Garmin Marathon Race Report

Basically this is just another race report, but to me it is the celebration of huge accomplishments by many of my friends.  That's where I want to start, with my friends.  I want to list some notable firsts for several friends at the two big events of the day (Garmin Marathon and the Free State Trail Run).  If I miss anyone, please do not take offense, this weekend has been a whirlwind so I may not be entirely with it just yet!

  • Sheri Agne - First 5k (at Garmin Marathon)
  • Janee' Stump - First Half Marathon (at Garmin Marathon)
  • Ben Hunter - First Half Marathon (at Garmin Marathon)
  • Bryan Hay - First Marathon (at Free State)
  • Indika McCambell - First 40 miler (at Free State)
  • Brian Warren - First 40 miler (at Free State)
  • Ammanda Warren - First 100k (at Free State)

I might be missing some, especially people that were pacers that might have hit new distances, but these are all I can think of right off the bat.  If you read this and I missed you on this list PLEASE do not take offense and send me a message so I can add you to the list. I think people that put themselves on the line to accomplish something they've never done before are truly amazing and I want to recognize these people that all inspire me before I get to my own experience. Cheers to all of you on a job well done!!

This weekend's motto!
Now on to my report.  This will be another long report starting with a back story, but those of you familiar with my blog are used to that.  Those new to my blog, welcome and this is how I write race reports.  I like to tell the entire story that led up to the event itself.  In a way, the lead up to this race started April 10, 2010.  That day I ran my first ever 5k at the Olathe Marathon, an event now known as the Garmin Marathon.  Last year on April 16 I ran the Wickedly Fast Half Marathon run in conjunction with the Oz Marathon, now know as the Garming Marathon, and suffered my first broken bone in my foot.  This year the Garmin Marathon was here again and I was ready for my third straight year there making this the only event I've run every year since I began.  Now as a Marathon Maniac, I was excited to welcome all of the wonderful people I've met through that club into my own home town and run a great race with them.  I decided I'd train to set a PR at this event.  My PR was still the 4:36:20 I did in Napa for my first marathon, so I decided running a 4:30 would do the trick and I started setting up a plan to get there.

Ron, his wife Bobbie & I at the
Pilgrim Pacer Marathon in November '11

Then my Ultra runner side kicked in; big shock for those that know how I am.  I'll admit, I'm a bit of an extremist; all or nothing.  Back in early March my friend Ron mentioned he was looking for a pacer for the last 20 miles of the Free State 100k in Lawrence, KS just an hour away from the start/finish of the Garmin Marathon.  Um, okay!!  Sold, I'm in!!  Wait, did I just agree to a marathon PLUS a 20 miler??  I believe I did.  Well, no worries.  All of this stuff is really meant as prep work for my first 50 mile race in Sept anyway so might as well make this a 46+ mile day.  After speaking with Ron about his plan I reset my goals.  The cut off for the first 40 miles of Free State (when I would be picking up with him) is 10 hours, 5:15 pm, and he would mostly be walking and some slow running at that point so I figured if I kicked in to Ultra training rather than training to PR in the marathon I could be ready to go and help pace him.  As most of you already know, I'll take a distance goal over a speed goal any day, so I was more than happy to switch gears and get to training for a very long day.  Training went very well.  I got in several good 18-20 milers, a few good doubles (long runs Sat & Sun) and even a hot, slow marathon on St. Pat's Day.  Come race morning, all of this had me feeling prepared and ready to go.

Marathon Maniacs Pre-Race Dinner at Zio's

Over the last couple weeks leading up to the race, it was time for Maniac planning.  I posted to the Marathon Maniac Facebook group about where and when we would meet for a group picture and Michelle Walker kindly set up a pre-race dinner for Friday night at Zio's (an Italian food restaurant).  The food at the dinner was excellent and it was a blast meeting and getting to know several Maniacs, their friends and their family members!!  The Maniacs are a unique group to be a part of.  Even when you get together with ones you've never met it feels like you've been friends for years.  That's definitely how this dinner felt; like an evening with old friends; friends I'd be sharing 26.2 miles with the next morning.

Bart Yasso & me

After going to the expo, Kristy & I went over to the Garmin World Headquarters (start and finish of the race) because Bart Yasso was going to be speaking.  We got there about 10 min before it was set to start and we took a seat right down front.  We sat right behind Jake (a bit of a Garmin celebrity) and got to chat with him and Bart a little before the talk.  Bart is an interesting man with a beautiful sense of humor and amazing stories to tell.  It was so cool meeting him and listening to his tales.  He talked for about an hour and I swear I was laughing for about 50 minutes of it!! He told stories of inspirational people, burro races, nude races, being chased by a rhino, and many other crazy going-ons he's experienced during his time with Runner's World Magazine.  His motto echos the stories he tells: never limit where running can take you.  This is so true.  You just never know if you will end up running in Kansas, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Antarctica, or even the Taj Mahal where he was the first American to pass through the gates since Jimmy Carter!!  This is a man that has experienced being a 2 hour marathoner competing with the best and brightest to suffering a chronic illness that has limited him to few, slow marathons here and there; yet he has found joy and beauty in every run and in every runner.  We should all strive to have his attitude about life.

One of the Marathon Maniac Pictures
from the Garmin Marathon

Saturday morning came quickly.  After the dinner Kristy & I had to get all our stuff together and take care of our dogs and cats so I only ended up with about 5 hours of sleep.  I got up, had a bowl of Wheaties Fuel and drove over to my mother-in-law Rosie's house.  She lives just about a quarter mile from the race so we parked at her house and walked over to loosen up.  My plan for the marathon was to run it in 5 hours.  This would ensure that I did well, but not burn myself out too much and it would also give me about 5 hours to relax a little and make the trip to Lawrence with plenty of time to be ready to do the 20 miles with Ron.  I met up with the Maniacs for a group photo, then another group of Maniacs for another photo.  There were so many Maniacs at the event they all ended up in a couple different places.  I guess my group photo arranging skills still need some work.  I then headed over to line up for the start.

It was a cold morning, about 40* at the start, so many people had jackets, warm up pants, etc on that they pulled off at the start.  I had on my Marathon Maniac arm sleeves and knew looking at the hourly weather it would warn up fast, but before we started running I needed something.  I saw a few more friends before the start, then found the 5 hour pacer, Mike.  As we waited for the start Mike, the others in the pace group and I shared stories of who we are, what we've run before and names.  Finally it was time to really get this day started and the gun went off.  The pace groups at this event are from a company called Smart Pacing and that is the strategy they use.  The 5 hour pace as an even pace is an 11:27 per mile avg.  It is taxing on the body and very difficult to maintain even paced miles over any terrain you may encounter and at every point in a 26.2 mile race.  The Smart Pace strategy is based instead on even effort.  You start slow, slow down on hills, speed up on down hills, walk aid stations, and slow down at the end.  This leads to to an even effort.  You run the faster paces you need to keep the overall, but take it easy in the places that will drain too much energy when you don't need to.  I decided this would be smart and would help leave me the energy I would need out at Free State later that evening.

Within the first mile it had warmed up quite a bit and the sun was out so I pulled off my arm sleeves and tied them to my belt I was wearing to hold my Stinger Chews.  It felt good to lose the sleeves and enjoy the nicer weather.  We were having fun chatting.  There were a couple of us Maniacs (me and Teal), two of us from the Olathe Running Club (me & Doug) and several people from various other places including one person running her first marathon.  Things were going great; we enjoyed a nice, steady pace and each other's company.  When we got to the 3 mile aid station I was welcomed by the Olathe Running Club volunteers.  It was great to get a high five from Rich and some words of encouragement from so many friendly faces.  Even 3 miles into a marathon, friendly faces really help give you a boost.

Garmin Marathon Course Map

As with most marathons, the chatter continued through much of the beginning of the race.  There's always chatter when everyone is still feeling good!  We chatted about many many topics genuinely enjoying having good company along for the ride.  At about 7.5 miles we came upon Larry Macon, a bit of a legend in the Marathon Maniac world.  Larry has run over 800 marathons and is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet in a race.  We chatted for a moment or two as our group went by.  This is the second marathon in a row I've gotten to chat with him and he will be at my next too (the Lincoln Marathon).  As we turned onto Ridgeview (about mile 10.25) passing under I-35, I commented that there is a sad irony to this course.  We were now approx. 1 mile from the finish line geographically and headed toward it, we would pass almost right by it at the 11.25 mile point.  That's almost cruel!

It was nice when we got to about the 12 mile mark and turned off onto the Indian Creek Trail.  I prefer running trails (as in unpaved trails in the woods) to paved surfaces, but if you have to run on pavement it's hard to beat Indian Creek.  It's well maintained and almost completely covered in trees from end to end.  This course took us passed the ORC Wed Night Run spot and the Mon Night Run spot.  It's nice to run on a course I know so well.  At this point on the course it is a bit of an out-and-back so the faster runners are coming back as you are going out.  That led to seeing Jared (my chiropractor and ORC member) and Tim.  Both of them are very fast runners and looked like they were doing well.  Jared was shooting for a sub-3 and finished just a couple minutes after 3 hrs, missing his goal but throwing down a second consecutive BQ time in a marathon.  Tim, as always, had a smile on his face and a big hello!  I swear, I've never once seen Tim running without a smile no matter how far or fast he's running.  Along the trail we saw people dressed as Dorothy, and even an aid station manned by costumed workers!  There was even a young man playing a sax that we saw at several points (he must have been traveling the course) including at Mid American Nazarene University on the trail.  At about 18.5 miles we turned and headed back; just about 8 miles to go!!  I was still feeling great, but our pace group had dropped to me, Mike (pacer) and Christina.  We were all feeling good, but certainly getting tired.  The conversations were dropping to a minimum.

Garmin Marathon finisher's shirt & medal

I then had a break through!!  This was my 7th marathon/Ultra and the 11th time I've run 20 miles or more.  Every single one of those times I hit a mental barrier at 20 miles.  Even if I'm only running 21 or 22 miles as soon as I hit 20 my brain tells me I can't do it and I get very negative.  Even if I'm feeling good, my mind still turns negative.  As we continued to run along the trail, I had stopped paying attention to the miles, so I wasn't 100% sure where we were at, but I knew we had to be closing in on 20 miles.  I feared the 20 mile mental barrier would hit me any minute.  I looked at my watched and we were at 20.5 miles and I still felt great mentally & physically!!  That gave me a boost rather than the normal negativity!!  We continued on feeling good until around mile 23.  I started to drop back a little from the pace group at that point because my stomach started bothering me a little.  I could have kept with the group, but with the 20 miles left to do n the evening I didn't want to risk worsening anything so I settled back a little and took a few extra walk breaks to let my stomach settle down.  It worked and I was feeling better with about a mile to go.

Me (yellow) and Coach Scott (white & blue)
finishing the Garmin Marathon together.
Then came another great moment in the race for me.  Again, I call back on what Bart talked about.  You never know where running will take you and the run itself isn't the point, it's about the people you see and the memories you make.  As we came down the final stretch with the finish line in sight (about 0.4 miles left) I saw a man walking looking tired up ahead of me.  He looked a little disheartened as a runner went passed him and I had gotten close enough to see that it was someone I know.  Recently I have reconnected with my high school freshman year driver's ed teacher, Coach Scott; he had joined the ORC.  I could see that the man struggling to finish in front of me was him.  I picked up my pace a little to catch him quicker and patted him on the back as I got to him.  I said, "come on, Coach, let's finish this strong together!"  He picked up his pace to stick with me.  He said thanks and told me his knees had been bothering him some and he didn't know if he'd have been able to run any more to the finish; he was just going to walk.  We both had a smile and some pride finishing together 19 years after I was a student in his class.  Great moment.  As we came in, Jake from Garmin was announcing runners and he called out the following which gave me a laugh: "Bryan West from Gardner, Kansas coming across the line. Bryan sat behind me when Bart Yasso spoke yesterday and Bryan is a TRUE Maniac!"  Thanks for the shout out, Jake!!

That puts marathon/Ultra #7 in the books!!  Garmin Marathon (Garmin Connect data), 26.38 miles in 5:03:46 for an average overall pace of 11:32/mile.  It was a gorgeous day with amazing people out on a great course, especially Indian Creek Trail.  It was by far the best I've ever felt through a marathon from beginning to end and the least amount of walking I've had to do.  I walked all aid stations and took a few extra walks during the last few miles, but they were short walks and wouldn't have been needed without the extra miles planned for the evening.  At the finish line Kristy, Janee', Rachel and Sheri, Mark and Jill were all there waiting for me.  I hung around for a few minutes talking, picked up my finisher's shirt and a shirt Garmin was giving away to runners with Forerunners and a flower with Garmin Marathon printed on it and headed off.  We headed back to Rosie's so I could shower, rest and eat before heading to Clinton Lake.

My time at Clinton Lake that evening will be in a seperate post...


  1. Would have been good to finish with you but I started falling apart at mile 17 or 18...and was slow to finish. Congrats on #7!
    A.K.A. The Manimal, MM #3215, TM #100

  2. It was awesome to meet you out on the course! That is definitely the most appropriate place to make the aquantence of a Titanium Maniac. You are a beast and it was an honor to share the road with you! Great job finishing yet another!!

  3. That was a great day--So proud of you!


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