Latest reviews by Lindsey McRoberts
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!
The packet pick up expo, or ExMO is located at the St. Charles Community College.
There was a lot to see and do! There were a lot of vendors willing to talk to you about their products, races, or services. One of the big perks is the classes offered throughout the day. I intended on going to all the classes, but I only made it to the first yoga session and the talk about the Galloway Method. While I was glad to spend quite a bit of time here today, I wish there would have been a little refreshment...maybe a snack booth where you could purchase a cookie or water... The other fun perk was the outside Brooks tent. They had a giveaway, flying money box, and gait analysis check! I did it all...several times 😆 I did get my gait analyzed! They put sensors on my legs, had me do a few leg bends, and then run for a bit... Come to find out, I have a neutral stride! Nice. I have trusted in my stable Adrenalines for a while now...maybe a new style is in the works!
There was a lot to see, checking in and getting the bib and shirt was nice and easy. I don't love when they put the shirts at the end or back of the Expo, but I understand the why... There were a ton of vendors and everyone seemed excited for the race this weekend! A fun experience overall!
Once we got to the starting area, I found Gametime Mobile Storage. While I thought there would be a bag drop off, there wasn't any mention of it in the first e-mails. There was mention of the mobile storage units to keep your belongings safe... So, I rented a "large" locker for $12. For the cost, I was really glad that I got it! Sometimes you never know if someone else is going to accidentally run off with your bag...and in a far-away place, I wouldn't want to risk it!
Everyone milled around for a little while...and around 7am, we finally lined up. I chatted with the runners and fellow pacers around me. Most of the people were running either the half marathon relay or marathon distances...so it was slim pickings for runners that would be sticking with me the whole race.
The excitement of the first mile had people passing us left and right. Within the first mile, there was a band playing outside, which added to the excitement for sure! Around the 0.5 mile mark, we hit a small incline and this is where I re-explained how we were going to take the hills at an slower pace to keep even effort throughout the race. I seemed to gain a small following at this point now that people were interested in what I had to say...ha! This stretch of distance took us around a small park area near the river and we walked through our first water stop.
The next couple miles were down some paved back roads. We saw farm equipment tilling up the field, a pumpkin patch, a couple blips of people cheering us on, a couple dead animals, and good conversation. Everyone was still feeling good and there were less people passing us and more sticking into my group.
Miles 5-8 were a change in scenery for sure. We started down the out-and-back loop in a residential area. I hollered at the pacers heading back to the finish and kept my group moving along at a nice pace. We were right on schedule with paces and it seemed like everyone was doing well! Around mile 7 -7.5, there was a water/GU stop and it seemed like the runners I had with me either wanted to take more time and didn't get back with me quickly OR decided not to stop and ran on through ahead of me. One of the runners I was talking with the entire way decided that his HR was a little high and he was going to rest a little longer and thanked me for my time :) At least he TOLD me he was letting off the gas! Oh well. I heard something like, "2:35. Wow, she had a big group before...I wonder what happened..." around mile 7.5... I wondered what happened too!...
Around mile 8 I started talking with someone new. We spent the next couple miles chatting about family, running, and life. The time ticked away and before long, she was going to take it quite a bit easier on the upcoming hills and we said our goodbyes :)
Right after the mile 9.5 water stop, the "hills" began. As far as hills, they were not all that bad. But after nearly 10 miles of flat grade or down hills, these hills seemed HUGE. I kept a small pack of runners motivated to continue the first climb...I kept thinking, is this the "hills" that people were so worried about?? But once I crested the first, you could then see the LONG hill up next. I slowed my pace to a manageable speed and kept my breathing as close to what it was before the hills... I saw someone's shirt that said "I Run 4 Riley" and it made me think about my Aiden :) I Run 4 Aiden. A sweet, sweet little girl - coming up on her first birthday!! I talked to Aiden the whole way up this hill...I wished her all the best, prayed for her safety, prayed for her momma and sisters, and just kept talking to her about this run... Before I knew it, I was at the top and started my downhill descent. Once we got to mile 10.75 or so, there was a whole bunch of little kids, "little guppies", with signs and bells and lots of excitement :) The energy these little crowds give can really boost a runner and I told the runners that were around and with me to take in their energy, we were going to need it for a strong finish!
After the excitement died down, the crowds fizzled, and the runners were alone once again. There were a couple runners that I believe were running Galloway because I heard their watches go off often and they would run past, I would pass when they walked, and repeat... There was a STEEP down hill around mile 12 that shot us towards the finish!
Once I settled back into pace after the monster downhill, I started rallying runners that were struggling to run and finish the race with me. We made the turn onto 2nd street and we were just a couple turns from the finish! I met a lady, who I named "Nachos", who was running fast, then walking, then running fast, and just running out of steam completely. Her friends were just a little bit ahead of her trying to coach her to the finish. I told her to just take it easy and run with me to the finish. In the process, I picked up another couple ladies that were also riding the struggle bus... We passed the time by talking about what we were going to eat after the race. First on her list, nachos with cheese and jalapenos :) We rounded the corner on Clark and I hear her feet stomping the brakes down the hill. I coached her to let gravity work for her now and take the hill a little faster. This is when I said "Come on Nachos! You got this!" Her friends were laughing and thought the nickname was perfect for her! I kept watching my time like a hawk. I knew that I banked a little time before the hill and I didn't want to finish too early. I started hollering back at the runners to beat me to the finish!
Many runners got a little extra boost from me yelling around that you could just see them give that last 0.25-0.5 mile more juice! I was like a shepherd with my pacing stick, calling in my runners! Towards the finish, there was a gal, that was just SPRINTING and when she got close, she said "You are NOT beating me!" Yes!! I ran most of the way in with her before seeing if anyone else was close enough to finish in the 2:35 time. I finished in 2:34:55.
This was a great race! Amazing weather, great runners, nice water/gatorade stops, and a nice downhill finish for the half marathon (not sure how the marathon finished). The crowd support lacked in most areas except for the residential area, the water stops, and the final 0.25 mile stretch. The only pet-peeve I have is when at the water stops, they put the water first and the gatorade second...no one REALLY wants to be tasting gatorade for miles! Or if water is first, then gatorade, add another table of water after...just to wash it all down!
The only major hiccup was that they ran out of metals for the half marathon a little before the 2:30 finishing time... As a pacer, I was a little upset that there wasn't a metal to have...but as a paying runner and/or first time half marathoner (as many runners were), I would be quite upset, and they were! Everyone was assured that new metals would be cast and sent to the finishers. No fuss... No pretty metal pictures either :(
The post race area was big enough for everyone to get around without bumping into everyone :) There was water, chocolate milk, bread, fruit, and beer! We all just hung out and relaxed for a bit before picking up our belongings from the mobile storage and heading home.
This was a great race through and through! The ExMO was a lot fun and there was a lot to do and see. The morning of the race was beautiful and perfect weather for the half marathon distance. The volunteers were nice. The post race party was a lot of fun with things to do with the entire family. This is certainly a race that I would enjoy running the Mo Cowbell Half (or full) Marathon again.
I spent most of Friday driving to Colorado! the 500+ mile trip was not a quick drive...so I took in the sites. I made pit-stops into leg-stretching opportunities, jumped for joy making it to the KS/CO state line, oooo'd and ahhhh'd at all the mountain views, and wandered up and down Miner Street in Idaho Springs.
Expo - Packet Pick Up
Location : The Buffalo Restaurant (1617 Miner Street in Idaho Springs) in the back of the bar
I wasn't sure what to expect going to a restaurant and bar for the packet pick-up, not something I have done before! Usually at "packet pick-up", you get your paper swag, race shirt, and bib - but all we got was our bib. That was also new! I'm sure it is 100% easier to only have the bibs ready to hand out quickly and not a lot of additional things...but it was just different.
I was sure to get to Idaho Springs with PLENTY of time to catch the bus to Georgetown. The traffic on Friday was crazy, and I was glad that everyone was still sleeping on my commute to Idaho Springs this morning!
I relaxed in my car, sipping on my coffee and electrolyte drink, waiting out the impending cold... Once I was ready to find a bathroom and the bus, I headed out. There were a lot of runners milling about the parking areas, so I knew that I was not alone. The bus was plain to see at the corner and I was happy to feel that it was a heated bus! I am not used to the cold, and the warmth of the bus was very appealing! We rode through the winding Colorado highway and side road to Georgetown.
Once we got close to the start, we were dropped off to walk the 1/4 mile to the starting area. There was an awesome long line of port-a-potties, several tables of bib pick-ups, a water table, and ample space to mill around and attempt to stay warm.
I opted for walking up and down the blocked off side road to keep warm and loose. The views in Georgetown were amazing, and I couldn't help but snap pictures :)
Once the Runner's Edge vehicle passed me on my walk, I knew it was time to head back and get my pacer materials. We got our sticks, shirts, and hats with plenty of time to change, hang around and chat with fellow pacers, and just take in the morning air.
The first part of the course was running through the Georgetown Lake area. Part of the course was not paved, but well maintained. Several residents were on their patios cheering or clapping and friends/families of runners were cheering when we made the turn back to the start around mile 2.
Once we were out of the Georgetown lake area, the sun really started to heat up the course. With the high elevation (roughly 8,500ft at the start), the sun really started to beat us down - which is something I am not used to (since I try and get my runs in before the sun comes up). The following couple miles were mostly downhill with amazing views to boot! The miles ticked by, slowly. The rolling hills left some choice words in my head, but the change in terrain was allowed for some challenge. Another challenge to overcome was the lack of course support. There were several water and gatorade stations, but little to no people throughout the entire race.
Around mile 7, we transitioned from blacktop/concrete running on the frontage road to a gravel road. Along this path, we ran through a small residential area, past a dog shelter/kennel, and in and out of the trees. Nothing too exciting happened along this area...minus my running buddy having some digestive issues...but that is relatively normal, bahaha!
Once we got back on the blacktop/concrete, we were in the home stretch! There was another water stop and I stopped to use a port-a-potty. When I came back out, a woman hollered at me! She had been trying to catch up to me the entire run and "got lucky" that I stopped to use the bathroom. We made conversation and the winding road brought us back to Idaho Springs. We were both from lower elevations, so we both were struggling a little. I decided to use her 4-5 minute run, 1 minute walk timer a couple times to give us a little break. We talked about how to take the winding road (running the tangents) and passed the time in good company!
Once we got close to town, I told my runners to finish strong and that I would see them at the finish. I was struggling and I knew that intervals were going to get me to the finish on time. The stretch of street once you got back into Idaho Springs is one of the uphill battles of the race. With 12-13 miles of mostly downhills on our legs, that last uphill felt like a mountain! I ran, then walked, ran, then walked, and ran until I surpassed the "uphill" portion and then RAN the downhill corners!
Once I you run around the final downhill corner, the finish line is in sight! I knew it was going to be close for me to finish on time, but I hung around long enough to get a couple runners to kick it in strong! I finished 2:39:50 - only 10 seconds ahead of my pace time. I looked back several times as I approached the finish to see if there was anyone in my range to help finish in 2:40, but the runners I saw were a little farther out. I met up with my runners and everyone was real excited to have finished before me!
The course was beautiful and challenging. While the course is mostly downhill (a loss of 1000ft from start to finish), it was not without climbs! I would recommend this race to anyone with a love of nature! While you are running with the highway, you really didn't notice it all that much...unless the cars were honking :)
After the finish, I followed the wandering runners around a couple corners to the finishers area. There were many tents set up from sponsors and vendors. I bee-lined to the Runner's Edge vehicle to drop off my pacers stick and get my bag. Now is the time to slowly wander through the post-race area! I first stopped to get my shirt and medal. This tent was right next to the pacers area so I didn't have to waddle very far. I first went to the food tent and loaded up with watermelon and bananas :) They also had bagels, but I stuck to the fresh fruit. I then hit up as many of the sponsors and vendor tents as I could handle! A few of the vendors were Ripple Foods, Noosa Yoghurt (handing out yogurt), Colorado Runner, Love Grown Foods (giving out little boxes of cereal), BolderBands, Califia (giving tasters and full bottles of chocolate protein drinks and cold brew coffee), and The Great Candy Run; in addition to booths from the sponsors: Brooks (games for participants and kids with fun prizes) and Runner's Roost (selling merch and handing out free pint glasses to the participants). After a while, we decided to go find the beer :) Priorities, right?!
This was BY FAR the most beautiful race I have ever run! The views and course elevation was always changing and there was always something new to focus my sights on (and to forget about the pain!). In the future, I might take a little more time away from work and make the trip a vacation, because that elevation, PHEW, it really hurt! It took me awhile to get my chest to feel better after the race, but it was all worth it! I helped my runners finish strong and that is what really counts!