But like the Hill Monster it was, Hospital Hill was mostly filled with UP moments!
A few weeks ago I roped my friend Sean into doing this half marathon with me. He’s the kind of guy who is equally as spontaneous as I am and really is down for almost anything! (I couldn’t quite convince him to drive to Kentucky for a triathlon, but sometimes you have to pick your battles.) This is the guy who agreed the very same day I met him, to skip the 100th Mizzou Homecoming to do the Warrior Dash and camp out in the middle of nowhere Missouri. (Mizzou is the birthplace of homecoming – according to both Jeopardy AND Trivial Pursuit – so that’s kind of a big deal!) Equally as persuasive as myself, Sean convinced his girlfriend Charity to join us.
Now like I’ve said before, I’m not usually a fan of running with people I know. Actually, I’ve refused to ever do it! I just feel pressured and know that I’ll be worried about the pace and not looking like a velociraptor while I run – you know, typical teenage girl concerns – even though I. am. not. a. teenage. girl! Turns out, I’ve been missing out and it can be really fun!
Getting to the race was a breeze. Sean’s family was coming to cheer us on, so we all met up at his house and they drove us into Crown Center in downtown Kansas City. We timed it perfectly – walk to the race start, wait in line for the bathrooms (not long!), stretch, and then be in our corrals with a few minutes to spare.
I have to say, they were a little disorganized at the start line though. I believe it was the first year corrals were used for this and they were still working out the kinks. Not a big deal, but that is probably the only aspect of the race that could have gone smoother.
The First Third:
I love that old saying “Run the first third with your head, the middle third with your personality, and the final third with your heart.” That’s so true and that really is how I break up my races.
The first third of the race was no doubt the hardest. Hello Hills! Right off the bat, the hills came fast and furious – well we weren’t exactly fast and the only fury was self-directed for signing up for the Hospital Hill half marathon. All things considered though, there were great crowds, it was perfect running weather (how’d we get lucky with such a beautiful sixty degree morning), and somehow 75% of the race was in the shade! Charity and Sean also are strong starters, where I usually am more conservative, and they really kick-started me.
With the beginning hills over and done with, the course smoothed out a lot. I was really impressed with the route – it went through absolutely gorgeous neighborhoods, by the Country Club Plaza, through the UMKC campus, and back downtown. The course director did an incredible job with the water stations. Perfectly placed at the top of the hardest hills, they were exactly where I wanted them and just the right frequency. I really couldn’t have been happier with the volunteers and the organization on the course!
The Home Stretch:
Sean, Charity, and I really didn’t set any goals at the beginning of the race, but with my GPS giving me updates with our pace each mile I could tell a sub 2:00 was potentially in our grasp. I didn’t let them know, but I tried to push us to keep the pace. That is, until we hit the big hill. Suddenly we went from an 8:45 mile to 9:53! Talk about a toughie!
Once we “conquered the hill” (I know where the t-shirt slogan comes from now) we resigned ourselves to accepting that, while we weren’t going to break 2:00 today, we still had done damn good considering all the hills! We enjoyed orange slices at the top along with red vines – my absolute favorite race food!
Re-energized, we tackled the last two miles with all we had. As we gained speed, breaking 2:00 had begun to seem like a possibility again. We were booking it, that is until we turned into, what else, but one final hill. What??? A short, very steep climb popped up with less than a mile to go. With the promise of a gorgeous view of the KC skyline from some encouraging spectators, we made it to the top, maintaining our gusto.
We had scouted out one girl who we wanted to pass around mile 5 (you know how that goes, you see someone you just have to beat or keep pace with) but she had lost us shortly after. With less than one mile left, I spotted her again and pointed her out to Sean and Charity. Now, I’d like to point out that it was all about motivation, that we weren’t trying to beat her necessarily, but rather just beat that pace! With a last ditch sprint, we bolted past her purple shirt and headed down the final stretch.
That final hill had gotten us though and I could tell we would end up being seconds from our goal. Sean had fallen back just a bit (Red Vines clearly weren’t his favorite race food) and Charity and I decided to hold back so we could all cross the finish line together, which we did – hand-in-hand, raised high, in cheesy victory.
Final time: 2:00:41.
The Post-Race Party:
Hello medals, flip-flops, beer, and BBQ! The snack bag was fantastic and while I’m not normally a BBQ fan, I could appreciate how good it was! The excitement was contagious and people stuck around, which I really like. They also had a live feed on the big screen of the finish line, which was a blast to watch.
This race was AWESOME! Great course, great crowds, and it was big! I would definitely do it again and would do another race with Sean and Charity in a heartbeat.