I cannot believe it’s over! It’s a bittersweet feeling because I know that in two weeks, I won’t be getting everything ready to run another 26.2 miles. While I’m sort of sad, I know that it would be almost impossible to upstage the weekend that was my conclusion of three marathons in four weeks.
There was a lot of anticipation for this weekend. After coming off of Chicago my legs were tired and to make matters worse, I caught a decent cold. My nerves were at an all time high. I was just pleading with my body to just hang in there and get well for Saturday. A lot of excitement was in store for Kansas City. I connected with my great friends Nichole and Jenny who were monumental in my recovery after my hospitalization. I found out that both would be at the final race cheering me on, and that alone was huge in calming my nerves down and that I knew everything would be okay and I would be ready for this last run. By Wednesday before the race, and my legs felt great! It was like they knew to bounce back at exactly the right time. My legs are back, this cold is going away, and my confidence is back. In two short days I would be headed South to Kansas City, but the excitement of a marathon race weekend began before arriving in K.C. The Des Moines Marathon was also happening the same weekend and the company I work for played a major role in sponsoring the event. My company hosted a Pre-Race celebration on our campus which I received a special shout out from our CEO. Talk about a HUGE honor to be 1 of 13,000 plus employees singled out for what I’m doing. I’ll write more about that in a upcoming post later this week. What I have to talk about with that is more than what will fit in this post. Plus I would like to have a dedicated post just for what has transpired from my running at my company. It’s pretty amazing and coming soon!
Friday afternoon and me, Karen , & Tate are off to Kansas City for our final trip. This one felt good to have Tate back with us on. He stayed back home with his Aunt for the Chicago. All of the people and craziness that was Chicago would have been too much for a 3 1/2 year old. But Kansas City was perfect! I decided to stay at the host hotel which would allow me to not only sleep in longer, but also allowing Karen and Tate to sleep longer. It was a huge benefit having packet pickup walking distance from our lobby and according to Tate, this trip was not about Daddy running the marathon, but it was all about going to LegoLand in the hotel. The day was capped with our dinner. Not because we went to this really cool pizza restrurant and I was still able to carb up, but because of the company we had. After 17 years, I was reunited with my best friend from high school, Julie. The time went by without a single second of silence. It was like we never skipped a beat. Now that is what you call a true friendship when two people can just pick right back up where you left off. What a great way to end a perfectly good day and a great mood to be in the night before such a big race.
Saturday morning arrived and wide awake I was! I’m ready to run this race and get my final medal. The weather was absolutely perfect!! No wind, and 48 degrees as I walked out of the hotel to the start area. This was the first race that I decided to utilize running with a pace team. Bid advantage of running these things so close to each other. What I did wrong in my race in Chicago just 13 days earlier, I was able to change and put into effect for this race. It was the same when I ran Chicago compared to Omaha. There were some definite benefits with the pace team going into the race. For one, I don’t have to worry about going out too fast because I will stick right with this group and let them lead the way. Second, was that if I stayed with the pace team or even finished anywhere close to the group, at the end of this race I will have a new PR!! I get ready to start, but not before some pre-race drama unfolded. Our jogging stroller had a flat tire before we left town. I pumped it up thinking that it had just sat too long. I went ahead and packed the pump just in case of an emergency. Well the emergency happen when we woke up Saturday morning and the tire was flat again. We didn’t know how fast the air was coming out, but we packed the pump just in case for Karen to refill it along the route. Pretty nerve wracking considering that later that day after I am done running, we will be getting back in the car and heading back to Des Moines for Karen’s first crack at a half-marathon.
She assures me that she’s okay and to head off and Find My Strong. I meet up with my pace group and away we went. As we headed out on our first mile, we were able to experience the sunrise while running through Downtown Kansas City. This was all great because I absolutely love the city, but before the half mile mark we are climbing already!! WHAT!?! We should ease into the hills right? WRONG! Everything is still okay though because of my awesome pace team leaders. They were so informative and talking us through what we should be doing while climbing this hill. Shortly after the one mile mark we began heading back towards the Crown Center area. At this point is when we received our first taste of some authentic Kansas City Blues, A live band playing “Goin to Kansas City”. Everything about it was perfect from the guitar to the drums, to the vocalist. I know it’s only a little over one mile into the race and there were going to be a lot of other hills coming up, but was this becoming my favorite race ever?
As we continue to come down Main St. we came up on Union Station and the cool fountain right in front of it. The whole time I’m still just looking around enjoying all of the views. As I look ahead, I see the World War I memorial in the perfect light now that the sun is just about up shedding full light on the course. Such a sight that was short lived as we look up to one of the longest and steepest hills I’ve ever seen. Okay pace leaders, how do we battle this thing?? That’s when I hear the instructions of “As we come up on this hill, we are going to leapfrog it. That will get us up the hill while maintaining pace.” What the heck is a leapfrog?? “It is when we come up to this light pole and walk to the next one. When we get to that one, we run to the next one alternating until we get to the top of the hill.” WOW!! Never heard of that, but I like it so lets go for it. We make it up the hill and round the corner and there it is! The World War I Memorial that we are about to run in front of. But it’s before we are in front of the memorial that we all at the same time realize that we just passed mile 3. Where did the 2nd mile go? Oh yes, this is definitely becoming my favorite race!!
After we pass the memorial, we are headed on a nice straight away but in the distance you see it just drop off. That’s all fine and dandy, but I know that if we are running down this hill, we will be headed back up another one before we get back out to Main St. and there it was. This one was worse than the previous one but it was shorter. Again, we leapfrog this one and it wasn’t too bad. Another downhill we head out on until leveling out and heading back towards Main St. As we head down 31st Street, I look up and there are Karen and Tate. I break out ahead of my group and run over to them. I got a high five and gave Tate a kiss on the head. Back with my group I go as we round the corner to Main St. and another hill, but hey, there’s a water station so we get to walk for our scheduled minute. Nothing like a minute long walk while drinking your water and Gatorade. Add a big splash of hickory scent coming from Gates BBQ and I was in heaven! I was over four miles into this thing feeling awesome, and running through my favorite city!!
Next up was our run down Westport Rd. and through the Westport area. Oh the memories of partying in Westport throughout the years! As we continue on, we head down Roanoke Pkwy on our way to Country Club Plaza. This is a stretch of the race I have been looking forward to running through!! I get goosebumps every time I’m there! We pass by the J.C. Nichols fountaing and continue heading up 47th St and more hills. We have passed the 7 mile mark and I missed it due to looking forward towards the Nelson Atkins Museum. Everything along this course so far has surpassed expectations and the hills are not an issue so far. Shortly after passing the museum is where the half-marathoner split off from us and we continue to the less populated route. It was amazing the amount of runners that were no longer with us when that split occurred. Before heading down Ward Parkway, I see Karen and Tate again. I give her my headphones as I have not listened to them at all due to me and my pace group chatting the whole way. Giving the headphones up was something I should not have done! Shortly after that we head up a long drawn out hill on Ward Parkway. I can feel myself beginning to lag back from the rest of the group and this time it’s not a good thing because I have no music to fall back on. Instead, I push through. While on the hill I can still see the group and I am doing the leapfrogs and walking when they are. I push through without burning up more energy and I catch back up. I have new life and feel good again!
We come up on the 13.1 halfway point and we are all still together. That’s when mother nature called and I had to hit the porta potty. I knew at this point, my days of running with my group were numbered and I would be on my own and with no music, just my mind. But I am still feeling good. I didn’t use up too much energy and if I can just plug away and do all of the same things the group was doing leading up to this point, then I would be okay. I just needed to do that and survive until I saw Karen and Tate again to get my headphones. I also get a added boost when I receive a text from Nichole telling me that she and Jeremy (Her Husband) were there at the finish waiting on me. This had me so excited!! Nichole and Jeremy had just returned from a trip to Rome the night before. They got in late and made a drive home to Topeka before getting up and heading back to Kansas City for my race.
The next few miles were a true test, I knew I was still doing okay and maintaining a good pace because the 5:45 pace team had not closed in or passed me. The course was still doing a great job of keeping me focused on its scenery vs. how many miles I have left. This part of the race is a lot more on the quiet side of things as we run through the neighborhood, but the sight of these homes are mind blowing. When I double back on Ward Parkway, I come up on yet another awesome fountain, the Meyers Fountain. This fountain is a sight that I love seeing every time I come to Kansas City. It’s the main direction I take when I choose to drive down into the Plaza. At this point, I can say that the race is complete for me and I have seen everything I’ve wanted to see on the course. Next up is the Brookeside area which would have been an enjoyable area but when arriving on Wornall Rd it had been grated for resurfacing. Coming down this street, it turned into a good decision to hop on the sidewalk to cushion the pounding. It was on Wornall and going through the Brookeside area, when I encountered Scot Barco. This is a man running this race who after learning about my quest of 3 in 4, inducted me into the national group that he belongs to called the Marathon Maniacs. This is an elite group of runners who have ran multiple marathons within days and months of each other. Here I am talking about my quest, when Scot shares with me that this race is his 13th in the last 7 weeks. He then proceeds to share with me that after he completes Kansas City, that he was on his way to Des Moines the next day to run here. WOW, 14 marathons in 7 weeks. Now that is truly being a maniac. I finally get to mile 20 and get my headphones back. Tate at this point was in full cheer mode!! I picked him up and got a big hug. Gave Karen a kiss and told them I would see them at the finish. This would be the first of the three races that I would see them at the finish line. My final 6.2 I ran just like I said I would, with my heart! I gave it all i could. Thinking back through the past and how far I have come. Knowing that I had so many people waiting for me to witness my finish.
This next wave of the route was the toughest section. I can feel the effects of “The Wall” showing itself. I just have to keep pushing and pushing. I refuse to let the wall take this race away from me. I am officially beyond the point where the half marathoners turned earlier. I know at this point I’m almost there, but am still struggling with pushing past this wall. The next thing that happened was just what the doctor ordered to keep me pushing. I get a text from Nichole asking where I am at and where she was standing. Some way she was able to get inside of the barricade at the finish line in the runners chute. She later texted that they asked her to move out of the area. The texts continue with Nichole asking for check ups for where I am at. The next thing I know, I look up after passing the 24 mile water station. I hear something in the distance and as I continue, the sounds of love smooth jazz hits! Welcome to some more scenery thanks to the 18th & Vine district. The historic district is home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum. And hearing that jazz playing created that much more love towards K.C.
I’m now past the 25th mile and have a new strength. I am about to finish this race and complete my mission. As I continue I can see the 26 mile flag I had to one last time let myself become overcome with emotions. I knew the finish had much more in store along the line of emotions, but did not expect the ending to happen the way it did. I turned it on and was in a full overstride as I approach the 26 mile flag. All I have to do is round the corner and I will see that finish line. I will see Karen & Tate, I will see Stacy & Joel, I will see Lisa, I will see Jessica, and I will see Nichole and Jeremy. Seeing Nichole for the first time in 11 years would make it the ultimate ending to my story. Now I know I also mentioned my great friend Jenny at the beginning of this post. Jenny couldn’t make it to the race due to a surgery that her son had gone through two days prior. Jenny I know you are reading this and I want to let you know that you were with me the entire way on that race. I know that had you been able to make it, I would be giving you a huge hug right after I cross the finish line. The most important thing was to make sure Baby Cam was resting and bouncing back from Thursday. You were there though!
So as I see the finish, I see Karen and Tate near the front of the chute on the outside of the barricade cheering me in. I let out a huge “I LOVE YOU!!” and I come up on them and pass by with that finish getting closer by the foot. So what happen when I hit that finish line and see my friend who helped me so much and who I hadn’t seen in 11 years?????
Just watch and see how it ended!
By the way, I got my PR cutting an hour off of my finish in Omaha and 40 minutes off of my finish in Chicago. 🙂