Rock the Parkway 2016

Last Saturday, I ran the Rock the Parkway Half Marathon for the second time.  Rock the Parkway, in it’s 7th year, is one of the largest and best run races in the Midwest.  There was a half marathon and a 5k option.  I felt like I had a little something to make up, after a personally frustrating Rock the Parkway experience last year, due to a head cold that was plaguing me during the race weekend.

Friday, after work, we checked out the expo, picked up our packets and some fun KC run local shirts.  Amy and I had a quite delicious spaghetti dinner, complete wth garlic bread and wine.  Then, it was time for bed.  I laid out Flat Runner Renee, and headed to bed.

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5:30 came very early on Saturday morning, and I got ready to go, and Amy and I headed out to the race.  Parking was no problem, and we had about 40 minutes before the race to use the bathrooms, check our bags, and try to keep warm.  It was a bit chilly, around 35 degrees, but it was sunny.  The cooler than expected weather, and the promise of warmer temps at the finish made me second guess my outfit a bit, but after adding throw-away gloves and an ear warmer, I was set.  After one last bathroom trip, we made our way to the corrals, and a few minutes later, the race started!

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If only a half marathon was 8 miles, this race would have been the best ever.  The first half of the race, for me, was picture perfect.  Miles 1-2, I stayed slow and steady, got into a good groove, and ended up tossing my gloves and taking off my ear warmer.  Miles 3-5, again, were great.  My splits had picked up a little bit, but I felt comfortable, I was enjoying the scenery; I was taking water/gatorade while running through every aid station, and had downed my first gu with no problems.  There are a few rolling hills, nothing too terrible, during the first 5 miles.

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Photo courtesy Backprint Photography and KC Running Company.

After mile 5, we turned to head toward Loose Park, the hills were still rolling at this point, but were a bit steeper.  There was a beer aid station around mile 5.5, which made me chuckle, as it did last year.  The spectators were great, and the signs were funny.  The race was going splendidly.  Miles 6-8 were good, though I was starting to have the itch to walk. I expected this, because my longest training run has only been 8 miles.

 

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Photo courtesy Backprint Photography and KC Running Company.

Near the end of mile 7, I began to get a bit dizzy.  Nothing like the KC Half Marathon last fall – that was a very dizzy feeling.  When a bit of dizziness came on Saturday, I slowed, and then walked.  I still don’t know what is causing the dizziness, as it only comes during long long runs, but I’m going to experiment with taking salt/electrolyte pills, as I think I may be sweating out too much sodium (I am a very salty sweater, and I begin sweating very quickly).

Once I walked, I feel like the drive fizzled out of me.  I continued with a run/walk/run through the last 4-5 miles, becoming frustrated with myself for not pushing through.  Mentally, I have a lot of work to do to improve my half marathons.  Physically, I know I am in better running shape than I was last fall, and better yet than I was last year when I ran Rock the Parkway, and even better yet, I’m in much better shape than when I did my first half marathon 2 years ago… but mentally, I have a long way to go.  I am confident that if I am not dizzy, I can physically complete a half marathon with no or minimal walking.  However, mentally, I struggle, and once I let myself walk that first time, it feels like it’s all over.

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Photo courtesy Backprint Photography and KC Running Company.

Mental rant aside, I finished the last 4-5 miles as strongly as I could, for me, on that day, during that race.  I finished the race with my second fastest half marathon time overall, which makes me happy, and shows my progress, considering I walked at least 3-4 times more than I did in October, when I finished the KC Half Marathon a mere 4 minutes faster.

I met up with Amy, and several other running friends, after the race.  Lots of my friends had huge PR’s; I’m so proud of all of you!  We got changed into some dry, warm clothes, enjoyed our chocolate milk, and celebrated our half marathons!

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Compared with last year’s Rock the Parkway, I finished about 15 minutes faster, I felt stronger, and I definitely feel like I ran smoother.  I didn’t have a head cold this year, which probably helped some!  Last year, Mom and Dad came down, and Mom ran, too.  I’m looking forward to having that experience with my parents again next month, at Running with the Cows.

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The rest of the weekend consisted of having some post-chafing issues, watching baseball, eating pizza, and getting pedicures after a shakeout run on Sunday with Amy.

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Did you run Rock the Parkway, or another race? Let me know how you did! What’s your next race coming up?

Rock the Parkway Race Recap

It’s time for a race recap! As I posted on Facebook and Twitter after the race, I’m not sure if I Rocked the Parkway, or if the Parkway Rocked me! Alas, the Rock the Parkway Half Marathon happened this past weekend, and now I am here to tell you all about it!

Thursday after work, my running buddy Amy and I went to the expo to pick up our packets and check out all the booths.  Packet pick up was quick and easy, and we learned about lots of fun upcoming races and saw other booths like clothes, sunglasses, and food.

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My parents came to town Friday evening, and I gave mom her packet and a couple shirts I picked up from the KC Running Company booth.  We ate dinner and set out our clothes for our 5:00am wake up call.

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We drove to Ward Parkway Shopping Center and met up with some of the KCRC Groupies at 6:30 before the race started at 7:30.  The Rock the Parkway Half Marathon was my 3rd half marathon, my  Mom’s third half marathon, and Amy’s third half marathon.  It was Mark’s second, Emily’s first, and John’s 20-something-th half marathon.  We took a few pictures, used the restrooms, and walked about 3/4 mile to the starting line.

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Left to Right: Emily, Mom, John, Me, Mark, and Amy. MY GROUPIES! Photo courtesy of Amy Kanarek.

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Photo courtesy of kcrunningcompany.com

Photo courtesy of kcrunningcompany.com

Let’s get down to business.  If only the entire race could have felt like the first 4 miles felt.  The first 4 were great.  I was cruising, I was feeling good, I was hanging with a pace group, and I was rocking the parkway! If only the entire race could have felt like that… if only.

Last weekend, I moved across town, and my allergies have been out of control the past couple weeks. A little less than a week ago, I started coughing, and by race day, my cough was pretty bad, and it felt like my lungs rattled when I coughed.  Race morning, I felt okay, but knew I was sick.  At about the 4 mile mark, I started deteriorating.

Photo courtesy of kcrunningcompany.com

Photo courtesy of kcrunningcompany.com

My pace has definitely improved over the last several months, I’d say I have dropped about 30-40 seconds off my “easy” pace.  At mile 4, I started running/walking/running, alternating depending on how well I could breathe, whether or not the hills felt okay, and where the water stops were.  I walked WAY more than I wanted to.  My ultimate goal is still to RUN a half marathon with no walking, or just walking through the water stations.  Rock the Parkway was not the half marathon that I would accomplish that.

Photo courtesy of kcrunningcompany.com

Photo courtesy of kcrunningcompany.com

The course itself was beautiful.  We started at the Burns and McDonnell building on 94th and Ward Parkway, and ran North on Ward Parkway to Loose Park, around the park, and back down Ward Parkway to finish at Burns and McDonnell.  The water/gatorade stations were well placed and smoothly run, there were port-a-potties at a few of the water stops, and the spectators were great! I saw tons of funny signs, there were lots of kids giving high fives, and there were even a few live bands along the course.  The police and volunteers did a great job making sure traffic yielded to the runners, and made sure everyone stayed on course and stayed safe.

Photo courtesy of kcrunningcompany.com

Photo courtesy of kcrunningcompany.com

I finished about 9 minutes slower than my PR, and about 19 minutes slower than my goal for this race.  I was bummed while running, once I got to the point where I knew I wouldn’t reach my goal, and then got bummed some more when my PR went out the window, but I know that it’s not about the finish time, it’s about the finish line.  I got to the finish line, and I was sure glad to see it.  I was pooped.

Photo courtesy of kcrunningcompany.com

Photo courtesy of kcrunningcompany.com

My Dad and Amy were there cheering me across the finish, and I promptly received my amazing medal, and a volunteer clipped my timing chip off my foot, and I was handed a water bottle.  Later, after Mom finished, we got some chocolate milk and printed off our finish time slips.

I also ran into Steph after the race, she went to school with my little sister.  We all took a few pictures, and then Dad went to pick up the car so we wouldn’t have to walk 3/4 mile back to the parking lot.  Thanks Dad =)

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Photo courtesy of Steph Stremel.

After we got home, we showered and laid around a bit, then ran some errands.  My calves and hips were pretty achy right away, and after a few hours, my hips and butt were really the only sore spots. I wore my calf sleeves for the rest of the day, and besides my coughing and head cold, I felt pretty good.

Sunday, it rained most of the morning, but we wanted to be sure to get a shake out run in.  Once the rain let up, we drove to Leawood City Park, and Dad fished a bit while Mom and I ran/walked to shake out our legs.

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Overall, I am really glad I ran this race, it is one of the largest half marathons in the Midwest, and certainly one of the most well-run races I’ve been a part of.  All of the Groupies had good races, and John and Mark are doing the Heartland 39.3 series, meaning they have to run another half marathon next weekend, and third half marathon 2 weeks after that!

1 year ago was my first half marathon, and last fall was my second.  I know my pace has improved drastically since my first half marathon just 1 year ago, and under better circumstances, I think this race could have been a much faster time.

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I’m proud of myself for completing it with the stress I have in my life right now, and with the head cold I’ve been battling.  It certainly would have been easier to just drop out!  I’m proud of my Mom for finishing her 3rd half marathon, she did great! I’m thankful to my Dad for spectating and cheering and helping out.  I’m also thankful for my running group, and for the Groupies I train with every week.  I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s support!

Also, a HUGE congratulations to my sister and her Team Sparkle Ragnar Relay team to Fight to End Rett Syndrome.  Maybe I will convince Kristen to write a race recap and post it. =)

Did you race this past weekend?