Latest reviews by Lindsey McRoberts
--expo / packet pick up
Once I was done with some family obligations Friday afternoon, my pal Michelle and I headed straight to the Health And Fitness Expo at the Sheridan at Crown Center. We were able to quickly park in the Crown Center parking garage and we just needed to validate our ticket before leaving the expo.
We were able to make quick of picking up our bibs, race swag, and I grabbed my VIP Experience information - so we had tons of time to wander around the expo. There were many vendors from fitness apparel and running companies, to safety gear and misc. home improvement companies. After wandering around the expo for a while, I settled in with some familiar faces at the Smart Pacers booth.
--the non-existent 5K (start, course, port-a-potties, aid stations, post race, etc.)
Before our arrival to the Health and Fitness Expo, we were notified of the postponement of the 5K to Saturday morning. As a ReRunner, this meant that I wouldn't technically "earn" the 5K medal Friday and ReRun medal on Saturday.
While this is a major bummer [and the online disgust ensued], I am glad that the RD took the runner's health concerns as a first priority. The possible health concerns of high heat, high dew point, and ozone alert throughout the day out-weighed the finish line photo and medal.
As an additional consideration, the RD stated that ReRunners would be comped a free entry to the 2019 5K - but in fact were sent a 50% off to the ReRun in 2019 (if registered by a specified deadline). In my mind, this goes above and beyond what they are required to for a cancelled event! We all sign waivers that state that if a race is cancelled then we lose the money. In a tight spot, the Hospital Hill RD made a game-day decision. In my opinion, it is great that they are working with the "short changed" runners for next year's event.
One of the fun things about the Hospital Hill Run is that they have fun with the race swag. Through the years, I have gone home with HHR embossed flip-flops, backpack, pajama pants, beach towel, hats, and shirts. Something other than the typical race shirt is so fun!
This year, all participants received a HHR duffle bag! The logos on the bag are bright and vibrant, there is a large side pocket for your shoes [or your dirty clothes], and a large main compartment. Also, since I registered for the Re-Run, I also received a gender-specific tech tee. The shirts are made of a fun honeycomb patterned material and the ladies tee is a light blue while the unisex tee is royal blue.
Once finishing your race distance of choice, you earn a race specific medal. I will [and you] will have to wait until tomorrow to check those out ;)
--my 5K race
I planned on running with the other rogue 5K runners at the actual 5K start area [Crown Center], at the actual 5K start time [7 pm], on the actual 5K course - but I forgot a change of clothes and I was preoccupied with a long phone call. While I was on the phone by the large windows of the expo area, I saw numerous runners go by on the street - those crazy rogue 5K runners ♥
Rather than sweat the details, I ended up completing my 5K Saturday afternoon as a part of my 18 training miles needed for the day - 13 miles at the half marathon that morning and 5 miles at some point later in the day. Nothin' like earning a couple medals in the heat of the day!
The Health and Fitness Expo for the Hospital Hill races is always a great event! So many vendors come from near and far to give you a peek into their company. I was able to try on a few pairs of shoes, purchase a new set of BibBoards (since I forgot mine in the bib of my last race at home), and chat with the Smart Pacers.
While it was a bummer that the 5K was postponed, I wasn't too too upset that I didn't get to sweat my life away on the streets of KC. While my 5K was on Saturday, I was still able to explore a new path in the usual area I run when staying with my in-laws. Win, win!
--expo / packet pick up
Check out the my post on the Hospital Hill 5K & Expo -- http://bit.ly/2JXqoKT
Since my buddy and I had arm bands for the VIP Experience, we were allowed to park in a special parking lot. It's too bad I didn't look up EXACTLY how to get to the parking area before I was nearly to Crown Center...but we made it work. Once we parked in the VIP lot, we made our way to the starting area. The walk wasn't far and it seemed like we would avoid a good chunk of post-race traffic on the northwest side of the start/finish area [since most of the parking is to the south].
As we approached the starting area, we were worried about a possible rain delay. Some weather was following us into town with some chances of lightning. I dropped off my things at the VIP tent and head to the start line anyway for a 7am gun time. Not long after leaving the tent, we were redirected back "to safety" and to wait out the storm.
Before the race, the BibRave Pros were able to find each other for a quick pic! - photo by Melissa
With a rain delay, the actual start was a little messy and closer to 7:30am. I was busy walking and searching for my friends, finding other friends along the way, and all while trying to get to my friend's pace group. So many running friends!! Once the race started, we were on our way!
The Hospital Hill half marathon course is an assortment of rolling hills and a few generous climbs. Just remember, what goes up must come down!
The first major climb is around mile 1.5 at Hospital Hill, followed by rolling hills to Rockhill Hill a little past mile 4. In these miles, you venture through city streets and past several parks (Hospital Hill Park, Longfellow Park, Sheila Kemper Dietrich Park, & Robert Gillham Park to name a few).
Once you get to Rockhill Hill, you are making your way through the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) campus and some residential streets. This area contains my biggest pet-peeve of this course, trash. Saturday is trash or recycling day and this stretch smells like trash...every year. I wish they would move trash day to Friday for just this day so we don't have to smell it... First world probs.
The rolling hills continue to take you south over Cherry Hill to Meyer Boulevard - the southernmost part of the course. There are a couple of rollers along this stretch before you start to head back north to the finish - mind you, you are only halfway there!
Through the city streets, you head to the finish - but not without a constantly rolling course, several parks (Brookside Park, Countryside Park, Mill Creek Park, & Penn Valley Park) the long steady climb of Broadway Hill (mile 10.5-11.5), and the needle of Trinity Hill (mile 12.25-12.5).
After your legs are blown from climbing hard up the front of Trinity and bombing down the back, you have a nice downhill finish! Hold on tight!
Once you are announced as a finisher, you are awarded with your medal and an ice-cold towel! For today's warm temps, it was a WELCOME relief! I then received my 5K medal and ReRun medal as I worked my way through the finishers chute.
Always so many snacks as you finish - water, bananas, chips, fruit snacks, ice cream bars, chocolate milk...the best! I just need more arms :)
--aid stations + port-a-potties
Along the half marathon course, there are 9 aid stations stocked with water, Gatorade, and port-a-potties - that's a lot of aid! I didn't pay much attention to the availability of the potties (mostly because I didn't need them) but I know there were a few at the first aid station...ha! Check out the map above for the location of the aid stations [marked with a drop of water and Gatorade "G"].
One of the fun things about the Hospital Hill Run is that they have fun with the race swag. Through the years, I have gone home with HHR embossed flip-flops, backpack, pajama pants, beach towel, hats, and shirts. Something other than the typical race shirt is so fun!
This year, all participants received a HHR duffle bag! The logos on the bag are bright and vibrant, there is a large side pocket for your shoes [or your dirty clothes], and a large main compartment. Since I registered for the Re-Run, I also received a gender-specific tech tee. The shirts are made of a fun honeycomb-patterned material and the ladies tee is a light blue/green while the unisex tee is royal blue.
Once finishing your race distance of choice, you earn a race specific medal and receive a brightly decorated, ice cold towel! The design of this years medals are based on the theme of celebrating running through the decades. If you participated in the Re-Run, then you also received your 5K medal and Re-Run medal - walking away with 3 medals for the weekend!
Another great piece of "swag" is the FREE digital download of race photos taken throughout the day! I felt like we saw a lot of race photographers throughout the course - which is awesome! Since I had such a good day, I didn't have any "questionable" faces when looking through my images...my RBF can really come out in those later miles on a tough day, ha!
The post-race party is always fun! You can get more HHR gear, try local wine or beer, take selfies with fun backdrops, and the pancake breakfast is always great! While I spent most of my post-race time in the VIP Experience (see below), I was still able to get some pancakes ♥
I had an awesome day! Even though the morning weather made the day more inviting to try for a PR, I stuck back with my pacer pal Michelle. She was pacing the 2:55 runners and I didn't want to kill my legs for the next week...
Though the tough KC hills, we had fun chatting the miles away! Taking it a little easier on the climbs and taking the downhills a little harder worked well though the day.
One of my favorite areas to run is the Plaza. The fountains always make me happy and I know that there are only a couple miles to the finish!
After the race, we stuck around the VIP tent and chatted with Melissa, another BibRave Pro at the race. We both have some big distance races coming up and it is fun to get to know other Pro's "in the area".
Once we had stayed our welcome and everything was winding down, we headed home. A great event under our belts and I can't wait until next year!
The VIP Experience is an add-on you can purchase when you register for the race and is a pretty nice perk!
Before the race, there was coffee, danishes, and fruit available to the VIP runners. We also had our own gear check and potties in this area which was great! No lines!
After the race, there was additional food/drinks set out - sandwiches, pinwheel snacks, and mimosas! My buddy and I hung around sipping mimosas and chatting with other runners before venturing out to the post-race area. We also had the option to get a post-race massage and I totally got one! The amazing massage by the team at Hand & Stone Massage was the best perk of the VIP Experience for sure!
The Hospital Hill Run is a weekend of races that is near to my heart! I have enjoyed this event for 5 years now and don't plan on stopping any time soon! The fun swag, the beautiful and fun medals, the challenging course, the free digital photos, the post-race fun -- all of it together makes this a go-to event from year to year.
Do you remember a while back when I posted about the great race tracking company Athlinks? Well, I was able to claim my results for the Hospital Hill Half Marathon! They were posting online within hours of the end of the race to claim your results - talk about fast!
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Kansas City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Since my last training cycle ended with finishing my goal race for the year, I have been working hard (or hardly working…some days) to be race ready for the Kansas City Marathon (KCM)!
With 5 short weeks of training/tapering, I set my goals HIGH for my second road marathon.
Packet Pick Up
The end of the tram line is Union Station, the new home of the Health and Fitness Expo for the Kansas City Marathon. The scale and history of the building is amazing, and we had to stay focused to get to the expo and not wander around staring at the exhibits and ceiling.
Lots of things to see! Bibs, check! Ready to run!
Once we picked up our bibs, we wandered around the Expo for a little while. Missouri Lottery had games to play (I still need to check my ticket!), we met a woman with a “Girl’s On The Run” equivalent for boys, chatted with the Gypsy Runner for a little while, and settled back over at the Smart Pacers area for a little while.
Before too long, we were done at the Expo and heading back outside to wait on the tram to take us back to my car : )
Once we got home, the rest of the evening was spent packing up my drop bag/box, responding to various friends and family’s good wishes messages, and finding small ways to calm my nerves!
Chasing a PR in less than ideal conditions (heat, humidity) can be playing with fire…
Once we parked, we walked up to the starting area. Since Michelle is a pacer (and I have paced this race in the past), I was able to show her to the pacer meet-up area in the race affiliated hotel. We were able to hang out and chat with fellow pacers, meet new runners, and use the facilities a few times (and then a few more) before heading to the start line.
I headed straight for the bag drop before lining up. The line for my bib number was WAY long…but good thing we were putting our drop-bag with Michelle’s bib number – which had NO ONE in line. In and out quick!!
The race started with the National Anthem, a countdown, and fireworks to send off the runners! The KCM pulls out all the punches when it comes to start lines, so all the bells & whistles are fun to experience! And we’re off!
This race ended up shaking out into several sections for me. The Kansas City Marathon ended up being less about from “mile 0 to mile 1 was uphill, mile 2 was downhill, etc.” and more like point A to point B was great, B to C was okay, C through D was no bueno, etc.
I didn’t take any pictures through the course (hello…trying to PR here!) but the race photographers were able to catch me in a few areas of the course.
Mile 1-10 : The Good Times
The first section of the race I am going to dub “The Good Times.” I was feeling good, the hills were fun (more or less), everyone is talking and just having a good time!
The uphill start isn’t always fun, but a slow and steady pace with the pace group was perfect! I was’t beat up, I didn’t swerve around people, and the pace group stuck together pretty well through the chaos of the first couple miles! While there was a little construction areas, most of the course was clear (or at least where I was running).
There were a lot of things to see in these first 10 miles (most of what I remember) :
- the Sprint Center
- Power & Light District
- Jackson County Courthouse
- Historic 18th & Vine
- Negro League Baseball Museum
- Nelson Adkins Museum of Art
- The Country Club Plaza
Around mile 8, the half marathoners continued on while the marathoners turned to start our trek further south.
Around mile 9-ish, a social media runner pal of mine, Sarah, caught up to me! We had planned on meeting up in the starting chute, but a line bathroom fiasco and the starting chute gates kept her from starting in the same pace group that I did. But she kicked on and caught up to us! We chatted for a little bit and then I let her run on ahead!
Mile 10-16 : Slowing, Still Feeling Good!
After Sarah left, I just started fading on my pace a little more. There was a gradual climb from around mile 11-13 which didn’t help matters, and the rolling hills were starting to get to my legs. Around mile 14/15, we were at the southern-most section of the course and we started out trek back north to the finish!
Running through the beautiful neighborhoods of KC is one of the best parts of the race! There is so much to look around and see…you almost forget that you are running a race and are starting to hurt…
In the same area of mile 15, we were now running the first section of the Rock The Parkway course – a spring half marathon & 5K I have run a few times. The terrain was familiar, but my legs had other plans… Between the off-and-on cramping and my mental game struggling, I let off the pace big time and started walking quite a bit.
Mile 16-19 : Let The Cramping BEGIN!
There were a couple times in the next few miles that I almost ate pavement…bad! My legs would lock up and I had a few close calls… It was bad enough that if I tried to stretch out my calf on a curb, my shin muscles (that I didn’t realize existed!) would cramp up just as tight! As long as I kept moving, the cramping was manageable…
The upsetting part was that since I already knew this section of the course, I knew that it was favorably downhill…but due to my cramping, I wasn’t able to take advantage of it. Oh well. The rolling hills kept the day interesting and I was able to keep moving.
One fun part along this area was the great aid station : ) I believe it was a luau theme and they were “lei-ing” people as they ran by…fun section for sure!
Mile 19-22 : Still Moving Forward
After Loose Park, we had a few miles of decent downhills. I had originally planned on using this section to push it and catch back up to my pace group (if I were behind). While there were sections that I was able to pick it up for a bit, my cramping legs kept tripping me up.
Even though I was cramping and not having the day I set out for, I was still having fun! Well, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the course photographers… And honestly, the next couple photographers didn’t look like anyone special on course! I thought they were just a friend/family member of a runner around me… Probably why I didn’t give them the time of day… Lesson learned.
Mile 22-24 : RBF big time…and almost face-planting
After the big downhill “catch up” section was a not so fun uphill section. The one thing that I was looking forward to was the “cheer zone” in Westport.
I didn’t have anyone I was expecting to be cheering, but it was nice to know there would be people around. I don’t think everyone stuck around…because there was like one bar that had a group outside… Oh well.
Traffic was starting to flow more on the other side of the street, and we were all ready for this race to be over…
Mile 24-25.5 : …A Monkey & A Banana ?
You know that feeling when you are so close…but there is just a little more than what you want left…
It felt like we just kept turning corner after corner…rolling up and down those darn KC hills, I just wanted to be finished! My legs were being weird and locking up randomly…
One of the uplifting experiences in this difficult time was a guy dressed in a monkey suit and a guy dressed in a banana costume who ran with me for a mile or two stretch! They really did a great job keeping my mind off the pain and making me laugh through the uphill climbs. We were all in the suffer-bus together, and they sure made it entertaining! Legit, the monkey was chasing the banana…
Then I saw my Bird Pal Megan waving a sign! That gave me just enough boost to get me running down the last couple turns! There is an uphill battle in mile 25, but once you get up on Main St., you are blessed with a straight, downhill finish!
Mile 25.5-finish : The Final Sprint
I put myself into super speed and started fishing. With every runner I passed, I would get just a little boost of energy to keep moving. My legs would randomly tighten and lock up – so I just tried to stay on my feet as much as I could!
My buddy Michelle came out to help run me in, but I left her behind as I tried to kick to a sub-5 hour finish. While I came in just above my goal, I wasn’t upset about the day. I was just glad that I wasn’t running anymore. With that, I set about a 15 minute PR from my last marathon nearly 18 months ago : )
The KCM course did not disappoint! The hills were rough – and that led to some terrible cramping… But I enjoyed the views and crowds! The aid stations were well placed and often (about every 2 miles). The humidity wasn’t great but the sun stayed away until around mile 24 for me…
Once I finished, I stood in front of a girl handing out medals…but she was busy texting someone to see me standing right in front of her (smh…). So a girl came up from behind her and nudged her to the side and gave me one of her medals : )
There was fruit, milk, and water in the finishing chute and a guy handing out warm Chic-fil-a sandwiches. I set down all my things so I could ring the PR bell!
I walked around for a little bit and met up with some of my runner buddies. Mark had finished the 1/2 QUITE a bit earlier and got to run and talk to Alexi Peppas in the 1:45 group – lucky!
I found Michelle and we walked to the start of the finishers chute (where the runners came through) and waited for other marathoners that hadn’t finished yet. We saw several gals that I knew from KC and the Manhattan running group – good to see them finish their first marathon!
We all then hobbled over to the actual finishers area. There wasn’t any food left, but I was able to have part of a beer before heading to the car.
I really do love the care and attention that goes into the Kansas City Marathon (or other distances) experience! Since the event is getting so big, I loved the new location of the packet pickup and Health & Fitness Expo. The layout was easy to understand and I didn’t feel like I needed to wander around to see everything there!
The race start felt a little messy with all the runners all over the place, and I wish that the chute had the large pace time handing panels. Due to the wind, I understand that this perk wasn’t possible…but without them, it was a little more cramped and pace groups were way too close together.
The course was great! The aid stations every 2 miles or so was great! I don’t thing that I needed to run with my hydration pack…maybe I’ll test that theory next year : ) There was a lot to see and the hills did not disappoint! I most enjoyed the miles that I was able to stick close to my chosen pace group…through around mile 10. Once my legs started cramping, I was having less fun than before…but I still enjoyed the course, the crowds, and aid stations, and every mile closer to the finish line ; )
The post race was nice, but as a slower runner, I feel like races never prepare for those later runners. There wasn’t much for me to eat or drink…outside of the typical banana, water, and Clic-fil-a sandwich handed off in the finishing chute. The live music had ended, the vendors started packing up, but I was able to get a cold beer as I walked around.
Overall, a great race and I cannot wait to conquer this race again next year!
For images noted in the review, check out the blog review here:
Packet Pick-Up & Health and Fitness Expo
This year, rather than trying to park in the Crown Center parking garage, I parked in the Sheraton Hotel parking lot. This lot is closer to the expo and the parking is free with a validated ticket! Since I hadn't been in this garage before, I was sure glad to see the Health and Fitness Expo signs on the ground to follow. I didn't notice the check-in area in the main lobby as there had been in past years, so I walked into the main expo area. To the far left was where we checked in to get our bib/bibs. Once I had my bib in hand, I followed the same isle to the swag area. I picked up my pajama bottoms and then went in search of the volunteer check-in. Of course, the volunteer check-in is at the front of the expo...so I started to walk around the booths - including filling up my coffee cup with cold water : ) A few of my favorites at the expo were Damsel in Defense, Bondi Bands, and Garmin (of course!). I also checked out the KC Marathon booth - my next marathon this coming fall! Before I left, I stopped at the Beef cooking demo and wine tasting : ) Food and wine at an expo, yes, please! A pacer buddy of mine was standing around the booth as well, so I stuck around for a minute to catch up. I noticed the #EatBeef posters with all of the runners names. I am SOO glad they put them in alphabetical order...because that would have been a MESS to find my name otherwise...ha! I also stopped by the Smart Pacing booth to say hello to another couple pacing pals : ) Everyone is ready to run!
The Hospital Hill Run weekend consists of 3 different races over 2 days. The 5K is Friday night and Saturday morning starts with the 10K and half marathon - I registered for the half marathon again this year : ) I always lay out all of my things the night before to be sure I don't forget anything! I was up and ready to leave in no time!
With the construction around town, I hoped that my directions would get me where I needed to be and not stuck somewhere... The race crew is good about including a lot of info in their e-mails and website about parking for the expo and parking for the running events. I always park behind Crown Center in one of the open lots. They are easy to get in and out of most of the time. I headed over to the starting area, made a bathroom stop, and then headed to the drop bag area.
I met up with my pacing pal Wael in the 2 hour pace group. After the National Anthem, I noticed my Manhattan running pals just ahead of us! I stepped up and quickly said my hellos : ) Before long, we were off!!
Mile 0 - 1
Since I was starting in my A-goal time area, I was prepared for the faster start. I didn't plan on maintaining this pace, but I wanted to stick with the group for a couple miles. By the time my watch beeped, we were are the goal pace for the race and not the "slower first miles" that the Smart Pacers typically stick to. Oh well... I don't think that those 20+ seconds would have helped me hang on any longer...those KC hills had more to do with my slower pace.
Mile 1 - 3
By the water station between mile 1 & 2, I was still able to keep with the 2hr pace group. Once we started up Hospital Hill, I soon lost them... The long climb from mile 2-3 is brutal most days, and on a hot day, it was worse than I would have liked. My breathing was a little labored, so I let off the gas and let the pace group pull ahead.
Mile 3 - 5
The gentle downhill in this area helped me regain some momentum and refocus my mind. I listened to music this race so I would try to keep my tempo higher that usual - otherwise I would have been listening to a podcast. We passed through a water station around mile 4.5 and I got a great boost of energy from the volunteers and the cold water I poured on my head. ; ) As we headed down towards the UMKC campus, I was feeling great! We had some hills coming and I was prepared for the battle...
This is where the UMKC campus starts! There is a climb onto the main road, and I felt like I was breathing hard for the effort I felt like I was putting in. At this time, I cycled through my Garmin to see what my HR was to determine if I was A) really pushing as hard as I thought, and B) could I just keep going at the same effort. When I looked down, my HR monitor wasn't working and said that I didn't have a pulse...What?! No HR?! I am pretty sure I am alive...and I can feel my heart pumping... This was when my day went from testing my current fitness to just getting to the finish line in one piece - alive! Hindsight : I could have waited to get to the next mile mark, stopped my watch, restarted my watch, and been on my way with a working HR monitor...but I wasn't thinking clearly...
Mile 6 - 9.5
These miles were hard for me...between second guessing my working heart and non-working HR monitor, I walked and ran through these miles with a mid anxiety that something was happening in my body that I was not totally aware of. You see, this is the first big event since my health concerns came up last month...not my first race, because I have paced a couple since that time. With pacing, I am running an easy, slower pace (for me) so I am able to devote my time and energy to the runners I am motivating to the finish line. I am not typically physically tired after these events, but more mentally/emotionally exhausted. This is the last event of the spring and since I am not pacing, I set out a few goals for the race. About this time, I remembered that I really just wanted to have FUN today! I started feeling a little more positive about the day and taking in all the sights and sounds of the race experience : ) The beautiful and unique houses along Meyer Blvd., the shops and spectators off Brookside, the little neighborhood loops, the open green spaces - I really was able to take it all in.
Mile 9.5 - 10.75
Around mile 9.5 or so, we started our journey back into the city. The skylines of KC always take my breath away...and pictures never seem to capture the beauty! We soon passed by one of the iconic fountains of KC. The next mile or so was a nice shaded area next to the Mill Creek Park. The shade was an amazing feeling since we have been in the sun for a bit...and would be in the sun again soon!
Mile 10.75 - 12
Through these miles, it felt like the only shade we got was from the taller buildings and trees. If we were allowed to run on the opposite side of the street, we could have taken more advantage of the shade...
Around mile 12, you are just ready to be done with this race! But there is one big hill standing in your way...
Mile 12 - finish
Once you scale the heights of Trinity Hill and take a second (or minute) to enjoy the view, you head straight down to the finish line!
My HR not working put a damper on my race time, but not my overall experience! I love the Hospital Hill Half because it takes you through some of the greatest places in KC and gives you a good workout!!
Right as you finish, you are offered your medal and a water...and then comes the choices of post race snacks! I made a pit stop in the medical tent because I didn't want to take ANY chances with my health... I just stopped my to have my HR checked and be sure I was indeed still alive. I am well and I go on through the post race area. Last stop before heading out is the pancake feed *cue drooling* I handed off my bib ticket and I could eat whatever I wanted...and I choose 3 pancakes with a little syrup...yum!
This race weekend is one of my favorites year to year. The Hospital Hill directors area great about communicating the details of their race so there aren't any questions - as long as you read the e-mails. Even though I didn't run the 5K this year, I liked that they opted to change the course. In years past, the 5K was mostly part of the 10K/Half Marathon course and the Re-Run registrants were seeing the same places both days. This was certainly a great thought! The half marathon was excellent, as always : ) While I didn't have an A or B goal day, I still enjoyed the sights, the other runners, and the crowd support. Had my HR monitor worked throughout the race, I may have hit one of my previous goals, but that isn't something I think about. It was a hot day and not ideal A-goal conditions. I will be back next year : )
I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment and start a conversation! Check out my blog post for more pictures along with the recap :
I really enjoy supporting local races - and since I started running more half marathons than 5Ks, I have been very limited on those distance races locally.
A short drive away is Wamego, KS - home of the Wicked Marathon and Half Marathon! This is my first year running this course and minus some questionable weather, I really enjoyed the experience!
Early Packet Pickup
Due to this race being a small local race, the mid-week packet pick-up was at a local fitness center. Little man and I stopped by after work on Thursday and were in and out in a jiffy!
When we got home, I went through my packet! There was my race themed soft-style t-shirt, drop bag with all my info on it, bib with timing chip on the back, race course map, and a couple race/business related papers. I am really glad that there isn't a phone book worth of paper in the packets these days...it always seems like such a waste.
Packet Pickup & Pre-Race Dinner
Since we already picked up my packet in Manhattan on Thursday, I didn't need to grab anything more at the pre-race dinner. The dinner started around 5 or 5:30 pm at the Wamego Senior center. When we arrived, I met up with a couple local runners and their families. The Friendship House catered the dinner and we needed to RSVP ahead of the event. We had several choices of pasta, meat, sauce, and salad. I decided to get a little of everything - a salad (I wish the plate was a little bigger) penne pasta (no spaghetti...), tomato sauce with meat balls, Alfredo sauce with chicken, and a slice of french bread :)
I brought some snacks for little man to snack on since the dinner was for runners only and I didn't want to purchase a plate for him when he can sometimes be picky about what he eats... Once he was done snacking, he spent the rest of the time running around the area, playing with the "house" on the poster, and hiding under our table. Before we left, I took the necessary runner a picture with the race banner - little man in tow! Oh course he wouldn't sit still for 2 seconds before trying to jump out of my arms...
For the sake of this event being a packet pick-up and pre-race dinner, it was great! I enjoy the "small town" races that take care of their runners :)
The night before the race, I always am sure to get ALL my things around... This makes my morning craziness work quickly and without any many hitches or hiccups! Granted, I don't put my food in my pictures...but I keep my food and drinks on the table (typically a banana and coffee) to be sure those are easy to find, grab, and go! Once I was dressed, all glided up (it was going to be wet and rainy after all), I made up my coffee, grabbed a couple bananas, and hit the road!
Since it was raining quite a bit, I decided to forgo my extra pre-race, training run miles and just jog a mile to the starting area. There is a bus that circled between the start area and this parking lot, but I decided to just run and get my legs loosened up a little.
Once my mile beeped off, I was at the race day packet pick up tent! There were several people milling about staying out of the rain and cold. Since a couple of my running buddies were volunteering at the event, I hung out behind the table and helped exchange race shirts.
Once race time approached, there were announcements for the runners to start lining up. I headed out and found my area in the starting gates. The rain was spitting at this time, but I was prepared with my hat and rain jacket.
Mile 0 - 4.5 : the "in-town" loop
The race started in downtown Wamego in front of the OZ Museum. The "in-town" loop took us around the city for the first 4 miles (or the first 16 for the marathon - 4 "in-town" loops). We first ran through the main city park, down a residential street, down a commercial street, through the parking lot and sidewalks around the sports complex, back through several residential streets, through downtown, and off to the out and back section of the course. There were 2-3 water stops within this 4 mile section of the course - which seemed a bit much, even for the marathoners. At least everyone was hydrated!
Mile 4.5 - 8 : the out
The out-and-back section was nice...but I could see how lonely it could get if you were alone on the road. The rolling miles out to the turnaround point were relatively dry...ish. The rain was off and on but around mile 7, the rain started to fall more steadily. The open road was a welcome sight and I enjoyed these miles. Around mile 6, some of the first finishers were on their way back into town. I kept anticipating the turnaround area around every corner and hill, but it didn't happen...for a while! So I cheered on the runners that were coming back at me on the course.
This section of the course was a little weird, because the runners were all on the left side of the road and also the runners heading back were on the inside of the left side... The road wasn't completely blocked off from traffic...but it would have made more sense to have the "out" runners to the right side of the left lane and the "and back" runners towards the outside... Oh well, we all made it to the finish line.
Mile 8 : the turnaround
A little after mile 8 was the turnaround point. There were drinks and snacks, but I didn't stick around long! I grabbed a couple Lara bar minis and headed back out!
Mile 8 - 11.5 : the back
On the way back to the finish, the rain kept coming down! I cheered the runners heading to the turnaround point and the marathoners started passing me on their way out to their turnaround point for the out-and-back. They were running on the far side of the road with traffic, which is probably where we all should have been running on the way out... oh well!
I was "fishing" on my way back to town - mentally hooking the runners ahead of me and reeling them in. My feet were sore from being wet, but I was able to keep my pace pretty easily through the rolling hills. I started recognizing landmarks along the way and knew that I was close to finishing!
Mile 12 - finish : the last hill
Once we got back into town for the last mile, I really gave it my all! I knew I was close to my "average" finishing time, so I wanted to make it happen! As you turn onto Vine Street, you are welcomed with your last uphill of the course...perfect timing, not! With my rain-soaked feet, I trudged up the last hill and then briskly, and carefully, ran down the last downhill to the finish. My feet felt like the skin was stuck to my shoes and I was convinced it would be a complete blister on the bottom - ouch!! This didn't end up happening...but it sure did hurt while on course.
I really enjoyed this race despite the rainy, cold weather. The course was great with rolling hills throughout, and the uphill finish was an interesting twist I didn't see coming. The shirt, medal, and poster are great quality, but the post race direction was a little lacking. After the race, I found out that the marathon distance had to do the "in-town" loop 4 times before hitting the out-and-back section of the course, and that is not something I am interested in trying.
After finishing the race, there was someone waiting for us at the finish with a cinch bag. In the bag was our medal and race poster. I had to look around a little to find the post-race food and drinks to the side of the finishing chute. While the weather may have played a part in the seeming lack of organization, I just wish there was someone to direct me to the food... I found apples, oranges, and bananas in tubs, and bagels and cookies as well. There was also stack of Gatorade and water. I hobbled back to the bag drop tent to get my bag and tried to stay warm - which I was not successful.
I didn't care to take the bus to the start,...but by the finishing time, I was soaked to the bone and freezing. Seeing the waiting buses was a WELCOME sight and I was back to my car in no time.
I like this event! I am not always a fan of the pre-race dinner, but I liked that I knew what I was going to have available to eat ahead of time, and it gave me a chance to come out to Wamego the day before, drive the course, meet some out-of-town runners, and see some local running friends. The starting area was organized with the race morning packet pick-up, porta potties, and starting chute in the same vicinity. The course itself was great - running past a few local sites (city park, ball fields, downtown, etc.), wandering around more residential areas of town, the rolling hills of the out-and-back, and the downtown finish line. There were almost too many water stops in the "in-town" loop, but as long as runners were hydrated, that's all that counts. While the post race experience left more to desire, the food and drinks available was nice. I didn't use the shuttle service before the race, I was sure happy to see them waiting after the race!
If you are looking to run a small town OZ themed race in Kansas, the Wicked Marathon or Half Marathon is your go-to race experience! This year, they added the 5K distance and a virtual race option - so keep an eye out for more race distance adds in the coming years!