Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon Race Recap – Part 1

Marathon #7 is in the books. There was absolutely nothing that went the way it was supposed to go for this run, or at least the way I thought it would go. Nothing…from pre-race planning, to the weather, or even the actual run…went the way I envisioned it would.

This would be my third marathon this year, and I had little in the way of expectations for it. Attaining a Boston qualifying time at Boston for marathon #1 of 2016 was the best redemption ever. Then, coming off Grandma’s with a course record, despite the record breaking heat and the close proximity of the Boston run in my rear view mirror, was tremendous for me.  Although I would have enough time to recover and train for Kansas City, this summer wasn’t the easiest Minnesota summer to train through for marathon #3.

Somehow, I had started a run streak which took me out on the roads every damn day these past 6 months, with no run being shorter than a 3-miler. It was unintentional, but thanks to a Facebook secret running group, and a challenge issued wherein, that is how it ended up. Was it the streak that helped me with this last marathon or was it just pure willpower and sheer determination once again? I may never find out the answer. But what I do know is that I secured a spot in Boston for 2018. This is important to me since I have 3 perfectly good Boston Qualifiers for 2017, but cannot make the trip this coming April. It is heartbreaking to say the least.

That being said…here is the recap from start to finish.

It started with a 6 1/2 hour drive to Kansas City on Friday morning. My husband dropped the kids off at school and returned so we could pack it all up and get on the road. At first, I had made us a hotel reservation and planned to have us stay right at the start line but we later decided to stay with my step-daughter, her husband, and brand our new grandson. It seemed a great way to get some family time in as well as run a marathon in one fall swoop.

We planned the drive with enough arrival time to make it directly to the expo to pick up my bib and such, and still get in some hours with my husband’s daughter. And all of that went as planned. We were also looking forward to scoping out the expo to see who might be there. Since we have been actively working Charmed Running, expos have become something other than a medium to pick up a race packet.

We were both surprised to see how small the setup actually was. After I retrieved my bib number and headed to packet pick up, I noticed that the marathon bib numbers only went from 1-1999. So, there were less than 2000 running the marathon. There appeared to be more running the half marathon and the 5K at this event. That is typical, but I guess since this is a Boston Qualifier, I expected there to be a larger number of marathon runners registered. Especially in a city such as Kansas City.

There was little to the expo. And whether Charmed Running would do well or not at such an expo remains a mystery. Since there was no one there selling a product like ours, it was a hard one to answer.  But, it opened our eyes to perhaps attend events elsewhere in neighboring states, where we could sell at the expo, and I could then still run the marathon. Research began almost immediately. But I digress…

After getting my bib and hoodie, which by the way I found ran a wee bit small (they were more than willing to exchange sizes, thank heavens), I stumbled upon the pacer booth. I had no intentions of running with a pacer, but they did have pace bands out there for free, and I felt it wouldn’t hurt to grab one…just in case. To my surprise, I learned that the pacers for this event don’t run the actual “pace” every mile as most pacers do. Instead, they run as one would expect one to run a long race. They start slower, and then speed up according to the course geography and the time spent on the road. That intrigued me, and I decided that perhaps, I’d give these Kansas City pacers a try.

After discussing the course with the fellow behind the table, and learning that many runners have found Kansas City “easier” than Boston, I decided to adjust my time goal. Perhaps I could PR this run after all. Call me crazy, but I’d already had two brutally warm marathons this year. This was promising to be no different. If I could run those two, and BQ, and this one was notoriously easier than Boston, anything could really be possible…right?

I couldn’t decide which pace band to go with. The fellow said I could take more than one. So, I grabbed the 3:30:00, 3:35:00 and 3:40:00 bands. No doubt I’d change my mind at least that many times between now and race time.

I might add that the only food sample that was handed out at this expo were two pieces of whole grain bread, in a little package. Very odd, indeed. And since I don’t partake in the gluten full, brain fogging, health altering food of the typical American, I handed it all to my husband, who in turn, deposited it at his daughter’s home.

With all of that out of the way, we were free to go, and headed directly to my husband’s daughter’s home.

Jack

The remainder of the day was spent playing catch up, hanging with the baby, going for a walk to see my daughter’s neighborhood, and then me taking a quick 2-mile run to shake out the cobwebs that had formed during the long car ride. After that, more catching up, and then an early bedtime for me. I managed to be in bed and quite fast asleep before 10pm. After debating earlier on a wakeup time, I finally surmised that 5AM would leave me 45 minutes of prep time before we headed to the start line. I decided this after previously deciding that I needed a full hour of prep time. As it turns out, I changed one fitbit alarm, but not the other, after I changed my mind. So, I ended up getting up at 4:45 am anyway. It was probably a good thing.

My husband had had a rough night battling acid reflux, and I felt bad making him get up so early to bring me to the start line. He still did it willingly, however, but we barely got out of the house in time to make the 20 minute journey downtown and prep for a 7 am start. We ended up parking closer than we anticipated, but with a $10 fee, rather than free. My husband wasn’t in the mood to fool around with the whole free parking thing. We exited the car, my bag in tow since I had my own personal bag check with me, and headed to the start line.

It was still dark. And I mean DARK. Clouds and fog hid the full moon, and there was no sunrise in sight. I wondered when the sun did rise in Kansas City these days. I had planned to run with my sunglasses since eventually the sun was expected to make a grand entrance later that morning. But that would mean having impaired vision for the first few miles of this run since there was literally no sun…at all…at the start of the race. There wasn’t much I could do about that. I did make it to the porta potty, however, with no lines, no waiting. That is always a bonus on race morning. My belly wasn’t feeling quite right so the stop was necessary. I tried not to let it affect my mood, or my good night’s sleep that I don’t necessarily get before a run.

I looked for some VRF’s who I knew were going to be there, but instead got sidetracked by a wonderful older man from Minnesota. I knew he was from there because he wore the Victory Day Race long sleeved tee shirt that I had also received on race day. We got caught up in conversation, and I learned he was on his second round of running all 50 states at least once! So impressive! I judged him to be in his 70s, and he was running the marathon this morning. All I could think was “I want to be YOU…” He was happy, he was fit, and he was glowing…eager to talk about all his running and the run this morning. I’d have talked with him all day if I could, but I was eager to get to the front and find my pacer. I had every intention on trying to stick with the 3:30:00 guy…at least for now.

I wished him luck and worked my way to the front of the crowd, and looked for my husband on the other side of the steel gate that separated the runners from the specatators. I found him, buckled on my belts, and handed him the bag with my eye glasses and nearly empty fuel bottle, which I used to down my Energybits and Sportslegs tabs in my pre-race fuel pouch. I was ready to rumble.

Start line photo

Along came National Anthem time, and as always, I got a little verklempt. Soon after the wheelchair racers were off, and before I knew it, I kissed my husband goodbye and we were off, too. I came to find out later that we were off at 7:04:38. 22 seconds early. Wow!

The first few miles were brutal. I couldn’t see a thing. I was so worried about stepping in a pot hole and twisting my ankle, I had my head down for the first few miles. I wasn’t even sure how fast I was running with respect to the pacers. I figured eventually I’d catch up, or they’d catch me. As it turns out, they caught me…near mile 3. That is when the day dawned, about 26 minutes into the run. I found my pace group, and for much of the first 10 miles, we traded the lead…back and forth. They stopped for water, and I didn’t since I had my hydration belt with me. I have to admit, I was grateful for the cloudy morning, but that didn’t do a damn for the humidity. I was sweaty by mile 3. And the early headwind was a delight, even though it played havoc with my pace early in the run. In the end, it probably evened itself out, but had the day been cooler, with no wind, this race would easily have been a PR for me.

I never would have believed it toeing the line a half hour earlier…

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Kansas City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro Ambassador. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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