WARNING.....WARNING!!! This post is HEAVY with photos !! :)
I won't appologize for all of them, however . . actually I didn't share all of the ones I'd originally planned on including. I really did try to weed some out! I guess this is a selfish post. . .one meant as a gift to my running friend (Karen) and myself. . . a way to help us remember a few of the details of our accomplishment: Rocking the Parkway Half-Marathon!
I do appologize for mistakes in grammar, punctuation and spelling. I'm trying to do this in a short amount of time!
Rock the Parkway Half Marathon and 5K was held April 11 in a lovely part of Kansas City, MO. The preparation for the distance started a few months before that.
We try to get in 3 runs a week. . . doing that in the winter in MO can be a challenge! However, we did the best we could when we could. One of the runs usually occurred on Wednesday nights (yep in the dark...we use headlamps and there are street lights, too) with our running group, KCRunning Co. Groupies of Independence. Karen and a couple of other of us had a 4 mi. route we used. . .and that included 2 very challenging hills! The weather was actually pretty decent on most of our outings. We had to miss a few due to snow, but when the sidewalks and trail were clear, we ran.
Another time we tried to run was on the weekends. That almost always took place on our local trail that runs along a little river. Here it was in January. . .sporting ice!
When the weather was really cruddy we hit the treadmill at our gyms and pounded out a few miles. . . not our favorite way to get in a run, but thankful we could do it that way.
I hurt my hip in mid-Janurary (my fault. . .too eager to do more than what my body was ready to do), so on top of dealing with weather, I dealt with the injury. That slowed me down in getting prepared for the half, but I was lucky it didn't stop me!
In our training for the half, the longest distance Karen and I got in together was 11 miles. Because of my hip, I wanted to be prepared to run part of the upcoming half without Karen (I would slow her down).
About 2 weeks prior to the run I hit another local trail and pushed myself to run/walk the 13.1 mi. distance by myself.
I felt really good after having accomplished that. We'd practiced using intervals of 3 min. running and 1 min. walking. I was able to keep that up for the first 9 mi., then my hip (and glute) were burning. That meant I needed to stretch a bit on walk breaks. I also decided at mile 10 to finish with 2 min. walk breaks. I didn't care how I finished the distance. . .I just wanted to know I could do it!
This is my post-13.1 alone miles photo. . . my worst selfie ever (and I've taken a lot of really bad ones) , but one that showed how spent I was at the end of that personal challenge. . . yet how very happy I was to have been able complete that distance.
Now, fast forward a couple of weeks and it's time to pick up our packets for Rock the Parkway!!
I love packet pickup at the large runs. They have an expo set up featuring lots of vendors showcasing their running related products or services!
One such booth was that of BOOST RUNNING! It's a program offered by BOOST Physical Therapy and Sports Performance. Karen and I have been taking these classes for several months . Their courses aim to keep runners healthy "by incorporating injury prevention exercises, dynamic flexibility drills, hip/core strengthening, and running form."
In the photo below we are visiting with our instructors. They are both physical therapists and USATF level 1 track coaches.
I feel so fortunate to be able to take advantage of their program.
(LR: me, Nathan Carlson, Connie Teague, and Karen)
Here we are early the next morning, just as the sun came up at the sight of the Rock the Parkway Half! In the background was the arch we would be running under to start the beginning of our 13.1 mile run!
We were sporting our brand new neon shirts that let everyone know we were members of Idiots Running Club!! This is an online running group that offers lots of support and fun ...and how we found this group is a great story for another time, but for now, we were proudly wearing our shirts. . .looking forward to meeting other Local Idiots!
Thanks to Facebook, I'd connected with several other Local Idiots who were also going to be at the run! Our plan was to meet up for a group photo before the race started.
And guess where I found the first three fellow Idiots! Yep...at the porta potties. . .thanks to our shirts!!
I could tell right off the bat that this was gonna be a fun new adventure in my life!!
L to R: me, Beqi, Tressie and Tammy!
In a bit, we found our pacer Jen (who is also a member of the Idiots Running Club) and we took our first group photo!
I have to point out that I met one of my new heroes that morning, too. She is in the white shirt. . .her name is Carol. She's about to complete her 300th marathon! Yes....300!!
Front Row: Jen, Jodi Second Row: Carol, Tressi Back Row: me, Karen, Beqi, Tammy and Laura
Soon we were joined by Bruce (Back row, left) and Rob (Back row right!)
I also saw Sherri Odell, of Adventures of a Middle Aged Drama Queen, whom I first met last fall via a FB running page! She's been a running dynamo this spring, completing several halfs! And after seeing our shirts that morning. . .she's a member of the club, too!! :)
We were pretty much at the back of the pack as we waited for the run to start. Last fall Karen and I finished the KC Marathon Half in 2hrs. 49 min., so we felt comfortable about starting out in Jen's pace group of 2:50!
We also saw one of Karen's friends (Pam. . .she didn't get the message about wearing neon green! haha).
The race started and soon we'd passed beneath the blue arch and were on our way!!
While our plan was to use the 3/1 run/walk intervals, we adjusted that in the first mile and totally ran it without walk breaks. . . mainly because it was so crowded on the course at that point, so we weren't going very fast. The pack thinned out at mile one, so we started using our intervals.
OK, so you can see I'm not a super serious runner because I take too many photos along the way!! One of the things I love to see (and remember) are some of the great signs !
The KC High Five group folks are awesome!! They volunteer to give out high fives to the runners/walkers as a way of support! You can see Karen's Idiot shirt . . . Pam in the red shirt is in front of her. I'm the schmuck taking the pictures! haha
This guy was delightful!! He obviously enjoyed the reactions his sign brought!!
Now that I reflect on his message, I realized this was the first half I'd done where my feet didn't hurt. Other body parts were out-hurting my feet that day!
The course of Rock the Parkway takes us along a beautiful boulevard and stretch of amazing homes. . . and fountains. Here is the only fountain picture I got. . .and you can tell it wasn't running. I think the KC fountains were turned on a week or two later. Did you know we are called The City of Fountains? Yes we are!
Nuff said. :)
I did take pictures of mile markers 2-6, but thought I'd spare you those photos.
At mile seven, we'd already done a 10K distance, plus. This is about the point I was starting to feel my energy level dip. It was the time my mind to started telling me such things as:
"you can't do this"
"you are too old to be doing this"
"why did I let Karen talk me into signing up for this race, knowing we wouldn't have time to really build up for it" (kidding, Karen) (not)
"when's are next walk break?"
blah, blah, blah.
And then POW. . .we find this just when we needed the strength !!
(In all honesty, I took this picture prior to mile 7, but as I recall, there was another Power Sign later in the run. . .just when we really needed it, but I didn't get the picture of it.)
By this time, we were realllllly feeling it. We thought this was gonna be a pretty flat course. WRONG!!
There were several hills.
We added extra walking intervals.
We were feeling aches in new places.
We kept plugging away. . .we pushed each other.
Then somewhere between 10 and 12 this vision of PINKNESS popped into view!! It's pretty hard to focus on your aching body as you see this happy, waving lady encouraging us to keep on going!!
And mercifully, just as we were feeling our worst, we heard someone from the crowd say something like "he's taking pictures over there"!
OMG....I never take a good race picture.
Why wasn't he at mile 5 or even 7?
However, being runners we've learned to react fast. . .and we quickly looked in the direction of the camera guy and mustered feeble smiles and waves!!
I've often dreamed of having a great finish line photo like the ones I've seen so many other runners achieve, but alas, mine are always horrible. I usually look like a gasping fish out of water by the time my foot hits the line at the end!
We just had 1.1 miles to go. . .but how LONG of a distance that seemed to be!
Karen and I crossed the finish line at exactly the same time. . . 2:44:21:4!!!!
We were thrilled!
Pam finished before we did. . .I think by 3 minutes.
It was so hard to believe it was over!!!
We did it.
It was hard.
It was soooooo FUN!!
We found our pacer friend and fellow Idiot, Jen, before we headed home. However, before we left, there was one more picture I wanted to get. . .one I'd missed right at the end of our run. . .
that of lovely MILE 13!!!
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get both of us in the photo and still capture the 13! It didn't matter. . .what mattered was that we DID it!!
Thank you, Karen, for helping me become a better runner!!
THE STONE RABBIT is a big fan of our shirts!! He thinks we've found the perfect running group! :) He also loves the amazing finisher's medal we all received. . .and he's pretty certain is weighs nearly as much as he does!!
If you managed to hang there with me through this entire post. . .well, thank you! It's so great to be able to spend some time reflecting on such an experience.
I hope you visit Beverly's blog, HOW SWEET THE SOUND! She will definitely have a long list of other bloggers who are sharing with you this week!
HAPPY PINK SATURDAY!