Pilgrim Pacer Marathon Race Report

Alternate title: "A Tale Of Two Halves".  The first and second halves of this race couldn't have been more different!  Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though, you know by now that I have to give a back story first!  Last year the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon was the race that got me qualified for the Marathon Maniacs, so I was excited to have this be the first marathon I've ever run for a second time!  (see last year's race report here)  It's been a tough lead up to this race, in the 28 days leading up to it I've run two 5k, one 8k, another marathon and a 50k.  One week after this I will have my last 50k of the year.  So that's a lot of racing, my body was feeling good as race day got here, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't getting a little mentally tired.  No time for that, I've got a marathon to run!

One of the Marathon Maniac group pics
Friday evening, the night before the race, I went over to packet pick up after getting off work at 6:00 where my wife Kristy, fellow Trail Nerds Dave DeCecco & Mel Baldridge along with a few others were working.  I had a nice time chatting with them & some of the runners (including a couple Maniacs) as the last 1/2 hour of pick up closed.  After they were done I helped load up the trailer for Bad Ben (race director) to come pick up and then Mel, Kristy & I headed over to Zio's for a nice pasta dinner.  Kristy was scheduled to race the half marathon and Mel was going to be the great aid station volunteer that she is.  She said they needed some help with race day packet pick up so Kristy & I said we'd plan to get there early and help out before the race started.

Another Maniac pre-race pic!
The weather took a strange turn for race day, it was forecasted to be 63* at the start and to warm up to a high of 74*.  Pretty warm for November, but definitely my type of weather!  Well, except the wind!  25 mph steady from the south, but that's not bad compared to the crazy wind we had last year, so I wasn't going to complain about it.  I just decided to wear my sleeveless Marathon Maniac shirt rather than my Team Red, White & Blue shirt I had planned to wear.  I can tend to get too warm in that one when the sun is out and it's in the 70s.  I was happy that it wasn't going to be cold, or even worse cold at the start then getting warm.  It's so hard to dress for a race with cold & warm temps, 63-74 is pretty perfect for me!  I started out with my North Face arm sleeves on, but they didn't stay on for too long as the sun really warmed us up quickly.

John & Karen Wallace (fellow Maniacs) & me
We got to Shawnee Mission Park (site of the race) at about 7:00 and jumped in to help with pick up.  At 7:30 a small group took an early start, including John & Karen Wallace who are fellow Marathon Maniacs.  There was really a pretty strong crew of Maniacs at the race.  This was a fun blending of some of my running circles.  As I've said, there were lots of fellow Maniacs, some I had met before, some I had not, there were also many friends from the Trail Nerds and a few that I know from outside any running groups including Katie Kidwell who you might remember me running with at her first marathon in Kansas City a few weeks earlier.  I also would have a number of Trail Nerds & friends at the aid stations.  Friends on the course running, friends at the aid stations, a friend RDing, great weather; what more could I ask for?!?!?

At about 8:20 we got lined up for the 8:30 start.  I was in the pack standing & chatting with my friends Luke, Erica & Katie.  Luke & Katie were both running the half; Erica & I were both running the full marathon.  Finally it was 8:30 and we were off.  Erica, Katie and I stayed together for the most part all the way down the Theater In The Park access road then Katie went out ahead of us.  I ran much of that first half of the first loop (this race is a double out-and-back) with Erica which was great.  She's always good company to run with.  Most of the first loop was pretty uneventful, just running to feel and feeling pretty good!  I hadn't brought any chews with me like I normally do because I figured I would use the food at the aid stations.  About a half mile or so before I got to the turn around on the first loop a girl ran by that had already turned and when she saw me she yelled back at me, "I read your blog!!"  That gave me a laugh and a boost.  If you are reading this, thanks for reading and thanks for the shout out!

When I got to the aid station at the turn around I grabbed a cup of Pringles and some water.  Not long after the turn I saw Erica who had dropped a bit behind me.  It was an absolutely beautiful day on the Mill Creek Trail.  Still some colorful leaves on the trees, sun, green grass.  It was easy to be enjoying things with a day like this and so many fun people on the trail.  The Maniacs were pretty spread out, so it seemed like you never really went very long without seeing one, I love that we always cheer and yell for each other every time we see another Maniac!  Makes things fun!  As I got to the next aid station I was getting pretty warm so I took off my arm sleeves and gave them to my friend Sheri who was volunteering there.  It was helpful to be able to take them off but not have to carry them.

Goofing off for the camera at
the end of my first loop
When I got about 3/4 of a mile from the finish of the first loop it suddenly got much cooler and started raining.  I love running in the rain, so I was pretty excited about that, but it only lasted maybe a minute or two, stopped and the sun came back out.  I came through the finish line and over to the aid station for some water and some food (I think I got orange slices, but I don't remember exactly).  Mel asked if I needed anything and I asked her for a couple band-aids.  I had forgotten to put some on in the morning and I didn't want to be the infamous #11 (distance runners should all know what I'm talking about here), she ran over to the trailer and grabbed some out of the first aid kit for me and I was off on my second loop.  I finished my first loop in 2:26:07.  I was feeling pretty good and figured I'd probably be right around the 5 hour mark as I have been for most of my marathons.  After about a mile or so, I lost that hope.  I was on a steep downhill part of the dam and on one step I suddenly felt something funny in my left knee.  I kind of felt like I had taken a funny step (which is easy to do on a downhill), but not too bad.  With each few steps my knee felt a little worse.  As I got out onto the Mill Creek Trail I came into an open area and now my knee was bothering me & I was headed straight into the wind.  Pretty discouraging.  I was starting to have to walk quite a bit to try to keep from doing to much damage to my knee.  Every time I caught myself trying to run through too much pain I would remind my self that just 7 days later I was scheduled for another 50k, so I had to take it easy.  Better a worse time today and ready to run the next race that fight through and not be able to run a week later.  Time to play smart.

As I got to the first aid station (about 1.5 miles into the loop) I got a laugh.  I had gotten there just between the time they ran out of cups and before they got some new cups delivered to them!  I'm told they were not without cups long, but no cup for me!  I was thirsty so I made a cup with my hands and put them under the jug as one of the volunteers poured some water in my hands and I drank it that way.  It gave me a laugh.  I continued on; walking when I needed to, running when I could without too much pain, but mostly just not stopping.  I got to the next aid station ( about 3 miles in at the 87th St overpass) where Eric, Amber & Larry were all working.  I grabbed some water and some fruit snacks and chatted with Eric for a moment.  Continue on again.  The race was turning into a grind for me thanks to my knee.  A little bit before the next aid station I ran into my friend Janee' who happened to be out on the trail for a training run and had forgotten there was a race there that day.  She was about at her turn around point so she turned to go with me.  We talked about my knee and her training for her second half marathon next weekend at the same race I'm running the 50k.  It was great to have some company and encouragement.  We got to the next aid station where Sheri was and she gave me some water and I took a couple orange slices then Janee' & I were on our way again.  Same story; some running, some walking, just trying to manage my knee as best I could.

When we got to the turn around point Janee' continued on her way back to her car and I stopped at the aid station.  I grabbed some water and a couple Snickers minis.  I'll tell ya', those Snickers were GREAT!!  I just tried to keep going.  My knee was bothering me still, but not as bad.  I had been compensating for my knee so my right hip was starting to get tight.  That's just what I need, right?  I was so grateful that this was a Trail Nerd race.  I was seeing friends at all the aid stations and they had good food!  Fruit snacks, orange slices, Snickers, water, S-Caps, etc.  With 3 miles left to go I did go ahead and take an S-Cap for the first time of the day, I was feeling just a touch out of sorts and those often help, especially on a day much warmer than we'd had in a while.  It was a good feeling when Amber told me as I left the station that I only had 3 miles to go.

Coming to the finish, SO glad to be done
As I got close to that last aid station with 1.5 miles to go Erica caught up with me again.  She was hurting too, but not as bad as me.  We stayed together for a little bit, maybe a half mile or so, chatting about how much we were both hurting.  As we got up into the  park she decided to start running again, but I had decided with nothing but uphill left I was going to play it safe with my knee and just walk it in.  Luckily it's a pretty park and a nice day!!  As I turned onto the access road up to Theater In The Park and the finish line there were two ladies up in front of me that were walking as well.  Even walking I had been catching up to them because I was walking faster, but as they got to the access road they stopped for a second so I decided I would go ahead and get a couple places back and run it in the rest of the way.  It wasn't very far.  I started running and passed them.  It felt great to make the turn around to where the finish line was, just about 0.2 miles to go!  I was SO happy to have the finish in sight!!  As I got close to the finish line I saw Ben grab a finisher's medal to give me and Mel go running over to take it from him so she could give it to me.  I'm so lucky to have such great support from my friends!

I crossed the finish line and Mel put the finisher's medal over my neck and handed me a Pilgrim Pacer Marathon 26.2 sticker.  Dick Ross (of See KC Run) got a picture of me.  Yep, just as one would expect immediately after a marathon, I look horrible in the picture!  You just can't look good seconds after finishing a marathon!  I had finished in a total time of 5:36:32 (2:26:07 1st half, 3:10:25 2nd half).  That averages out to a 12:36 pace.  I was disappointed because I wanted to at least match last year's 5 hours, but I felt like I'd been smart with my knee, so I'm really just happy with having finished.  I pretty much walked out of the way of the finish line and laid down.  Finally off my knee for a minute!!  Kristy grabbed me a cup of water and I chatted with the folks still hanging out at the finish area.  We didn't stay too long since our neighbor's wedding was later that evening and Kristy wanted to get a nap in before getting dressed up and going to the wedding.  Ever since Psycho Psummer I have had cravings for soda after long runs, and I always crave a burger after a marathon/ultra so we swung by McDonald's and I got a Double Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese, fries & a large Diet Dr. Pepper.  It tasted so good!!  We went and took care of a dog Kristy is watching (she has a pet sitting business) then headed home where I took a shower and she took a nap.

Bilbrey Wedding
That evening we went to our neighbor's wedding and it was amazing!  First, let me say that it feels odd to be dressed up but wearing calf compression sleeves!  Those things are miracle workers for recovery and luckily you can't see them under my clothes, but it still feels odd to know your dressed up but wearing compression sleeves.  The wedding was downtown.  It was decorated very nicely and simply SCREAMED Ashley (the bride).  I knew she had done most of the decorating as soon as we walked in; she likes crafts and the entire place was exactly her style.  The ceremony was wonderful and the reception was a crazy party.  They are an awesome couple and it was great to hear all of the speeches from their friends.  The food was McDonald's burgers, Taco Bell soft tacos & bean burritos, and Papa Johns pizza!  How awesome is that?!?!?  We stayed as long as we could, had a couple beers and we had tons of fun!  Finally around 11:00 we decided it was time to head home.  We were both completely exhausted after a marathon for me & a half marathon for Kristy, then the wedding.  We were just so glad to be there for the best neighbors we could ever ask for.

It was a day full of fun & friends!!  What a great day!  Now it's the day after and I'm feeling pretty good.  My knee feels normal today, no swelling or anything like that.  I'll go see my chiropractor, the great Dr. Jared Wisner of Wisner Chiropractic, on Monday for some adjustments and ART.  I'll take the week off from running and concentrate on swimming and yoga this week.  I want to take as much pressure and effort off my knee as I can to make sure it is ready for Saturday's North Face Endurance Challenge 50k to finish off my race year. Just one week left to go...


  1. But of course I'm reading this! I thought I had a tough road on this course, but you survived much more then I did to finish. Thanks for tagging back the shout out! Good luck in your next race..

    1. That's awesome! I was so happy and excited when you gave me a shout out during a race! It's always so great to hear that people enjoy my blog, it really makes it feel worth doing! I hope to expand a little what I've been using my blog for beyond race reports, so hopefully there will be more content in the future. Sounds like you had a tough day as well, I hope you are happy with your race, you looked like you were doing well to me! Happy running & I hope we run into one another again some time!! :)


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