrospect, but during, it was hard to think about the fun during all the pain!

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We ran the strip at night, shut down Vegas, and earned every bit of our medals!

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Monday, we did a little shakeout run and met some of the We Run Social group!

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Read about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas 5k here, and read about our trip in Vegas here!