The drive was long and boring to Wichita. It took me 3 hours to get out of Illinois, another 3 to cross Missouri, and then 3 more to reach Wichita. The final hours were the most interesting because the scenery was new and different. (I like driving to new states to see new lands. I feel like when I fly, the big cities all look relatively the same.) Make no mistake about it, Kansas is flat and wide open spaces... as far as the eye can see across the horizon! I saw lots of cattle and very little trees. While at first it was interesting, it quickly felt lonely out there. The best part... speed limit 75 mph!
|Pretty much my view from Kansas City to Wichita...|
I drove straight to packet pickup, which was at a local running store. It was quick and simple, and I was at my hotel in the next 10 minutes. I grabbed a last minute room (with a good military discount) at the Hyatt Regency... fancy-ish hotel, nice room with a beautiful view over the river. I settled in quickly and set out for an evening stroll along the River Walk...
|Wow - Wichita has beautiful paths along their riverfront!|
On Saturday's race morning, I made the 2 minute walk down the riverfront to reach the start/finish line. With no problem at all, I found fellow Half Fanatics, Tough Chiks and blog readers. We chatted away until the call to start. There were 500+ runners in the half marathon, which began a 1/2 hour before the 5K. My goal in this race was simply to enjoy myself and take in the scenery of this new state. I wanted a strong run, but wasn't going to push myself. Unlike the past two weeks in St. Paul and Chicago, I had taken two prior rest days so that this long run might be enjoyable. All systems were feeling good and the weather was finally comfortable in the mid-60's.
And off we go!
Never once a moment of "congestion" in this race.
Mile 1 - 9:03
Mile 2 - 9:11Mile 3 - 9:26
From the starting line, we made our first (of six) bridge crossings. Less than a half mile in, we were already on a paved trail along the Arkansas River and I felt at peace with my pace. I ran comfortable on fresh legs, which I knew probably meant a faster pace than I could hold. I loved the trail we ran - pretty, shaded and great views of the river.
Mile 4 - 9:12
Mile 5 - 9:17
Mile 6 - 9:24Mile 7 - 9:23
Shortly after mile 3, we turned to cross over and run the other side of the river. Midway through mile 5, we left the river and followed some quiet streets into a large park area. There were a couple gradual climbs back in this area, really the only elevation change I noticed during this race. I was still feeling pretty good, but definitely entering my "working" zone.
Mile 8 - 9:33
Mile 9 - 10:02
Mile 10 - 9:43
In mile 8, we cut through some neighborhoods to get back to the river. I remember starting to feel tired through this stretch. There were a few people out cheering from their front porches, but for the most part, this is a low-spectator event. Runners got spread out, so I focused on keeping the gal in front of me within reach.
There had been water stops consistently for every two miles throughout the race. After I hit the mile 8 marker, I finally stopped to walk and take a GU gel and water. Just when it was starting to feel "sparse" on the course, a huge bunch of runners caught up to me... including fellow Tough Chik Jessica (who went on to PR). Now, we were back on the river for the next couple miles. I remember with great glee seeing that Mile 10 marker... finally double digits! I was really starting to warm up (and sweat!), and thankful for every turn that we caught the cool wind.
Mile 11 - 10:29
Mile 12 - 10:05
I stopped to walk after the mile 10 water stop again. As I went to grab the water from the last volunteer, another runner reached right in front of me and snagged it... so I had to walk backwards to the table to get another. Grrrr, time sucker.
We left the river once again and ran through part of the city, which now seemed alive with more traffic. The course mainly followed sidewalks, which was fine for the most part. Crossroads were worked by volunteers and officers, but you did have to deal with some cars exiting parking lots. So my focus shifted from "how tired I feel" to "watch where you're going".
Mile 13 - 9:54
I always try to give that last mile a little push, but honestly, I didn't have much drive today. We crossed another bridge and I was a little turned around on our location. Finally, as we weaved thru a repeat area from the start, I felt the finish up ahead. I love the surge of passing runners in that final stretch and today, I passed quite a few. I focused on a gal in a pink tank top and gave it my all to pass her before the finish line.
Official Chip Time 2:05:29
average pace 9:34
Overall #111 out of 525
Div F35-39 #28 out of 104
KANSAS: State #16 in my quest to Race All 50
I really liked this race, and would definitely recommend it. The ease of everything (packet pickup, accessibility, hotels, course, start/finish line) is just how I like it. I'm not a 'big event' kind of runner, so the size and simplicity of this race made it very enjoyable for me... and worth the 9 hour drive there and back!!
The swag was sweet too...
• short sleeve tech shirt (we had the choice of green or red) in a women's cut that actually fit!
• keepsake champagne glass
• finisher's medal on a "shoelace ribbon"... creative, multi-purpose, I like it.
• delicious chocolates from See's Candy... these were so rich and gooooood.
• GU energy gel in our bag (not pictured above)
• Nice big tote bag with a cool saying printed on it... no cheesy sponsor bag (not pictured above)
Thanks Kansas for a great run...
and to all the friends I met that made it such a fun experience!