Almost a month in to 2014 and no race recap yet? Please forgive me for my failure to provide running ramblings. Let me fix that immediately. The first outing for this year was the Topeka to Auburn Half Marathon. It’s a local race put on by the local running group, the Sunflower Striders. It’s got a lot of things going for it: over 30 years of races, great hills for the area, Kansas’ standard could be anything weather, and varied scenery. I thought , when I signed up, it would be a good test to get ready for my goal races this year. It was.
Let’s start off with me. I have been nursing a nagging knee nearly 9 (yeah, take that alliteration) weeks. I had basically decided I need to back down and really re-build things. Slow slow slow was the name of the game and it seemed to be working relatively well. I decided I needed to carry that into the race too. Which meant slow the eff down and don’t mind them people passing you. Oh and something about enjoying the scenery along the way yada yada yada.
Now, on to race day. This deserves it’s own paragraph. Kansas, we do love ourselves some weather. One of literal draws to this race is that it is in late Jan and not even god knows what the weather will do. Well, we knew a week out it was going to be windy. And it did not disappoint. Thankfully though, the temps were very un-seasonal. Upper 40’s to love 50’s is a rarity around here. That being said, it was still windy. Well, windy doesn’t describe if very well, gale force may be more apt. We had 30 mph sustained with 50+ mph gusts. If I had a sail, I could have taken off.
Thankfully the course was laid out so that for the most part, the first half of the course was either in areas where the wind wasn’t quite as strong, or was at our back. This was mostly residential areas, a couple hills, nothing too out of the ordinary. The second half, however was a different story. Starting at about the halfway point is Urish hill, which is the biggie. Now, I get it, you folks near mountains would think our little hill is a speed bump, but for us it is one of the best we have locally. That being said, it wasn’t race shattering. Doing more trail running lately, I enjoyed this part. They set a camera guy at the top to capture people slogging up it, sort of a race tradition. All in good fun. This point on, the hills rolled and we moved on to gravel roads. Another thing that changed is we moved out of the residential and into more open farm land area. This meant far less wind blocks as well as a turn back into the wind. And man, it really punched you in the face going up hills into a 30-50 mph wind with the lovely around of cow being rammed into your nostrils. Just for fun, it also started sprinkling a bit, or light hail, I couldn’t quite tell as hard as it hit us. Again though, it was fun. It was different, I enjoyed it.
Finally coming around a corner and over a hill or two we could see the finish area. At Cowtown I talked about passing a little girl that passed me previously, here, in a Karmic kick in the butt a 12 year old-ish girl absolutely flew past me. I did nothing but laugh and wish her luck. She was earning it. For me, it was a slow sprint (I know that is an oxymoron but it really is what it was for me) to the finish. I gathered myself and felt great. I bounced around a little to see how the knee felt and it was good. I saw friends, talked to them a bit, and rode a wind gust back to my car feeling like I actually followed a plan for once. I really wanted to use this a training run and I think it went well. Skora Forms took care of my feet, Orange Mud Hydra Quiver Double Barrel on my back felt amazing for carrying water and other gear and goodies, the Island Boost “gel” was delicious and rocket fuel as usual. I think I am ready for Cross Timbers in TX on the 15th which means I am completely not ready or something incredibly odd will happen. But that is the fun right?