Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Race Report: Hospital Hill Half Marathon 2011

Leading up to this event, I knew I was in trouble.  I didn't follow a training plan like I did in 2010.  In the three weeks prior to the event, I had logged 22 miles running.  All other training was focused on swimming and biking.  I knew I had the cardio to slog through 13.1 miles but I didn't know if I had it in the legs.  During March and April, I had some long-ish runs (6 - 7 miles) at an 8 minute pace, so I foolishly picked up a pace band for a 1:45 finish during the Expo.

To further shoot myself in the running shoe, I went to a concert the night before the race.  I knew this was going to hurt my performance, but it's not like I was going to podium. This is currently my favorite band (Mumford and Sons) and, being a band from the UK, they don't make it to the US very often.  The concert came with a handful of opening acts, so we showed up only for Cake and M&S.  To give myself more time to sleep, we got a hotel room a block away from the start line.  This easily saved 1.5 hours of sleep.
Everything packed to go on Thursday. Got use out of my Transition Bag again.
Something I had not planned on (or, rather, provided contingency plans) was the fact that Thursday night I started getting that cough going that only indicates one thing... a brand new cold was entering the body.  Vitamin C and water were thrust upon the system.  I got to a point on Friday that I wasn't very productive dealing with the cold so I left an hour early to check in to the hotel and sleep.  I barely got an hour of sleep before I had to pick up my packet.

Met Joe VI and completed Packet Pickup by 5:30pm.  I picked up my tech shirt, bib, and pre-approval for post-race brewski.  No bag was given, which I thought was awkward.  After packet pickup, we joined Jennifer and Aaron for dinner prior to the concert, where Ben and Kristin joined the crew.  We got to the River Market in time for Cake and subsequently Mumford and Sons.  Concert was over around midnight.  I tried to stay off my feet in between sets.  Two bottles of water downed as well as one beer.

As for actual, pre-race nutrition I drank as much water as I could and had some pasta for lunch on Friday.

 Race Day

I slept surprisingly well, considering the oncoming cold.  The alarm was set to go off at 5:45 but I woke up a little after 5am and evaluated the "machine".  There was definitely some extract lubrication in the nasal passage and some labored breathing.  I never really considered dropping out of the race but I decided to throw out any time goals. Once I finally got up and showered I was feeling much better.  I was probably at 90% at that point. 

I ate my bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  Continued taking in fluids.

TKB and I finally made it down to the start around 6:30 where I met RunWithDrew for the first time.  We had a little Twitter meetup before the race, unfortunately MikeDial and DrDial weren't able to get there.  I also met up with Shane and Heather, as well as Dustin and his friend Heather.  Drew and Shane were doing the Half and Heather, Dustin, and Heather were doing the 10k. 

Shane and I about to run 13.1 in heat and humidity.
No need for a potty stop as I was in good shape just before leaving the hotel.

At roughly 6:50, we split up. I took one Gu packet to get things going. Shane and I started towards the mass of humanity and we ended up hanging out in the back around the 2:40 pace group.  It took nearly 4 minutes to reach the start line.

Hospital Hill is named after one of the segments of the course.  There is a hill downtown that contains the Children's Mercy Hospital (well, this is MY assumption as to its namesake).  Even so, there are a bunch of nasty hills on this course.  Some are 60 feet inclines in a tenth of a mile or 140 feet over one mile.  (Both of those hills are in the last 2 miles, by the way.)  My Garmin registered 750 feet of total elevation.  In addition to the hills, this race was HOT.  It was probably 75 - 80 degrees at the start.  The humidity levels were up as well.  The race required good hydration planning and having my hydration pack with me was a nice security blanket.  I only had water with me but took in Gatorade at the aid stations whenever I cold.  I generally took in one cup of water, poured another on my head, and then sips of gatorade.

Shane and I stayed together for the first three miles (which included the first major hill).  During the second aid station, I appeared to have lost Shane, so I just kept trucking.  Feeling pretty good, I set my goal to catch-up with the 2:00 hour pace group and go from there.  I knew by being behind roughly 4 minutes from the shotgun that I'd be in decent shape for a sub-2 half marathon.

A race of this hilly nature, I take the ups fairly slow and take advantage of the downs.  The first place I really sped up was by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  Around that point I saw Kristen's husband, Jeff, as a course marshall.  I gave him a high-ten and went on cruising by.  About a half a block later, I could hear the sirens of a firetruck.  I quickly had to hit the breaks though at the intersection as it cruised by.  I blame that for my end results :).

The evidence of the heat was starting to kick-in.  One of the next major hills was at UMKC, roughly 5 miles in.  I saw two women sitting on the curb, one of whom was leaning over, and then I heard that guttural rumbling noise no one wants to hear coming out of their own body because the next thing that follows is that morning's hydration.  In fact, this girl must like the lemonade flavor of Gatorade because it was a yellow-y fountain.  We have more fountains than Rome, right?

A mile later I saw another woman laying on a driveway with the homeowners holding an icepack for her.  Possibly a leg injury.  I few minutes later and ambulance went flying by.  This was not a good day for some people.  You just hope they keep going.  Maybe not on this day but for the next race.  By this time I had caught the 2:05 pace group.  "Only" five minutes to go!

The last half of the race was tough.  I remember it being tough last year and it didn't change in 2011.  I'm sure my training plan had a lot to do with it.  The course was slightly different than last year.  The start was a block or so further towards downtown Kansas City, so that distance had to be made up somewhere.  They added a two block detour just after you turn north on Brookside.  This detour included a nice incline as well.  Now that's a cheap way to add another hill.  Ugh!

So the last few miles included a nasty long hill plus a short, even nastier hill.  I tried to push it and push it and push it but my legs just stopped listening. I had created some distance between myself and the 2:05 pace group but that gap was shot by the time I hit the last mile.  I just stayed pace with them all the way in.

Almost there!!
They had wet cold towels waiting, water, and a huge medal.  A big complaint last year was the water wasn't cold and it looks like most of the cold water was taken by the better trained runners.  With as hot as it was, the warmer water didn't really matter; however, I did hear they actually ran out of water bottles about 30 minutes later.

The post-race food was decent.  I found chocolate milk, cheese sticks, frozen fruit bars (which was AWESOME), a bag of various crackers/pretzels, and Gatorade.  I also found Shane, who had finished just behind me.  Also included in your registration is Flip Flops, beer (Michelob Ultra, bleh), and a plate of BBQ.

While I still don't quite know how he did it, a runner stopped me after I acquired my Flippie Floppies and introduced himself as Kyle from Twitter.  He was with Brian (bsparks71).  I must have tweeted my bib # but talk about eagle eyes!  It was great meeting everyone from twitter out there!

After I finished I had one thing on my mind.  I knew I didn't make a sub-2 hour race, which I was fine with.  I was looking for Joe VI.  The guy had been working his butt off training for this and I heard he made a sub-2 hour race.  Good Job, Joe!  OK.... I'll just out right and say it, he finally beat me in a race.  Now can you do it in a triathlon?  *nudge nudge, hint hint*.

Chip Time: 2:01:22
Overall 881 / 3169
Gender 121 / 278

  • Good
    • Weekly e-mail communications, ample aid stations, good post-race grub.  The best organized race I've competed in.
    • Happy with having the BBQ option but not KC's best (I went to Oklahoma Joe's for lunch).
    • Good medal.  This year's medal is a puzzle piece that connects with the next two year's medals.

  • Bad
    • Goodie bag was better last year.  They gave out water bottles instead of a hat and socks.  I'm not a fan of that kind of water bottle, but that's just personal preference.
    • I preferred last years beer choice of Boulevard Beer, but I'm not going to complain that much.  It's good to have sponsors to make this event affordable.
    • There is a typo on the ribbon that holds the medal for the half-marathon finishers.  Oops.  (who am I to complain about that... if you can't find 50 typos in this post then I'd be surprised).
  • Lessons Learned
    • Train better - I have 4 races scheduled in 5 weeks.  Three triathlons and the half-marathon. Need to stretch those out.
    • Don't attend a concert the night before.
    • If you can afford it, do the hotel thing.  It's sooooo much easier.

The Evidence

Shane finishing strong.

Even though he finished first, I'm putting his finishing photo last.  Take that, Joe VI!
Also.. the heart rate monitor will provide an interesting tan line.  Human pin stripes?
Scotty B, the dork. 
We look much different in this photo than the pre-race photo... about 5 pounds of water weight lighter.

Beer... where's the BEER!
FYI:  Girl in the orange tank, might want to choose darker colored running shorts.

BBQ Pulled Pork -- NOT from a gas station.

Joe VI enjoying his lead.  FREAKING HILARIOUS!