Kansas City Marathon Race Report

Well, the first chapter of my two marathons & two 50ks in 5 weeks journey is in the books!  I must say, as you will see, it was a fun morning but a very tough morning.  As always, I have to start the story well before race day.  Way back in January I decided that this year I was going to run the Kansas City Marathon for the first time this year so I signed up.  That might be the earliest I've ever registered for an event, thus giving me bib #18.  A fellow blogger, Katie Kidwell, had asked me if I was planning to run it because she was going to run it as her first ever marathon!  We decided we would run together with the 4:40 pace group.  As time went by, I found out about more and more of my friends that were planning to be there as well.

Marathon Maniacs having some pre-race fun!
In early/mid-July I had really hit a lull in my ultra training and took almost the entire last half of July off.  I resorted some of my goals and decided to change focus a little bit.  The first of August I restarted training this time focused on running two marathons & two 50ks during the fall.  I really started to enjoy and love running again.  I also decided that after these fall races I would take a year to change my focus.  I will focus on strength training, shorter runs, speed and triathlons.  I think this will help me get back to the much better physical condition I was in before last year's stress fracture.  Anyway, all that aside, I was feeling strong & ready as race day drew closer.  I think my trail running this year has given me some improved strength, and knowing that I'd have friends out on the course made me feel even better.

Maniacs ready to head to the start line.
The night before the race Kristy stayed with our friend Jill in Lawrence because she was going to be working as a race photographer at the Lake Perry Rock! 50k and her mom, Rosie, took our dogs for the night and said she'd come feed the cats in the morning so I could sleep just a little bit later race morning.  That was VERY helpful!!  I got up at about 4:50 am, got a quick warm shower to wake up, got dressed in my Team Red, White & Blue shirt and headed off to the race.  It was about 40* at the time and the forecast only called for it to warm up to about 50-53* so I opted for tights & my Marathon Maniac arm sleeves.  For those of you that do not know, I have cold-induced asthma so I always err on the side of being too warm.  In this case, as you will see later, that came back to bite me, but at the time it seemed like the right choice to avoid asthma issues.  I ran into Dave DeCecco as I was waiting for the Marathon Maniacs group picture and chatted with him for a bit.  I also was happy to get to see fellow Maniac Anders "The Biking Viking" Forselius on the last weekend of his 50-state marathon journey.

Me & Katie ready to get the party started!
Once I got over to the start area I found the 4:40 pace group and several of us introduced ourselves and chatted a little.  Eventually Katie, my friend Brendan from the KCTC, Ammanda Warren & Erica Carper both from the Trail Nerds/Mud Babes joined the group as well.  I was excited to get to run with a group of such fun friends!!  Eventually it was time to go.  It took us about 5-6 minutes to get to the start line after the official start, that's one of the downsides of the larger events.  As we crossed the start line, I turned to Katie and told her, "don't worry, it's all downhill from here!"  That kind of turned into a theme for the day, I would just keep telling her that even if we were running up a hill at the time.  It kind of made me laugh.  From the start line, we ran north past the Sprint Center, which is always kind of cool, I like running past a building that looks like a giant baked potato!  Katie, Brendan, Ammanda, Erica, the pacers & other runners in the group were all chatting at this point.  Typical start of the race stuff, everyone is happy, smiley, optimistic, chatty.  After a few miles I turned to say something to Ammanda & Erica, but they were no longer behind me.  I hoped they were okay, but figured I'd just keep with my group and they would catch up, at this point things were still a bit bunched up.

A picture from the newspaper showing the Sprint
Center (left) and the runners coming up Grand with the
start line in the distance.
As a history buff, we had one of the more interesting parts of the course at around the 2.5 mile mark.  We ran down along side the Liberty Memorial, then up the Memorial Mall circle drive taking us right up to the tower & WWI museum.  This section was very cool for me because my previous race that ran by here we didn't run up the drive to get that close, we just ran past it.  Very cool.  Katie, Brendan & I were mostly running together and chatting at this point.  Around mile 4 came one of the more entertaining parts of the run for me!  My friend Brian Warren (Ammanda's husband) had told us he would be volunteering at the first table on the right at the second aid station, mile 4.  Here's a tip if you haven't run many of these big, crowded races: always go to the left side for water if they have tables on both sides of the street.  The majority of people are right handed so they naturally go to the right side.  I avoid the bigger crowd by moving over to the left side.  At this station I stayed toward the right to find my friend.  I saw him at the end of the table and he (like all of the volunteers) was yelling out "water!" so runners would know of it was water or Gatorade.  He hadn't seen me yet.  I decided to have a little fun, so I turned toward him and sprinted while screaming at the top of my lungs and as angrily as I could manage, "WAAAAATEEEEEER!!!!!!!"  He obviously hear this, turned toward me and screamed back!  It was hilarious!  I grabbed a water from him, thanked him and had a couple words with him and headed back out away from the station.  As I was leaving I could hear hushed discussion between other runners around me asking each other why I had been screaming like that at the volunteer.  It made me laugh!  It's so good to have friends volunteering when you are running.  :)

We continued on, mostly uneventfully, through Westport, past the Nelson-Atkins Museum, along Brush Creek and through the Plaza.  Somewhere in here Ammanda had caught back up with us, but not Erica.  Ammanda said Erica had been having some knee issues so she told Ammanda to go on.  I was hoping Erica was okay, but it was nice to have Ammanda join up with us again.  She, Brendan, Katie & I ran along chatting and enjoying the scenery & good company.  Somewhere along this stretch Brendan disappeared from the group as well.  As we got close to Loose Park around mile 13 I was feeling really good when, all of a sudden, my stomach tied itself up in knots.  It was as if out of nowhere someone had gut-punched me.  I was able to hang with the group for a while despite my sudden issues for a while, but once we got to the mile 14 aid station I knew I need to stop at the porto-potty.  This is only the second time I've had to use one during a race, so it is something unusual for me.  I'll avoid the details, but after this stop I felt quite a bit better.  I had obviously dropped pretty far back behind my pace group, but I was keeping or exceeding the pace so I figured I'd catch them eventually if all went well.

L to R; Katie, Me, Brendan & Ammanda
Eventually I caught up with Brendan.  It was good to have running partner again.  Eventually I lost him again, and eventually my stomach issues came back with a vengeance.  Around mile 18 or 19 I caught back up with Katie who was them having some problems.  We walked/ran together for a while and I kept trying to remind her to stay positive.  She was hurting and in a bit of a negative place mentally so I just tried to tell her that it would all be worth it once she crossed the finish line.  I was having waves of felling good and bad as far as my stomach.  To make things worse, it was getting warm.  As I said earlier, the forecast only called for a high of 53* but it was now into the 60's. WAY too hot for the tights I was wearing!  Eventually I got out ahead of Katie and was alone again.  I just did my best to chug along, but the further along I got the times I felt good got shorter and the times I felt bad got longer.  I was full out struggling at this point.  Around mile 22 I saw Katie's husband, Branden, and he talked to me for a minute and offered me some encouragement.  I told him I hadn't seen Katie in a bit and she had been struggling.  I was really hoping she'd catch up and pass me soon.  I was really walking more than running at this point thanks to my stomach.

Not long after seeing Branden, Katie did catch up to me.  She looked like she was doing much better so I told her to go on without me but she wouldn't listen.  She said she was really hurting and would walk/run with me.  We kept chugging along.  Walking, then running for a short burst, mostly on downhills, then walk again.  Eventually the 5 hour pace group passed us and that really upset me so we started running trying to make sure we didn't drop slower than the 5 hour group.  It didn't last long.  We probably kept up with them for about a half mile or more, then my stomach said no and I was walking again.  Katie walked too and I told her to stick with the group.  She wouldn't listen to me.  As we got closer, we had just a couple corners left to go, I spotted my friend Brian (from the aid station story earlier) and he snapped a picture of us with his phone, then ran along side us for a minute.  He told us we just had a couple corners left and that Ammanda had finished just ahead of the 4:40 group and was waiting around the corner to see us.  He dropped off and as I rounded the corner I saw Ammanda.  I was jogging past her and she asked how we were doing.  I looked at her and I told her I felt like crap.  She told me to just keep moving, the finish was right around the next corner.  We got to the corner and Katie got a serious rush of adrenaline!  She was about to finish her first marathon!  She took off as fast as she could at the time and I was giving it my best, but I couldn't run fast with my stomach.

Katie & I after finishing.
Katie finished just about 30 seconds ahead of me and the volunteers put her medal around her neck right as I was crossing the finish.  I must say, I smiled pretty big as she was getting to the line and I heard the announcer call out her name, then call out my name.  I finished in 5:06:31, well behind my goal of 4:40, but I'm happy with it since I had to struggle through so many stomach problems.  As I was going to get my medal she turned around to come back to get me and she was bawling!  Tears of joy (and maybe a little pain)!  It was great to see.  She gave me a big hug and thanked me for helping & encouraging her.  I thanked her for encouraging me.  She was proud & excited but was declaring left and right that she was NEVER going to run a marathon again!  I grinned and said I'll talk to you again in a couple days, you'll change your mind.  She said no way.  I saw a few friends in the finish area as we were hanging out and resting.  I chatted with Rikki and talked to her about the upcoming GOATz 50k we are both running this coming Sunday and met some of her friends.  Eventually I got up the energy to head back to my car and get going home.  My stomach got to feeling better a little at a time, but it really bothered me for a few hours after the race.

As predicted, later in the day Katie decided she is going to run the Garmin Marathon next April!!  I'm so proud of her accomplishment and it's fun to watch her enjoying it.  Over the last year I have become friends with so many people that run marathons, 50ks, 50 milers, 100 milers, etc so often than sometimes it's easy to forget what an amazing accomplishment finishing a marathon is.  Less than 1% of the population will ever even attempt to run one.  This was marathon/ultra #9 for me.  It was now time to get rested, rehydrate and loosen up for next weekend's GOATz 50k.  Sunday I went for an 11 mile bike ride, this morning (Monday) I went to see my chiropractor Dr. Jared Wisner for some ART treatment then went for a 2,200 meter swim.  My legs are feeling good so I'm going to take Katya for a 3 mile run and do some yoga this evening.  I'm feeling good and I think I'll be ready for the race this weekend.  To close this post out I want to share something Brendan posted on his Facebook the evening after the race.  He had struggled badly at the end as well and finished about 30 minutes behind us.  He posted this and I think it really captured how I felt about the day as well:

"Things I learned or was reminded of during the marathon today:

1) How much I truly love running.
2) How incredibly beautiful Kansas City is, especially in the fall, and that we should all take more time to appreciate it.
3) The tension I have been holding on my shoulders recently really is slowing me down.
4) That perseverance will get you where you want to go, and if you are lucky, will make you appreciate the journey.
5) That, as I have said before, there is a camaraderie in the running community that is hard to describe, and impossible to understand if you aren’t a part of it.
6) That, no matter what the time, there really is nothing like crossing the finish line."

Comments

  1. Thanks for the sweet words. You are really so sweet! And it was all down hill after that last hill. Can't wait to see you again at the Pilgrim Pacer!! Good Luck on the GOATz 50k!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a pleasure running with you & I look forward to the Pilrgim Pacer & hopefully many more races with you in the future!

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