A few months ago, after realizing we'd be in town during this amazing race, I text my friends Katie and Stuart. I *somehow* persuaded them to train for their first ever half marathon(s). Runner's World declared it the 11th most outstanding half marathon to run. It is quite hilly. Six of the hills are even named. I told Katie and Stuart that they may as well run one of the hardest 13.1's first so that all the others would seem easy. (they believed me...suckers. haha!)
All the weeks leading up to this we kept in contact via text about their training. They both did amazing at sticking to it. I could not be more proud of them. Then when I arrived in Kansas City I was able to go on a training run or two with each of them. The night before the race we went out for a big pasta dinner with the three of us and some of our sideline supporters.
|Me, Stuart, and Katie - Ready to take on Hospital Hill|
|Pasta dinner with some of our supporters|
I think Katie and Stuart were wondering why the heck I wanted to leave so early. I assured them that we would need time to walk to start, check bags, stretch, have potty breaks, and get in place. Joe and Matt- Katie's fiance (they just got engaged a few days earlier. WOOHOO CONGRATS!!!)-dropped us at the start and went to find a place to cheer for us around mile 8.
|At the start with Katie, Stuart, and Sarah (Katie's running partner and our new friend) Isn't the chick in the background hilarious? She was not impressed.|
I loved this race. It seemed surreal to be running down the streets of Kansas City. I smiled for a lot of the race. I liked that they started each corral a few minutes apart. When we started running it wasn't cramped and we had an easy time staying together. Everyone was wearing headphones (except me of course, I never listen to anything.) so I just ran along mouthing words of encouragement now and again. I also became quite good at hand signals. I told them there would be a nice downhill shortly after the 2.5 mile mark. Stuart took off around mile 2. He was hoping to come in under 2:10. We girls stuck together. It was a beautiful morning. Some of the best racing weather we could have ordered up, especially for KC in June.
We stayed right on pace for the first 5 miles. The hills were beginning to take their toll. I told Katie that she'd be seeing Matt soon so to just focus on that. Around this time Sarah and Katie kept saying,"Go on. Please go on." "We're fine. You can leave us." They said it so many times that I decided to leave and let them run their own race.
So I ran, smiled, and thanked the few spectators that were along the course. I was surprised by how few people were along the route. I knew that my family would be along mile 6 somewhere. I kept scanning the sidewalks. I spotted them rather quickly and started waving my arms as I ran towards them.
They said they had seen Stuart.
|Stuart about to hi-five my mom and dad|
I was just going to run through but decided,"Why not stop and chat?"
|Hi-fiving my moms hand before I decided to stop and talk.|
|It seemed like the perfect time to snack too.|
|I never get to stop and pose for photos during races so this was fun.|
It was time to keep on running so I bounded off as they continued to scream and shout words of encouragement.
I knew that I would be seeing Joe and Matt a few miles later. I knew this wouldn't be a PR so since the pressure was off I just ran, smiled, and took in the sights. I came upon a water stop that was already out of water. They had a ton of Gatorade but I never drink that and I didn't want to throw my body off.
I stopped and chatted with Joe and Matt for around 45 seconds. I told them Katie looked good and would be coming up soon. I asked how Stuart was and they told me that he had passed through about a minute before me. So I made another snap decision and took off after Stuart. As I ran off Matt yelled,"You can catch him!!"
I was trying to do the math on how quickly I would need to run to close the gap. We all know that I suck at math while running though. So I gave up on that and spent my energy on running faster.
As I was chasing after Stuart, Katie passed by Joe and Matt.
|Looking good around mile 7 or 8|
Pretty soon I saw Stuart in the distance. I was surprised it had only taken me about 2 miles to catch him. I ran up and slapped him REALLY hard on the butt. Somehow he didn't seem that surprised...apparently this happens to him often. ??? ha!
I was able to run the final 3.5ish miles with Stuart. We knew that miles 10-12 would be mostly uphill. We just kept on running. I was so surprised when someone yelled out my name around mile 11. I wasn't expecting to see anyone else that I knew.
|Joe's nephew towards the front and you can see me and Stuart in the background|
|I was so excited and surprised to see them there. It completely energized me to keep charging up the hills. It was so wonderful of them to show up and support us.|
As we crested what I *thought* was the final hill there were amazing spectators with Twizzlers and orange slices. I grabbed an orange slice, thanked the lady, and chomped down. Mmm...just what I needed.
We both thought it was flat and then downhill. I don't know why we didn't realize there was one final steep hill. Stuart had cranked up his speed while I was grabbing the orange slice. So when we rounded the corner and saw the actual last hill he looked up and shouted a profanity so loudly that everyone within earshot cracked up laughing. I laughed the whole way up that darn hill. At the top there was a fully costumed Elvis impersonator hi-fiving everyone. There was also a beautiful view of the WWI Liberty Memorial. Now we were certain it was all downhill.
I couldn't stop smiling as I heard the crowds in the distance. I generally do well at 'riding the downhills' so I picked up some speed and just enjoyed the ride. As I saw the crowds I was overcome with emotion. It's hard to describe everything that I was feeling. I had just been able to run in Kansas City...FINALLY. I had ran with two of my oldest and closet friends. My family was at a race supporting me for the first time ever. It was an amazing, beautiful day. I didn't feel wiped out at all. I felt like I could have crossed the finish, grabbed my medal, and started on another lap. I just wanted to savor that moment of absolute bliss.
|My family snapped this of me as I ran to the finish. They were there screaming their hearts out for me.|
Stuart running toward the finish (below)
On our way to the race Stuart had asked,"Do they put the medal around your neck like at the Olympics?"
I replied," I've only had one person do that; usually they just hand you the medal."
He said,"Well, I'm just going to bow down so they have to put it on me."
So I walked up to the person handing out the medals, grabbed mine, and said I was grabbing one for him. Then I turned and placed the medal around his neck and said,"Congrats!! You're now a half marathoner!!" We both chatted about the race while grabbing water and snacks.
We waved at Matt and Joe as they hurried to the finish to try to catch Katie crossing.
It was a totally epic experience.
I loved the race itself. It was well organized from packet pickup to the post-race festivities. The course was hilly and tough but there was a lot to look at and enjoy along the way. I'm already trying to figure out how I can run it again next year. I am so proud of Katie and Stuart. They totally rocked out their first 13.1's. I think I may have even convinced Stuart into traveling here and running the Cape Cod Marathon this fall. He said he won't feel satisfied now until he runs a 26.2. Woot!
one more thing
I've now got 3 of my siblings running, plus 2 of their spouses. How amazing it that?? Plus my mom has decided to step it up and start increasing her walking distance. I am so thrilled that I could be a tiny bit of inspiration to them. Who knows, maybe some of them will run this race with me next year.