Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hills, Wind and Sweet Tea

Ok, so I started talking about my insane half marathon running schedule last week after Rock the Parkway. Now, it's time for the second stop on my crazy-town express train of half marathons.

  • Rock the Parkway - April 14
  • Kansas Half - April 22
  • Oklahoma City Half - April 29
  • Running with the Cows - May 12
  • Hospital Hill - June 2

The Kansas Half Marathon in Lawrence, Kansas.

I was actually pretty excited to run this race because I graduated from KU and lived in Lawrence for four years. I was amped up to get to tromp down my old running paths and see the campus and my old dorm. I thought vaguely about the fact that KU is situated on top of a giant hill, but that thought kind of drifted out of my mind as soon as it entered. 

After Rock the Parkway's hellacious humidity, I was anxiously watching the weather all week for the forecast for Sunday. I'm not even sure why I do that, since the forecast changes just about every day. Oh, Kansas. But, the night before, the weathermen were calling for overnight lows in the upper 40s. Because the race started at 7:30, that's about where we'd be at start time. Not too bad. Definitely not like last week. I do tend to run colder than almost everyone I run with, so I was a little concerned with what to wear. 

When you are a guy, you only have so many options. Shorts or pants. Long-sleeved shirt or short-sleeved shirt. Girls, as with everything in life, have so many more options for clothing. Should I wear capris? A tank? Short sleeves? A jacket? Shorts? A skirt? Capris with a skirt? The choices are dizzying. I decided to go with capris, a tank and a jacket. (Because I know you were all dying in anticipation of finding out that tidbit of information.)

I carpooled up to Lawrence with Anne, her coworker Sam, and my pre-kids running partner Sarah, and we caravaned with Kelli and John. We were anxious about getting there on time, but ended up plenty early. We had plenty of time to hang out and stretch and enjoy the gorgeous morning. Only, whoops, it was FREEZING. Ok, so technically it wasn't actually freezing. It was in the 40s, but the wind was whipping by at a good 20 mph. It was not pleasant. So, we hung out in the car. We did get there early enough to be the very first people to use the porta-potties though. That was a definite first in my book. (Non-runners: I know I've spent a lot of time discussing the porta-potty situation at races. But, it is very important. Nothing worse than having to pee when you're out on the course, I promise. However, I am sorry for regaling you with the details.)

Because this was Number 2 of the Heartland 39.3 series of half marathons, the registration numbers were WAY up from the previous years. I'm not sure they were completely prepared. The starting line was downtown on Massachusetts Street. Very quaint, but not terribly roomy. Especially when they had the pacers from 1:40 to 3:00 only spread a distance of approximately 25 yards apart in the starting corral. (Again, non-runners, pacers are people who  keep a pace during the race that will have you cross the finish line at a designated time.) We wanted to run with the 2:00 pacers, but could barely see them, much less get close to them. We were practically on the sidewalk. When the gun went off, we had to push and weave our way through the crowd just to cross the mat at the starting line. Then, we had to try to track down our pacers.

We finally found them and started off on a pleasant enough pace and course. I'm not sure all of Lawrence was entirely aware of the half marathon going on. We ended up running on a trail that I'm sure this poor woman must use every morning to walk her dog. Both she and her dog looked terrified to see thousands on thousands of runners stream by with no end in sight. Sorry little pug. 

We weaved through the downtown area then headed up to campus. Ah, this is when my brain started remembering what it was like to walk those hills every day in college. Wow. It was steep. About mile 4, there is a mile long hill that climbs almost 90 feet. Yeesh. Nostalgia only got me so far up that hill. After that, it was pure determination. Well, that and the thought of my post-race lunch at McAlister's. (My favorite restaurant that for some reason has no closer location to us than Lawrence.)

We then cruise along to a 4-mile out and back section that you run on a sidewalk. Yes, an out-and-back all on one single sidewalk. I mean, it was a wide sidewalk, but still. One of our pacers, Stephanie, actually fell over one of the cones they used to mark the middle of the sidewalk. It was so crowded that we lost part of our running crew. One minute Kelli and John were there, then with a rush and tangle of people, we lost them until the end.

Then came the worst. A hill from mile 8.5 to 10.5 that climbed 110 feet. With the 20-30mph wind. It was brutal. Our other pacer, Tiffany, said that Heartbreak Hill in Boston has absolutely nothing on this one. I believe her. She's done Boston. Anyway, I thought I was going to die, but managed to reach the top. Then, it was downhill from there. And, as awesome as that sounds, sometimes the steep downhills can be almost as hard as the uphills. They were killing my calves. I ran the last couple miles with Anne, and we were determined to get in under 2 hours. It would be her PR by a lot. So, we pushed through those last miles and persevered! We finished in 1:59:42 and 1:59:46. Yay! We got Anne her PR. (We actually crossed the finish line together, but the discrepancy in 4 seconds stems from the crazy start at the beginning.)

So, I did not have a celebrity's race time to chase, but I helped get a friend her PR, which is just as awesome. (Plus, there is no way I could beat the celebrity Cory suggested. Did you Sarah Palin ran a half in 1:46:10?!?! Though, it's not really fair. I mean, she has to run from all those bears in Alaska. That's gotta make you faster, right?)

Headed toward the finish line with Anne. She got tons of shout-outs on her awesome sparkly skirt. 

Me, Anne and Sarah at the finish line.  I never took my jacket off for the whole run, and was loving the mylar blanket warmth at the end. It was still cold.

Our whole crew: Sarah, Anne, Me, Sam, Kelli and John.
So, I can now cross off half number two from my list. The Kansas Half is completed. The best part about it? My post-race lunch at McAlister's. Ok, fine, hills and wind, you were worth it.

The sweet tea from McAlister's made the whole race worth it!

Next stop on the crazy train: Oklahoma City Half on Sunday. C'mon all the cool kids are doing it!


  1. Congrats on finishing #2! I meant to comment on your last post, that seeing your race schedule written out like this DOES make you seem a little crazy...

    ...Although really, I'm just jealous that I couldn't do the 39.3!

  2. I know you are jealous of the 39.3! ;) I'm excited you guys are doing the Glow Run with us! That'll be really fun!