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: 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…


Race report: R(un) for One 5K

R(un) for One 5K

5K #43

August 19, 2017

Place: 3/38

Time: 24:50

Let’s call this one… Ill-advised. I had heard of this race a few weeks ago and didn’t think much of it. I was reminded of it again the day before and again didn’t think much of it. After all, I’m running a marathon in a week.

But when I got a few miles into my Saturday run and my legs were still feeling okay, I thought: Why not take the opportunity to force myself to run on tired legs.

So I wrapped up my scheduled 8-10 mile run at 8.6 miles and headed home to change shirts, grab Kami and head to Lake Shawnee, about a mile and a half away, and signed up for this little 5K about 20 minutes before it started.


Running for a good cause.

The proceeds from this race went to sponsor unadopted children — a good cause, I thought. That made me feel a little better about signing up last minute for a 5K — something I normally wouldn’t do. In fact, I’ve done it only once before, on a 2012 road trip in St. Louis.

While affixing my bib before the race, we ran into a familiar face. Mindy Chapin, who I’m pretty sure I’d only met a time or two previously, while in Hutchinson, was super friendly to Kami and I. We chatted about mutual friends and races we’d done, etc. Maybe we’ll grab some miles again sometime.

Kami and I both worked with/for Mindy’s husband Brad in Hutchinson, what often seems like a lifetime ago. To be fair, we’ve moved three times since then. Whoa.


Always good to run into someone in Topeka who has been where we’ve been.

Anyway… Back to the race. If you know me at all, you know I started too fast. But you also know that if it’s a small race and I thought I might have a shot at winning. No such luck this time, folks.


Here I am, looking like I’m going to run really fast and win the day.

start group

Zoom, zoom, mother effers.

I led the eventual winner (guy on left in above pic) for about half the race — but only by about a millimeter (seriously, get off my bumper, bro). When he zoomed by, I suddenly remembered that at this point, I was 10+ miles in on my day. It was getting hot fast, too.

It wasn’t long after that until the next guy (dude in red in above pic) passed me, too. Knew I wasn’t sticking with him either. Regardless of how much slower I would get, no one else was passing me, so I basically coasted. Walked a few steps on a couple hills, waved at a puppy, waved at some boaters. Wonder if they sensed my jealousy from all the way out there?

My splits were hilariously regressive. But, hey, 11.81 miles on the day and a comfortable, albeit low-key third place finish. So, whatever.

6:33 | 7:37 | 8:48


I try to not take myself too seriously.

Came out of the event with a fun morning, a cool shirt that doesn’t fit, but hopefully will after a little more conscious healthy living, and a good test for my legs with a week to go until a marathon that I’m otherwise drastically unprepared for.


Hung my medal for a quick shot at Lake Shawnee. I’ve gotten a lot of miles in at that place in my year+ in Topeka.

All in all, a good day. And I’m glad to say my race entry fee went to sponsor Ribka, a 9-year-old Pakistani girl. Ribka enjoys studying and learning. Her teachers say she is both intelligent and confident. She hopes to join the Army someday. Go, Ribka!


Sweet shirt, medal (with handmade lanyard), and my bib.


Race report: Ele-fun Run 5K

Ele-fun Run 5K

5K #40

August 5, 2017

Place: 1/82

Time: 21:31

This whole marathon attempt in a few weeks may very well not go as hoped. I haven’t lost the weight I wanted to lose, I haven’t done the speed work I should’ve done and the weather, as always, is unpredictable.

But my summer of small, mostly low-key, fun races has allowed me to keep my sanity through it all and have kept me from “over-training,” as I’ve done in the past. My legs have stayed fresh.

I swapped my 22-mile run from Saturday to Thursday to make room for this fun little inaugural 5K at the Topeka Zoo.


Race logo.

With all-morning rain in the forecast and it being a first-year event, I didn’t expect much of a turnout. It was better than expected. The guy running the thing said 93 registered and 82 showed up to run or walk.


Bib ready to go. That turquoise dot (indicating 19+ age category) would be completely washed away by the end of the race.

Sure enough, it rained throughout the race. Nothing torrential, but enough to form several puddles to run through. The course was four loops around the zoo, so I was able to get some cheers all along the way, which was nice.


Blurry, rainy start line shot, courtesy of Kami.

I jumped out to an early lead and unlike most races, when I start super fast and can’t hold it, I was able to maintain a mostly steady pace and led throughout the race.

By early on in the third loop, the guys in second and third were out of sight when I turned around to look behind me. I figured as long as I kept it steady-ish, I could hold on for the win — and I did.


Overall winner with a time of 21:31.

I crossed the finish line in 21:31 — a good 2 minutes and 59 seconds slower than my PR. Buuuuut, it was good enough for the win and faster than I expected to be — especially two days after running 22-plus miles. So I was happy with it.


Fun little awards ceremony after the race.

This was my 11th overall victory (2 10K, 7 5K, 1 4K, 1 1-mile) and my 40th 5K. I don’t run many of those any more these days and never truly try to race them, but when I have a chance to compete, I take it.

Update: I’ve recently added the virtual races I’ve done to the count of my race totals, making this actually my 42nd 5K. 

This race came with an entrance to the zoo, but in the rain, we didn’t get to see much — specifically, no elephants. Bummer. But we did get to see the giraffes (indoors) and walked around the rainforest exhibit for a bit.

I love the zoo and had a lot of fun with this event — and not just because I happened to win the race. But, yeah, that wasn’t a bad bonus.


Bib, medal, drawstring bag, water bottle and medal.

The consensus was that they planned to do this event again next year. I hope so. I would return to do it again.


Race report: Cauldron Run 10K

Cauldron Run 10K

10K #20

July 15, 2017 —Topeka, KS

Place: 27/66

Time: 53:52

Another on my list of fun summer races. Well, this one wasn’t so fun. Glad I did it and all, but man, the three Hs were brutal — heat, humidity, hills.

Always nice to run a race close to home, though.

bib on shorts

Pre-race bib ready.

Weird to think I’ve lived in Topeka long enough now to do the same race twice, as I ran this one last year after living in town for six or seven weeks. I run in that area up by Lake Shawnee quite a bit, but racing in those hills is not preferred for this flat land kid.

with torch

Posing with the Sunflower State Games torch before running the Cauldron Run 10K race.

Anyway, I forgot my watch at home, which turned out to be a blessing. My goal of just maintaining a steady pace would not happen, though, as I started out fast and slowed down dramatically throughout as the heat (and my clingy black shirt) got to me — hard.

start line

Shot by Kami right after the start of the race. I look way cooler and relaxed here than at the finish, for sure.

While I struggled quite a bit running a mere 6-plus miles, it’s easy to say after the fact that it was an enjoyable experience. If you’d asked me during the race, I might have cursed a time or two.

But, not all run is great and that’s fine. Glad I did it and somehow managed to come out with third place in my age group.

bib and medal

Another item for my office bulletin board, I suppose. Most races, I put the bibs and medals in a box at home, but these I’ll post up at work — Parks + Rec connection and all.

They ran out of shirts at the race. Not sure how that even happens. Oh well. The guy seemed stunned that I didn’t care. I told him we were entered in SSG Mini Golf later that morning and I’d get one there, so it was fine.


Grey isn’t my favorite, but this is much better than last year’s white shirt.

Oh and by the way, Mini Golf went okay, too. We had to play singles separately since doubles took place during the race earlier in the morning. Mixed doubles tennis last year, but that wasn’t a suitable option this year — being six months pregnant and all.

So Mini Golf it was. Goals going in: Have fun, don’t get last and don’t fall down and hurt ourselves.

Check, check and check.

I took 14th out of 17. I’m happy with how I played. Five holes-in-one. A bunch of real golfers in that group. Kami tied for 5th out of 7. We both did better than we’d done during our practice round the previous weekend — and earned that post-event Qdoba.

SSG logo

Another fun year at the Sunflower State Games.


Race report: Journey for Sight 10K

Topeka Lions Journey for Sight 10K

10K #18

April 1, 2017 — Topeka, KS

Place: 3/8

Time: 47:47

In just my third race of the year, I ran a small, local 10K at the Combat Air Museum here in Topeka. This was my fourth race in town since moving here 10 months ago — my second on this course.

It was nearly my smallest race ever, with just eight of us participating in the 10K. I was told it used to be a big event, put on by the Topeka Lions Club. The event, among others they have, went towards helping provide eye glasses to folks who couldn’t otherwise afford to see. So, good cause and all that.

Let’s be honest here, their advertising for the race was essentially nil. I didn’t mind. I’m a small town kid; I like the small ones.

Despite the low turnout (there was 20 or so in the 5K) I knew an overall win wasn’t likely, as there was one guy who you could just tell was super fast. And I haven’t been in 10K PR shape for quite some time. But I’ve got two 50-milers later this month, so I really just wanted to get out there and have fun running a short race.

Sure enough, fast guy took off like a shot, breezing by me about 10 steps in. He was probably in his mid-20s and finished in 35:something — a time I wouldn’t have sniffed even 40 pounds ago.

Another fellow passed me a little under a mile in. For awhile, I thought maybe I’d keep up with him, but he wound up beating me by a minute or so. The remainder of the race was basically trying to keep my pace steady and hold off the guy behind me.

I managed to do both, finishing in a not-fast-but-fast-enough-to-make-me-sore pace, coming in third place overall and first in my age group — though I was likely the only one in it.

Nothing super noteworthy about this event, but I had a good time and got in some good conversations, a neat medal and a post-race brownie. Good enough to keep me happy. I’m a simple person, y’all.

If they continue to have this event, I’d do it again. One guy suggested he’d be surprised if it continued. I maintain their primary issue was advertising. They didn’t update the event info for this year’s race until only a few weeks ago. That’s not going to get you many participants. But whatever — good day for me, anyway.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got for this one. Here’s a couple pictures, the end.

10K 3

Bib and medal.

10K 1

Taking off from the jam-packed start line. The crowds were intense, folks.

10K 2

Dude in white beat me by a good 12 minutes. But here I am, sorta almost looking like I’m ahead of him, but not really.