It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain, as you start out the climb …
With the lyric’s of U2′s “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” blasting through my earbuds, I surged forward with a crowd of excited runners on a cool, clear morning in Kansas City, determined to set a PR in the half marathon. I didn’t realize in that moment how prophetic Bono’s words would be.
Being a race director in Kansas City must be one of the most frustrating jobs in the world. Runners are always yearning for … demanding, even … fast, flat race routes. Ha! Try finding a mile of level ground in Kansas City! Let alone 13 or 26 of them in a row.
But if I am ever a race director, the second most important rule (after “Thou Shalt Provide Plenty of Porta-Potties”) will be “Thou Shalt Not Begin or End a Race on an Uphill.”
I mean, of any place to put a hill, those are the worst choices – at the start, before you’ve had a chance to warm up and settle into your pace, and at the end, when you’re exhausted and struggling to push yourself faster across the finish line. The first half mile of the Broadway Bridge Run was uphill, as was the last half mile.
In between, there were many more steep hills to mock my efforts at a PR. This turned out to be a pretty tough course.
So, no PR. I finished in 1:42, placing 3rd in my age group and 33rd overall (out of 388 runners in the half-marathon). Not a bad finish, but not what I was hoping for.
The good news is that, aside from the hills, I felt pretty comfortable with a 7:30/mile pace. I was able to maintain that pace consistently through the first six miles of the race. I lost some time when we crossed the river and headed up the steep hill into downtown. I couldn’t keep a 7:30 pace up the hills, but I was still hitting the pace (or faster) on the downhills and the flats. After crossing the finish line, I felt like I still had enough gas in the tank to keep going (and wished I had pushed harder up the hills!).
I think that means a certain friend is going to insist I run the bleachers with him at the stadium to train better for the hills at the Kansas City Marathon next month.
A few more thoughts about the race …
- I thought there were sufficient porta-potties, but they were located in the wrong place. There wasn’t enough space for the lines to form in front of them, which made it difficult to maintain organized lines. Porta-potties should be moved to a location where there is plenty of room in front of them for long lines to form.
- Volunteers at the finish line did a great job of taking care of the runners … removing timing tags, hanging medals on our necks, providing food, etc.
- Volunteers at the aid stations along the route mostly did a great job, too. Some of the volunteers, though, weren’t clear about whether they were handing out water or Gatorade. As a runner looking for only water, I had to ask at a couple of stations to figure out who had the water cups. On the whole, though, they were great and greatly appreciated.
Also, if I am ever a race director, I will order up exactly the same weather that we enjoyed this weekend.