Broadway Bridge Run Half Marathon

 

My posse: A few friends from the Fishing River Running Club raced the 10K event.

 It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain, as you start out the climb …

With the lyric’s of U2’s “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” blasting through my earbuds, I surged forward with a crowd of excited runners on a cool, clear morning in Kansas City, determined to set a PR in the half marathon. I didn’t realize in that moment how prophetic Bono’s words would be.

Being a race director in Kansas City must be one of the most frustrating jobs in the world. Runners are always yearning for … demanding, even … fast, flat race routes. Ha! Try finding a mile of level ground in Kansas City! Let alone 13 or 26 of them in a row.

But if I am ever a race director, the second most important rule (after “Thou Shalt Provide Plenty of Porta-Potties”) will be “Thou Shalt Not Begin or End a Race on an Uphill.”

I mean, of any place to put a hill, those are the worst choices – at the start, before you’ve had a chance to warm up and settle into your pace, and at the end, when you’re exhausted and struggling to push yourself faster across the finish line. The first half mile of the Broadway Bridge Run was uphill, as was the last half mile.

In between, there were many more steep hills to mock my efforts at a PR. This turned out to be a pretty tough course.

So, no PR. I finished in 1:42, placing 3rd in my age group and 33rd overall (out of 388 runners in the half-marathon). Not a bad finish, but not what I was hoping for.

The good news is that, aside from the hills, I felt pretty comfortable with a 7:30/mile pace. I was able to maintain that pace consistently through the first six miles of the race. I lost some time when we crossed the river and headed up the steep hill into downtown. I couldn’t keep a 7:30 pace up the hills, but I was still hitting the pace (or faster) on the downhills and the flats. After crossing the finish line, I felt like I still had enough gas in the tank to keep going (and wished I had pushed harder up the hills!).

I think that means a certain friend is going to insist I run the bleachers with him at the stadium to train better for the hills at the Kansas City Marathon next month.

A few more thoughts about the race …

  • I thought there were sufficient porta-potties, but they were located in the wrong place. There wasn’t enough space for the lines to form in front of them, which made it difficult to maintain organized lines. Porta-potties should be moved to a location where there is plenty of room in front of them for long lines to form.
  • Volunteers at the finish line did a great job of taking care of the runners … removing timing tags, hanging medals on our necks, providing food, etc.
  • Volunteers at the aid stations along the route mostly did a great job, too. Some of the volunteers, though, weren’t clear about whether they were handing out water or Gatorade. As a runner looking for only water, I had to ask at a couple of stations to figure out who had the water cups. On the whole, though, they were great and greatly appreciated.

Also, if I am ever a race director, I will order up exactly the same weather that we enjoyed this weekend.

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Awesome, Audacious Goals

If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not nearly big enough.

If your goals don’t inspire you, you need a loftier vision.

If your ambition doesn’t drive you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you need to aim higher.

So, I’ve set a couple of awesome, audacious running goals. I admit, I’m a little frightened, mostly inspired, and way outside comfortable. Sounds about right, then.

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Garmin Marathon in the Land of Oz

Photo and autograph from Meb Keflezighi … plus a PR in the half marathon … not even a torrential rainstorm could dampen my enthusiasm for last weekend’s Garmin Marathon in the Land of Oz.

(pun intended)

I’m glad I decided to run the Heartland 39.3┬áseries of half marathons instead of my usual spring marathon. To go from running only 2-3 marathons a year, to racing every other weekend, has been fun. This break in my routine is just the boost I needed to energize my training for the Kansas City Marathon.

From Meb’s appearance at the pasta dinner on the eve of the race, to crossing the finish line with a PR of 1:38:36 (average pace of 7:32/mile) to earn a second-place finish in my age group, this has been a memorable weekend. The Garmin Marathon in the Land of Oz had been bittersweet in my memory … Sweet, because a friend went above and beyond to support my effort to BQ the last time I ran here (booking a hotel room for us and meeting me along the course with Prolong┬ásports drink). Bitter, because I fell short of my BQ (had to travel to South Dakota to accomplish that goal).

But this weekend, as the kids would say, was sweet.

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Need motivation? Watch this!

The marathon is inspiring. Training for a marathon, on the other hand, can be arduous and time-consuming and even monotonous. Grinding out the miles, day after day after week after month, can cause any runner’s enthusiasm to occasionally wane.

If you need a little inspiration for your marathon training — or any running regimen, for that matter — you have my permission to skip today’s run (as long as it’s not your weekly long run — NEVER skip the long run!) and Netflix instead.

From the company that introduced me to marathon sessions of “Breaking Bad” and “Dexter,” comes an actual marathon movie, an inspirational (yes, I know I’ve used that word three times in the first three paragraphs) documentary entitled “Spirit of the Marathon.” I’ve watched this on DVD more than once, but I’m already looking forward to watching it again on Netflix. How did I not know that this was available?

I just learned this morning. Thanks to Beth, who blogs at Shut Up and Run, for the tip. Beth offers 6 Ways to Recapture Your Running Motivation. Among them:

Go to Netflix – Movies can motivate. Seeing and learning about someone else’s story and how they persevered is relatable. Use the energy and inspiration from those who have worked hard for their goals. The Spirit of the Marathon is a favorite of mine because it highlights the elites, but also us normal Joes and Josephines.

“Spirit of the Marathon” follows six runners as they train for and race the Chicago Marathon … from Olympian Deena Kastor to veteran marathoners to a couple of first-time marathoners. You can read about them here. Their stories, their perseverance, their personal triumph will kick-start your own running.

The film’s website offers this summary:

The film is a must see for anyone thinking about running a marathon and anyone who has run one or more. It’s also a must see for anyone wondering why thousands of people spend many months training for such an event. It celebrates the history and heroes of the sport and examines the personalities and training methods of the participants.

Here’s the trailer.

Not planning to run a marathon? By the end of this movie, you’ll change your mind.

Whatever it takes …

Janae, who blogs at The Hungry Runner Girl, launched a fun contest on her site today. She invites readers to vote for their favorite finish line photos. My favorite among the photos, submitted by followers of her blog, is at the top of this post. 

I voted for this finish line photo because it captures the mash-up of determination and desperation that is marathon running, made even more poignant because he is striving to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I can relate!

The runner (not identified) explains:

This came at the Fox Valley Marathon in St. Charles, IL in September of 2012, and will definitely be one I never forget. It was my very first Boston Qualifying time, and it came in dramatic fashion. About 10 feet from the finish line, my legs gave out, and I fell hard. Honestly, it’s all kind of a blur to me now. But my girlfriend (MARY!!!), who was at the finish line, explained to me that I managed to crawl the last few feet and get across the finish line. After a short stint in the medical tent to treat the scrapes on my hands and knees, I went to the timing booth to get my official time. Somehow, it was a 3:05:00, the exact time I needed as a 24-year-old guy. It was easily one of the most exhausting days of my life, physically, and emotionally.

This experience has given me the confidence to push myself in the latter stages of races, and through difficult training runs.