Thursday, October 22, 2015

2015 Kansas City Half Marathon Review

2015 Waddell & Reed Kansas City Half Marathon
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Kansas City, MO
Runners: 4,559  (1,825 men, 2,734 women)
Start Time: 7 a.m.
Course: Fairly challenging with rolling hills, about 700 FT of elevation gain over 13 miles, definitely not flat
Weather: PERFECT!!! 45 F, 53% humidity, 6 mph E wind
SWAG: Short sleeve dry-fit race shirt, free downloadable photos
Race Organization: Very Good
Crowd Support: Better than most races
Volunteer Support: Outstanding
Water Stops: Very well organized
Food: Typical post-race fare
Weight: 174
Health: Great no issues
Conditioning: Good, but really tired on dead legs and 3 hrs sleep
Age: 46
Finishing Time: 1:28:16
Average Pace: 6:45/mile
Place: 50th/4,559  5th/190 in 45-49 AG

Last Saturday, we ran one of my favorite races ... the Kansas City Half Marathon!  I think by now, everyone fully understands just how much I love my hometown of KC, and this race is a showcases much of the beauty of our wonderful city.  The challenge this year however, was running on dead legs from standing at the Kansas City Royals Playoff game the night before, and then getting only 3 hours sleep.  But it ended up being a great race, and I finished only 24 seconds off of my current half marathon PR!
2015 Kansas City Half Marathon Finisher Medal

The Kansas City Royals are in the Playoffs for a second year in a row, and as Season Ticket Holders, we're fortunate to have tickets to all of the Playoff games ... which is incredibly awesome!  But frankly, the game times have affected both of our work schedules a little, as well as everything else in our lives.  This was evident in getting home near midnight from Game 1 of the ALCS, waking up at 3 a.m. for the race, and then being back at Kauffman Stadium at noon for Game 2 immediately after the race.  Really exciting ... but a lot of hustling.
Free downloadable photos were a nice addition to this race - at Mile 4 in front of the Liberty Memorial here

If you've ever been to a Playoff game for any sport, you understand there's a lot of standing ... cheering ... and screaming!  So the night before the half marathon, instead of resting, we were shouting our fool heads off, as well as being on our feet for most of the game.  And my legs felt it the next day.  They were completely dead as I stood at the starting line.  Plus, I was soooo sleepy.  I felt like doing anything besides running fast.

When people think of Kansas City, first off ... they think it's in Kansas.  It's not.  It's in Missouri.  It's not that hard to figure out.  I mean, it's on every map ever.  But it's a common mistake by out-of-towners.  Secondly, they assume that since we're located in flyover country, it's flat.  It's not.  Most Kansas City race are some of the hilliest that I run all year.  Especially when running downtown, the course can be quite challenging.  And the Kansas City Half Marathon is no exception.  It's filled with one steep climb after another that really break your pace.  Frankly, it is not an ideal PR course.

As I stood at the starting line, I couldn't help but be encouraged by the absolutely perfect running conditions of 45 degrees, low humidity, and almost no wind.  Absolutely perfect man!  But I found myself wishing that I had more energy.  I was completely dead.  My legs didn't feel like moving and I was so tired.  I was in pretty good shape, but I knew managing any kind of pace would be a challenge.

The gun went off and I started pretty slowly.  The first mile is a long gradual hill from Crown Center toward the Power & Light district downtown.  I just wanted to get up the hill and make the turn downtown where we got to run down hill for a while.  But I was struggling.  My legs just wouldn't turn over and I found it difficult to even manage a 7:25 pace.  It felt like this was going to be a long race.  Just a few  hundred feet in front of me, I could see the 1:30 pace group, and I thought to myself that I'd just keep them in range for a while.  But I soon found that they were running much faster than a 1:30 pace.

2015 Kansas City Half Marathon Pace Splits
7:25         6:59         6:52         6:53         6:44         6:34         6:39         6:37         6:40         6:44         6:21         6:07         6:23

The first half of Mile 2 was downhill, but after that, we began a climb through Hospital Hill of 150 ft over the next mile.  That's a pretty good climb at race pace ... especially so early in the race.  This hill was added because the race was modified to avoid some downtown street car rail construction.

Michael and me after the race at Crown Center
Yes, she wore that crown durning her run!!!
I felt pretty good about my conditioning going into the race, and the early climb really didn't bother me.  After the long hill, we leveled off for a bit as we rounded the Liberty Memorial WWI Museum parking lot.  It's a half mile "U" shape that gave my legs a little break before another steep incline on Wyandotte Street adjacent to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank ... Michael's former place of employment.

After the sharp uphill next to the bank, we got to run down hill for a while as we made our way toward Old Westport and the Country Club Plaza.  The changing trees made this already beautiful part of the city simply amazing, but I found myself already struggling to keep pace as we neared the half-way point of the race.  Ideally, I'd wanted to be firmly in the 6:30's by this time, but Mile 6 was my fastest so far, and it was only a 6:34.

I really began to fight  my pace a little during Mile 7 as we passed in front of the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, and I knew there was a long three mile climb coming up that was only going to make things more challenging.  I just kept thinking, "Hold the pace until Paseo, then put the hammer down!"  Paseo Street meant Mile 10.  And at about 10.5, there was a long downhill until the end.  But before I could think about my pace on the downhill, I had to grind it out over the long gradual climb.  I stopped briefly to walk through water stops, which helped me catch my breath a little, but I knew by using that strategy, I was losing quite a bit of time.  Overall, considering the challenge of this stretch, I was pretty happy with averaging a 6:40 ... but now it was time to go!

Halfway through Mile 10 I caught my breath and really began to increase my leg turnover.  I was able to grind out a 6:21.  And as the grade sloped even more downhill in Mile 12, I sped up an ran near 5K pace and turned in a 6:07.  Mile 13 leveled off a little, and so did my pace, but I was able to run the final full mile 6:23.
Michael and me later in the day at Kauffman Stadium ... running on fumes, but ready for a Royals win!
I knew I was working hard, but since the course was so challenging, and my pace wasn't where I wanted it, I thought there was no chance of a PR.  But as I passed the Mile 13 marker, I knew I was close.  I wish I could tell you that I had a great kick until the end, but I hadn't ran the tangents very well, and what should've been the final .1 mile, turned into .23 ... and the result was 24 seconds short of a PR at 1:28:16.  But I really considered it great race all things considered!

One of the photos I took of Rawlee and Ryder on Sunday afternoon after the race
After the race, I quickly found Michael and we made our way back to Kauffman Stadium for Game 2 of the ALCS, which the Royals won.  Our legs and bodies were exhausted, still running on 3 hours sleep and a half marathon under our belts, but the game was awesome!!!  The next day I took family photos for my son and daughter-in-law, and the boys ... but my legs and energy were definitely spent.  I felt like if I'd had more rest, and the course would've been flatter, I might have been in good enough shape to PR.  But it was a great weekend though, and I can't wait to run the race again next year!
... Be Great Today! 


  1. I'm amazed by what you're able to do, especially after almost no sleep. And your photographs of your grandkids are wonderful.

  2. I saw you two inside Crown Center before the race (but I was too intimidated to say anything). I got a medal a lot like that, only mine has a 26.2 on it. By the way, they found another really nice hill to send us up on the longer route.

    1. Ha, man you should've said hi, there's nothing intimidating about either of us hopefully! Although we might have been bickering at each other about something ... we were both exhausted, ha! Great job on the 26.2!

  3. Amazing what you can do despite lack of sleep and tired legs. Great result Jim. Imagine if you'd been fresh!

  4. You guys are crazy. Go get some sleep.

  5. Great job and love the pic of the grandkids! I also clocked 13.23 and so did a lot of other people I spoke to. Maybe it was just long because of the route change? I ended up tying my PR. How often does that happen? I pointed my friend your way for the Phoenix marathon. Thanks for helping her out!

    1. Hi Maeluen - congrats to you too on the tied PR! Is your friend Laura? I've been trading emails with her, and happy to help!

    2. Yes, that's her!

  6. Only 3 hours of sleep and you were within 30 sec of your PR?! Based on your splits and fitness level (speedy last 5k of the race) I think you easily have a 1:26 in you right now!

  7. Wow. Still a solid pace despite lack of sleep! Congrats on all front!
    LOVED that pic of your grandbabies btw!!!!!!!
    Now go get some sleep!!!!!
    OH and you've been tagged to do a race quiz when you get a few minutes of free time. It would make for a good read! (questions/quiz can be found at )

  8. Congrats! Great picture of your grandkids. I just read the latest race recap over at and instantly thought of you. Sounds like it would be the ultimate race from hell for you.

  9. Congrats on a strong race. Sounds like a challenging course given the hills. Now that the weather is cooler, however, I think all the hard training you did in the summer will result in lower times. It will be interesting to see what you do next.

    Also, another interesting note is the number of women versus men in your race. I've seen that trend happening more and more, especially in the half marathon. Looks like it is a nation-wide thing.

    1. That's interesting Eddie, I've noticed the growing population of women in half marathons as well.

  10. And The Royals Own It In The Big Apple, Huge Congrats!!! Take THAT James Shields

  11. Congratulations on a great race! Incredibly fast splits! I appreciate this recap, thank you!

  12. Hate no sleep - training for the Chicago Marathon I ran 20 miles on 4 hours. Sometimes that happens, just as long as it's not the norm. Great race


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