Monday, June 9, 2014

Heartland 39.3 x 3

In 2012, a new race series started in Kansas City. It was called the Heartland 39.3 and consisted of three half marathons within six weeks. With that under your belt, you are automatically qualified for entry into Half Fanatics, a group for runners who love running half marathons.

Of course, I signed up. I ran all the races in 2012 (Rock the Parkway, Kansas Half, and Running with the Cows). I ran all the races in 2013 (RTP, Kansas, and RWTC). And, I signed up again for this year. This year, they switched the Kansas Half that used to run in Lawrence to the Garmin Half Marathon. I was actually excited for this because the Garmin runs in Olathe (aka, my town).

The first in the series was Rock the Parkway on April 15th. It was a humid and warm morning. And, we had not had any warm or humid mornings. In fact, race morning was the first day I'd worn my running skirt for this year. That's not really a good sign. I also had a cold. (This is a consistent ailment throughout this series, unfortunately.)

Catching up with Ashlee and Anne before the race. Sorry, Ashlee, Cory apparently didn't notice your eyes shut when he took the picture!

In the starting corral. I entertained myself and the girls by making funny faces and sticking out my tongue.
I decided to start out with the 1:50 pace group. My PR for a half marathon is 1:47:30. I, of course, never say that it's my goal to beat my PR, but of course, it's always an underlying goal. Luckily for me, I ended up with the same pacer who paced me in Running with the Cows last year (the race in which I ran my PR). I loved him as a pacer, so I was super excited to get him again. I told him that I wanted to get under 1:50, so he kept running with me through about mile 7, then told me to take off.

The girls found me on the course (purple tank, hat, black shorts)! I was running with the awesome pacer.

They gave me quite a boost.
I took off around mile 7 and ended up having a great negative split. But, the humidity and heat were too much for me. I was really struggling for the last mile (though I did manage to pull out a 7:50 for mile 13) and ended up with a time of 1:48:25. Even though I didn't beat my unspoken goal of my PR, I was happy with how I raced. I'd definitely pushed myself and hadn't left anything on the course. In those conditions, I was happy with my time. When I saw my pacer guy after the race, he asked how I felt at the end. I told him, "bad, really bad." And he replied, "Good. If you had said you felt good, you know you could've done more." True.

I actually like this race finishing photo! Doesn't happen often :)

And, crossing the finish line.

I found Anne after the race!

My cute little cheerleaders.

After one week off, in which we celebrated Easter, I was back to racing half marathons on April 26th. This race was the Garmin Half Marathon. I was really excited about this race because it runs on the roads and trails that I know like the back of my hand. Not to mention, the starting line was a mere 5 minutes from my house. Perfect conditions for me. Again, I was not saying it, but hoping to beat my PR.

I, for some unknown reason, didn't look at the forecast before heading to the race. I checked the temperature, but not the forecast. This will come into play later.

Because the race starting line was so close to my house, I got there just before the race started. No time for before pictures.

I started out with the 1:50 pacers again. I loved where we ran. I knew the area, everything was familiar, yet different because I got to run on closed roads instead of sidewalks. It was chilly to start, so I wore a long-sleeve shirt over my tank and skirt. After about 4 miles, I ditched the long-sleeve shirt. Around mile 7, I left the pacers as we ran right in front of my old neighborhood and headed onto the trail. Now, I've probably run this trail a thousand times, so it was totally my zone.

Unfortunately, that's when I started to notice some dark clouds. At first, it was quite pleasant because it cut down on the sun.

Then, I started feeling some rain drops. Still not horrible. It felt refreshing.

Then, I saw some HUGE lightning strikes. Huh.

Then, the massive downpour started. Then, the hail started. I was at about mile 11. Two left to go.

I ran the last two miles in hail and pouring rain. All I wanted to do was finish.

Finally, I saw the end. I even saw Cory with the girls cheering me on. Well, Molly was kind of cheering me on. Charlotte was screaming and crying, from under an umbrella, "I'm wet! I want to go inside!!!!!"

Waiting for Mommy.
My back (pink tank top and blue shoes) as I headed to the finish in the rain.

With the hail and crazy winds, I was just really glad to reach the finish line. I honestly didn't think much about my time until after I crossed the finish line. But, then I went to check my official time: 1:47:42. Yes, I missed my PR by a mere 12 seconds. I tried to be super proud of just finishing in those conditions, but, truth be told, I'm really bummed I missed it by so little.

The rain completely stopped less than 10 minutes after we finished.  I saw Kay on the trail as we ran, and we found each other again after we finished.

JJ, Kay, me and Anne. The whole crew.

Two weeks after Garmin, came the final race of the series: Running with the Cows. It has been my favorite half marathon of the past couple years, not the least because of the amazing smorgasbord of food provided after the race. After cutting it so close on my time for the past two races, I really wanted to finally beat that PR. In case you're wondering, let me just tell you, this series does not have a Hollywood ending.

I started out again with the 1:50 pacers. This time, I left them after only a mile. I had trouble staying with them through the water stops, so I figured I'd just pace myself. For several miles, I ended up running behind a couple of girls dressed in full cow costumes. It was awesome. They got so many cheers, and I just soaked up all the cheers :)

Someone with a camera caught me running behind the cow girls :)
Around mile 10, I just felt like I was going to die. I was struggling and had to get the last 3 miles in. I didn't feel great, and I just wanted to be done. I finally ended up finishing with a time of 1:48:40. The worst of the three.

Oh well. I was really just glad to be done. Plus, I got to cross the finish line and hear about how Molly and Charlotte had done running the 5K. Yes, they did. Molly ran the 5K with Cory, and Charlotte "ran" it with my dad. Molly took 7 minutes off her time from her 5K last year, so with a time of 40:13, she got a PR. At least someone finally got a PR!

 Both girls really wanted a medal after finishing. But, unfortunately, this particular race doesn't give medals to the 5K finishers. So, I smuggled my two previous year's half marathon medals in, and Cory gave them to the girls after the crossed the finish line.
The family of cow runners. 

The whole crew. 
Connor has this idea that Anne and I should finish every race holding hands. We're not sure where he got the idea, but we decided to try and appease him by doing a pose after the fact. He was not amused. 

So, nine half marathons and three years later, I have this to show for myself:

The Heartland belt buckle with all three year coins and a new Heartland 39.3 jacket. Though I'll never actually wear the belt buckle, I have worn the jacket quite a bit. And, yes, I may not have bested my previous PR, I did finish all three races and did not injure myself. So, I should consider it a success, right?

Done and done.

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