What: Waddell & Reed KC Half Marathon
When: October 16, 2010
Where: Kansas City, MO
Finish: 1:48:44 (25+ minute PR)
I will try to keep this to only a somewhat-long length, no promises though.
I did my normal pre-race routine. I had a cup of coffee and bowl of cheerios for breakfast. I tried to spend some time trying to figure out a strategy to use, but didn't really come up with anything. Since it was already 6:00, I decided to head to the race.
The great thing about thing about where the race is located, the office building I work in is maybe a 2 minute walk from the starting line. Since I was there early, I went up to my office and listened to my "racing" playlist to get pumped up. The playlist has songs from W.A.S.P., Survivor, Sick Puppies, Judas Priest, Queensryche, Disturbed, Godsmack, and numerous others.
At 7:00 I pinned on my bib, strapped on the fuel belt, and headed down to the race. I did about a 1/2 mile jog to test out the legs...all systems go.
I started to walk to the starting area and snapped some pics along the way.
Fountain outside of the office building plaza.
Shot of the crowd just past the fountain.
The masses heading to the start.
After about 5-10 minutes weaving through the crowd I finally decided to settle on a spot between the 2:00 and 1:55 pace groups. After more people piled in, I snapped the following two pictures.
It was announced that there were 11,000 people registered for the events (5K, HM, Marathon). I turned on the Garmin, chatted with some runners, listened to a good rendition of the National Anthem, then we were off!
Here is where I discovered my only issue with the race, all 3 events started together. It made it tough to get into a decent pace and feel comfortable. I thought about how much I would have hated to be running the 5K and shooting for a specific time.
For the most part, the whole first mile is a gradual uphill climb, but nothing too bad. At the end of this mile, the 5K runners split off from the pack. This turned out to be my slowest mile and passed in 9:03. The following two pics were taken during mile 1.
The start of mile 1.
Roughly 2/3 of the way through the mile.
In contrast to Mile 1, Mile 2 was downhill at close to the same grade. I still felt packed in, almost like a sardine. At least the crowd was moving a bit faster. Early into this mile, I caught up with the 1:50 pace group and decided to stick with them for as long as I could. I figured with having several hills on the course, it would be wise for me to stick with a pace group so I didn't run them too slow/hard. It turned out to be a good strategy.
Because of the downhill, Mile 2 passed in 8:14. I only snapped one picture during this mile.
Roughly halfway through the mile. You can see one of the pacers, April, on the left in the light blue shirt.
Mile 3 starts level, but then quickly turns uphill for the rest of the mile. The first aid station was at the start of the mile. It is one of the steepest hills on the course. It was great to have the pacers to help me keep pace on the hill. Their strategy was to take it easier on the hills and make up time on the downhills. This is a strategy that I really liked. Because of this, Mile 3 passed in 9:01. I managed to snap one picture during this mile.
This picture was near the start of the mile, just passed the aid station. Unfortunately, the picture doesn't really do the hill justice.
Mile 4 continues the climb from mile 3 and then about 2/3 of the way through it levels out and then turns to a gentle decline for the remainder of the mile. The 2nd aid station was near the end of the mile. The pacers would take about a 10 second walk to allow everyone to take in some fluids. Since we made up some time on the mile, with the walk and uphill section this mile passed in 8:49. The following two pics were taken during this stretch.
Near the start of the mile. You can now see the 2nd pacer, Larry, in the dark blue shirt.
About 1/3 of the way through the mile. You can see the top of the hill in the distance.
Miles 5 and 6 were pretty much a gentle downhill during part of the miles and then being level-uphill for the other parts. We ended up making up some time on this stretch and Mile 5 passed in 8:08 with Mile 6 taking 8:01.
Mile 7 is a gentle downhill stretch that includes the 3rd aid station. With the short walk through the aid station, the mile passed in 8:07. I did get a pic at the start of this mile.
Still holding strong with the pacers. You can see the nice gentle downhill.
Mile 8 is a complete gradual uphill stretch. During this mile, the full marathoners split away. Even though it was a gentle uphill, we made some good time and finished it in 7:52.
Like the previous mile, Mile 9 is a gradual uphill. It does level off at the end of the mile. During this stretch, April asked if anyone had any jokes. Since nobody said anything, she shared the following: "Why does Snoop Dogg carry an umbrella? Fo drizzle."
One other person shared two jokes, but I only fully remember the following: "Why doesn't the jungle play cards? Because it's full of cheetahs." I will spare everyone the cheesiness of the joke that I shared.
The 4th aid station is near the end of this mile. It passed in 8:22.
For the most part, the rest of the race is either downhill or level. We made great time during this stretch by using the downhills to our advantage. There were two more aid stations located at the end of Miles 10&12. Mile 10 passed in 8:08.
I only took one pic during the remainder of the race. It was taken during Mile 11.
This was about halfway through Mile 11. You can see the pace group pulling a bit ahead of me. I wasn't worried since it was downhill. I caught back up to them shortly after the pic and finished Mile 11 in 7:37.
I ended up peeling away from the pace group around mile 12 so I could try to finish really strong. I thanked the pacers for pulling me along and then picked the pace up a bit. I ended up walking through the final aid station at the end of mile 12. Even with the brief walk through the aid station, Mile 12 passed in 7:38.
Then it was a struggle for Mile 13. It was all about determination. I wanted to keep up the pace, but my body wanted to slow. I started repeating "Strong and Steady" in order to keep myself going. It worked and I finished Mile 13 in 7:43.
We made the last turn and I could see the finish line. I hear the announcer say it was 1:49. I was spent, but wanted to finish before the gun clock turned to 1:50. By the time I was able to see the clock clearly, it was at 1:49:22. I gave it all I had left and "kicked" it into the finish when the clock was around 1:49:4x. According to my Garmin, I finished the remaining 0.28 at a pace of 7:06.
I had to keep moving or else I was in jeopardy of falling down. I couldn't steady myself very well while the volunteer was removing my timing chip. One of the members of the 1:50 group saw me and congratulated me on a great finish. We chatted for a while and then went in line to get the obligatory medal picture.
After making it through the food line (oranges, bananas, fat free yogurt, pretzels, rolls, and candy) I found April and thanked her for doing a great job pacing me to my finish. She congratulated me on the huge PR and high-fived. As I was leaving I heard her tell her friend how she loved being a pacer.
I did get my free beer, Boulevard unfiltered wheat, and listened to the band for a bit. I still couldn't believe I finished as fast as I did. I don't think the smile ever left my face.
I guess I failed in keeping this to a somewhat-long length, but if you made it this far, Thank You for taking the time to read about my race.