Race report: Topeka to Auburn Half Marathon

Topeka to Auburn Half Marathon

Half marathon #19

January 20, 2018

Place: 129/208

Time: 2:17:28

TTA logo

Race logo

Living in Topeka now, I figured I ought to do this race. Not sure why I didn’t last year, but wanted to give it a try — hills and all.

It was kinda different picking up my packet the day before a race where I was not staying in a hotel. But hey, I wasn’t mad about it.

bib, socks, shirt

Bib 53, socks and 1/4 zip pullover. Nice swag.

With very little running the past few months — even less outdoor running and not much more sleeping due to the new baby boy, I had zero expectations for this one. Not to mention the pending hills throughout the race and muddy slop in miles 8-12. Luckily, the temperatures at least cooperated.

pre-race gear

My race day attire.

I wound up seeing a few people I knew at the race — though none actually from Topeka. I spotted Tom Snook, Aaron Wilson and Jacob Carlo. I hadn’t actually met Jacob previously, but know his mom and I know he’s super fast. I also met another friend of Tom/Aaron: Shawndra Burgart. I would wind up running the first 8.5 miles or so with Shawndra.

Indian Hills Elementary

Started near here: Indian Hills Elementary

After leaving my car at the building — Kami and Bryant would meet me at the finish — we walked to the start line just down at the end of the Indian Hills Elementary parking lot on the street.

bib on shorts

Bib ready to go.

I can’t wear my bib on my shirt anymore, man. I need as many places to wipe sweat as I can find. Same reason I’ll never go sleeveless. Don’t judge me, bro.

start line

Pre-race start line.

I’d been told the worst of the hills were in the first six miles, leading up to the worst of the worst — Urish hill. But whatever, man. Like I said, I hadn’t been able to run much lately anyway, so I was just happy to be outside and enjoying the fresh, though finally not frigid, air.

Weather: 40-48 degrees, minimal wind, clouds

The miles ticked by as Shawndra and I chatted about a lot of things — comically enough, she was at the race where I proposed to my now wife back in February of 2014. Small world.

The hills were noticeable, but manageable. And then came Urish.

Urish Hill

The photo doesn’t do it justice, but it’s a doozy.

The strategy there was just to shorten the stride, look up and at least try to fake enthusiasm when you reached the top of the hill — where the race photographer just happened to be located.

me on hill

That’s Shawndra behind me. I wasn’t really trying to pass her; I just have longer legs.

My splits for this race, as usual, wound up being pretty hilarious. I knew that would be the case, but once again — just wanted to get some miles in and enjoy being out there.

8:50 | 9:05 | 9:20 | 9:11 | 9:47 | 9:32 | 10:32 | 9:32 | 10:49 | 10:51 | 12:39 | 12:33 | 11:58 | 10:17(final 0.27 mi) — 10:21 overall pace

I was still feeling pretty good until about mile 8 when the course turned to dirt — well, mud. Shawndra was doing her best to be encouraging, but I knew she’d be taking off on me shortly. I needed to pull back and would need to walk off and on the rest of the way.

I finally lost her about 8.5 miles in. The rest of the way would be solo, which I’m used to anyway, really. She wound up finishing about eight minutes and change ahead of me. Thanks for the miles, new friend.

The mud was an adventure for the next four miles. I was happy to finally see pavement at mile 12 for the rest of the way. Even after a stretch of pavement and kicking a bunch of the muck off my shoes, they still looked like this…


Yippee Ki-Yay, MF

But perhaps an even more welcome surprise than the pavement was seeing some kids I know from Shawnee Heights, where I coach middle school basketball and track. The SHHS cross country team was manning the mile 12 aid station. I told them later they should’ve been stationed earlier in the race when I was holding up better. Oh well.

I managed to finish, nonetheless.

finish 1

Official time 2:17:28

The last mile-plus was on pavement and while my time was pretty darn slow, on this day, I was just happy to finish. I enjoyed the miles along the way, which I suppose should really be all that matters.


Post-race selfie. Love the 1/4 zip.

Oh, and the best part — running a block or two from the finish line to meet Kami and Bryant — probably faster than I’d run at any point during the race.

And then, pancakes. Yum.

Got some pretty sweet swag out of the event, but the pancakes and sausage were probably the best part.

medal, bib, shirt

Medal, bib, 1/4 zip were pretty cool, too, though. Oh, and the socks.

And finally, for my favorite photo of the day — one I totally forgot the guy took until right before posting this…

Me & Bryant 2

Me and the boy. He was a hit, you guys. Everybody loves that little dude.

Next up: Chocolate Rush Half Marathon (Olathe) — February 3


Race report: Hangover 5K*

Hangover 5K*

5K #46

January 7, 2018

Place: 37/135

Time: 26:29

My tradition of running a half marathon on New Year’s Day was planned to continue again this year.


Hangover Half Marathon Leawood/Overland Park, KS

Until Mother Nature had other plans.

With a real feel race-time temp of -28 degrees on the first day of 2018, the race was postponed. I wasn’t mad about it. Six days later, the temps were warmer (about 25 degrees), but with a steady drizzle. No harm done, I thought. I’d run in worse.

It would be gloomy and I’d had almost zero sleep the night before thanks to the baby boy (get it together, kid), but I was ready to try tackling 13.1 once again.


Bib on shorts, per uzh

Just a few minutes before toeing the start line, they announced the half marathon had been canceled and all interested runners would be allowed to still complete the 5K distance. Blerg. I drove an hour (plus a few minutes) for this and now wouldn’t get to run. Wish I’d had more warning. I wouldn’t have made the drive for just 3.1 miles.

Whatever. Three miles beats no miles, I guess. I took it steady and slow, running with a guy from Omaha and chatting the whole way. The course indeed was slick; race organizers definitely made the right call. Still bummed, though.

Me and Omaha (I never got his name) slipped a few times and stuck to the grass when possible. Whatever, we thought. Just stay upright and enjoy some conversation.


Running up a hill, and a slick one at that

I’m not sure if anyone actually wound up falling down, but I saw several people slipping and sliding on numerous occasions. While I went home still bummed, I can’t imagine how interesting it might’ve gotten over the course of 10 more miles.

Splits: 8:16, 8:15, 8:34, 8:16 (0.19) — 8:18 overall

But I’ve got a couple more 13.1s planned in the coming weeks, with hopes of gearing up for some spring ultras. We’ll see.


Me and Omaha — Texas? — crossing the finish line. Thanks for the miles, brother.

For the second straight year, I went home with a pint glass courtesy of KC Running Company and a hat — I had to purchase it separate this year. I wouldn’t have done that had I known going in, but… You know, whatever, man.


Post race swag.

Man, call me overly stitious, but 139 must be bad luck for me. First time at 139: DNF at Heartland 100. Second time: Half marathon canceled, forced to run 5K.


Pre-race, Heartland 100.


Oh well, you guys. I live to run another day. Speaking of which, I better get to it…


Race report: Run for Pie 5K

Thanksgiving Day / Run for Pie 5K

5K #45

November 23, 2017

Place: 17/300

Time: 21:39

race logo

Thanks to the Gazaway family in Hutchinson for hosting this each year. It has become tradition.

This was my fifth year running this race. I won a pie one year and a shirt another. I may have won a pie twice, I don’t remember. I’m not that fast anymore — and the turnout keeps growing. Oh well.

We’re always back in the area to see family for the holidays, so this free, fun little race is a must whenever possible. Always great to see friends.

The Gazaway family hosts this event and works very hard each year on handmade, wooden finisher awards, supplies bibs, sells shirts to those who want them and provide pies for the top three male/female finishers. So cool of them to do all that.


Love the creativity of these.


I never buy a shirt if I have the option. I have so many shirts as it is. But here is a photo of this year’s shirt anyway.

I didn’t plan to try to really race this thing and took a couple minutes working my way up from the back after chatting with friends before the start.

That being said, I still wound up quite a bit faster than planned. It was cold, but not too cold. Nice morning for a 5K, I would say.

bib on shorts

Bib on shorts, as always. I’m that guy.

But the best part of this event is always the pre- and post-race, hanging out and catching up with friends from the area.

me & turkey

Not him. He’s not a friend. He’s a turkey.

3 friends

Me, Kristina, Jess, Tuck (he’s a dog)

4 friends

Lisa, Kristina, Jess, me

me & Lisa

Just me and Lisa. She’s fast, you guys.

This is now one of just three events I’ve done five times. And I see no reason to stop participating in this one, unless they decide to stop hosting it. Always a good time.

bib + woodal

This year’s swag.


Race report: Longview Half Marathon

Longview Half Marathon

Half Marathon #18

November 11, 2017

Place: 217/521

Time: 2:03:59

race logo

Longview Half Marathon logo

Chalk this up as another “just for fun” race — kind of my theme this year. This was my first race since our son Bryant joined the world three weeks earlier. He nor Kami made the trip as it was a bit on the cold and windy side, but I was happy to get out and run more than 7 miles for the first time in a couple months. The race itself went better than expected.

When I arrived, I was told they did not have my shirt size, but would order it and mail it to me. I was upset for about two seconds and quickly decided it wasn’t worth it. Besides, as a race director myself, I get it. I did, after all, sign up a bit late. No worries. Still a personalized race bib. They even gave me a VIP bracelet to make up for the temporarily missing shirt. That got me a pass into the tent with the heaters and a nicer bathroom. Score.

bib 299

Only third time with my name on my bib — one was a DNF.

When the race started, I took off slowly by design. Wasn’t sure how I’d hold up running farther than I’d run in quite some time. I kept pace just ahead of the 2:10 pace group for the first two-plus miles.

That’s when we hit “the hill.” Excluding a couple of trail races I’ve done, this was likely the steepest paved hill I’ve ever run in a race. Brutal. But I counted runners going the other direction to keep my mind off the hill — 275. I was in 276th place by the time I reached the top. Yeah, this was a big race.

KC Running Co bus

KC Running Co. does a good job.

Right at the top of the hill — maybe around mile 2.75 or so — I caught up with the 2:05 pace group. Figured I’d hang with them for a mile or two until I felt the need to drop back again. Instantly got to chatting with a couple guys, Sean and Andy. Sean was one of the pacers, while Andy was a guy in his 40s (I think) running the race a few minutes behind his teenage son.

Cool guys. Good conversation. I never like running with groups, but this was a good time. Maybe it was because I forced myself to settle in and not race. Maybe I’ve lightened up since I entered fatherhood. Who knows.

Anyway, off and on during the race, Sean, Andy and myself were joined by a couple of girls — Kelsey and Stephanie. They either knew each other previously or had become fast friends in the early miles of this one. Not sure of their ages, but Stephanie has a baseball playing son and Kelsey was going to do another half marathon the next day. Crazy person.

Hearing other people’s stories gave me an excuse to talk about my own son — Bryant. He’s a stud, you guys.

Back to the race…

me full length

Cold, windy, hilly, fun.

Each mile that ticked by, I thought “Maybe I’ll hang with this group another mile… Okay, maybe two more.” I surprised myself greatly with how steady this race was. I owe a lot of that to Sean’s pacing skills and the good chats with the runners mentioned above.

I stuck within a few steps of the group, especially Sean, until about the 11.6 mark. I decided I could push it a bit and tried to pick it up a notch. After my slowest mile of the day (9:44) in mile 11, I sped up by one second in mile twelve, then turned in my fastest mile of the day (8:44) in mile 13.

LOL. Yeah, I’ve definitely never done that in a race before. I even had a little bit left for a sprint through the finish.

9:34 | 9:29 | 9:41 | 9:06 | 9:20 | 9:27 | 9:23 | 9:29 | 9:30 | 9:40 | 9:44 | 9:43 | 8:44 | 6:52 (final 0.16)

me finishing

Chip time 2:03:59

I don’t like being slower than two hours in a half marathon, but all things considered, I was very happy with this race. I met some cool people, maintained a steady pace and had a fun time. I would definitely consider doing this race again.

hoodie, bib, medal

Borrowed a guy’s hoodie to snap a pic since mine has to be mailed to me — no idea when that will come.

While the weather was cold, especially when the wind hit the lake just right, I chose a pretty perfect wardrobe for the conditions — especially given that I wasn’t really racing this one. I actually got warm a time or two, but never so much so that I felt inclined to ditch layers.

me close up

Somewhere around mile 11.

Before taking off for home to be with the wife and boy, I meandered around a bit and took in the scenery while stretching out the legs in the process.

I even got someone to snap a pic for me…

post race pose

My 18th half marathon.

I may do a free Thanksgiving 5K if they’re still having it this year, back in Hutchinson. Otherwise, my next race is the Hangover Half Marathon in Overland Park on January 1, 2018.

Until then…


Race report: Fierce-ish 10K

Fierce-ish 10K

10K #23

October 14, 2017

Place: 7/14

Time: 1:00:47

Let’s get this out of the way early: I will not do this race again. I would advise others to avoid it as well. I’ve never wanted my money back after a race until this one. I was offered half my money back, but scoffed at that. Not worth it, really.

FWIW: Yes, I know this was a fun run. I’m totally not “that guy” to throw a fit at a race. But I kind of was today. Not proud of it, but it was bad, you guys.

When an event is so poorly organized as this was, there is no excuse. Don’t organize a race if you don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t volunteer to help at a race without asking what you’re supposed to do. Don’t send volunteers out onto a course without (correctly) telling them what to do.

Let’s rewind. I was having a blast pre-race. It was, after all, it was a costumed run — and it was Luigi time.

Luigi pre-race

Inside Norsemen Brewing Company before heading out into the street.

Luigi pole

You know the flagpoles at the end of each level? No? Whatever, it’s funny.

Okay, enough goofing around. It’s time to run…

Luigi selfie

Okay, one more. That mustache only lasted a few miles, FYI.

With a really low turnout, I thought I’d have a shot to win. I knew right away I’d win this thing, so I just went out and figured I’d enjoy some miles. I’d won 11 races before and figured a 12th would be fun. I don’t run to win — until I have a shot to win. Because, well, why not?

Luigi start

I would’ve led this thing pretty easily start to finish if not for… Well, keep reading…

So, back to the organization.

The Facebook page event that synced to my iCal indicated the race would start at 8:30. I assumed that was the actual start time — which it was. However, the race registration page showed 5:30 p.m. on Friday night.

Two separate emails went out to participants. One on Thursday. One at 11:22 p.m. Friday night — the night before the race. I saw this one at 1:30 a.m. when Kami woke up, which woke me up (baby day coming soon, you guys).

Neither email — I repeat, neither email stated what time the race would start. How can that be? The emails reminded us what time packet pickup started and what time the costume contest would start. Race time? Anyone? Bueller? Nope, nothing.

Anyway… the race wound up starting at 8:35, so close enough to what the event had listed, I suppose.

The start/finish line was … a gutter. Okay then.

Not like there was a super cool painted stretch less than 20 yards from that gutter or anything…

Rainbow Road

This would’ve been perfect for a start/finish line. But nobody asked me.


Rainbow Road zoom in

Rainbow Road, anyone? Luigi? Sweet, right? Sigh…

I jumped out to a pretty healthy lead early and despite my tendency of starting too fast, I actually stretched the lead a little bit. I was ahead by nearly half a mile when I approached a volunteer. With two dead ends and only two options available, I asked which way I was supposed to turn. She shrugged and said “I don’t know.”

No explanation. No effort to take a guess. Just “I don’t know.”

Most of the runners ran 7-plus miles. Because I was in first and went quite a bit further out of the way than most, I wound up at 7.6 miles. An easy win turned into an annoying seventh place. The girl who won (and actually ran the 6.2 miles) felt guilty. My time at the 10K mark was 3:02 faster than her “winning” time.

Oh well. I chatted with some other runners — including one guy named Ed who I’ve seen at a couple other races. He’s probably about my age and won third place for his dynamite Super Troopers costume.

I was cooling down and ready to move on. Until I got the following excuse…

“That’s why we put the route map online.”

Are you kidding me? The co-RD legit tried to blame runners for the lack of information they gave to their volunteers? No. Not okay. I was steaming once again.

He pulled me aside like he was upset with me — eventually offered me half my money back. Whatever, dude. Not even worth it.

Fierce Life Fitness

Race benefactor. Non-profit or not, I don’t know how they can feel comfortable taking people’s money after a debacle like this…

I received a wooden medal — that was pretty cool. It says “10K finisher” (lol), but we received them for overall placements, apparently. I was told I was the second place male, but I know there were a few guys ahead of me by the time I finished my lengthy venture around the streets of north Topeka.

race swag

Bib, shirt and handmade wooden “medal.”

Anyway… at least I got a few good miles in before the storms hit. Last race pre-baby. I’ll have to just enjoy the casual solo runs for a little while — which is fine, because I’d been enjoying them lately anyway.

Until next time…


Race report: Winged Foot 10K

Winged Foot 10K

10K #22

September 30, 2017

Place: 7/28

Time: 49:35


Winged Foot 10K logo

I did this race last year, two weeks removed from my nasty ankle injury. Naturally, it was slow. I treated it as a tune-up, just to see if I could loosen up my foot/ankle before trying Heartland 100 the following weekend.

This year, I just wanted to have fun with it, as I’ve done with most of my races this year, really. The event kicks of the Kansas Chocolate Festival, so it comes with some candy in the race bag. Score!

candy pre-race

Oops, still have to run…

bib on shorts

Bib on and ready to go.

bib + candy

Race bag/bib + candy.

Last year, I finished 20th of 47 in the 10K, as I hobbled through the first loop with Kami, who did the 5K and sped up just a bit the second loop. Slow time overall, finishing in 57:14. While still slow and not very fit this year, I was at least healthy. Ran the whole thing solo, just trying to stay steady.


Kinda enjoy the low-key atmosphere at the Combat Air Museum. This was my third race on this flat, loop course.

Smaller turnout this year, and I finished in 7th place overall out of 28 finishers in the 10K. Not sure how many finished the 5K. Last year it was 93. My guess is maybe half that this time around.

Combat Air Museum

Fun place, nice flat course, cool atmosphere.

I rarely ever speed up as races go along, but after I slowed up in my fourth mile, I decided I’d try to speed up just a bit. Wasn’t easy, but I was able to do just that, especially in that last mile and a half, when I gunned it and eventually ran down the girl in front of me. I passed her in the final quarter mile to move into seventh place overall.

Harder than I’ve finished a race in quite awhile.

Overall splits

7:24 | 7:41 | 8:06 | 8:35 | 8:00 | 7:34 | 6:54 (final 0.33 mi)

That last part is not a typo. I remember when I used to run that fast or better on a regular basis. Now, though? That’s moving for me — until I get the weight down, anyway.

bib + medal

My medal says 5K, but I promise I ran the 10K.


After receiving my age group award.

If they continue to have this event, I’ll continue doing it. It’s an enjoyable time on a smooth, flat course. Having nice weather always helps, too.

I’ve got just one more race before our due date — Fierce-ish 10K here in Topeka on October 14 — two weeks away. I picked up my costume for it yesterday. However, we’re starting to think baby boy might arrive early, so that race may or may not happen. Either way, stay tuned…


Welcome to the world, kid — grab a helmet

Dear son,

According to the calendar, you won’t be here for another four weeks and change. But it could really be any day now. There are so many things I want to tell you — so I suppose I better get started now.

The world is tough. Like, really tough. Things are gonna happen that will hurt you. It might be a cut or a scrape or a broken bone. It could be someone’s words that hurt you on the inside. You may cry or scream or say a naughty word — we’ll talk about those later. Probably over some root beers when your mom isn’t around. But it’s going to happen. What’s important is how you respond to it.

I’ve suffered broken bones and a broken heart. One of those taught me how to shoot lefty and the other led me to your mom. She’s goofy, but I love her. You will, too.

Be honest. If someone hurts you, call them out on it. Tell them how you feel. If you like someone, tell them. If you dislike someone… Okay, maybe don’t tell them that. I don’t have all the answers, man. I’m learning as I go.

If I’m being honest, I’m terrified of you. I have no idea how to be a dad. I was never shown how. My mom did her best, but it’s not the same. I’m going to do my best, too. I’m going to screw up at times. You’re going to hate me once in awhile, and that’s okay. But you’ll always know I’m there. Always.

Listening to what someone says is far more important than simply waiting for your turn to talk. You’ll go further in life this way, I promise. Have an open mind. Time is a valuable thing. If someone is using theirs to speak with you, don’t take that for granted. Hear them out.

The world can be a harsh place. Bad things happen every day. Controversy is everywhere. You’ll have friends who believe in things that will hurt your soul. That’s a hard one to cope with. I’m still working on it myself.

But we’ll talk about that later. Much later. It will probably involve swear words and root beers.

Love you, dude. Can’t wait to meet you…