When I first picked out Rock the Parkway as my next half marathon it seemed SO far away. April 14th really snuck up on me quickly. I couldn't believe it was already race day.
We headed to KC on Friday around noon. Justin was going to the Royal's game so I made the majority of the drive on my own. Once I got to KC I met up with Brandy and Rhiannon (2 girls that I run with often...and that are sort of cousins :)) at the expo.
The expo was pretty small compared to the one in Nashville last year. We grabbed our bibs and shirts and then just walked around to check things out. There weren't many freebies or samples which I remembered from Nashville. I did end up buying a bondi band with the RTP logo on it.
After the expo I went to check into the hotel and just relax. Since Justin was at the game, I had the remainder of the evening to myself. After an hour or two of hanging out and watching TV I went out to run some errands. I needed shot blocks for the race and some other random things from Target (ie lotion, shampoo, etc.). I was about half way through my errands when Justin called and was ready to be picked up. It ended up being good timing because I was getting pretty hungry.
We went to Macaroni Grill for dinner. The last time I was there (a few years ago) I had some kind of asiago cheese sauce that was DELISH so I was really looking forward to it. Imagine the let down when they didn't have that anymore. Womp womp!
|Race day gear|
I wasn't too nervous Friday evening so I fell asleep pretty easily. Unfortunately, so did my husband and he snores like crazy. So that kept me up a bit throughout the night, but I still think I slept more than I did in Nashville for my first because I was SO nervous for that one.
My alarm clock went off at 5:30am which was no big deal since I have been running at 5:30 a couple times a week anyway. The race started at 8 and was only about 15 minutes away. So, I was able to take my time and not have to worry about being late. I had a couple of pieces of peanut butter toast around 6. We met in the lobby at 6:45 to head to the start line. There was some traffic coming down Wornall, but nothing terrible and we found parking pretty quickly.
I wanted to get a quick trip to the porta-potties in before starting, but the lines were ridiculous. A few of us just stood around talking and BS'ing before the start. And before we knew it, it was time to line up at the starting corral.
|Looking down towards the start|
So the first couple of miles I was really anxious to see Justin. He wasn't in Nashville, so this was a first for me to have someone I knew along the course (except for my friend Brooke in Nashville, but we totally missed each other). Unfortunately, Justin didn't make it to that first check point. He was just a few minutes late (he got to see Brandy and Rhiannon though). Once he saw them, he tried to hop in his car to drive a few miles ahead and catch back up to me. Same thing happened...he must have just missed me and instead saw Brandy and Rhiannon again. Poor guy. Race spectating is tough stuff.
After a bit of a let down of not seeing Justin like I had hoped, I just dialed it in and hoped that I would see him in a few miles. I kept a pretty decent pace. The 1:55 pacer was always just a bit in front of me. They would walk through the water stations (every 2 miles or so), but I didn't need to since I carried a handheld water bottle. I would pass them with each water station and let them go by after their break. It was going great.
Around mile 5 we turned off of Ward Parkway and towards Loose Park. I definitely enjoyed the break from Ward Parkway. As pretty as it was...I was OVER being on that street. Another racer came up to me around the 10k mark and asked what pace we were running because his phone lost GPS and so he had no idea of pace. I told him we were about a minute and half behind the 1:45 pace group and running about an 8:55 pace. He told me that this was his first half and his only goal was to come in under 2 hours. He definitely seemed to be running strong so I'm pretty confident that he got that. I told him that this was my 2nd half and that I had the same goal. I told him that my previous time was 2:04 about a year ago. Soon after that he spotted his wife along the road spectating. She had a fresh water bottle to trade out an empty one in his fuel belt. Pretty sweet set up! We climbed a decent hill after that (so mile 7ish) and he was few people ahead of me at that point.
|I walked soon after this pic was taken...I'm in the purple shirt||.|
At one point I thought I was approaching mile 9 when, in fact, I was only approaching mile 8. That sucked. I started to feel nauseous and just began to completely crumble. I took my first walk break up a hill after mile 8. Ugh. I shouldn't have had to do that. And, of course, since I had walked once - I convinced myself to walk again and again. I think I walked about 4 times total. Ridiculous.
A ray of light came when I saw Justin around mile 10. Later I would find out that he saw me around mile 8, but wasn't able to get my attention. Oh, that's probably because I was beating myself up in my own head. He was snapping pics as I passed him at mile 10 and all I wanted to do was flip off the camera, but eventually I managed a small smile. I actually really hammed it up because he would know I was HATING myself because I was over the top happy...he missed that moment with the camera. Ha.
After seeing Justin I tried to put a little pep in my step because I only had a 5k left to run. At that point the 2:00 pacers had passed me, but they were still within reach. As soon as I started thinking positively I was hit with another hill. I swear those small rollers just kept taking it out of me more and more with each one. I think I would have preferred a couple of short, steep hills instead at that point. I think I walked once or twice more between miles 10-12.
I'm pretty sure I heard 923 people say, "it's all downhill from here!" starting at mile 10.5 or 11. That was SO wrong. It was not totally down hill until we hit the 12 mile mark or so. It was so frustrating hearing that and then BOOM! another flipping hill. I mean, don't say that unless it's true. That's like the spectators who have signs or say, "you're almost there" when you are only a couple miles into the race....only worse.
When I hit mile 12 I tried to give it all I had. I knew that I was out of reach of a 2:00 finish, but I was still within reach of a PR. My last mile was in 8:43 so I definitely stepped it up. I think mile 10 was 10:0X, 11 was 9:4X, and 12 was 10:0X...so jumping to an 8:43 for the last mile was pretty big.
I FINALLY crossed the finish line in 2:02:54. I PR of about 2 minutes. Woohoo...but I was still disappointed. I didn't get that sub 2 that I really wanted. I was pissed at myself for being too ambitious and starting closer to the 1:55 pace group. I wish I would have just stuck with the 2:00 pacers and gotten that 1:59:59...there will be more races to get a 1:55.
I grabbed my metal and a bottle of water and then went to meet Justin at our meeting spot. The only thing I could think of when I saw him was, "that fucking sucked!" He asked why, etc and I was just so mad at myself that I just said, "it just was!!" I feel really bad now for snapping at him because I was, and still am, very appreciative that he was there for that race. I was/am appreciative that he did everything he could to try to see me as often as possible. I have since apologized, but I still feel like an ass.
We walked over to the finishing area so I could cheer on the other ladies I run with as they finished. Brandy and Rhiannon were both running their first half marathon. I have to say - seeing them cross that finish line was SO awesome to me. That meant more to me and was even more cool than getting my own PR. I have been with them for almost every step along the way and they really have come a LONG way. When they started, they could barely run 3 miles...and there they were, rocking 13.1. They have truly been an inspiration to me and kept me motivated to get out of bed at 5am during the week and 6:30 on the weekend for long runs.
|Happy to be done!|
|Brandy, me, Rhiannon|
I think the biggest thing for me was that running on Ward Parkway for 2/3 of this race was just mentally draining. I was sick of that scenery. Beautiful? Sure, but not for 9-10 miles straight. Seriously, the last 3 miles were the longest miles EVER. It was never.flipping.ending. In fact, one girl looked at me during mile 12 and says, "is this serious?? Where is the finish line?" So I know it wasn't just me feeling that way.
The crowd support for this race was quite a bit less than Nashville, but I expected that since it's a MUCH smaller race. I LOVED the crowd support in Nashville...hilarious signs, cow bells, costumes, etc. But, I LOVED the smaller field of this race. It was a little crowded, but nothing like how crowded Nashville was.
I think I would do this race again because it was well run, but it may not be my favorite. I'm still trying to find my favorite. Haha.
I have another half the weekend of Memorial Day. It's local (in Columbia) and it's all girls so that's fun. The course, however, is not fun. Whoever created the course is just cruel. Haha. Luckily, one of the groups I train with has mapped out many long runs along the course so I have had some practice at it. I don't anticipate that race being another PR (aka no sub 2 on that one), but we'll see.