2013 KC Corporate Challenge Half Marathon Race Report

Well, it's been almost 3 weeks since the race, so I guess I better get my report out! For those of you that are not familiar with the Kansas City Corporate Challenge, let me start by explaining what this competition is all about. It really is a pretty cool concept. It is an Olympics-style competition for companies in the greater Kansas City area. There are MANY different events from the half marathon to a 1 mile walk to a track competition to a triathlon to golf to ping pong to disc golf and on and on and on. Companies pay for an overall entry fee and are slotted into divisions based on the number of employees they have in the area. Then the companies recruit their employees to take part in the various events at no cost to the employee. For any event an employee takes part in the company gets a point, also various points are given based on how the employees perform in each event. At the end of the competition, all of the points are tallied and the companies are ranked by their division and winning companies are determined from that. I signed up for the mile walk, half marathon, bike race, track meet (400 meter, mile, 100 meter and 800 meter), triathlon and swim meet (200 yard freestyle and 50 yard freestyle).

Team CenturyLink for the Half Marathon
Me and a handful of other would be representing my company, CenturyLink, during the half marathon. This would be a new course for me since my company has not taken part in the Corp. Challenge since I became a runner, so I wasn't 100% sure what to expect. I knew there was one big hill on the way out and one big hill on the way back, but the rest of the course didn't look too bad. My original hope was to be trained up to do this race in the 1:50 range or less, but my hamstring issues I ran into before and during the Garmin Half Marathon changed that significantly. I was still hoping for my first sub-2 hour, but there was no way I felt like I could do more than a couple minutes faster than 2 hours. My focus was on the fact that this was the end of week 4 of 22 weeks of Redman 70.3 Triathlon training, so I didn't want to push myself so hard that I caused an injury.

The planned pace chart to get just under
2 hours.
At the start it was a beautiful morning, about 67 degrees and sunny. I ran into a few friends right before the start including my evil twin, Bryan Hay. It's always cool to see friends at races. At the starting line as we waited for the gun to go off, I was confident and feeling great. I had a pace band from Races2Remember to help me pace myself through the 2 hour mark as pacing is my biggest challenge at almost all of my races. The gun went off and as always, everyone took off way faster than they had lined up for. I checked my band, needed a 9:44 for the first mile, so I made sure I kept my pace slow and steady to get warmed up. It is really hard to not take off with the crowd, but it is always the best strategy to start slow. The first 3 miles of the race are a loop around a business/hospital complex with a few long, but shallow up and downhills. Through the first mile I was at 9:40 to the planned 9:44, second mile was 9:14 to the planned 9:19 and the third mile was 9:10 to the planned 9:09. Basically, I was holding perfectly with my pace chart and really feeling good.

Right around the 3 mile mark as we were getting onto the out and back section of the course on Tomahawk Creek Trail, I caught up with my friend Emily Royal. She was also shooting for just under 2 hours, but had started well ahead of me in the pack. I could tell as I caught up with her that her stride wasn't quite right and as I got up next to her I could see the struggle in her eyes. She told me her calf was really bothering her and she was really hurting. Now keep in mind, this girl was the winning female at the Free State 40 Mile Trail Race just a few weeks before this, so she's earned any pain she was feeling. She is a true badass, so I felt horrible for her that she was already hurting just a few miles into the 13.1 mile race.

As we continued down the trail I did my pace to keep on my pace chart. There were way more short, steep hills than I expected, but I was doing my best to manage them. It was very sunny and getting quite warm, but I like that, so I was happy. It really was a close to perfect morning for a race, in my opinion. Mile 4 was 8:59 to the planned 8:59, mile 5 at 9:10 to the planned 9:09, mile 6 was 9:09 to the planned 9:09. Then things went sideways on me. We got to the first of the two big hills and I found out the affect all of the little steep hills had on me. I struggled up the big hill as my legs were already more tired than expected from all of the short climbs. I did a 9:37 to the planned 9:04. I didn't meet a single mile's planned pace again as the little hills continued to pound on me.

Although I was off pace and knew it, I was still feeling relatively good and running quite well, so I cannot be too disappointed. As I got closer to the turn around, I was seeing lots of friends that were out in front of me and on their way back. That's always the nice part of an out and back. I love the boost of seeing friends and giving each other a quick shout of support!! As I got to the turn around myself, I still felt like although I would not sub-2 I could still manage a good time, so I just kept pushing. I want to give a shout out to the volunteers. They all did a great job and seemed to really be having fun. It always helps me to keep a positive attitude while struggling when the volunteers are smiling, joking and having fun. They all did an awesome job.

With about a mile to go I caught up to Bill Swearingen who is also with my company. We were both struggling a little and ran together for a little bit. Eventually I pulled a little ahead of him, but he would catch back up with me after just a bit and I would end up finishing just mere seconds ahead of him. My legs were shot at this point after so many little steep climbs and drops had added up on me. Really, the two big hills I was worried about didn't hurt me nearly as much as all the short little hills that I wasn't expecting. As I got within about a half mile or so of the finish I spotted my friend Ammanda Warren a ways up ahead of me. I was struggling against the desire to walk the rest of the way, so I decided I was going to track her down and finish ahead of her. It gave me a good, strong run to the finish trying to catch her. I came up about 100 yards or so short of catching her, but I PR'ed by 7 seconds and I credit trying to catch her for that. Had she not been there for me to chase I would not have gotten my fastest half marathon to date. She gave me the motivation I needed at just the time I needed it.

After crossing the finish, I got my medal and walked over to talk with Bryan Hay, Brian Warren, Ammanda Warren and Eric Viera who are all Trail Nerds and had all run the race (except Brian who had come out to cheer for his wife). It was great to see them all before heading home. To sum up the race, I'm disappointed in missing my first and secondary goals, but it was the first half marathon that I did not have a single mile at or below a 10 min mile and it was a new PR at 13.1 miles in 2:02:38 (9:22 avg pace). Normally I don't post my mile splits, but having no splits at a 10:00 or slower is a big deal for me, so here they are:

Mile 1 = 9:40
Mile 2 = 9:14
Mile 3 = 9:10
Mile 4 = 8:59 (fastest mile of the race)
Mile 5 = 9:10
Mile 6 = 9:09
Mile 7 = 9:37
Mile 8 = 9:18
Mile 9 = 9:41
Mile 10 = 9:37
Mile 11 = 9:47 (slowest mile of the race)
Mile 12 = 9:25
Mile 13 = 9:31
Last 0.1 = 7:47 pace

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