This post comes with a warning: Brace yourself. . .it's heavy with photos!!! :) However, before you leave, I'd love for you to give it a chance. You see, this is my attempt to document the culmination of a very important goal. If you've read any of my posts since June, you've seen my running group and I slowly build our running endurance from that of a 5K to that of a half marathon (and marathon distance for one of us).
It's now been three weeks since we participated in the Waddell-Reed Kansas City Marathon. I can't believe it's over! However, by putting this second post together (about the run), I've had a chance to "relive" the event a bit and to be so very, very happy that we did it!!
Actually, the idea we had to run a half-marathon started almost a year ago when we had just completed a local "Turkey Trails" 5K.
I don't recall who actually said "let's do a half-marathon", but at that "high moment" of just having completed an event, it seemed like a great idea!!
As the months went on, two others "joined" in and then we were six!! The youngest one (and she was in her mid-forties) decided to make doing a marathon distance as her goal. The rest of us (one in her fifties and the rest of us in our mid sixties) were planning on doing the half. It would be my first and also that of one other.
In Feb., I think, we had an official "meeting" to get to know each other and talk about "training plans" that would slowly build us up to the goal distances we'd decided on.
From time to time, some of us would get together to run. . .like this day in the end of February. Mary and I met at a church parking lot because it had been plowed ! Our GPS watches indicated it was 1/4 of a mile if we ran the perimeter of the parking lot around the church!! That day we completed 3.0 miles!
In June, we determined we would complete our goal runs by using the run/walk intervals approach. . .and we set up a schedule of how we would slowly add distance and vary our run/walk times over about 16 weeks.
Here we are on our first "real" training group run. It was very early in the morning, but still daylight. Over the next three months we changed our "meeting" time to arrive at the trail before daylight because, as we ran longer and longer distances, we needed to get started before sunrise due to the increasing summer heat.
On this morning in August, we were elated. . .we'd just hit the 10 mile mark!
(L to R: Mary, me, Joan)
Early on the morning of October 19, 2013, we gathered with about 12,000 other folks to complete our goal!
It was pretty chilly in those pre-dawn hours, so we took refuge within the wonderfully warm Crown Center shopping area.
(R to L: Me, Karen, Larry, Mary and Joan).
Karen, a great runner, decided to run the 5K event of the Kansas City Marathon this year because she just didn't have the opportunities to train for the half and because she had an injury. Larry, Mary's son, lives out of state but happened to be in town during the weekend of the Marathon, so he also signed up for the 5K.
We had arrived very early in order to get a parking spot, so there was a great deal of time to kill. However, the hour and a half we had to wait before the "start" of our run seemed to fly by.
We were lucky to have the indoor bathrooms available to us. . .as those cold porta potties did not seem too appealing!
One observation that day. . .the men's line was longer than the women's!! :)
Here we are. . .just about ready to take our spots for our runs!!! The marathon and half marathon starting times were slated for about 7:05 a.m. and the 5K started at 7:20 a.m.!
The day before the run, Mary and I volunteered at the packet pickup. When we were finished, we walked around and looked at the various vendors. We also found the "pacers" booth.
The "pacers" are just amazing runners who help us complete a long distance run in certain amounts of time. For example, the lady I spoke to that day was going to be a pacer for the half marathon...running the 3 hr. 10 min. completion time.
Joan and I run at about the same pace so we decided to complete the run together. We had completed our training 13.1 run/walk in 3 hours. However, that was on a mostly flat trail. . .and on crushed chat and not asphalt and concrete and HILLS we'd be on during the 1/2 that day. So, we thought the 3:10 pace would be a fit for us.
However, as the run started and we found our comfort level of run/walking, we discovered we were actually fitting very well into the 2 hour 50 minute pace group! You can see our pacers were just ahead of us, wearing the neon yellow shirts with PACER on their backs and carrying the 2:50 pacer signs. A BIG shout out to the awesome "pacers" in both the full and half marathons!
It was so chilly that morning that my poor old camera "froze up"! I didn't know what was going on with it for quite awhile, but realized that if I just didn't mess with turning off it would go into battery saving mode and would snap back to life once I warmed it in my pocket.
Anyway, because of my non-working camera initially in the run, I didn't get to document the event like I'd wanted.
Here we are at about the 2 mile mark. . .I think! My husband and daughter had been waiting at that corner for quite some time. He got some really good photos of us. I really appreciated them showing up for this. . .it felt so good seeing someone hanging out on a street corner that was waiting just for a glimpse of us! He got some fun pictures of us, too!
Can you tell how much fun we were having? Well. . .we were!! Look at those smiles! However, it was early. . .we still had 11 more miles to go!!
The Liberty Memorial tower looked soooooo far away at this point! We knew we had a huge hill to conquer before we actually were close to that landmark. . .
This is our UNION STATION. . .which meant a REALLY BIG hill was very near. . .
and here we are on that REALLY big hill! OK. . .it doesn't look so bad to you, does it? Well....it WAS!!!
Whew!! The big hill was behind us and the Liberty Memorial was straight ahead. The National World War I Museum is housed at the Liberty Memorial!!
We also hit our 3 MILE mark on the flat stretch that led up to the memorial! Wow! Only 10 more miles to go!!
You just can't appreciate how steep this hill was either, but it was!
There were many great signs along the route!! It was so awesome that these folks were there to add to the fun!! A big shout out to those race supporters!!!
My daughter was walking along side me a few steps! It's amazing. . .after all of the years I spent watching her dance, do gymnastics, play soccer, volleyball and basketball, here she was supporting her elderly mom complete a half marathon!! How awesome!!
Of course, when I totally ran my first 5K, my son was along my side every step of the way. . .and my husband was dashing from point to point to get pictures of that day, too!
A BIG shout out to my family!!!!
I did get the 5 MILE sign and. . .
"PINK" ribbons that had been tied to a beautiful little tree. . .
and these AMAZING volunteers who were manning the water stop in their PJs!!! I believe they were with a girls running club. . .and I am sorry that I'm not certain on that! I'll blame it on starting to get a little tired cuz we were around the 6 mile mark!! However. . .I LOVED seeing them and here's a BIG shout out for those great folks!!!
It was so neat to not only be running through the streets of downtown and mid town Kansas City, but to also go through some wonderful residential areas, too!
At this point we were almost half way through our run!!
Loved these ladies and their sign!!! I personally always carry tissues with me, but sometimes "snot rockets" are a part of run for some folks!! ha ha!!
Joan is just ahead on the left. We were in one of the oldest and most gorgeous shopping districts. . THE COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA!! In fact, just a few weeks prior, Mary, Joan and I ran the PLAZA 10K (6.2 miles) as part of our preparation for the half and we were on this very street then!!
There were awesome folks providing entertainment along the way, too!!! A BIG shout out to them. . .it was great to have them there!!
Terrible picture. . .but somewhere close to where the "split" occurred (where the marathoners went south and the half marathoners headed north) we were on a stretch of street that was being prepared for resurfacing. That added a bit of interest to the run! ha ha!!
And another terrible photo. . .also at the "split" area and rough street. . .and I was shooting right into the son. . .but these great folks were in Wizard of Oz outfits and holding signs for us!!
Another water stop and the 8 MILE mark!!! Only FIVE MORE MILES!!
Yes. . .we were!!!
I don't know at what point of the course my husband took this, but got a great photo of Mary!!! It looks like she was having fun, too!!!
Four miles to go!! My photo taking was slowing down. . . I was getting weary!!
Only the distance of a 5K left!!
I have to say I remember being pretty tired around this mark. . . I'm pretty sure my shoes had lost every bit of cushion they had left in them because I could feel every step and my feet were hurting. However, somewhere around here, a fellow came out into his front yard, eating a bowl of cereal! He asked us how long we'd been running. . .and I think one of us mumbled something like "over two hours" and he asked us how much longer did we have to run and one of us replied "two miles". . . . and it seemed soooo far away!
This DJ was playing for us. . .and so were some porta potties if we needed them!
OK. . .I think I was having a lot of trouble keeping my camera steady at MILE 12. I don't recall if it was from exhaustion or excitement of what was just a little over a mile away!!
This great group greeted us at the 12.5 mile mark. . .tempting us with "free beer for quitters"!! They were awesome. . .we needed the humor at that point!
Joan and I had pretty much maintained our 3/2 run/walk intervals during the whole distance. The last half mile was definitely the hardest stretch. . .I was worn out!
However, once that "finish line" is in sight, it seems a little easier to push through to the end.
We are on the right. . .I'm under the "H" and Joan is under the "N". . . there's a lady in front of us.
It was over. . .we'd DONE IT!!
It was the funnest-hardest thing I've ever done! Two hours and fifty minutes for our very first half-marathon!!
Our goal that day. . .besides to just "finish". . .was to have fun and I have to say we DID!!
Here is Mary . . .she made it, too!!
It seemed hard to believe that we arrived in the parking lot a little after 5:00 a.m. and just a few hours later, we'd all met our running goals!
A big thank you and shout out to my husband and daughter for also arriving early and darting all around the course, trying to get photos of us!! I know it was a very long and cold morning for you. I love you both!!!
THE STONE RABBIT loved hearing about our half marathon experience and was really impressed with my amazing finisher's medal! Sadly, my bib number was still pinned on my shirt when I tossed it in the washer! :( That's OK. . . it still looks beautiful to me. I will always look at it and remember with great fondness the day I wore it while I completed my FIRST half marathon!!