Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Race Recap - Kansas City Half Marathon

Finishing up with my raceday wingman!
Primary Goals:
(1) Run with Ethan and have a great time! Check.
It's generally a bad idea to run what you want to be an easy-paced race with someone who's significantly faster than you, unless you've discussed your mutual goals thoroughly ahead of time. Fortunately, despite his usual competitive drive, Ethan was amenable to my "have a great time" goal for his first return to "organized running" since acquiring his bionic knee. We had a great time talking and cruising along, without even counting the miles or thinking about pace, and I didn't even look at my watch until Eddie asked me my finish time.

The kinds of details we were laughing about aren't really suitable for a race report, though they were mostly just good-natured jabs at each other or of a people-watching nature. Races are fantastic places to people-watch! Unfortunately, while having a good time and chattering away I didn't actually observe or do any of the things one would usually mention in a race report. Sorry about that.

(2) Finish in a respectable time given whatever limitations the day chose to throw at me. Check.
No limitations for this race! This was my first half-marathon where I wasn't going up against some kind of pre-ordained handicap:
  • 2010 Rock the Parkway - shin splints
  • 2010 Hospital Hill - shin splints
  • 2011 First Light Half Marathon - did not run (PF)
  • 2011 Rock the Parkway - ITBS
  • 2011 Hospital Hill - ridiculous heat!
A more dedicated person might have used that as an excuse to kill it and go for a sub-2 time, but I just wanted to enjoy the day and finish without feeling like I'd run my way to a slow death by suffocation. Though a sub-2 is definitely within reach if I let the Type A monster take over and maybe not walk so much through the aid stations. (I took maybe 15 seconds walking through each - 1 cup Gatorade, 1 cup water, and go!)

(3) See all my friends and wish them luck! Check - sort of.
For me, running is equal parts solitary and social. I enjoy the solitary runs that give me time to think (or not think), observe my surroundings, and appreciate the day. I also enjoy the runs surrounded by friends where there's never a silent moment (unless we're going fast up a hill or something) and no topic is safe from consideration. I tell my running friends things I don't tell some of my closest non-running friends sometimes - I think I'm just so focused on what I'm doing, the filter comes off. Runner's Edge has put me smack in the center of the Kansas City running community, and I'm always thankful for the friendships and the inspiration I've found there.

Plus, when the weather is as "ideal" as it was this weekend, everyone's in high spirits and pleased with their times! Congrats to everyone, especially Mark, Jen, Rachel, Eddie, Blaine, Jeff, Pam, Susie, pacer Ashley, and the Angies!

Secondary Goals:
(1) No bathroom breaks. Check. 
Fortunately, I had enough gas in the tank for a final acceleration and was able to push the gas pedal a little with about 1.1mi to go...just in time for the slight incline to the finish. ("Downhill to mostly flat" my ass!) After the hill, I realized I had to go to the bathroom, so I slowed down a tiny bit but managed a nice finishing kick for the last 0.1. Maybe it was scared out of me last year when Nick threatened to tip my port-a-potty over if I didn't hurry the eff up! 

(2) Debut the anticipated NYC outfit and make sure nothing rubbed me the wrong way. Check. 
One of my last pre-Illinois Marathon purchases was a pair of Zensah compression calf sleeves, since I knew we were going to be driving down to Alabama as soon as the race was over and I wanted to be able to stand up when we stopped for lunch. However, since some of my friends have had luck running in them and since I absolutely hate running in pants unless I absolutely have to when it gets a bit chilly out, I decided I'd give them a try for this race and if they worked, run with them in NYC. After all, maybe fluorescent yellow calves will help my family and friends pick me out of the crowds a little easier!

Of course, they clashed fabulously with my gold-yellow Alzheimer's Association singlet. But shortly after, I received an E-mail saying that they were sending - and preferred if we'd run in - the original Alzheimer's purple. So I'm no longer running in Mizzou colors, I'm running in K-State colors. Oh well.

My arm sleeves are Nike and black. I've had them since I first ran Kansas City last year, but I had a tiny bit of chafing at the tops along the seams and I'm thinking about buying ones that fit a tiny bit looser...but not enough to shift around or slide down. I might look for ones that match my calf sleeves for that extra bit of visibility.

(3) Actually remember to stop my Garmin at the end of the race. ...Whoops.
I make fun of Brian because there's a photo of him stopping his Garmin at the finish line in every single race he's done. He's a lot more diligent than I am. It usually isn't until I've received my medal and am halfway through a bottle of water before I remember to stop my watch. Ryan Hall didn't do it when he ran Boston last year, so I guess I'm in good company.

I finished in 2:02, not 2:06. Stupid gun time.

Anyways, the 14 minute PR was just icing on the cake, and I had enough left in me for a 7-mile victory lap through the West Bottoms and along the Riverfront Heritage Trail. Because I hadn't taken any electrolytes during the race and because it REALLY started to warm up about three miles in, my stomach started cramping badly for the last two miles...but I made it through for my last 20 miler of the season. Brian and I followed up the successful day with Oklahoma Joe's for dinner - my favorite recovery meal!
Brian eats way faster than I do.
There are a lot of factors that could complicate a 4:15-4:30 marathon finish based on a 2:02:24 half, even though all the race calculators call it pretty much a slam dunk. Bathroom breaks, for example, or a less-than-ideal weather day (two things I haven't learned how to control, despite every effort to do so). So just to be on the safe side, I decided to double down and go for another kind of 4:15 goal...a final $415 in my fundraising account. Shortly after announcing as much on Facebook, I received a VERY speedy donation from my friend Susie. Sometimes doubling down means double the reward! And if not...I still raised $7000+ more for Alzheimer's research than I would have if I'd never tried at all.

Besides, I knew the minute I wrote it that Mom would be irritated with me for backing down from any opportunity to do additional good. Sometimes it's weird, having a voice like that in my head since I don't have the real thing to back it up anymore. It's almost like asking what Jesus would do. Weird.

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