When I had planned out my year, I originally had a MO race on the calendar, but it got pulled out due to scheduling conflicts. Then, very last minute when I didn’t end up in Hawaii, I found a double for MO and KS that was only 20 minutes from each other. Logistics couldn’t be easier! I would even get to stay in the same hotel for 2 nights. No other double that I have done had allowed that. So, by the end of October, I was signed up and committed to running the Longview Half to cross off Missouri and the Gobbler Grind Half for Kansas.
I flew into Kansas City on Friday morning. Since I had the vacation days to use or lose, I took the day off so I could be a tourist. I ended up visiting the Truman Family home and the Truman Presidential library, but the highlight of my day was visiting a friend at her work… Garmin! She gave me a tour and it was so impressive! While they don’t really do the fitness line there, what I saw was absolutely incredible. I was stunned at what she was showing me and felt so lucky to have had the opportunity to see it. After my fun day, I headed to the KC Running Company to pick up my bib and swag. They offered packet pick up the morning of the race, but I prefer to have the bib that night before if possible. Since I had been up since 3:30 AM EST, I was in bed by 8pm and ready for my 6 AM alarm.
Usually when the alarm goes off at 6am for a race, I am slow to get up. Not on for this race. I had gotten almost 10 hours of sleep, so when it went off, I was quick to put the feet on the floor and start getting ready. I was wide awake and ready within about 20-30 minutes. This race was about 30 minutes from the hotel, so I was out the door by 6:30am. There seemed to only be one way into the park where the race was, so I decided to take the back routes which is why it took a bit longer.
Just after 7am, I arrived at the race location. The race start and finish was located at one of the Longview Lake parks. Immediately I hit the bathroom line and then just waited in the car. This was my first really cold race of the season. Temps at the start were a feel of mid to high 20’s and getting up to mid 30’s by the end of the race. I was actually more worried about the wind since we were around the lake, but that didn’t seem to be an issue except for about a half mile late in the race.
Finally, at 7:50am, I left the warmth of the car and headed to the start corral. This race had Smart Pacers at 5 minute increments and I settled in with the 2:40 pacer thinking that would be the best for me. Somehow, as the corral shifted toward the start, I was over the line with the 2:30 pacer.
As I started this race, I had in my mind that I was going to finish around 2:40 and I was certainly doing my typical run/walk. When my watch buzzed for the first walk break, I stepped to the right and took it. When I started back up, I found myself right in line with the 2:35 pacers. Within the next 4 minutes my entire race plan had changed.
I started chatting with the group and just fell in line with them. When my watch buzzed again, I ignored it and told myself I would run with them until the hill at mile 2 and then fall off. At this point there were maybe 6-7 of us in this group. We all just started talking about our running past and we all seemed to fall in line nicely with each other.
Just as you turned to hit mile 2, you were faced with a nice long hill. They actually had a race, King/Queen of the Hill, for this mile. I knew I wouldn’t win it and ended up being timed at 9:55 for this part. I don’t think it was quite a mile that they timed, but this hill was pretty rough. I figured as soon as I started the climb, I’d pull back and start walking. That didn’t happen. I stuck right with the pace group, which by now was 5 of us.
After the hill, we did just over a mile into a park before we turned back toward the main part of the course. At this point we were finishing up mile 5. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking about how I would fall back soon and start my run/walk. I was feeling okay and having a blast with the 2:35 group but just figured I couldn’t keep up.
From mile 6 to about 8.5, we were on the main road. At some point in mile 6, our group became 4. We were all commenting how it was amazing that these main roads were shut down and we didn’t have to deal with traffic. There was certainly a big enough shoulder they could have shoved us to, but thankfully they didn’t.
I was still pushing along pretty well in these miles. I kept taking my honey stinger chews and really made sure I was taking on water as well. At the water stop around mile 8, I started taking some Gatorade. They were small cups, but I figured the little extra would be good. I was still preparing to hit a wall and pull back from the group at any point.
Pretty quickly after that water stop, we turned right for another short out and back. This 1.5 miles certainly had a few rollers in it. It was in this area that you had the best views of the lake as well. I sort of thought we would be running around the lake more and having more direct views, but that didn’t end up being the case. As mile 9 came to an end, we had the second worst climb. It was not as long of a hill as mile 2, but it was steep. At the top we hit mile 10 and turned around for the last 5k.
The start of mile 10 was a nice downhill. It wasn’t much, but still welcomed. As we approached mile 11, we headed back over the dam bridge. The winds were really picking up and all of a sudden I was freezing. Thankfully, once we passed the dam, we were protected again from the wind. At 11.5, we made the second to last turn back to the main stretch of road.
I was still questioning myself even though we had less than 2 miles to go. I think I was still just shocked. By this point, it was only myself and one other pacer, Lauren. Our one other pacer, Stephanie, dropped back a little after a bathroom break and ended up picking up the other person from our foursome, Jake, who was running his first half marathon.
I found out that Lauren was 6 months postpartum, and I was just amazed! She was seriously making this half marathon look so easy! On the main road, we had a few gently rollers, but once we hit around 12.5, it was flat or slightly downhill. At this point, Lauren had taken a few steps in front of me. I pushed to keep up, but it didn’t seem to work. At mile 12.8, my damn shoelace came undone and I had to quickly tie it back up. I think that is just the 2nd time that has ever happened to me in a race.
Soon after that was the last turn back into the park. From here there was just under quarter of a mile to go. You could see the finish line and I kept picking it up as best as possible. At the last little curve into the finish line, some guy came out of no where and went barreling past me. I saw Lauren finish and a few seconds later, I was coming across the finish line as well. We waited a few minutes for Stephanie and Jake. I had never met these people before, but there was something about sharing those 13.1 miles that definitely allowed me to make new friends.
After I finished, it took a few minutes, but then it hit me that I actually had a really good race. After that first walk break in the first 5 minutes of the race, the only other times I walked were at the water stops. I was stunned! I didn’t think I had anything like that in me. I finished with a huge smile on my face and it absolutely reflected my feelings for the race. I was more than thrilled with my 2:34:39 finish time, but it was more how I got there. I haven’t run that much in a half marathon in some time. Years, maybe.
Overall, how I finished of course played a part in how I feel about this race. However, taking that out of the equation I would still be pleased with the race itself. Sure, the course had some rollers throughout and 2 big hills, but it was a nice course. I loved the pace groups and couldn’t say enough amazing things about the volunteers. It seemed every table was manned by local high school kids. They were enthusiastic, helpful and provided a lot of cheers out there. The race swag was amazing! The medal was top notch and instead of a regular race shirt you got a hoodie! I ended up wearing it most of the weekend because it was so warm. I honestly could not recommend this race enough. Whether you’d a local KC runner or someone looking for a Missouri race, add this one to your list. I was more than thrilled to have run this as my 30th state and my 51st half.
After the race, I headed over to the Gary Gribble Running Store to pick up my packet for the Gobbler Grind, which was Sunday’s race. Once back at the hotel, I enjoyed a nice hot shower and a nap. My afternoon fun consisted of chowing down on some amazing BBQ at Q39 and then visiting the National War World I Museum. The Museum was so touching, especially being there on Veteran’s Day. I grabbed a light dinner and then was back at the hotel and in bed again around 8:30pm. Even though Sunday’s race didn’t start until 8:30 AM, I wasn’t going to shy away from a solid night’s sleep. I figured I would need all the rest I could get going into race number two of the weekend.
Official Finish Time:
35/45, Female 30-34