Hospital Hill Half Marathon 2016

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.

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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.

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Left to Right: Kevin, John, Mark, Me, and Amy.

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.

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Photo courtesy marathonfoto.com, Hospital Hill Run, and Sun Life Financial.

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.

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Photo courtesy marathonfoto.com, Hospital Hill Run, and Sun Life Financial.

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.

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Photo courtesy marathonfoto.com, Hospital Hill Run, and Sun Life Financial.

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.

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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.

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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.

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!

Monday Mentionings: May 16

Monday again!

Last Monday evening is one I won’t soon forget! I go to cycle class [almost] every single Monday evening.  I call my Mom after work on my way home, or to the gym, etc, EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  Well, last Monday was no different.  I called Mom on my way to the gym (about a 2-3 minute drive from work), and she didn’t answer.  I didn’t call her a second time, because by then, I was at the gym.  I figured I would just call her after the gym.  Apparently, Mom’s phone didn’t actually register my call, so didn’t have a missed call.

When I finished with my hour long cycle class, around 6:30, and made it down to my locker, I heard my phone buzzing, so I answered it real quick.  It was my sister, and she said Mom had lost me, and to call her right away.  I called Mom, and she told me Amy was on her way to find me, because I wasn’t answering my phone.  By the time it was all said and done, I think I had 4 missed calls, a voicemail, 8 text messages (from 4 different people) and 2 calls to the gym to find my whereabouts.  Amy was about halfway to my house, and I imagine my mom was minutes away from hopping in the car to drive 4 here herself!

I was just in cycle class!  I’m thankful and lucky to have such an amazing family and friends, who care about me enough to track me down when I go missing, even though I wasn’t lost or missing.

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There’s really no caption for this.  It’s just Jasper, doing what he does, napping and being adorable.

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Thursday evening, Mom and Dad got to town for the weekend.  Amy came over, and Dad rode his bike while Amy and Mom and I ran a few shakeout miles.  It was absolutely gorgeous out, and we had a great few miles on the trails.

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Friday morning, Kristen flew in, and Mom, Dad, and Kristen came to see my office building.  I got off at noon, and we hung out all afternoon, and went to Grinders for pizza and calzones that evening.

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After dinner, we laid out our flat runners, and Dad said he wanted to do a flat Dad.  Kristen laid out Flat Dad to match the rest of them.

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Saturday morning we got up WAY early, and made it to Bucyrus, KS about an hour and a half before the Running with the Cows half marathon and 5k.  I’ll write a recap later on this week, but it was a great race, though I had a little less than perfect race.  Half marathon #9 in the books!  Kristen raced the 5k, and won! I’m so proud of her!

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We celebrated with Ted’s Cafe and margaritas!

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Sunday, after sleeping in a tiny bit, we all got up and around, and made it out to Shawnee Mission Park, where Mom and I ran a short shakeout, and then Kristen ran her long run, and Dad and Mom and I biked along.  It was a beautiful day, and a really fun run/ride/adventure.

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Sunday afternoon, Kristen had to fly home, so we drove out to the airport and back.  It was sad to see her go; the weekend was really fun and went really fast.  Mom and Dad and I hung out Sunday night, and had some ice cream.  Mom and Dad bought a fold up wagon, and Jasper had to check it out.

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Well, that’s about all I’ve got for today!  I’ll get my race recap out this week!  I hope your week is great!