Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Running with the Cows half marathon weekend.

Last year I had learned about a race south of Kansas City called Running with the Cows, from Kelsey at .  I was excited about this race that is relatively close to me. . . I am a dairy farmer's daughter/granddaughter and black and white Holsteins are my favorite (of course!). Also, I'd be able to knock Kansas off my list of states  for races (I'm just looking to do at least one race--of any distance--in each state).    Looking at race's pics and the write up of Kelsey, I figured this would be a fun event to do and my pal S and her 4 year old can do the 5K. . .there'd be stuffed cows, etc.and it'd be a good road trip for us.   That was the plan three months ago when I signed us up for the event!  
Scenic view at the first rest stop in Missouri on I-35 heading south.  
After meeting up  at a central location, we joined forces, with a new pair of sunglasses for her son (because "'cation isn't 'cation without sunglasses!").  Our first pit stop was a pit stop ;-)   The rest stop on I-35 in Missouri just south of the Iowa border has a gorgeous mural inside depicting the history of this fine state. If you're here when the visitor's center is open, it's fun to go in and gather materials and ask for a postcard from the attendant. Last year when The Mike and I came through here a friend's son was doing a "Flat Stanley" type of event and sending post cards to the child was the object of the game. . . signed by his/her "flatness". There is a small playground outside, as well as a nature trail where one can walk amongst some metal cutout bison.  
Mural inside rest stop
The (fairly) new interstate bridge  in Kansas City, MO. 

S and I missed the packet pickup on Friday night, so we headed out to Bonefish Grill and had a great late meal.  They have a lovely gluten free menu as well and the waiter was well aware of what I could/could not have on the menu.    Saturday morning we got up bright and early for the 7:30am start of the half marathon. . . in order to drive out to the rural church, find parking, and ride a bus up to the church /start line area.  We probably got there earlier than we really needed to; however, with the rain that had come that week and the night before, the organizers had to scramble for alternative parking--which came in the form of having us detour off and around gravel roads and park on varying roads.  We got to ride a school bus to the church/start and S's son loved this!   

We got our race packets and, one of the ladies handing out shirts said, "a men's?" and I said, "Yes, because I have curves and women's shirts aren't always a good fit".  Does anyone else have this problem?  Often times the women's shirts are cut for an Olympic women's figure and not for regular people, with chest, belly and hip curves ;-)   

The Moo Moo car
Since the parking and organization of the race ensures everyone is there early, they provide some food ahead of time, bananas and the like.  There was the person dressed as a Holstein, a person dressed as a Cat/Raccoon, he looked like a cross, and I could only surmise that he must have been a school or sports team mascot.  We spent time walking around and exploring.  I'm not sure why they started this race, but across the street was a farm that looked like it had been a dairy farm at one time, with the white washed building with windows, a few silos and some other structures that just reminded me of the dairy farm. 
Start corral and Smart Pacer signs.

I wasn't sure what to make of this race for my goal.  My goal was really to come in under 2:45 since I have not been running much this spring and had only been back on the plan since the beginning of April.   I ran with the Smart Pacers at the 2:35 time frame and figured I'd play it by ear, but that I'd start out with the pace team so I wouldn't go out "turbo" out there and wind up bonking.  I had not seen an elevation for the race, but from photos of the 2012 race I knew there to be some rolling hills.  For your information:  the race is entirely rolling hills.  We started out the driveway and then turned onto the street.  People kept jackrabbiting up from behind, dodging people and some near misses as they tried to get up with their fast pace groups within the first block of the race. First, I think this is pointless at this stage of the race and second, it's just dangerous.  One of the Smart Pacers was trying to yell at the folks behind to be safe with passing and she went down in a blaze of glory. . .hitting something on the course (okay, a bright orange cone), but she was fine and came up ready to go.   I've often wondered about pacers, who they are, what their normal pace is, etc. The pacers had answered questions and provided some background before the race. . . one of them was a Boston Qualifier which means basically that they are use to running about half again, if not twice as fast, as this group was going to run--no wonder they can offer words of encouragement and run at the same time!

Pavement markings in various colors for the finish line area. 
The couple hills were deeper than the rest and  we knew that we'd have them on the way back as well.  I was feeling quite good until we headed east  and into the rollers.  Rolling hills are harder, I think, than just one or two since your body just keeps taking a beating.  Several more water/aid stations and then we turned north and headed to the turn around point which seemed farther away than it should have been.  More water stops, house owners and visitors with kids and dogs at the street intersections, more back and forth passing, being passed, by the same people (which I think is nice, since you know you're really in the right pace group, and you can start your own competition in the event). The headwind from the north seemed to have come on stronger here. Several of us commented it seemed about 15-20mph and others said that is what was mentioned on the news.  Walking was no shame for me in this race, and I am not afraid to admit that I did plenty of it into the wind.  I'd run up part of a hill and then walk part and repeat. . . anything to keep the mind off the running.  

Alas, I noticed NO Holsteins in the fields--none! Actually, I noticed very few bovines around at all. There were some off in the distance that were black or dark red, huddled under the shade and windbreak of a some trees.   The area might be rural, but being 30 minutes from SW Lenexa, it really is a boom town area for commuters who want the simpler life (a/k/a urban sprawl which is everywhere).  
Cute turn around signs for the 5K and half course. 
The turn around I thought would just be some basic intersection with just a few fire/police--after all, each other intersection had so many on duty, it just seemed like they'd have to run out!  That wasn't the case though.  At the turn around we had the SWAT team mobile unit--the huge RV. COOL!  

Coming back on those hills in this area felt good. .  since the wind was at out backs and we were able to keep moving.  Up near the next turn there were the paramedics, but the regular people/visitors/cheerleaders had moved on. This was probably a good thing, as the wind changed from being a north wind to being a northwest wind and one of the giant "road closed" signs blew over.  Back on the east/west path the rollers were back and being brutal to our bodies.  More aid stations though (plenty on this course!) and the man with an accent who was doing a 1 minute run / 1 minute walk was passing me this go round.  I know people like watches that do the whole beeping thing, but when you hear someone else's watch do it, it's a bit freaky, especially when you're next to the person!  

Plenty of protection at each intersection.
This is the 5K turn around and water station area with the
flag flying  high on the ladder truck. 
After passing this aid station on my return, I knew I had it in me to keep going---just a few deeper hills--- but with the wind at the back anything is possible!   Heading into a valley /intersection, there were some cute cheerleaders out there for some mom/woman. . . 3 and 4 year old cheerleaders on the course breathe energy into all racers I believe!

More run/walk for me and then coming into the final stretch with the white washed former dairy buildings across the road from the finish line, it was coming into completion and the energy was building within again.  I saw S and her son near the turn area and was pumped into moving into the finish area.  My final time was faster than my expected goal and slower than the pace team I started with. . .but I was happy for with it being a training run, rolling hills and a wicked wind.  Surely, Hospital Hill Run 6/1/13 should be a breeze compared to this, right?  ha ha ha ha. That course is wicked and mean but so amazing to complete.  

Finish photo with apron and,
yes, my face is always bright red when I finish running!
(my head said 26.2 but it was only 13.1 this day)
After the race, there were food items inside, shirts for sale and resting, socializing. I was just aiming for the chocolate milk and then S, her son, and I loaded up on a bus to head back to the car.   

S said the 5k was good, there were plenty of walkers as well as runners.  She was hoping for a better time, but with having a small child who wanted out, then in, then out, then in, of the stroller, we think she had a very good time!  

I thought this was a great event, though I did expect to see some calves or a petting zoo. . . not sure why I thought this, but with the name I thought it'd be some fun to throw in on the race!
My sch-wag.   Race shirt, finish medal, goodie sack, race cow bell, and a Running With the Cows shirt for dressing up with in black with my Holstein pattern apron I made.  I had the fabric for some time and decided to make an apron and wear that. . . apparently you get stuff for dressing up quirky like :-D

After shopping in the city, we loaded up and headed to see my dad.  The little guy in the car wanted to ride a tractor, and my father obliged him. . . Sunday after visiting the cemetery for Mother's Day, we headed over to the farm so the lil' guy could see some real cows. Okay, these are just heifers (no breeding yet).   
A visit to the dad on the way home and seeing some real live Holsteins.  
We headed back to the city, did some shopping in that city, then had lunch at PF Chang's.   
PF Chang's only gluten free and soy free option and it is delicious!
Philip's Better Lemon Chicken

Next race:  Hospital Hill Run, Saturday June 1, the 40th running of the event and my third time doing this course!  Looking for the final piece of the puzzle:   

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