I came To Kansas City for the KC Marathon on leftover fumes of awesomeness from Hawk 100, trepidation from getting back to this evil concrete, and an overwhelming stench of Vicks. Yes, because my timing is impeccably bad, my body decided this in between month was the right month to run down the list of illnesses sweeping the nation like they were the hot hits top 20 or something. I had some sort of plague flu, some sort of stomach adverseness to eating (which if you know me, if I am not eating it can be safe to assume I am probably beating on deaths door), some violent reaction to breathing and using my throat in general properly. And because my family loves me so dearly, everyone decided that they should pitch in and get sick in KC too, ‘cause they care.
So the hotel room was a bastion of illness and little sleep. There was even consideration of packing up and going home. Even after waking I wasn’t sure I should be out there. But instead in the dark and quiet (or as quiet as you can be getting race gear ready in the dark) I got ready. My hotel room looked out of the opposite side from where the race start was so it wasn’t until I got down to the lobby and out the door that I could see the throng of people. It was, jolting. Not the “touched a live wire and now have no eyebrows left” kind of jolt but really a “this is freaking awesome”. I have never experienced a race this large before. This many people toeing the line all at once. It was amazing to see and even more amazing to swim through the people to find some friends and get in our areas to start.
On to the race itself. First of all the course was gorgeous. If you have never been to KC I would highly suggest a trip down. It goes through a cool area of town from the Power and Light district, by the hotels again, up to and out of the War Memorial (incredible in the early morning), through the plaza, through the very upscale neighborhood, then through the not so upscale neighborhood, and back home. It was a scenic route. It was billed as hilly (for around here anyways) but I didn’t think it was THAT hilly. Maybe that’s the recent trail running spurt talking but there were hills and they were manageable. You probably won’t set a PR here if you run other super flat courses, but it was a very solid course. Perhaps the most evil part of this course was running by Gates BBQ while they were smoking ribs. Slight aside, KC is really known for 2 things, fountains and BBQ and you get both on this route. Again, come check it out. You will not be disappointed. Back to the route, the day was also perfect. Cool in the morning, sunny, just warm enough by the time I crossed the finish line.
I had high hopes for this race despite the fact I wasn’t feeling nominal. My goal was under 4 hours. I had felt good coming out of the Hawk in Lawrence. Well. Things were ok for a while. I was hovering around that 4 hour pace for about 16 mi then I really started laboring. Then it really just fell apart. Started feeling pain in my right hamstring and had to stop and walk. That was really the last thing I wanted to do. If this was a trail race I would have been running with intermittent walking, but this was not and walking was the absolute death of me. The slower I moved the more things tightened up. I tried to run/walk/run as best as could. It would work for a while until the pain crept in. Slowly I crept towards the finish getting passed by people, encountering other “walking wounded” (that’s another post for another time). Finally getting close enough to hear the finish I had to pass a group of people sitting, tailgating really, with a sign saying “Free Beer if you quit”. That was when I started running and carried me right up to the finish line with many adoring fans lining up to see me finish (sorry what I really meant was a few people left over waiting for others to finish who really wanted me to get out of the way). It was one hell of a feeling to stagger across, grab my bagel and fruit, grab my water, grab my medal and correctly put one my neck and the others in my pie-hole.
But that isn’t quite the end of the story. Another reason I had hoped for a 4 hour marathon was to give me time to shower, get dressed, get the van packed up , maybe stop by the free bbq/beer tent before I headed home. Well, that didn’t really leave me a lot of wiggle room before I was unceremoniously booted from my hotel room. The slower I went the slower I wedged up against that time. Sure enough the margin was too thin and the family packed up and checked out right about the time I was crossing the finish. This meant that no food and no shower. It also meant a stink van ride home. Sorry all involved. That seemed to be the worst part until I tried to get out when I got home an hour or so later…you know, once rigor mortis had set in. Getting out of the car may have been the hardest part of the whole weekend.