One of the things I like about the Hospital Hill race is the Expo and packet pickup! They always have a lot of running related vendors and a lot of new things to see!
I arrived at the expo with little time to wander around. While there were still a couple hours left, I had already volunteered to chat up runners at the pacers table. I quickly got my bib and zip-up and headed to the table. During the hustle, I noticed a runner carrying the 2:50 pace stick – and I was able to meet my co-pacer Erin! We chat for a little bit, worked out the pacing plan for the morning, and parted ways for the evening. I was sure glad we were able to meet!
Each year, the swag for the Hospital Hill races changes. This year, the half marathon participants received a performance 1/4 zip! A great alternative to the typical day race tee!
While I wish I could have meandered through the expo a little more, I did see some great vendors and everyone was excited to talk to the runners!
#flatlindsey was laid out the evening before – and it didn’t take long for me to be up and ready to run!
I woke up super early, as we all strive to do on race day, and was able to get out the door within about 30 minutes! Breakfast in hand, coffee in hand, drop off bag ready to go…and on I went!
I decided to make a point of getting to the race EARLY and meet up with the other runners at the Westin Crown Center. I met up with a fellow pacer in the parking lot and he showed me the way to the meet up area. It wasn’t long before there were MANY pacers milling about.
We headed out to the start area around 6:30 am for the 7 am start. At this time, the clouds/fog hung low and the humidity was high!
I met Frankie, a first time 1/2 marathoner. She was nervous about running HH due to this being her longest distance to date… We assured her that we could get her to the finish! I also met up with Pat, one of the gals I ran with at the Bill Snyder in Manhattan a couple weeks ago! I hope to have a fraction the drive and determination she has – she runs a 1/2 marathon every 2 weeks! I also met Mac, I believe she was a first time 1/2 marathoner as well and she was super nervous! I met a few other runners with various goals and a few 10k-ers that we’re going to run with us until the split-off around mile 3.5. I made a quick pit stop, and before I knew it, we were off!
Hospital Hill Half Marathon Course + Elevations
The half marathon and 10K start together off Grand. We traveled north through the rolling hills of the Crossroads district towards the Spring Center, and then back south for the next 6 miles.
From the top of Truman road, we got a nice little downhill to welcome us into the the hills of the Hospital Hill course – Hospital Hill. From about mile 1.3 to 2.65, Hospital Hill has a steady incline of 3-6% grade! Talk about a hill that needs to be broken into chunks! My co-pacer and I used this hill as the beginning of us breaking apart to a lead and trail pacer – I being the lead pacer (all this means is that the “lead” will finish on time, no matter what – the “trail” can finish up to 3 minutes below pace to help more runners finish close to the goal time). Between us, we kept our runners moving and positive through the first climb of the day!
For the next mile, we were making up a little time with a mostly downhill stretch of pavement. The runner that stuck close to me started having trouble with her breathing and getting side stitches – so I hollered back to Erin to keep an eye on her so I could keep the lead pace. A couple runners that were a little behind me came forward and kept up with my pace going into the 10K/half marathon split. As a half marathoner, I was glad I wasn’t trekking up the 39th Street hill – it is another tough climb!
Now that the half marathoners are all to themselves, the real work starts 🙂 Rockhill Hill wasn’t a bad hill, it is just a steady short climb, followed by a longer downhill. Those downhills really helped us keep up with our even effort pace and keep on track to finishing on time. At the water station, there were SEVERAL boxes of doughnuts…but not for the runners. I feel like they should have put them away so the runners were not tempted to run off with them,…haha!!
Through the hills, I talked with some other runners around – one man ran the Garmin full (my first full) and we talked about our experiences; another gal is actually family to the Smart Pacing team leader…I was on my best behaviour! You never know what could get back to the boss 🙂
About this time, we entered the University of Kansas-Missouri (UMKC) campus and then past the edge of Rockhurst University. We rolled through the Rockhill Road community and made it to the southern-most portion of the half marathon course! The only complaint I have is that since it was a holiday week with a usual Friday pickup, the trucks were not able to pick up the trash along this road on Saturday – so we were running along trashcan-lined streets…not the greatest view (or smell).
Running along E. Meyer Boulevard was a very visual experience! The houses are grand and have a lot of amazing details…I had to keep my eyes closer to the road so I didn’t fall too far off pace! The rolling hills were an easy distraction 🙂 This stretch was the southern edge of the half marathon run.
Once we made the turn into Brookside, we were on our way home! Spirits were still high and the runners were still feeling good! Heading back north on Brookside Boulevard, the streets were lined with trees and the off-and-on shade was nice! I also really liked the Countryside Park along the road. Being set back a little farther than a standard sidewalk would make me feel more comfortable running along traffic.
As I passed through 51st street, there were people yelling at me to call the police – mostly because I was passing an officer directing traffic. As I approached, I noticed a man on his knees and several people helping him. I don’t know the specifics, but he somehow hit his head on the ground and was bleeding quite a bit. As I came closer, I took out my phone and called 911. I told them my approximate location and once they assured me that there was help on the way, I then proceeded with my pacing. I was really nervous about leaving, but there were 10-15 people stopped to help, so I didn’t want to add to the crowd. Not too far ahead, an officer on a motorcycle sped by and stopped to help aid the fallen man.
I had to pick up my pace for the rest of the mile to make it back to the approximate time/location I would have been if I had not stopped at all. Good thing quite a bit of the route was downhill!
By mile 10, I was back where I needed to be to finish on time – as the lead pacer for the 2:50 group, I need to pass the finish line at the 2:49:59 mark. Around this same time, we turned onto 47th Street and then onto J C Nichols Parkway. This is where the iconic J C Nichols Memorial Fountain runs blue during the Royals baseball season 🙂 This is also the fountain that so many prom pictures were taken in front of back in high school!
I also love the feeling of running next to a park or open space. The Mill Creek Park was a great change of scenery from the houses and businesses we ran with the first 10 miles. We snaked down J C Nichols Parkway for a couple miles. I picked up a couple runners that started a little fast and were starting to bonk out…but they wanted to finish ahead of me. So I pushed them and talked them through the last few. We ran through the edge of Westport and I was given a lei and took a couple slices of oranges! So sweet and a nice distraction to the heat of the morning. Without a lot of shade, the final trek was a little difficult. Before long we also ran through Old Westport and were on our way to the final hill!!
On approach of Penn Valley Park, Trinity Hill is right around the corner. While I wish we could run through Penn Valley Park, that would take away one of the worst hills of the race. Who would want to do that?!
Trinity Hill straight up and straight down. That’s all there is to it. I talked my runners through the hill and they were able to break it into chunks, run, walk, run, walk, RUN! I was glad to see that everyone made it unscathed! The downhill is nice but I always have to be careful that I don’t roll an ankle… This hill runs alongside Penn Valley Park, and while most people don’t really see the park (because they are staring up the hill or at their feet), I was able to glance around on the way down to see the dog park and sidewalks winding around the park.
At the bottom of Trinity Hill, you run straight at the Liberty Memorial – which comes into view around mile 12.4. About this time, I looked at one of my runners and told her to RUN. FINISH STRONG! PR! YOU GOT THIS! She was a little taken back, but then my enthusiasm shot through her and she took off. About every 30 seconds (probably less…) I would yell, YOU GOT THIS! FINISH STRONG!…and then she was gone! Off to the finish!
When I was within 1/4+ mile of the finish, I was just encouraging the runners to finish strong. There was a guy that was REALLY hurting. I tried to help him in every way I could, even rubbed his cramping calves, but he talked me out of finishing with him. After checking my watch, I knew I needed to finish strong to make my 2:49:59 time, so I told him I would meet him at the finish line.
I passed the finish line at 2:49:56 – just a few seconds ahead of my goal time. Not too shabby! From the pictures, it looks like my celebration happened before the actual finish…and the finishing photos are a LOT less fun 🙂
I waited around for that man to finish and I was excited when he gave me high fives and thanked me for the support. In the finishing area, I met back up with Eladio, and since he was on the phone, I just gave him a thumbs up, turned in my pacing stick, and went along my way. Several of the people that started with me and finished ahead of me were in the finishers area and there were high fives, hugs, and stories shared. I look forward to seeing some of them running this fall in the KC races! Remember the gal that I told to finish strong? She PRed by a couple minutes from her last race a few weeks before! Exciting!
This race sure knows how to live up to it’s name…there are some great hills to test any runner’s stamina! Minus the trash-lined streets, the course was amazing. I love running hills and this course was made for me 🙂
At the finish line, there was ample water, snacks (bananas, granola bars of several kinds, crackers, etc.), milk, and ice cream (YES PLEASE!)! It is always a worry of mine that a race might not prepare enough for the final finishers to have refreshment after their long run…but that was not an issue here! I met up with several runners that I brought into the finish and ones that broke ahead earlier in the race. Everyone was all smiles and even a couple PRs! I stuck around to meet up with Erin and see how her group finished. As far as I remember, we only “lost” 1 runner – and that was fairly early in the race. Whether training, the race day variables, or a combo of the two, we cannot always help all the runners that we start with. Overall, we both had a successful pacing day and we both wanted to run a little more 🙂 (gluttons for punishment I’m sure!)
The Expo was packed with running vendors and so much more! The race was easy to get to and there was a lot of parking all around. This race sure knows how to live up to it’s name…there are some great hills to test any runner’s stamina. The finishers area was packed with snack and refueling. Due to its long standing tradition, the Hospital Hill races are always well organized and an awesome experience for all!
Did you conquer the hill this year? I hope I didn’t scare you away from registering for this race next year…I will be running for sure!!
Be sure to check out my SKINS DNAmic Compression giveaway from last week!