Latest reviews by Lindsey McRoberts
This would have been my 5th year running the Garmin Kansas City Marathon events — 4th time running the half marathon. And this year was going to be the last year of that amazing downhill finish…if you have run it, YOU KNOW!
The Garmin Kansas City Marathon cancelled their in-person event early in September but that didn’t stop me from running it VIRTUALLY.
Let’s dive in!
Kansas City Half Marathon | Race Recap
**packet pick up + swag — Unlike other events, there were 2 opportunities to pick up my Kansas City Half Marathon swag — (1) in person on a specific weekend or (2) shipped anywhere.
I thought the in-person pick up was on Friday and Saturday, October 16th/17th (to which I went to the event space on Saturday) but found out it was only on Friday, October 16th. Since I missed the in-person event, I reached out to the RDs about the mixup and they were able to move my name to the “ship” list.
As with most virtual events, there is some pretty great swag to entice runners to participate. For anyone signing up after October 5th, their swag will be shipped in December once the challenge timeframe has expired :
- a race-branded shirt with all of the participants names (registered before October 4th)
- a large finisher’s medal
- a commemorative race bib
- digital finisher’s certificate
- a Garmin Kansas City Marathon Million Mile Challenge finisher item
- the “Ultimate Kansas City Swag Bag” which will include special offers and items from local Kansas City companies
**race day parking — Not necessary since I planned my route from my front door
**the course + aid station + port-a-potty — I decided to utilize a rough 4-mile loop I have run/walked frequently. The plan was that I would run 3 loops and use my house as my aid station and port-a-potty.
One of my hometown 4+ mile loops worked well for the Virtual Kansas City Half Marathon. Being a virtual event, I had the ability to plan all the aspects of the event — the race day, start time, course design, aid station location, food/drink availability, bathroom stops, and post-race amenities.
I planned on running the virtual Kansas City Half Marathon the same weekend it was going to be in person — October 17th. But then I decided I was going to run the event before I went to KC for the packet pick-up, I changed my “race day” to Friday, October 16th so I could relax over the weekend.
I planned on starting EARLY in the day, but I didn’t end up getting out until nearly noon…but I made it work! The swag is great and the RD kept in touch as plans changed.
This years event being moved to a virtual run as well as some ongoing personal health concerns made the miles less exciting for me to get completed. That being said, the Hospital Hill team set up an awesome online community to support and encourage the registered runners; fun challenges led to a interactive online friends during a time when running in groups was not advised. With the virtual event, the runners were still able to get a virtual swag bag (local discounts and coupons), a bib, awesome distance specific race medal, and soft/comfortable race tee. Hoping for a live event in 2021!
With this being my 4th KCM event and 3rd as a BibRave Pro, I mildly knew how the overall event would go. As my first postpartum event, I wasn't sure how the day would play out. Check out my experience!
Kansas City Half Marathon | Race Recap
health & fitness expo / packet pick up : I am not always the most timely about getting to packet pick-ups in KC due to work and wrangling the kid(s)...and this year was no different.
The Kansas City Marathon (presented by Garmin) Packet Pick-Up and Health & Fitness Expo (presented by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of KC) starts Thursday afternoon and runs through Friday evening at 8pm at the Union Station Festival Plaza. This location is pretty close to the race start which gives you a chance to check out the race morning parking situations -- paid parking, trolley access, or open lots throughout the area.
Once in Union Station, there is so much to see! From checking out your next KC race to buying new shoes, the KC Marathon Health & Fitness Expo is full of vendors! Shoes, clothes, races, headphones, wearables, and random health food/drink companies -- there is a lot to check out between the front doors and the packet pick-up area at the back of the room. I wonder why they lay out the Expo in this fashion...huh. :) While the line we choose to stand in was sllllllow moving, we didn't spend too much time in the Expo overall.
parking : There are open several lots in the surrounding areas as well as off-street parking and paid parking at Union Station. I always seem to find myself parking in the closely located Crown Center parking garage. Race morning parking isn't too difficult as long as you give yourself a little time.
the start : With a 7am 10K/half/full start time (7:30am 5K start), the starting area is a little chaotic. While I give myself lots of time to get to the park and meander to the starting area, I am not always thinking about the time it takes to use the bathroom, drop off an extra bag, or the waiting time to get into the corrals. There are pace banners on the sides of the corrals and pacers with their sticks to gauge where to stand for your pace/finishing time goals. But if you don't line up EXACTLY where you think you want to be, R.E.L.A.X. Everyone will get through the start line...you can take your time getting warmed-up those first couple miles.
the course : While I enjoy a little hill-work, Kansas City races put me to the test. While there are changes to the course year to year, there were still some great sights and hills along the way. One of my favorite areas to run through is the Plaza since there are runners and spectators all around (an out-and-back section).
aid stations : Aid stations are located every 1.5-2 miles or so along the course. To me, this is a great amount of support. This year, I decided to not carry water or fuel -- minus a banana I ate around mile 5-6ish.
I knew the weather was going to be cooler and my pace wasn't going to warrant the need for lots of additional calories. That being said, I was able to pick up a dropped GU around mile 4, snag the last GU at the mile 8ish aid station, took Powerade at every aid station (calories and electrolytes), and felt great overall throughout the entire event. I didn't end up using the 2 GUs I acquired but it was good to keep in my pocket just in case I or another runner needed them in a pinch!
port-a-potties : I didn't end up needing the port-a-potties throughout the race, but they were located near most or all of the aid stations.
swag : For registering for the Kansas City Half Marathon, I received an event tee and Goodr sunnies at packet pick-up. Plus, every participant gets FREE race photos after the event...so be sure to face forward and keep a smile plastered on your face at all times, or you will get some questionable shots.
post-race : Once finishing the event, runners quickly receive their distance specific metal and a heat sheet. There is then a surplus of bottled water, fruit and milk to collect before moving to the post-race party area. With live music, a complementary sandwich and beer, and post-race amenities such as massages, the post race area is certainly a place to spend a little time to relax. Unfortunately, the amount of people milling around gives me a little anxiety and I don't usually spend too much time hanging around.
conclusion : Overall, the Kansas City Marathon race staff does a great job executing this event year after year. Other than being the last runner to be given a GU around the mile 8 aid station, I'd say the race stays pretty will stocked for all runners.
As a whole, I went into KCM weekend undertrained and not necessarily expecting the best. Afterall, I signed up for the race back in February with some major optimism that I would be able to run throughout my pregnancy (which I was) and "bounce back" to running soon after. I was slightly surprised that my doc told me to "take at least 2 full weeks off running" after delivery and didn't stress the usual 6 weeks off any exercise -- so I started taking short walks in the first week and first run/walk 3 weeks postpartum.
For the KCM weekend, I travelled with both little ones to KC Friday afternoon. I had the intention to leave town "early" and have extra time for unexpected things to come up...and things came up quickly. The realization just made me glad I left us a little more time to make the trip or we would have completely missed the expo and packet pick-up.
After settling in for the evening and laying out my #flatlindsey, I was ready for some zzzzs. As I anticipated, race morning started off with very little sleep (baby didn't like sleeping in the pack-n-play) and I was still somehow able to get out of the house around the time I planned.
Once parked at Crown Center, I was able to relax and pump before heading to a bathroom and the starting line. Since I spent so much time in my warm car, I ended up speed walking around the start area trying to get situated. I used a tried-and-true bathroom stop before getting into the corrals which delayed me a little more than if I toughed it out...which would not have gone well after a little running time. I text fellow BibRave Pro Cassie to have a good race since we didn't end up meeting up that morning, and set up my tracking app so I knew when she finished.
After the National Anthem, the wheelchair athletes were released and then the half and full marathoners runners 5 minutes later. We were sent out with fireworks -- which is a nice touch! Since I started towards the back of the corrales, roughly around the 3hr 1/2 marathon pacer, we didn't start moving for what felt like forever. Many runners were getting antsy to get moving, but we were all going to be on course before we knew it. I set my Garmin to 2 minute run, 30 second walk intervals...and we were off!
Game Plan -- walk the uphills, take advantage on the downhills, walk the aid stations, try to maintain a steady effort, and enjoy the long run!
Frankly, I didn't know how the race was going to go. This is not my first time running the Kansas City Half Marathon, so I know the jist of the course and flow. For whatever reason, I felt good through the first mile+ to just run without walking breaks. I even surprised myself a little -- while my pace was slow, I felt good just keeping a high cadence.
Through the first couple miles, my head was on a swivel to see if I could find Cassie -- the other BibRave Pro I was aware of running the event. I eavesdropped on other runners chatting along the way and felt great through the first couple of miles.
Around mile 3, I saw a familiar orange jersey. Frankly, I had been keeping my eye on it for a little bit since it didn't have quite the same elements the Team World Vision orange jersey's had... I was excited to see that I had caught up with Cassie!
After we talked for a little bit, I decided to stick with her for the day. I knew running with someone would help push me to run and stay out of my own head. She was running roughly 10 minutes on, 1 minute off -- so I just started to ignore my watch and just run by feel...and by Cassie's intervals.
The miles really clocked on by! We chat the entire course (after I found her at least) and we both had the sole intention of finishing the course. The KC hills put us through our paces and I feel like we both needed the extra company to get through the miles.
When we hit my favorite section, The Plaza, we ended up seeing another BibRave Pro orange top! Little did we know but Rory heard me yelling in her direction and began to chase us down those final miles.
Once in the final mile, we were coasting down to the finish. The downhill finish was new last year and with the updated course, it was even longer this year. It was good that there are small rises and falls in the last mile+ so you aren't staring down the finish line forever...just the last half mile. I talked the girls into pushing through and running the whole distance -- which made for some tired and excited finish line photos.
Once finished, we were all toast. We collected our metals, got wrapped in a heat sheet, and I grabbed a couple bananas for the road. We hung around the post race area long enough to see one of my running friends and talked her into taking a picture of us.
Once we took some post-race pictures, I headed to the info tent. I found a car key on the ground along the course and thought that might be the first place someone would go to see if it turned up (even through they probably finished way before me). After dropping off the key, I decided to stand in line to get a complementary post-race beer and sandwich. I only took a sip of the beer before I decided I didn't really want it and the sandwich taste great!
I am fairly pleased with how the day went! Sticking with Cassie was a perfect way to pass the miles and I feel like we both had a great time.
Frankly, I was surprised that my Garmin said that I only needed 29 hours to recover...but due to my run/walk plan, I didn't ever max out my HR without a decent break between. My legs were surely tired though :)
Overall, our day couldn't have gone much better and I can't wait to see what next year brings to the KCM events!
Starting with a change in training plans 6 weeks ago ended with a scramble to pack the morning before the race. Isn’t that how it always ends up for me?! Oh well, let’s check out how Hospital Hill treated me this year!
** EXPO / PACKET PICK UP -- I don’t recall getting an email about the race the week before...could have been trapped in my junk folder. I still haven’t looked - but I was able to check the race website to see where the expo was located. The HHR expo has been at the Sheridan the past several years, so I knew how to get there. I didn’t quite realize the “expo” ended at 7pm while “packet pick up” ended at 8pm. So showing up a little after 7pm meant the vendors were mostly gone or mid-packing up to leave. Whoops! At least I was able to get my bib and shirt! The bonus was that I was able to live vicariously through the HHR social media platforms — they posted about the vendors, food tasting, and fun happening throughout the day. I just wish I could have seen it for myself...
** PARKING -- Race morning parking was simple — I always park in the Crown Center parking garage. The questionable decision I made was following my Maps App on how to get TO the garage...it had me driving through the starting area, which was already closed up tight. Shame on you Maps App.... I was able to sweet talk my way in with a nice police officer since I arrived nearly an hour before the start, so no major issues there! The garage was already starting to fill up, but I was able to get a spot super close to the post-race area — which means the most when you don’t want to walk far after the event.
** THE START -- Before heading to the start line, I exchanged my shirt. Yep, even though I was one of the last runners to pick up my packet, they still made me wait until race morning to change my shirt out. The exchange was fast, quick walk back to my car, and I was back out at the start area. I text Katy that I was around, and we met up soon after! We hung around the starting area chatting before hitting up the mostly-clean port-a-potty line before heading into the masses. The HHR race start was easy to find as they had “pace markers” lining the street for runners to line up with their appropriate running times. I ignored those signs as I searched for one of my running buddies pacing the half. We ended up hanging around that pace group through the National Anthem as well as to the starting line — but we soon fell back to where we were more comfortable.
** THE COURSE -- If you have ever heard that Kansas or Missouri is flat, you are sorely mistaken. The HHR courses are filled with rolling hills and butt-kicker climbs (and descents). There were some street changes for this years course, but you still got to experience Hospital Hill, 39th St. Hill, Broadway Hill and Trinity Hill on the 10K course.
** AID STATIONS / PORT-A-POTTIES -- The aid stations were appropriately placed roughly every 1.5-2 miles — and one of the 10K aid stations could be hit twice in a matter of seconds (darn SHORT out-and-back loop). I was happy to see the volunteers offering sports drink first and water second along the course — nobody needs residual sports drink burps...gag me. At most (or all) aid stations, there was at least 1-2+ port-a-potties...which I would have very gladly hit up! But somehow, my bladder cooperated with me today...
** SWAG -- At the HHR Expo, participants were given their Charlie Hustle tee (a well-loved, local screen print shop) — and after the race, finishers received their distance specific medal and an ice-cold wet towel (which felt AMAZING as the temps started to rise). As you walked through the chute, finishers could also grab an assortment of water, chips, fruit, milks, and/or ice cream.
** POST-RACE -- The post-race party was fun! The “fountain area” outside Crown Center was transformed into a finishers party with beer, coffee, snacks, massages, photo ops, additional swag purchases, and additional food options (pancakes and/or hot dogs).
Each runner was given a ticket for a beer, pancakes, and hot dog on their bib — I passed off my beer ticket to Katy and we both enjoyed pancakes after our 10K.
** MY RACE **
Overall, my race went great! I met up with Katy early and we decided to stick together through the miles. We both couldn't decide "who was holding who back", but I think we both could use the sidekick.
We did start the 10K up with the 2:20 half marathoners, which was not a pace or time we intended...but we were able to stay moving while the crowds passed along those first couple miles. Our first up-hill encounter was Hospital Hill - a mile long stretch of gradual gain. Somewhere along this stretch, we just barely missed a race photographer. Katy and I nearly turned around and went back to get a picture...but decided against it. Ha!
The rolling hills kept us moving with my 3:1 intervals...while I ran a little more in the first couple miles than I intended, it felt good! We walked through the aid stations (drink it, don’t wear it), walked up most of the hills, and took a little more advantage of the downhills.
I had a goal of finishing the 10K in less than 90 minutes — per my Endure Strong training cycle the last 6 weeks. My training went well, and we were making good time towards this goal! While Katy and I met face-to-face the night before, we chatted the miles away like old friends!
Once we finished the last BIG hill, Trinity Hill, we pushed the pace on that last section — all downhill! We went fishing for runners and nearly sprint to the finish line!
Run and done!
I can honestly say, I am not sure how I would have run today without Katy by my side... Having someone to chat the miles away made this year’s Hospital Hill Run one of my favorites! Once through the finish line, we were wrapped with an ice-cold towel and given our choice of drinks and snacks. I loaded up on water, a taste or two of sports drink, a banana, chips, and an ice cream bar. I was lucky that Katy’s hubs was around to take pictures at the finish as well as do our photographic bidding...ha! What can we say, we like to have sufficient photographic evidence of our fun times!
** OVERALL **
Overall, I am always impressed with the organization of the Hospital Hill Run events. Keeping thousands of tired people and families happy isn't a small task -- and the organizers of the Hospital Hill Run do a great job!
As someone who typically finishes and/or paces towards the back of the pack, I don’t always have the most selection of post-race indulgences — but HHR seems to keep the party and fun going until the last runners cross the line. I will be back to this race for years to come!
After a little wandering around McCormick Place, we were able to find the expo. Once inside, we were able to get our bib numbers, bibs, check timing chips, and shirts. We also took the "here we are at the fake finish line" pictures with our bibs and with each other before heading into the expo.
A few of the ladies from lunch also came to the expo around the same time, so we wandered around for a while together. A couple of my favorite things were taking fun pictures with props and meeting Kathrine Switzer!
One of my favorite booths/tents was the VICE CREAM - hello, ice cream with some pretty amazing flavors, please! I also enjoyed the port-a-potty changing rooms, and of course the Toyota vehicles all over the place.
Sunday morning, I woke up bright and early - I made the decision to run to the start of the race to warm-up and take up a few miles for my quota for the day. When I booked the AirBNB, I somehow thought the start was a mile or so away...the "or so" won out since it was closer to 3 miles... Whatevs, I just made sure to leave in enough time!
I was able to find Linda but the other bloggers were having a fun time getting to the starting area. I then went over to The Bean to try and meet up with other BibRave Pros but missed that meet up as well. I settled in at the starting area as the rain started to fall...
Overall, the course for Rock 'n' Roll Chicago was nice! There were some awesome downtown "stuck between the buildings" views - but I could have done without the metal-grate bridge crossings... The course was fairly flat with a hill towards the end, maybe mile 11-12ish.
My saving grace for this race was the aid stations. While I carried a handheld (mostly for my phone), I used the aid stations as "walk breaks" and tried to run through the rest of the course. There was SIS gel (a little different) stations alternating with Gatorade Endurance stops and water at each aid station.
I honestly didn't pay much attention to the quantity or frequency of the port-a-potty situation...but there were a bunch at the starting area and throughout the course at the aid stations.
For the RnR races, they always have fun shirts and medals for the participants/finishers. I ended up ordering a men's shirt (after enough women's sizing issues through the years) and while it is a touich big, it is comfortable! There were a few other goodies in the "swag bag" that I have yet to use...
After the race, I would have loved to enjoy the post race concert and attempt to find people I knew...but it started pouring rain again and I needed to walk back to my AirBNB before hitting up the airport. As I was leaving the area where the finishing chute was located, I was able to see fellow BRP Aubrene finish and take a quick picture before walking as quickly as my soaked/sore body could take me back to my AirBNB.
All weather and training considering, I was pretty happy with this race! I kept my cadence high, ran well throughout, walked through the aid stations, and laughed constantly about how crazy the weather was being! This is not the first time I have run in the rain...and likely won't be the last. But I had a good time, enjoyed the music throughout the day, and I can't wait to go back to Chicago and see it bright and sunny!