Friday, June 7, 2013

June's race--Hospital Hill Run --Kansas City

How I found HHR: 
Hospital Hill Run is an event I discovered three years ago.  The Mike was doing Dirty Kanza for the second time and he told me to get lost and do something else that day--that race for him is to be an "unsupported" event meaning that the rider is in charge of their food, hydration, pit stops, repairs, etc, all on his or her own. The first year The Mike did this event, I knew of the three main towns they were going to be stopping in and went to each one to cheer him on. I did some sight seeing. I attended garage sales and town fundraisers that year and did some shopping in antique stores. . . but the Mike doesn't like knowing in the back of his mind that he *could* bail on a race. See, if I'm not even in the vicinity, then he *knows* he cannot bail and has to continue --It's all good that he told me to find something else to do the second year of Dirty Kanza.  So I searched and found Hospital Hill Run. . . we headed down to KC, MO, picked up the race packet and then headed to Emporia, KS for his race.  Then I got up at 3am and drove back to KC, MO for the race. 2011 I hurried back to Emporia after the race and eating some great gluten free pizza at Minsky's pizza.  Last year I ran the race, did some yoga afterwards, had Minsky's pizza (again!) and slowly made my way back to Emporia where I went to a free movie showing at an old remodeled movie theater (THE GOONIES).

and, that's the story of how I found this race.

2013  was going to be completely different. The Mike is doing Ride the Divide this month, which means he couldn't do Dirty Kanza a short thirteen days before he embarks on a 2000 mile odyssey .  Instead, I was heading to Kansas City by myself. . . but I asked the dad to come down to visit as well, see me race and spend some time together.  He obliged :-D

The Journey
I packed up Thursday and then added some more things on Friday morning and headed to work.  Then I realized I had not packed any Cytomax!  OH NO!  I spent some time finding running shops and bicycling shops and the only one which carried any Cytomax closed at 5pm on Friday (what? big city store closing at 5pm? geesh).  I had no other option but to leave work, bust home, pack some Cytomax and then bust a move to KC,MO.  I had plenty of time to get there for packet pickup (closed at 9pm for that) but I wanted to get to the expo to get some lovely t-shirts too!

The drive down was fairly uneventful. . . except for the car from North Carolina with the driver wearing some sort of headset and looking at a  handheld device seemingly his whole drive.  I finally passed him and floored it when he about when into the median and didn't immediately correct himself on the shoulder. I just wanted away from that driver!

As I didn't have to get up this year at 3am (thank goodness!), I  said I wasn't doing any driving at all and spent the night at one of the race hotels.  
My room's view. .. We would run north on the street to the left in photo
and come back past the hotel on the road at the right and up the first hill "Hospital Hill". 
Dad wanted to have some Kansas City BBQ and took me to a joint on Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ. It apparently is in the old freight house, according to the website. They have a parking lot, so apparently one can drive there, but one can also meander through the skywalk/lift area of the area, into the Union Station and out across a pedestrian bridge spanning the active railroad yard.  There is great ambiance in this place, though I'd have preferred more lighting in the area. Maybe they turn down the lights after 9pm?   Dad has some awesome looking beef tips in BBQ sauce, and I opted for some protein in the form of salmon, baked potato with real butter and cheese, and smoked/grilled veggies. 

Great dinner
The race day came early. I didn't sleep well the night before due to nerves. Nothing new, it's the reason I always got up at 3am in Emporia when I didn't need to get up until 4!

I had packed intending to clean out the closet a bit.  I finally had a chance to get rid of a "throwaway shirt" as the temps were in the 60s and I wasn't sure if there'd be any wind in the streets or not and I wore it down to the start. However, with so many people in the corral, it quickly became warm and I took the throwaway shirt off and left it on the fencing for the cleanup crew and homless shelters to enjoy. 

That's what happens when Runners World Highlights your race:

My first thought upon getting down the street for corral line up was WOW.  THIS RACE HAS GROWN!  Then again, that's what is expected when one's race is honored to be put in a highlighted section of Runners World!  Last year we filled into a section about half the length of a block. This year they had us in deeper corrals and went around the corner and down the block.   Someone mentioned about 9,000 total participants entered for the 5k, 10k and half marathon combined.  I could only find about 4500 finishers in the half marathon on the results page, but we never know how many we beat who decided to stay home this day!  

After a picture at the start with a gal from high school, we waited for our turn for the corral to start.  The gal next to me started up a conversation that was a good break from just standing around. . . she was retired from the Navy  (thank you very much for your service!) and had moved to MO from some southern state as she had a fabulous accent to this northerner.  It was nice to connect with someone before the race too--especially if you see them later in the race, and you know ya'll signed up well for the same time/corral!  

Course map
The announcer kept saying for certain corrals to go, others to stay. Same thing that happens at the Rock n Roll races I've been in, certain corrals go, then everyone still in the corrals moves forward.  I happened to be at the front of the area that stayed when he told us to and we listened--plenty of others continued to go through when they should have stayed, including the pacers for 2:30 and 2:35.  I didn't even realize this. Someone else pointed it out and then I realized that yup, the next pacer was 2:40 and a ways behind us.    Then I realized my dad was at the start line and then we were off. I was constantly looking at my watch for the first mile out, since we start out slightly downhill and with the energy of the race/crowd, I didn't want to go "all turbo" and go out to quickly.   I felt like I was floating though!  

The cropped picture--got to get rid of the arms  ;-)
Yes, you see GU in the ifitness belt. I use Cytomax for the first part of the race and then depend on GU for the end.  I probably need to just buy the Cytomax singles and then try running with them in the belt to use for mixing up later on long runs and see how that works. 

So there I am running, trying to tone down my race pace at this time as we descend and then slowly ascend up to the Kansas Star newspaper building, we turn on that street and head east then turn and head south on the road that will take us past THE Hospital Hill, a the second (though first long) hill we'll encounter and I realize that I told my dad he could meet  me on the backside of the hotel at a time that would be two miles into the race, but I didn't realize that it's not two miles into the race, that's really only about 1.4miles, so if he showed up there, we probably missed each other.

I always find it funny that at the top of this first hill there is a Catholic Church--just a bit ironic to me in that we generally are praying -in one form or another- the whole time we're racing..  The rest of the southern route seems good, though I recollect that the two years ago in the heat/humidity I saw some guy getting ambulance assistance at this of the street. . . "wow, there are a lot of houses on this pretty street for sale" (road changes from Gillman to Rockhill-- and if there's "hill" in the road's name, it can't be good, right?--and then we went up the never ending hill (in my mind) by the Univ. Missouri Kansas City where you climb up a bit, then it evens for a street, then you climb some more at an angle, turn a corner and climb some more and then you're at the intersection with one last 'hurrah' climb before you turn. . and this is where the little beige doggie last year followed us runners. (Rockhill Road)  He had gotten loose from some house and found people to entertain with his antics.

I knew on the south portion (Meyer Blvd) there was a small bit of a hill and then a nice descent turn, climb into a nice shady neighborhood.  I also knew I was just a minute behind goal pace at this point, so I was feeling good, but also knew I didn't have another GU.  Then there is a course turn and descend into the bottom (Brookside Blvd)  before meeting up at the Country Club Plaza area and climbing J.C.Nicholas Parkway (hill) which is the start of mile 10 on the Course map, a hill that just continues, as it turns into Broadway. This is a long (about a mile and a half) climb up a wide street with very little shade. Since it's later in the race, there's usually full sun at this point too!  Along this stretch is a woman/volunteer/intersection patrol who dresses hilariously every year.
As Broadway hill continues, there is a fabulous aid station that hands out orange slices and some other type of sugar, as well as ICE!  This year the were out of oranges when I got there (drat! I needed sugar!) and I couldn't have the Twizzlers they had, as they contain gluten, so I grabbed some ice, shoved a piece in my bra next to the sternum/heart to cool me down a bit and I ran on to mile marker 12 aid station where they had Gatorade (gag for me, but I know people like the stuff) for necessary sugar/electrolytes.  I ways almost home!  Broadway descends just a short  bit and l
ast year at the "Arts Cafe" (I think that was the name),  Shakespeare was out cheering on racers!  This English major loved seeing him.  Up we go, past a church and then on to the aid station just before the turn at 31st Street.  

After mile 12, you turn a corner, run a flat block (31st ST) and then do the "trinity hill" which is a pretty straight up 1/3 block hill. . . I like it because it's similar to the training hill at home. . . "Just sprint up the hill!"  I kept telling myself, except this year I only made it halfway and then had to walk a bit and then got to the top and took off--I was recovered since I walked ;-)  --and passed a few people who were recovering on the downhill from the uphill.  It's all downhill from here to the finish!  Except, the finish is a bit further than you think.  Curve around the WWI monument, around the corner, then down the street/finish chute to the glory of the finish line and --wait, where's the finish line, it's got to be here somewhere--oh, THERE it is.  It honestly feels like a half mile left when you finally turn into the chute area, but it's probably only .2 or such.  

I finished with a time that was "not too shabby" to quote one of Adam Sandler's lyrics. A time better than 2011, but not as awesome as 2012 (granted, I'd already run a marathon in 2012 by the time HHR came around, so I was in much better shape a year ago than now).  
In the background you can see the awesome track jacket all participants received this year!
After I finished and got my CHOCOLATE MILK at the finish, had my professional picture taken (which isn't too bad), I got the surprise of the day!  A woman came up to me and said, "you were my pacer" (at the end). She said when I ran, she ran and when I walked, she walked.  How awesome?   I always look at other people and pace myself off them, but never even consider that other people may pace themselves off of me! Thank you runner for that comment. It meant a lot to me.  

Later, at home, The Mike and I put the trio of medals together: 
HHR made it fun leading up to the 40th anniversary of their fine event.

My "index toes" always blister at the top.
This one now has a bit of a blood blister going
at the base of the blister part three days out from the event.   

I'd love to say I'm going to do this again next year, but there are also other races out there around the end of May/beginning of June I'd like to see and do, so I can't say for sure I'll be back, but maybe.

I've never had a blister turn purple. . . not sure what this means
Amazing sunset/closure to a fabulous day
Beautiful skies began the closure of a long day.  I also got to see fireworks as I was driving home and pulled over just before my exit ( a few miles from home) to watch the firework finale ! 

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