This year I decided to sign up for the Heartland 39.3 Series which consists of 3 Half-Marathons in 5 weeks starting with Rock The Parkway on 4/11/15, Garmin Half on 4/18/15 and finishing with Running with the Cows on 5/9/15.
Here are some pics from Rock The Parkway:
I can't really complain about my poor performance (2:47:27) since I didn't really train for it. I completed zero long runs of 10 miles or more with my longest run being the Great Plains 10k on March. It was cool to chat with fellow Red Cross volunteer Sherri. She had a good race and beat me by a few minutes. It's been great watching her enthusiasm about running and racing. For someone who didn't start running until her 50's she is doing great! Actually she is doing great period! As for me, this was a Personal Worst time for the half marathon distance. Oh well, room to improve!
Next up was the Garmin Half Marathon. I was no more prepared for this race than the RTP. My time was a tad bit better (2:44:13) but still way off from what I have done in the past (2:13:29 is the best time I can find that I have run the half marathon distance and that was in 2005). 2015 is the first time I ran the Garmin half marathon race and I enjoyed the course despite the rain. I actually beat friend Sherri at this one but only because she had a bad day. She said it was a PW for her. She still did pretty well though and I hope she uses it to her benefit and improves on the next one. She is good about analyzing her races and planning for the next. I can't say I put that much effort in to analyzing mine. I really do just run for the fun(?) of it and more for my mental health than anything.
It started raining about an hour or so in to the race and continued throughout. It wasn't a hard rain so it wasn't really unbearable. It was wet enough there were no photographers on the course. Just as well, I don't care to have my pic taken. In years past I wouldn't even bother looking up my pics and saving them to the blog. My fire a few years ago has taught me though to enjoy life and embrace it no matter the circumstances. So... I may look like crap in my pics but they are memories worth hanging on to. Plus, hopefully I will get my training more consistent and see improvement in future pics! One can hope, right?
Having not run this race before I didn't know what to expect. It was run partly on the roads in Olathe and partly on the trails. I have biked on this part of the trail but never run on it. Because of the rain it was a little slick. I also learned that people don't know trail etiquette. I can't count how many times people were completely blocking the trail rather than staying to the right to allow quicker runners to pass. I'm not quick but since I am familiar with running on similar trails I had a better time getting through this section of the run than those not familiar with how to run on these types of trails. Best part of the race had to be the impromptu beer station around mile 9! It was ice cold beer and with it just being about shot size, it was just enough to be refreshing without creating any stomach issues. Thank you to those kind folks who provided the beer station! There was beer at the finish too. Had it not been pouring down rain at that point I might have stayed and enjoyed a beer and tried to find Sherri. Instead I grabbed a chicken sandwich to go and headed home for a hot shower. The sad part is that I almost didn't get to run in this race because I screwed up and didn't pay attention to road closures leading to the race. I literally got to the race just as the race was starting. Because of that, I ended up having to jump in to the first corral where I could find an opening and that happened to be the 2:00 pace group. Oops.... I tried not to run with them but I heard some splits along the way and realized despite my efforts, I started too fast. Not surprised I crashed near the 10 mile mark. I still managed to finish though and ultimately that was my goal.
Lastly was the Running With The Cows Half Marathon. And sadly, I recorded another PW in 2:48:47. I have run this race twice previously running a 2:23 in 2011 and 2:28:55 in 2012. I didn't run it in 2013 or 2014.
The pic below is proof I finished the race and it looks like it might have taken me a few minutes to cross the start line after the gun because my official time is a tad bit faster than the race time shown in the pic. I actually don't mind this pic too much. It's the first time I have worn the RWB eagle in a race. The mission of Team RWB is to enrich the lives of veterans by connecting them with their community through physical and social activity. I haven't had a chance to personally meet other RWB eagles yet but I can tell you the camaraderie is great! I heard many cheers along the course from others wearing the RWB eagle and made sure to encourage others I saw as well. About 30% of the participants on Team RWB are civilians. I was proud to wear the eagle as a civilian participant and provide encouragement to others.
Despite not running well, I really do enjoy this race. It has rolling hills which I won't lie and say I enjoyed but had I been in better shape I would have. I actually don't mind running hills and will be incorporating hill workouts soon in to my routine to try and increase strength. What I really like about this run is the amazing volunteers. The course doesn't have many spectators but with an aid station nearly every 1 & 1/2 miles there were plenty of volunteers to cheer the runners along! And did they cheer! It was encouraging to hear the cheers and the snacks along the way weren't bad either! Oh and the deputy who rode his motorcycle down the road ringing a cow bell was a hoot! It was good timing because I happened to be heading up the longest hill of the race and seeing the deputy do that was a nice distraction.
The food at the end was great! No beer because this is a school sponsored race but there was plenty of chocolate milk (who doesn't like chocolate milk after a race?) and bagels and pizza and bbq and treats and you get the idea... lots of food! I usually take off right after I am done running but not this time. I spent a few minutes catching up with Sherri at the finish. She passed me around the 5 mile mark and ran her way to a PR. Way to go Sherri! It was great hearing about it at the finish. Once I collected my finisher medal for the RWTC half and the medal for completing the Heartland 39.3 Series I wandered in to the school gymnasium to gorge myself with food. I don't usually feel like eating after a long run or race but I did this time. It was a great way to conclude a race. Looking forward to running it again in the future!
Will I do the Heartland 39.3 Series again? I don't know. I didn't train for it and that really took the fun out of it. If I do it again I need to put forth the proper effort so I can actually enjoy it.
Next up.... training for the Marine Corps Marathon! I got a lottery spot this year and really want to put forth the effort and actually do it this year! I didn't do it a few years ago when I registered before it became a lottery system because well... it was the year of my fire and I just didn't have the motivation to train for it. I feel like emotionally I am in a better place now and would like to run the MCM this year and do it for a good cause. Still working on the details but I'll reveal that good cause soon....