2013 Garmin Half Marathon Race Report

"If there is one place that war doesn't belong, it's here. For 1200 years, from 776 BC to 393 AD, your fellow Olympians laid down their arms to take part in these games. They understood there was more honor in outrunning a man than in killing him. I hope the competition will resume, and if it does then you must not think that running, or throwing, or jumping is frivolous. The games were once your fellow Olympian's answer to war. Competition, not conquest. Now they must be your answer." -- Bill Bowerman (from the film Without Limits)

Well, I'd have to say this was one of the two most emotional weeks leading up to a race that I have ever had. The other would be when we lost our Husky Dakota just days before I ran the 2011 Pilgrim Pacer Marathon. This time it was a strange but emotional week. It all started the Saturday one week before race day. I had been targeting a sub-2 hour finish for this event. The Saturday before the race I was scheduled for a 10 miler with 6 miles at race pace. As soon as I started everything from my hips down hurt. Hamstrings, knees, calves, shins, ankles, feet, everything. Not exactly a confidence builder. I called the great Dr. Jared Wisner on Monday morning and let him now I needed some ART ASAP. We scheduled an appointment for 4:00 after I got off work and another for 4:30 Thursday for one more treatment before the big race.

Well, just a couple hours before my appointment things got way worse. It had been a pretty normal morning at work, except keeping up with my friends posting about how the elite runners were fairing at the Boston Marathon. I've never been a huge fan of that event like everyone else, so I wasn't watching the online stream like many of my friends were. A couple hours after the elite runners had finished a strange post came across my Facebook news feed. I don't even remember who posted it first, but they said something short like "What? Explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon?" What in the world could that possibly mean? People do weird things at the finish lines of races and people make strange comments about the weird things others do, so I really didn't think much of it. I just assumed someone did something strange to celebrate their finish and that comment was a joke about it so I just continued about my business.

Nothing else was said for several more minutes. Then one of the news sites posted something about how two explosions had shaken the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Wait, what?? Can this be serious?? I quickly went to MSNBC.com and sure enough they were live streaming news that there had been two explosions at the finish line of the most famous race in the US, possibly the world. I immediately started to panic. Between local friends, the HCR Facebook group, and Marathon Maniacs, I knew a lot of runners there. Were they all okay? Were their friends and families that had gone with them to cheer them on okay? Were all the other runners, spectators and volunteers okay? Then they showed a video of the explosions. They looked pretty bad, so I had to assume there some pretty severe injuries and probably some deaths, but everything on the news was unconfirmed.

This was a day where Facebook was a huge help. There were runners checking in and letting people know they and their families were okay. Every time one of my friends or fellow Maniacs posted a weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was a long few hours of worry. Eventually I headed of to Jared's office for my ART appointment. He had qualified for Boston, but was unable to go because just weeks before the race his wife had given birth to their first child. I told him I was extremely glad he had been unable to go. We shared with one another our mutual feeling on the events of the day, then got on with my ART session. As usual, Jared does amazing work and I felt 1000% times better when I left this office.

When I got home, I caught up on the news I had missed during my appt. Finally my last Maniac friend had checked in. Just Although I was very upset about those injured or killed, there was a natural sigh of relief when I knew all my friends were safe. So many thoughts and emotions to sort out. I really didn't know what to do other than run, so I put my Husky Katya's harness on her and we went for a short run together. We ran 3.44 miles in 32:22 for a 9:23 pace, but Boston is all I could think about. The run was great, physically I felt good and mentally/emotionally it helped settle me down a little. Having Katya with me helped too. That crazy puppy always reminds me that you just have to enjoy life as best you can just like she does. The next morning I did some yoga and that was the extent of my physical exercise for the week before race day. I wanted to rest up and let things heal, so I didn't do anything but some stretching here and there.

Just as emotions were settling down a little from Boston, word of another tragedy came in. There was an explosion at a fertiliser plant in the small town of West, TX that (as of the writing of this report) caused 35 confirmed deaths (mostly first responders) and upwards of 170+ injuries. The blast was felt by a friend of mine living in Fort Worth nearly 70 miles away. It's just hard to fathom what the people of this small town must be going through. By all reports, this is the type of town where everyone knows everyone. So in an accident like this with so many casualties and injuries, imagine knowing every single one of them. I just can't imagine. Although I do not have the person connection to this that I did to the Boston bombing, my heart sank. Hard to fathom so much devastation.

Although I ran the half, I still joined my Marathon Maniac
family for the group photo. I love this club so much!
Thursday I had my second appointment with Jared and again, it was great! After that I was feeling pretty close to 100%. My hamstring on my right leg and my calf were a little tight when I woke up Friday, so I just tried to stretch them out during the day. I went to get my packet and got back home for dinner with Kristy. I felt good and confident. I really felt like I would be able to pull off the sub-2 hour finish. I got my stuff ready for the race. I went with my Mizuno Breath Thermo shirt to keep worm under my Team RWB shirt to honor the Team RWB members who ran in to help victims in Boston. I had my race bib on the front right of my shorts and special Boston memorial bibs on the back of my shirt and front left of my shorts. I would need some tights as it was set to be around 26* windchill at the start, some Injinji socks and my red Saucony Kinvara 2's. I like the Kinvaras, but I really need to get a pair of Mizuno EVO Cursoris, SO much better! Oh well, you go with what you've got and what you trained in. I was ready.

As I laid in bed trying to go to sleep I mentally ran through my race. I imagined myself finishing with the 1:55 pace group as planned. I knew it would be tough, especially after looking at the per mile splits on my pace band. My plan was to run with the 1:55 pace group. My training plan was actually designed for a 1:48 finish and I had no trouble at all with the paces in training, so I felt dropping to a 1:55 after that training would be a near sure-thing. My biggest concern was the weather. It was going to be COLD. For those of you that know me, you know that I hate cold. Well, my lungs hate cold even more thanks to my cold-induced asthma, so I was worried. The forecast had it 32* with a 26* windchill at the start warming up to 35* with a 28* windchill by my projected finish. Better remember to bring my inhaler! At the race start I met up with my Marathon Maniac family. Even though I was running the half, I always love meeting up with my fellow Maniacs and getting in on the picture. Always a super-fun group to be around!

After the picture I headed over to the start area and found the 1:55 pace group. As I've said before, I love the Smart Pace pacers. They run on the philosophy I wish I could manage to do without them. Start slow, run strong through the middle, then hang on for a strong finish. They have two pacers for each group, one will run out front, just slightly ahead of pace and the other hangs at the back right on target pace. My plan was to pretty much stay right between the two of them. The first pacer was Ben S. He was a little bit chill. He offered encouragement and a little conversation, but wasn't overly loud or chatty. He stayed out front. The other pacer was Brandon S. He was a little louder, very talkative and very encouraging. The perfect pacer to have at the back. It was easy to always know exactly how far in front of him I was because I could always hear him. I know this might all sound like criticism, but I really liked him, they were both excellent pacers and perfect for their perspective roles with the group. I knew these two could help get me the finish I wanted.

The horn was sounded and off we went!! I was full of nervous energy, so as always my body wanted to sprint out of the gates as fast as I could! Some day maybe I'll actually learn how to pace myself!! I just got on Ben's heals and stuck with him. We started out perfectly. It's nice when you actually start a race slow of goal pace to warm up, then as you increase your pace it doesn't seem as difficult. Even as we were getting into the faster paces I never felt like I was struggling to keep up. Just running along right between my pacers. My friend Shauna from the Olathe Running Club caught up with me and wished me luck, I said thanks, but by the time I turned to say something else to her she was gone. I guess I was just a little too slow for speedy!

The Olathe Running Club aid station crew were great!
I run this event every year and every year I'm happy when I get to the Olathe Running Club aid station. It's always great to see a friendly face during a race. With this year's course change they were at about 2 miles or so into the course in downtown Olathe. It was great to get so many smiles and words of encouragement from my friends. I was feeling really great at that point, so I had plenty of smiles and hellos to give in return.

We ran down Northgate and curved around where it become 119th and turned up Ridgeview. The new course includes "the hill" from the ORC Saturday morning runs. It's not a killer hill, but it's tough. I like to be a little extra conservative on hills, so I dropped back a little slower than the group. I kept them close enough that I would easily be able to catch up after the hills, I just didn't want to spike my heart rate too much here. I felt good running them and was keeping a pretty decent pace. As I got to the left turn from Ridgeview onto 127th I remembered the climb that would be the overpass over I-35. Forgot about that one, apparently I underestimated the hills of this course change!

No worries, I'd just continue to take it easy on the hill and catch up with the group that was just a little out in front of me. Well, maybe my body had some other plans. As I was heading up the overpass my right hamstring knotted up. It had felt good all day, but all the sudden it was bad. My fellow runners will understand this inner dialogue I had with myself. At first my brain said, "hey, it's just a knotted up hamstring, you can push through and still get your sub-2!" Then my brain said, "um, you start training for the Redman 70.3 on Monday, maybe you shouldn't risk injury right before you start training for your biggest goal event of the year." Good point. I decided to slow it down. If my hamstring would loosen back up then I could just push to stay in front of the 2 hour group, if not then I would just take whatever I got an stay healthy for my upcoming training.

I continued on and my hamstring didn't seem to be getting any worse. Unfortunately it also wasn't getting better and it was definitely changing my form. So after 6 1/2 miles of easily keeping up with the planned pace I was falling well behind. I felt like I still had a decent chance of keeping ahead of the 2 hour group, though. Well, as often happens when part of you hurts, at about the 9 mile mark as we turned onto Indian Creek Trail I noticed my left knee getting tight and starting to bother me. Add insult to injury, I heard the 2 hour pace group just a little behind me. I spent the next mile trying to stay ahead of them, but the further I got at that pace the tighter my hamstring and knee. Completely frustrated, I gave in to the fact that sub-2 was not worth hurting myself. But I REALLY wanted a sub-2. That mile trying to stay ahead of the 2-hour group really had my knee and hamstring on fire, though. I decided the last 5k was just going to have to be a run/walk. I was crushed. The only thing that kept my spirits up a little bit was that during this last 3.1 miles I had several people comment to me about my Team RWB shirt. It was very encouraging to have people who had heard about the group offer their words of encouragement. Each time I would give it my best to smile and say thank you, but a smile was hard to come by. I was really disappointed that my goal was out of reach.

Sheri, Sara & me after we'd all finished our races
I got to the finish line in 2:04:16 officially. 13.14 miles in 2:04:16 (9:31 avg pace). Certainly nothing to be ashamed of, that is a fairly solid time for a half, but rather than a PR and a sub-2 it is my second slowest road half marathon. I was a little crushed. My spirits lifted a little, though, when I spotted my friends Sheri & Sara! Sheri had planned last year for this to be her first half, but it didn't work out so she had run the 5k instead. Sara, on the other hand, I had NO idea was going to be there. I assumed she had just come to support Sheri. Nope, she had run her first 5k!! That lifted my spirits BIG TIME! I get very excited when someone runs their first anything, but especially their first race ever! She kept thinking it was funny that I ran 13.1 miles and was disappointed and she ran 3.1 and I was thrilled. I guess it's all about perspective! I was just excited to find out another friend was jumping on the running bandwagon! We have plenty of room, so the more the merrier!

After we chatted for a while (and of course had a beer), we all left and I headed over to my mother-in-law's house. She lives about a block from the race start/finish, so she normally come to see me finish at this race but she was a little under the weather so I went to check on her instead. I chatted with her for a bit, then headed home to take care of the dogs and take a quick shower. Then I grabbed a couple slices of pizza from Casey's and headed out to Clinton Lake to volunteer at the Free State Trail Run. At the start/finish line there I met up with RD Ben, Coco, Mel, Amber and Terri. Mel and Amber had run the half marathon at Free State. I loaded up a couple jugs of water in my car and headed over to the Epic Ultras aid station to help Eric out. I saw so many of my friends kicking ass. I hate to list any because I know I'll miss some and feel like an ass, but there are a couple that need to be mentioned. Emily Royal won first place female in the 40 mile (her first race of that distance ever), Erica Carper won 3rd place female in the 40 mile, and Danny Loental crushed his first 100k! After volunteering, me, Kristy and our friends Nina, Jill, Scott, Christy, Ron and Bobbie met up at Johnny's Tavern for a couple beers and burgers. It was great to catch up with some good friends to wrap up an interesting week.

The race showed me that I certainly can sub-2, that gives me confidence that the plans I laid out for the year are working. I may not have hit my goal, but I know know for a fact that I can. Normally I wait for race pics to be available to write my report, but I wanted to get this one down today. Once the pics are up I will update this post to include them. Thanks for all of your support, I love having so many awesome friends that love to encourage and inspire me!

Comments

  1. Nice job! I ran this half last weekend in Oz, too. I was blown away by the spirit at the finish line and the support for Boston. GREAT race. Glad you had a good one!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sarah! Glad you had fun! I run that event every year and it is always a great one. Glad you enjoyed it!

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