Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Kansas City Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
With 5 short weeks of training/tapering, I set my goals HIGH for my second road marathon. You can check out why I think you should run the KCM and what I am looking forward to this year! Also, my week-by-week training block for this race! 1 2 3 4 5
Finally, race week came and went and it is time to recap the main event!!
Packet Pick Up
With some family things happening in Manhattan, we worked out that little man would stay in town with Nana while I headed to KC for the night. I also talked my running buddy Michelle into just riding out to KC with me – save us some time and gas money at least!
Once in KC, we decided to try taking the tram/train/trolly/whatever to the Health and Fitness Expo at Union Station. First, we couldn’t quite get off the highway on time…and then I thought we were on the tram street, but we were one street off. Once we figured all of the road logistics out, we parked, walked to the closest station/stop, and waited for the tram to come!
It really didn’t take all that long…and we were on our way!
The end of the tram line is Union Station, the new home of the Health and Fitness Expo for the Kansas City Marathon. The scale and history of the building is amazing, and we had to stay focused to get to the expo and not wander around staring at the exhibits and ceiling.
Once we picked up our bibs, we wandered around the Expo for a little while. Missouri Lottery had games to play (I still need to check my ticket!), we met a woman with a “Girl’s On The Run” equivalent for boys, chatted with the Gypsy Runner for a little while, and settled back over at the Smart Pacers area for a little while.
I have paced several races with the Smart Pacing team, but this was Michelle’s first time as a pacer! A couple pacer pals and I hashed out some details with Michelle to ease her nerves (more than we had already discussed in the 2 hour car ride) for the next morning.
Before too long, we were done at the Expo and heading back outside to wait on the tram to take us back to my car : )
On our way back to the house, we stopped for some major carb loading = Chipotle ❤
Once we got home, the rest of the evening was spent packing up my drop bag/box, responding to various friends and family’s good wishes messages, and finding small ways to calm my nerves!
Chasing a PR in less than ideal conditions (heat, humidity) can be playing with fire…
Once my alarms (yes, multiple) went off, I could hear Michelle making coffee and getting her routine started. I finally rolled out of bed, braided my hair, and was dressed in no time.
We packed up the car and headed downtown.
The fancy map in my car showed us all of the closed streets – nothing like a marathon to shut down the core of the city!
Once we parked, we walked up to the starting area. Since Michelle is a pacer (and I have paced this race in the past), I was able to show her to the pacer meet-up area in the race affiliated hotel. We were able to hang out and chat with fellow pacers, meet new runners, and use the facilities a few times (and then a few more) before heading to the start line.
Remember, nothing new on race day!! HA!!
I headed straight for the bag drop before lining up. The line for my bib number was WAY long…but good thing we were putting our drop-bag with Michelle’s bib number – which had NO ONE in line. In and out quick!!
The race started with the National Anthem, a countdown, and fireworks to send off the runners! The KCM pulls out all the punches when it comes to start lines, so all the bells & whistles are fun to experience!
And we’re off!
This race ended up shaking out into several sections for me. The Kansas City Marathon ended up being less about from “mile 0 to mile 1 was uphill, mile 2 was downhill, etc.” and more like point A to point B was great, B to C was okay, C through D was no bueno, etc.
I didn’t take any pictures through the course (hello…trying to PR here!) but the race photographers were able to catch me in a few areas of the course.
Mile 1-10 : The Good Times
The first section of the race I am going to dub “The Good Times.” I was feeling good, the hills were fun (more or less), everyone is talking and just having a good time!
The uphill start isn’t always fun, but a slow and steady pace with the pace group was perfect! I was’t beat up, I didn’t swerve around people, and the pace group stuck together pretty well through the chaos of the first couple miles! While there was a little construction areas, most of the course was clear (or at least where I was running).
There were a lot of things to see in these first 10 miles (most of what I remember) :
- the Sprint Center
- Power & Light District
- Jackson County Courthouse
- Historic 18th & Vine
- Negro League Baseball Museum
- Nelson Adkins Museum of Art
- The Country Club Plaza
Around mile 8, the half marathoners continued on while the marathoners turned to start our trek further south.
Around mile 9-ish, a social media runner pal of mine, Sarah, caught up to me! We had planned on meeting up in the starting chute, but a line bathroom fiasco and the starting chute gates kept her from starting in the same pace group that I did. But she kicked on and caught up to us! We chatted for a little bit and then I let her run on ahead!
Mile 10-16 : Slowing, Still Feeling Good!
After Sarah left, I just started fading on my pace a little more. There was a gradual climb from around mile 11-13 which didn’t help matters, and the rolling hills were starting to get to my legs. Around mile 14/15, we were at the southern-most section of the course and we started out trek back north to the finish!
Running through the beautiful neighborhoods of KC is one of the best parts of the race! There is so much to look around and see…you almost forget that you are running a race and are starting to hurt…
In the same area of mile 15, we were now running the first section of the Rock The Parkway course – a spring half marathon & 5K I have run a few times. The terrain was familiar, but my legs had other plans… Between the off-and-on cramping and my mental game struggling, I let off the pace big time and started walking quite a bit.
Mile 16-19 : Let The Cramping BEGIN!
There were a couple times in the next few miles that I almost ate pavement…bad! My legs would lock up and I had a few close calls… It was bad enough that if I tried to stretch out my calf on a curb, my shin muscles (that I didn’t realize existed!) would cramp up just as tight! As long as I kept moving, the cramping was manageable…
The upsetting part was that since I already knew this section of the course, I knew that it was favorably downhill…but due to my cramping, I wasn’t able to take advantage of it. Oh well. The rolling hills kept the day interesting and I was able to keep moving.
One fun part along this area was the great aid station : ) I believe it was a luau theme and they were “lei-ing” people as they ran by…fun section for sure!
Mile 19-22 : Still Moving Forward
After Loose Park, we had a few miles of decent downhills. I had originally planned on using this section to push it and catch back up to my pace group (if I were behind). While there were sections that I was able to pick it up for a bit, my cramping legs kept tripping me up.
Even though I was cramping and not having the day I set out for, I was still having fun! Well, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the course photographers… And honestly, the next couple photographers didn’t look like anyone special on course! I thought they were just a friend/family member of a runner around me… Probably why I didn’t give them the time of day… Lesson learned.
Mile 22-24 : RBF big time…and almost face-planting
After the big downhill “catch up” section was a not so fun uphill section. The one thing that I was looking forward to was the “cheer zone” in Westport.
I didn’t have anyone I was expecting to be cheering, but it was nice to know there would be people around. I don’t think everyone stuck around…because there was like one bar that had a group outside… Oh well.
Traffic was starting to flow more on the other side of the street, and we were all ready for this race to be over…
Mile 24-25.5 : …A Monkey & A Banana ?
You know that feeling when you are so close…but there is just a little more than what you want left…
It felt like we just kept turning corner after corner…rolling up and down those darn KC hills, I just wanted to be finished! My legs were being weird and locking up randomly…
One of the uplifting experiences in this difficult time was a guy dressed in a monkey suit and a guy dressed in a banana costume who ran with me for a mile or two stretch! They really did a great job keeping my mind off the pain and making me laugh through the uphill climbs. We were all in the suffer-bus together, and they sure made it entertaining! Legit, the monkey was chasing the banana…
Then I saw my Bird Pal Megan waving a sign! That gave me just enough boost to get me running down the last couple turns! There is an uphill battle in mile 25, but once you get up on Main St., you are blessed with a straight, downhill finish!
Mile 25.5-finish : The Final Sprint
I put myself into super speed and started fishing. With every runner I passed, I would get just a little boost of energy to keep moving. My legs would randomly tighten and lock up – so I just tried to stay on my feet as much as I could!
My buddy Michelle came out to help run me in, but I left her behind as I tried to kick to a sub-5 hour finish.
While I came in just above my goal, I wasn’t upset about the day. I was just glad that I wasn’t running anymore. With that, I set about a 15 minute PR from my last marathon nearly 18 months ago : )
The KCM course did not disappoint! The hills were rough – and that led to some terrible cramping… But I enjoyed the views and crowds! The aid stations were well placed and often (about every 2 miles). The humidity wasn’t great but the sun stayed away until around mile 24 for me…
Once I finished, I stood in front of a girl handing out medals…but she was busy texting someone to see me standing right in front of her (smh…). So a girl came up from behind her and nudged her to the side and gave me one of her medals : )
There was fruit, milk, and water in the finishing chute and a guy handing out warm Chic-fil-a sandwiches. I set down all my things so I could ring the PR bell!
I walked around for a little bit and met up with some of my runner buddies. Mark had finished the 1/2 QUITE a bit earlier and got to run and talk to Alexi Peppas in the 1:45 group – lucky!
I found Michelle and we walked to the start of the finishers chute (where the runners came through) and waited for other marathoners that hadn’t finished yet. We saw several gals that I knew from KC and the Manhattan running group – good to see them finish their first marathon!
We all then hobbled over to the actual finishers area. There wasn’t any food left, but I was able to have part of a beer before heading to the car.
I really do love the care and attention that goes into the Kansas City Marathon (or other distances) experience! Since the event is getting so big, I loved the new location of the packet pickup and Health & Fitness Expo. The layout was easy to understand and I didn’t feel like I needed to wander around to see everything there!
The race start felt a little messy with all the runners all over the place, and I wish that the chute had the large pace time handing panels. Due to the wind, I understand that this perk wasn’t possible…but without them, it was a little more cramped and pace groups were way too close together.
The course was great! The aid stations every 2 miles or so was great! I don’t thing that I needed to run with my hydration pack…maybe I’ll test that theory next year : ) There was a lot to see and the hills did not disappoint! I most enjoyed the miles that I was able to stick close to my chosen pace group…through around mile 10. Once my legs started cramping, I was having less fun than before…but I still enjoyed the course, the crowds, and aid stations, and every mile closer to the finish line ; )
The post race was nice, but as a slower runner, I feel like races never prepare for those later runners. There wasn’t much for me to eat or drink…outside of the typical banana, water, and Clic-fil-a sandwich handed off in the finishing chute. The live music had ended, the vendors started packing up, but I was able to get a cold beer as I walked around.
Overall, a great race and I cannot wait to conquer this race again next year!
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