Continuing on from my last post, here is “the rest of the story” about my trip to Kansas. (I went there to run a half, after all).
After a glorious night of sweet slumber we woke up on the call of our first alarm the next morning. I’m a morning shower kinda gal so while I got all cleaned up, Kelsey fixed her morning breakfast. That shower gave me a lot of time to think about the race I had ahead of me, but unbelievably I had no nerves. Shocker! We hit the road as soon as we got ready and cruised down the highway singing some country jams with a side of PitBull. Unfortunately for us traffic was super backed up! Small roads and lots of people don’t mesh super well, but thank goodness the race directors took this into account and delayed the race.
After a quick trip to the port-a-potty, K1 and I hopped in line near the 2:20 pacers and wished each other luck. Since I hadn’t exactly “trained” going into this I repeatedly told her to go on without me as soon as she was able. Not soon after we crossed the start, K1 took off and I was left to chat it up with the pace group. It was my first time running with a group like this but listening to the conversations sure did help time go by a lot faster. Since the course was an out and back, I was super surprised at how much camaraderie there was among the front of the packers. Typically those close to the front are quiet and don’t say anything–but this time they were clapping, high fiving, and yelling words of encouragement at those of us near the back. Seeing that was a proud moment for me as a runner.
Going into this race, I thought Kansas was nothing but wide open fields and flat farmland. Boy was I wrong. Kansas gave Knoxville a run for her money with all the hills we “ran” into. I made it to the four mile mark with the pace group then decided that I could not hold that pace for the rest of the race and the hills so I quietly backed off and let them pass. There were multiple aid stations on the course–some even offering chocolate! My kinda race! The sun beating down on me seemingly made my thirst levels rise so I took way too many waters and Gatorades. Around mile 9 my “pace chart” that I had Sharpied to my forearm had been sweated off and I was feeling the pain that comes with any long distance race event. After the 2:35 pace group passed me I knew that this race wouldn’t even come close to my PR that I had just set one month ago.
Promptly passing the ten mile marker my stomach got the past of me and I stopped to throw up. Luckily it was just pure liquid and nothing to make me feel even more sick. That was the point I decided to just walk the 3 miles back to the finish line. I walk three miles with my Momma all the time back home so I knew I had it in me. Seeing the finish line and hearing my sweet new friend Kelsey proudly ringing her cowbell and screaming “GO GIRL” at me made the finish so entirely worth it.
Every finisher got a great medal and a cowbell! Mine was Tennessee orange–coincidence, obviously. The post race part was to die for. They had so many different things to drink (I opted for chocolate milk) in addition to fares like hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, and LOTS of baked goods made by local moms. Did I eat any of it? Heck no, my stomach would have murdered me. We did however collect our free t-shirts since we had painted our nails with cows on them. K1 was also able to cash in on a sweet medal she got for completing the Heartland Series 39.3- a three half marathon race series. Way to go, Kelsey!
After a relaxing drive home and some MUCH needed showers, we were off to get some frozen yogurt and enjoy shopping. The locals didn’t much approve of my Norts combined with compression sleeves. Shortly following my comment that I was craving pizza, Kelsey’s parents called to invite us to a pizza buffet for her little brother’s birthday. They must have ESPN or something…but we caved. I gladly piled my plate full of every pizza offered including macaroni/cheese pizza (perfect carbo load, right?) and Kelsey ate her weight in salad.
Overall the Running with the Cows Half Marathon was a fantastic race! The shirts and medals were flawlessly designed, the packet pick up was a breeze, the course support and aid stations were well stocked and had ridiculously awesome volunteers, and the post race food was something to be rivaled. Not to mention they realized the traffic incident and delayed the race to accommodate everyone. Everyone was so nice and really made a Southern girl feel welcome. Although this wasn’t my best race, the race itself was phenomenal and hopefully I can return sometime and do it again! Huge thanks to my girl/twin/sister Kelsey for hosting me and showing me a great time! Definitely a weekend to remember!