Race report: Run for the Rocks Half Marathon

Run for the Rocks Half Marathon

Half Marathon #17

September 24, 2017

Place: 40/183

Time: 1:59:51

Logo

2017 RFR logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My fifth time running this race. I enjoy the course, the people and environment. There are a bunch of things I wish were different with the event (conversations with several friends indicate I’m not alone) and it makes me sad to see its participants dwindle each year. There has been a 57% decrease in finishers from 2012 to 2017 — 428 down to 183. But I’m not in charge, so I’ll just continue to show up when I can and enjoy the miles.

That’s precisely what I had in mind for this one. I tweaked a calf muscle a bit in a basketball league game a few days prior and it was feeling a bit tight. I knew I wasn’t ready for a fast race, but thought I’d give it what I had. I held up better physically than I expected and though I slowed down throughout, I was able to (barely) eke out a sub-2 finish.

Let’s rewind, though.

Shirt + bib

This year’s shirt.

The shirts have always been my least favorite part of this race. They never fit right. This one is sharp, though. And though I haven’t run in it yet, it seems to fit really well. Nice!

Start area

The start area.

I did zero warming up before the start. I mingled and chatted with a few friends I saw in July at the Rodeo Run and some I hadn’t seen in a bit longer. Good times.

Pre-race goofy

Always be yourself. Even if you’re weird.

I started fast in relation to my overall pace in the end, but I was feeling comfortable. I ran with a guy for a few miles who ran Rodeo Run, but I don’t know his name. I’ve seen him at several races over the years. All I know is that his mustache is the stuff of legend. Seriously, it’s phenomenal.

Mr. Mustache and I parted ways about 3.5 miles in or so when I slowed my pace down a bit (by design) and he maintained his.

Mile 4-5

Somewhere near Rice Park, probably about mile 4.5 or 5.

I slowed to a walk through the aid stations, drank water here and there, thanked the volunteers and spectators. Shout out to Hutch PD and the HCC Cross Country and Track teams who were out and about. They were great.

I knew it was going to be a fight to finish sub-2 since I was slowing mile after mile. And while I didn’t particularly care about my time, as long as I had a shot to finish under two hours, I was going to stay focused on that goal.

Overall splits

8:17 | 8:11 | 8:12 | 8:20 | 8:27 | 8:47 | 9:08 | 9:22 | 9:38 | 9:55 | 9:24 | 9:42 | 9:35 | 8:53 (final 0.33 mi)
Finish (photo company)

Finish line photo, courtesy of the race photographers.

Finish (Kami)

Finish line photo, courtesy of Kami in the bleachers of Gowans Stadium.

Took me awhile, as usual, to catch my breath, but once I did, I had a good time mingling. My mom and Kami came down to meet me and we chatted for awhile. Talked with some other running friends and a few who were spectators as well.

Somehow, embarrassingly, I finished second in my age group. I’ve run this race before — MUCH faster — and not come anywhere near placing. But, hey, I guess I’ll take it.

Awards + shirt

Run for the … tile, I guess. My age group award + finisher medal + the sweet shirt again.

This was my 24th race in Hutchinson, where I lived for three years. I enjoy the half marathon distance — mostly because here I am 24 hours after finishing and I’m not really sore anymore. That’s always nice.

Anytime you get to grab some miles and see friends, it’s a good day in my book.

I really only got one photo with friends, but Kami was starting to get warm (getting close to baby time, y’all) and I was ready to get on the road and back to Topeka.

Running friends

My friends Aaron Wilson and Lisa Johnson. They both did an amazing job, as always.

 

 

 

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Race report: Nebraska State Fair Marathon

Nebraska State Fair Marathon

Marathon #7

August 26, 2017

Place: 154/181

Time: 5:35:16

I hadn’t attempted a marathon since October of 2015 (Wichita), when I had to drop out 9 miles in, due to hiccup/breathing issues. I hadn’t finished one since April 2014. Hadn’t been to Nebraska since we left Holdrege (an hour:10 or so Grand Island) in July of 2015.

logo

Race logo.

Let’s get this out of the way now: I wasn’t ready. I’ve had major struggles getting my weight back down where I want it. When I started running, I dropped 71.6 pounds — from 233 to 161.4. My ideal weight is somewhere in the 180 range. But it’s been over 200 for quite awhile now (almost the entire time I’ve been married) and was sitting around 215 when race day rolled around — the heaviest I’ve ever been heading into a marathon. I have no doubts that is the key factor in my struggle in this race and in my general struggles to get and stay faster. But anyway…

We went straight to packet pickup, where I was thrilled with the cool bib and shirt that fits okay, but will fit better if I can ever get my fitness level in check. (See also: a smaller gut)

shirt, bib

Shirt, bib and state fair ticket.

While I held on to an outside hope of running my first ever sub-4, I knew just shooting for a PR (4:12:37) was more likely, and at the very least, perhaps running a 4:30 or so. Turns out, none of those were even close.

I started out running a perfect race (for me) the first 8-plus miles. My pace was exactly where I wanted it. I was steady, I was calm and I was enjoying the race in the early going.

First 8 miles — 8:46 | 8:45 | 8:42 | 8:46 | 8:45 | 8:44 | 8:45 | 8:43

But the same old breathing issues popped back up, making it damn near impossible to continue. Not to mention the humidity that hit me like a punch in the face. The early cool-ish temps almost masked the humidity, which was a bit deceiving. But it was near 100% through most of the morning.

I was determined, though, that no matter how awful my time was, I was going to finish. I didn’t drive 4.5 hours to another state, get a sweet shirt and bib, only to DNF. Not happening.

I ran a 9:33 and 9:58 the next two miles, but otherwise, it was almost entirely walking until the end…

I knew from my ultra experiences, that if I could just throw up, I’d be able to breathe better and automatically be able to run more. But no luck.

So I had several miles of mostly walking to cope with the fact that my race was going to be complete crap, and try to make the most of it throughout the duration.

A grape icy pop helped. So did a fist bump from a little kid and a few random chats with some aid station volunteers.

map

Marathon course map.

I really liked the first 18 miles of this course, except for a stretch through a creepy cemetery — is there any other kind? After that, though? No, thank you. It was enough that I likely would not return unless they changed it in the future. I was told it’s been considered, but who knows.

A long out-and-back stretch along a fairly busy highway, several cattle trucks zooming by was finally enough to make me puke around mile 24.

Naturally, I sped up from there, just as I knew I would. Mile 26 was a 10:49 — my fastest since mile 10. I was also running a 10:32 pace the final 0.67 (course was almost half a mile long). If only I could’ve puked sooner…

Oh well. The second biggest medal I’ve ever gotten, just a bit smaller than the one from the 2013 Kansas City Marathon.

medal

PSA: I reeeeally hate hearing “at least you finished.” Like, it’s super annoying, you guys. That’s never been my goal. But, yeah, at least I finished.

To finish 38:16 slower than my previous slowest time is unacceptable to me. No other way around it. I’ve just got to be better. I know that and I will be. Eventually.

In the meantime, I’ll be playing in a fall basketball league and a fall softball league and focusing on being a dad soon, as well as coaching basketball.

I have a few other races on tap, but nothing I’m training hard for. I need to be in much better shape before I’m capable of racing to race again. Maybe that day will never come. I’d like to think it will, but for now, I’ve gotta be content just having as much fun as I can.

finish pose

Silly finish line pose. 

After the race, I was determined to have some fun at the fair — my first state fair outside of Kansas. I wanted to ride a ride, play a game and eat some fair food. I wound up doing none of those things.

We walked around for a bit, which hurt. I was having a really hard time breathing (still), felt like I was going to pass out at one point. Knew I couldn’t stomach any food yet, so that was out. Knew I’d puke on people if I tried a ride, so that was out. And I couldn’t justify any of the silly fair games.

It was cool to see another state fair, but it wasn’t really much different than the one in Kansas — except quite a bit smaller. It was getting really hot and we had a long drive, so we hit the road after circling the fairgrounds a couple times.

ferris wheel

Hey, this thing is on my medal. Neat.


dirt sculpture

Some pretty sweet dirt sculpting.


dirt sculpture 2

Mad skills, bro.

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Race report: Run for Your Momma Half Marathon

Run for Your Momma Half Marathon

Half Marathon #16

August 12, 2017

Place: 11/46

Time: 1:59:35

I went into this race just hoping to maintain a steady pace to show myself I was ready for my marathon two weeks later (ah, 9.5 days from now) in Nebraska — even though I know I’m really not.

I do enjoy the half marathon distance, regardless of my fitness, however. It’s a long enough run to challenge me and provide a good workout, but short enough that it doesn’t hurt for more than a day after. The marathon is a different animal — not to mention ultras.

Kami was out of town, so I was by myself for the weekend. So I hopped in the car and hit the road to Marion — at 4:20 a.m.

lake office.jpg

Kami wasn’t there, so you get pictures like this. What do you want from me?

I arrived at the race at a few minutes before 6, with the race starting at 6:30. I felt uneasy about the course, unsure of how hilly it would be. I’m also never sure what people mean when they say “dirt/gravel roads.” Sometimes, it means flat dirt. Sometimes it means you’re going to run on boulders.

This was somewhere in between, but not my favorite terrain, if I’m being honest. The views were good, though.

shirt and bib.jpg

My shirt — which doesn’t fit — and my bib, pre-race.

The view before the race — and during the last couple miles — wasn’t too shabby around the lake. The rest was nice, too, being secluded out in the country and even in town within the Marion city limits. But, man, I’m a sucker for a good sunrise.

lake.jpg

Marion County Lake

My goal was to stick between the 8:20 and 8:40 time per mile and just stay steady. I started out a few seconds fast, but my steadiness held up for 6-plus miles. The rocks and hills started to really kick my butt around the midway point. I hit a wall and my pace goals went out the window.

The second half of the race was really just about trying to beat the two-hour mark. If my fitness was where it needed to be, that would be a super easy goal, but it wasn’t on this day. I barely made it in under the two-hour mark.

My splits:

8:16 | 8:16 | 8:17 | 8:15 | 8:14 | 8:17 | 8:38 | 9:20 | 9:35 |11:00 | 10:10 | 10:30 | 9:42

With my pace goals long gone, I really just tried to avoid letting people pass me. I was in eighth place overall until the 9-mile mark, when one guy passed me. I held onto ninth until about 10.5 miles in and was 10th for another mile.
I suppose I’ll take 11th place out of 46, even with the disappointing time. However, with the hills and rocks being tougher than expected, I can’t be too upset about anything, really.
map.JPG

Course map. About 7 miles of gravel roads with the rest in pavement.

After the race, I enjoyed some biscuits and gravy and a cinnamon roll. Yum. The event organizers hosted a breakfast after the race, during the awards announcements.

Since the only other guy in my age group (he was 39) finished second overall, I did not earn an award. But don’t tell that to my cinnamon roll.

13.1 sign

No food pics, but here’s the sign entering the building.

Not sure if I would do this race again or not. I don’t love the gravel/rocks and hills, but the views were good, the price was reasonable and I like the low-key events. Who knows. Maybe someday.

shirt w medal

Finisher medal added to the shirt & bib.

After the drive home, a shower, lunch and some lounging, I indulged in my favorite post-race food of all: Burritoooooo.

Now to focus on my marathon in 9 days, 10 hours and 35 minutes. Woof.

Race report: Firecracker 8K

Firecracker 8K

8K #1

June 24, 2017 — Hutchinson, KS

Place: 4/53

Time: 37:01

Always good to be back close to home. Had 10 miles planned as part of my marathon training, but I had signed up for the Firecracker 8K in Hutchinson. I had done the Firecracker race twice before as part of the Hutch Rec Race Series, but this was the first year for the 8K distance — automatic PR!

shirt

Cool shirt + bib

Since I didn’t care about my race time, I got five-plus easy miles in before the race, then ditched the watch before the race began. Man, that has been fun and liberating to run tech-free this summer. I’ve gotten a few solid training runs with it, so I’ve really enjoyed just getting out there and running without looking at my wrist every five seconds.

Side note: I couldn’t have possibly asked for better weather for a run. Late June and a race start temperature of 60-62 degrees? Phenomenal.

I tried to hang with my friend Lisa for a bit. Managed to do so for about three miles or so before she inevitably started to pull away. She was just one of several familiar faces I was able to see throughout the race. Good times that made me a little homesick. That’s likely to maximize when I’m back home (like — home, home) next month for the Rodeo Run.

with Lisa

My friend Lisa Johnson. Great runner, better person.

Lisa mentioned at the two-mile mark that our first mile was 7:25 and our second was 7:38, but otherwise, I have no idea what my splits were.

She had told me earlier in the week that she hoped for 37 minutes. I’d told her I wasn’t sure I could manage that. I was right. I crossed the finish line in 37:01 — 57 seconds behind Lisa.

I was fourth overall; second male. The first place guy finished about six hours ahead of me — or so it seemed. That dude was blazing. I was just happy to hold off the guy behind me by six seconds.

8k finish 2

Crossing the finish line.

One complaint about this event: Reading the results took about a week and a half. I enjoyed everything else about the race, but that part was incredibly tedious. I could’ve run another 10 miles while we waited. No big deal, though. I almost left without the medal, which I didn’t need — but, like I said — PR.

AG win

Should’ve worn shades, man.

All, in all, a good day. I feel like I ran a good race with all things considered.

I told Lisa and Kami that until about mile three of the race, my brain had forgotten that I’d actually run eight-plus miles up to then — but that’s about when my legs remembered.

Safe to say those last couple of miles were one part coasting and one part trying like crazy to hold off the guy behind me. It wouldn’t have hurt my feelings if he’d passed me — he was nowhere near my age group. But it’s always good to remain competitive.

This race isn’t on my must-do list, but we were back in town anyway, and it’s a course I enjoy. I would do it again.

8k medal

8K medal (first place age group) + shirt

Next up: Freedom Run 15K in Lyons/Sterling on Tuesday, July 4.

Race report: Arrowhead 5K

Arrowhead 5K

5K #39

June 16, 2017 — Kansas City, MO

Place: 97/1,871

Time: 22:35

While I don’t like 5Ks (running fast hurts, man) and have no intention of ever truly racing one again, occasionally one will pop up that I’ll decide to participate in just for kicks. This was one of those.

pre-race

Pre-race view of the finish area from up above.

Though I’m a Bears fan, I came across the Arrowhead 5K with the opportunity to finish on the 50-yard line of an NFL stadium and had to do it. I’ve done other sports-themed 5Ks before and enjoyed them. This was a good one to add to that list.

  • MLB All-Star 5K
  • MLS All-Star 5K
  • Big 12 5K
  • Arrowhead 5K
5k start

Start line area an hour or so before the race.

We killed a little time in the parking lot before the race. Probably the closest thing to tailgating I’ll ever do. Not usually my thing, but with the much smaller gathering than a football game, it made for a cool set-up.

shirt

My shirt and bib, along with the football I carried throughout the 3.1 miles.

Since I didn’t care about my time anyway, I decided I’d run the whole race carrying a football. That was a fun addition. Though my hands got pretty sweaty late in the race, I managed to finish without fumbling.

For this Bears fan, the best that could be asked of me for this one is my red shorts.

shorts

Bib pinned on and ready to go.

I had no intention of trying to race anyone; just wanted to have fun with the environment. Over 1,800 runners in total. We got to circle Kauffman Stadium as well, before circling the spiral ramps and finishing on the 50 at Arrowhead.

I did gather a little speed and passed 10 people or so heading down the ramp as we approached the field — which was good because I finished 97th overall, so that got me inside the top 100.

I finished in 22:35, which is a 7:17 per mile pace. Since I’ll never PR again (18:32 | 5:58 per mile), I never really have any 5K expectations anymore. So I’ll take that time, especially given my current fitness, the fact that I carried a football the whole way, dealt with some steep upward spirals and stopped for water at both stations.

The environment after the race was pretty cool.

end zone.jpg

Sitting in the corner of the end zone after the race.

And of course, I had the best company, as always.

post race

Kami and I on the field. Love that she’s repping the T-Birds at Arrowhead.

I had a good hot dog, attempted a field goal (don’t ask), played some catch and played a pretty epic 30-minute game of Giant Jenga. We even had a crowd gathered around after a while. Guess who won?

Jenga

Not her. #GiantJengaChamp

Had to pose for a couple of corny photos in the process, too.

50 yard line

On the 50.

on the logo

On the logo.

Not sure I feel the need to do this race again now that I’ve done it once. If it was Soldier Field, I could see it. #GoBears

Definitely love the atmosphere of the sports venue races, though. Even got a cool medal out of the day — despite the Chiefs logo, I guess.

bib and medal

Bib and finisher medal.