Thursday and Friday travel plans went pretty flawlessly. They were right on target with my initial travel plan I posted about the week leading up to the race weekend. Although the drive was a long one, it came with many laughs along the way as we traversed through Arkansas and Missouri then crossing into Kansas Friday afternoon after being on the road for just over 8 hours.
When we made it into Olathe we went straight to race packet pickup being held at a Hilton hotel. For a race that seems popular with the Marathon Maniacs and 50 State Marathon Club I was surprised to see such a small event layout. Usually an expo at a hotel means in one of their convention or meeting rooms, but this was no more than 5 tables set up in the lobby of the hotel. After a quick pickup we checked into our hotel down the road and set out for dinner before heading to bed for the night.
The forecast had been telling us for days to expect rain and as we awoke Saturday morning we were all surprised that it had not started yet. We left the hotel just before 6 and made the 15 minute drive to the start line at the Garmin Headquarters. After walking to the starting line area I found my friend Jeff who was leading the 3:40 pace group. Jeff is a Marathon Maniac that I met during the Phoenix Marathon weekend. he needed a ride from his hotel to the Phoenix start line. There were problems with the race sound system so we completely missed the Star Spangled Banner and the race start command. We were having a conversation and all of a sudden everyone in front of us started running!
I hung with Jeff for the first 9 miles or so, talking with him and with the rest of the people in the pace group. There were a lot of first time marathoners in the group. This course was interesting because the half marathon split just after mile 3 and we would rejoin them later, our mile 13-16 was their mile 4-7 and our mile 21-26 was their 8-13. For the first while the weather was holding out. It was humid as it could be in Eastern Kansas but there was a nice overcast and the rain was non existent. Around Mile 11 the temperature started to drop and the rain started coming down. The course turned into a running/nature trail that was paved, but very hilly for just over a mile.
By the time I reached the half marathon mark I could feel that my legs were tired. (I’ve put over 100 miles on my body in the last 2 weeks) My pace was slowing to around a 9:30/mile and I was taking more frequent water and walk breaks. I thought I still had plenty of time banked up and could afford a little break. At Mile 15 I was passed by the 3:50 pace group. Uh-Oh, I had been waiting for the 3:45 group (that apparently never existed) and now I was tired, beat up and making a left turn onto a mud covered path. Walking became not just for the sake of fatigue setting in, but now every few hundred feet there were layers of slick mud covering the running path.
As I reached the turn around of the out and back section right around Mile 18 I was passed by the 4 hour pace group. Sub 4 is always my goal, seeing this pacer go by and knowing that my body wasn’t going to be able to hang with them was a mental barrier that I decided wasn’t worth battling to get through. I worked to keep moving forward through the rain and the stinging pain that was now taking over my right ankle from running on the trail.
We finally made it back to city streets just before mile 22. After 4 miles of a steady incline with a few rolling hills I saw the Garmin HQ coming back into view. Every finish line is exciting, but I was feeling pretty rough as I came around the corner and saw the yellow brick road leading to the finish chute. I crossed the line and snagged my finisher medal, which was gorgeous!
After the race I grabbed some food and drink and found a seat while I waited for the rest of my friends to come through. Tim was just a few minutes back, Brian was having a rough time in the rain and the mud and was just under 5 and a half hours coming across the finish. After the race we toweled off at the car and made our way to the best BBQ ribs we could find in Olathe. Oklahoma Joe’s Kansas City BBQ was exactly what we needed to warm up. After lunch we drove the hour back to KC and checked into our hotel for the night for a quick nap before heading out to see the Kansas City Royals get destroyed by the Oakland Athletics 5-0.
Division – 25
Male – 189
Overall – 274