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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!