May 10, 2014
Course: 18 sets of rolling hills in rural farm country, 425 ft of elevation gain
Weather: Sunny, 65 degrees, 10mph wind
Health: Okay, some developing adductor issues
Conditioning: No in great shape for this one
SWAG: Short sleeve tech-tshirt
Food: Maybe best race food ever - church pot luck!
Volunteer Support: Amazing!
Race Organization: Very Good
Water Stops: Very Good & Often
Place: 41st/1,679 Overall 4th/70 45-49AG
Summary: Nice race with great volunteer support as a fundraiser for Holy Rosary Catholic School. One of my most disappointing races in a while that was an eye-opener to my fitness level
|Beautiful race morning - perfect sunrise over Midwestern farm country|
|Michael and I with one of the many cows|
I think the way I would best describe the Running With The Cows Half-Marathon, is a "Sunday after-church cookout at your Uncle Fred & Aunt Martha's farm". It was very warm, friendly, and simply charming. The event is a fundraiser for the Holy Rosary Catholic School in Bucyrus, KS. And from the moment we stepped foot on the shuttle buses until the time they dropped us off after the race, we were overwhelmed with hospitality and kindness. The volunteer on our bus even read us few facts about cows and the surrounding area as we drove to the starting line. It was cute and funny, and a just one of the little extra touches they spent time on for their race.
In addition to the endless friendliness, we were also served a wonderful "pot-luck" dinner inside the school after the race. There was an unbelievable amount of food! Many of the school parents had brought aluminum foil covered dishes, just like at a family get-together, and it was amazing. In all of the hallways of the school, Crayola-colored signs hung as artwork and inspiration for all the runners. And of course there were cows! There were cow signs, cow hats, cow tutus, humans dressed as cows, and real cows hanging out with people. There was even a dairy cow in a trailer I think you were allowed to milk - but we were on a tight schedule after the race and I didn't have a time - or I would have given it a whirl! It was a wonderful atmosphere, and a great way to spend a perfect Saturday morning. It was obvious that all of the volunteers took great pride in the event, and they had spent a lot of time planning and organizing every detail to make it a success - which it was!
|Finisher Medal & Cowbell (of course) for the 2014 Running With The Cows Half-Marathon|
|Michael passing two John Deere Combines ... yes, we're in Kansas|
I love running with headphones. And as I began my warm up a few minutes before the run, I noticed that I'd lost one of the earpieces on my iPod and couldn't use it for the race. It wasn't a deal-breaker. I've ran plenty of races without it, but I definitely prefer music - especially on this course. Because even though the pre and post race activities are some of the best I've experienced ... the course is one of the most boring I've ran. It's 13.1 out & back miles on rolling hill'd county roads with absolutely no visual stimulation except for hay fields, they next hill, and the runner's back in front of you. And speaking of the hills, my hip flexors are getting really tired of racing on "rolling" hills. Most folks who aren't from the the Midwest have a preconceived notion that all of our races are comprised of pancake flat routes. And while their not up the side of mountains or anything, many of the races around here can be a little challenging ... especially if you are "racing" them and running full tilt. This race was no exception. It would be fine for a simple workout, but trying to keep race pace became a little tough after all of the up's & downs.
|2014 Running With The Cows Half-Marathon ... only 425 ft of elevation gain, but endless up & down rolling hills|
My pace at mile 8 really dropped off and I began to struggle the next couple of miles to keep a 7:00 stride. And at mile 11 ... I walked ... IN A FRIGGIN' HALF MARATHON!!! It was embarrassing, but I literally had to stop and catch my breath on one of the hills. And that's when people started passing me, left & right!
After the quick breather, I picked my pace back up, but had to walk a few more times over the next few miles. I saw quite a few other runners walking too, but that really didn't make me feel better. I knew that I wasn't in peak shape for this race, but I was really surprised with how far my conditioning had fallen off over the past few weeks. I really struggled in the last miles and couldn't wait for the dumb thing to be over. I finally crossed the finish line with aching legs, and an extremely disappointing 1:33:10. And to say the least, I wasn't very happy.
|Michael enjoying the amazing "Pot-Luck" dinner spread after the race|
After the race, Michael and I ran into our friend Christa and her brother-in-law. They asked how I did, and I told them "Not well". Christa asked what my time was, and I told her 1:33, and her bro-n-law said, "NOT WELL ... with 1:33 ... you're an A--hole!" He was joking and we all laughed. And when I told Christa I had to walk a lot of the last few miles, he said "You're not making me feel better!" I've learned over the years that when you finish toward the top of your Age Group Division, even on a really bad day like Saturday for me, you don't get a lot of sympathy from other runners. Yes, I know many runners would love to have the "disappointment" of a 1:33 half-marathon. But like I've said repeatedly, the finishing time is completely relative. It's simple an individual marker or benchmark that is specific to that individual. Someone can run a 2:50 half-marathon and be elated with their race, while others could finish with a 1:20, and feel disappointed. The actual time on the clock just doesn't matter - it's more about the experience and how the run was perceived by the person who ran it.
... be great today!