I decided to run the Kansas City Marathon for a few reasons:
Well, things being the way they are, I got busy over the summer and didn't get as much training in as I wanted. So, with a 12 mile training run three weeks before the race under my belt (note NOT a 20 mile run) I changed my registration to the half marathon.
I felt I was in good shape. I'd run the Dawg Dash 5k the week before with a good (for me) time. I'd run the Seafair Half Marathon earlier in the summer 14 minutes faster than my previous half (Seattle Half Marathon). So, I felt good about running a time competitive with the Seafair half - I was shooting for 1:45 or better.
The run started early - 7:00am - thus assuring that we'd be running under cooler conditions. Two weeks previous the Chicago Marathon had been stopped due to excessive heat so this was welcome.
The race started at Crown Center where the Hospital Hill run also starts. The marathon reportedly had a record number of entrants and it was apparent. For some reason the marathon runners and half runners started at the same time which bogged up the start of the run as well as the first six miles of the course.
For Kansas the course is quite hilly (in fairness the run is in Missouri) with the hardest hill coming in the first three miles. Being from Seattle the hills didn't seem to pose much threat and indeed I felt pretty good as I ran up to the War Memorial and down toward Westport.
The trouble began while running through the plaza. I'd been fighting the urge to hit the port-a-potties but nature took over. By that point I'd felt my legs fighting me and I could not figure out why. As I slowed down considerably it hit me - I'd spent Thursday walking around the University of Kansas campus for over five hours!
(Again, before you start laughing KU is quite hilly)
Morale of the story - don't walk around a hilly area two days before a big run. And certainly not for five hours. Wearing flip flops was probably a poor idea as well. Duh.
Let's just say the last six miles were brutal. I ran the first seven miles around one hour (at six miles I was still on a 1:50 pace) and the last six in 1:08. Fortunately there are no hills to speak of in these last miles but I counted every step. I forced myself to run (except through water stops where I felt the co-ordination needed to run and drink would be....well, would it would be challenging to pull this off in my condition) all the way in. And there was no mustering a show of strength as I came through the finishing chute.
The finishing area was crowded as hell - in fact it was not laid out very well and there was a shortage of volunteers at the finish to herd runners along. It was tough to get through lines and to find your supporters. But, there was a Boulevard Beer stand which made me happy.
All-in-all I learned a few things. Rest before a big run is critical. You can run when you're in dire pain. And a cold one after the run can take your pain away pretty quickly.