Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hospital Hill 10K ... A GREAT Bad Day!

Downtown Kansas City, Missouri
Race Report: Hospital Hill 10K
June 4, 2011
Kansas City, Missouri
4/5 Stars

1st Place 40-44 Age Group
26th out of 1,406 Overall
45:32 PR ... 7:19/mile pace
75 degrees/80% humidity

Until this weekend, I had never ran a 10K race.  And I had always heard great things about the Kansas City Hospital Hill Run, so since last year I had targeted it for my first race of this distance.  As advertised it was a well organized, medium size race featuring a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon with about 6,600 runners in all events.  It started and finished in downtown Kansas City, Missouri in the Crown Center area.

Finisher's  Medal

Packet Pickup ... Swag ... Medal ... Crowd Support
Packet pickup was well organized and held in the Crown Center Exhibition Hall.  There were a ton of volunteers who were very helpful, although a little uninformed with a couple of logistics questions I had. Bart Yasso from Runner's World was also there visiting with runners.

I am becoming less and less concerned with give-aways, SWAG packets, and post race festivities for races, but I know a lot of people really enjoy them.  For this race, runners did pretty well.  We got a nice technical t-shirt (black for men, teal for women), a water bottle, a nice finisher medal for all three events, a pair of flip-flops, beer & famous Kansas City BBQ after the race.  Plus there was great live music and a ton of things to do around the popular Crown Center shopping area.

Good race bag with beer & BBQ at the end of the race (I had neither)

The medal was pretty cool, especially considering everyone got one regardless of what race they completed.  The logo on the technical t-shirt and the medal both read "I Conquered The Hill", which is what the race is known for.  "The Hill" is Hospital Hill which is approx a 2 mile square area that is home to various medical facilities, including Truman Medical Center.  Plus, while it's not the toughest hill I've ever ran in a race ... it's pretty hard!  So their slogan fits I guess.  More on that later.

The crowds were decent considering it was only about the 3rd or 4th really hot day we've had in KC this year.  In the afternoon the high was about 95 degrees with suffocating humidity.  And at the 7AM start time, it was already getting a little toasty - about 75 degrees, with 80% humidity.  These weren't bad conditions to watch a race, but running it was a little challenging.

Pre-race "Get-Down, Get-Down!"
The 10K Race
Michael and I went through our typical pre-race dancing ... goofiness ... warm-up ritual at home before heading to Crown Center at about 5AM.  We stopped by Michael's friend Michelle's house on the way so she could follow us.  (Michelle ran the Half Marathon and did a great job as always.)

I had decided that I would spend quite a bit of time warming-up for this race so I could start strong right out of the chute.  The race started at 7AM so I began some light miles at about 20 minutes 'til.  I ran a total of about 2 miles prior to the race and really noticed that the even though the 75 degree temps and high humidity were fine to stand around in, they were gonna be tough to race in.

I felt strong and ready at the starting line and when the gun sounded I ran okay, logging the first mile and a half at my pre-planned 7:00/mile.  But the next mile is where everyone has the problem.  "Hospital Hill" is a 200ft climb over a little less than a mile, with portions of it at a 4% grade.  Not a killer if you're out jogging - but a little tough in a race.  And the heat & humidity made it a real challenge.  I managed to keep my pace at about 7:00/mile, but I really began to notice my heart rate SOAR at approx 187bpm. The high heart rate didn't bother me, I mean it's a race right? What concerned  me was I couldn't get it to decrease on downhills ... it pretty much stayed elevated.

Although breathing hard, I felt fine until about mile 3.25.  My pace plan had slipped a little, however it wasn't horrible.  But when you turn onto 39th Street, there is immediately another 100ft incline over 1/2 mile.  And with my heart rate now at 192bpm, my stomach killing me, and my will power lost somewhere in the second mile ... I kinda gave up and let the course and the heat get the best of me.  I walked.  Then ran.  And walked.  Then ran.  And WALKED ... IN A FRIGGIN' 10K!!!!!!!!!!!  To say that I was disappointed with myself would be a huge understatement.

Crown Center fountains near the Finish Line
After the race I told Michael, "After 35 years of competitive sports from Little League, High School, College, and now marathoning ... this race was the biggest athletic failure of my life."  I can't remember ever giving up in a race or any event, but felt like I did at this one.  I mean I still finished and ran as fast as I could the rest of the way, but according to my Garmin post race details, I literally stopped and walked 10 different times over the last 2.5.  I finished in 45:32, a 7:19 pace.

I WAS NOT UPSET WITH MYSELF BECAUSE OF THE TIME OR FINISHING PLACE ... I was upset because all I ask of myself and the people close to me to do is give their best effort.  Yesterday was not my best and felt like I let myself down.

But a funny thing happened when I checked the finishing times from the race.  It turns out that high temps really drove finishing times down.  There were only 15 runners in the whole race with a finishing time under a 7:00/mile ... for a 10K!!!  When I searched and found myself, to my surprise my 45:32 was fast enough for 26th place overall and also ... to win my age group!  Wow, that was really unexpected.  It was the first time I ever won my age group in a race and it was a pretty big deal to me!!!

Now, I would absolutely be lying if I told you the 1st place finish didn't take the sting out of my performance a little ... but only a little.  I don't at all want to sound ungrateful or "spoiled" with my time, but I still pretty much gave up when the going got tough yesterday - something I usually don't do and still don't know why I did.  But all in all it was a good day.  I got to run with my wife, who by the way ran a great race and you can read about here at Slowly Tri-Ing. Plus, it was a beautiful day to be out running and I am thankful for that!  But I don't ever want to quit like that again.  I would rather run 2:00 below my average pace and have fun than quit on myself.  Guess I just had a bad day, but tomorrow will be better!
... be great today!


  1. Dude! You did great! I know how you feel--I was really PO'd at myself when I walked some at the end of my half back in March--but 10Ks are deceptively HARD. You are going much faster than your big-distance pace and you're thinking, oh only 6 miles, that's EASY. But it's not, especially in heinous heat and humidity. You do right to look at those other race times!! First in age group is AWESOME.

    REM said "Everybody hurts." And I say, "Everybody walks." Now you know what the 10K is all about. I doubt it'll happen again, but if it does...hey, it happens. If it happens to me again, I hope it happens your way. Congrats!

  2. I get it. I can understand your thought process here. From an outside perspective, I'm not 100% sure I agree though. I think the conditions simply did not allow you to run the race you originally wanted or expected. And, it's so easy to second guess yourself. Based on RESULTS (often harsh, always fair), you had a great race, especially considering the conditions.

    If you may recall, I walked during my 5k last month. I oftentimes think to myself did I REALLY have to walk during my side stitch? Not sure really. Maybe not. I will use that race as a benchmark race and think the next time, I will try to zip up the man suit just a little tighter. In the end though, I was happy with my results.

    Accept your greatness.

  3. Nice job Jim. 10k's are much different that marathon's in my opinion. You really have to give 110% where we get to hold back on the half and full. Great time! Awesome AG! I like the medal too. Hot and humid - not a nice way to run. The bottom line is you did great especially if you are comparing to the other runners. I would LOVE to just place in one race. Congrats!

  4. Excellent finishing time and placement and wow on the age group win

    I have to think the walking kept you healthy. Your HR was right up there. It was the smart thing to do.

  5. I think you did amazing baby! I am so proud of you!

  6. I hear what you're saying about walking in a 10k. But your time was still awesome considering that. Plus you had to deal with the hills and heat. June is not the best month to race in. Congrats on 1st place AG.

  7. I totally understand what you mean about giving up on yourself, but think how much it would have sucked to collapse because of that heat and your elevated heart rate. I think taking a walk break was in your best health interests, for sure. Congrats on the 1st place AG!

  8. 1st place age group
    that is great Jim
    Chris is right accept your greatness -is that even a word? for you it is!

  9. You can't ever ignore the effects of neat and humidity on running.. When your heart's already working hard just to keep your body cool and you ask it to work that much harder by racing it's no wonder you found it tough going out there. Well done on the race and the place.

  10. Oh, I so get it. To all of us, it's a great race. You walked away with 1st in your AG and 26th OA. On paper... FANTASTIC race (and it really was). But I also get being disappointed. You live and you learn. Looks like others really struggled too - doesn't make it easier though.

    In any event, congrats on a great race!

  11. I ran 8 hilly miles in the humidity and heat yesterday and I thought of your previous post about doing so. The run pretty much stunk and I walked a few times, but I don't feel like I failed because I was out there running. I give up on myself way too easily. I have to learn push through the hard spots. You did amazing. Do not underestimate what the heat and humidity do to you physically. Did you have fun? If that answer is yes then you accomplished something and learned a little more about yourself during the process. And you raced with Michael!!

    Love the medal. Who knew KC was so pretty? :O)

  12. All you ask is that you give your best. Maybe on this day in these conditions this was your best. And if you ask me your best was fantastic! Dude you are fast, first in your AG and 26th overall!?!?!?

    Great race! I hope you come to think of it that way too.

  13. congrats on getting 1st in your age group, so awesome! I really like that medal! And you and Michel always crack me up, love those pics!

  14. The heat makes for a rough race. Yay for winning your age group!

  15. I am so sorry to hear you had a rough race. 5k and 10ks are seriously so challenging. It is so weird how running 20 miles is no big deal but at my last 10k I had to walk 5 times. WTF?

    Anyway I love the pictures of you and Michael and congrats on placing first in your age group!

  16. Wow. Congratulations on winning your age group - regardless.

  17. With heat and humidity it is always very difficult to give an optimum performance. You still did great overall and you are right, the next race will be different and better. Well done!

  18. Great finish time and AG place!

    I think we have all had the humidity get the best of us at some point. I wouldn't say you didn't give 110%. You did! But due to how humid it was, it took everything out of you. And in the end you still won your age group!! I'd call that a success!

  19. The heat is NOT our friend, especially when it first makes an appearance. I finally get acclimated in, oh, August. :)

    Congrats on the AG win!!!!!

  20. Great race report! It does sound like the conditions were brutal! The fast that only 15 people beat 7:00 mile pace is testament to that. I've only ran 1 10K ever, and I got a 6:53 pace on a perfectly flat course - and I felt like I was way behind most people out there. Looks like you placed in the top 2% of people out there, is that your highest finish ever based on a % basis?

    I think you did great, Chris K is dead on. The heat and humidity just sound terrible, especially if you add in 2 tough hills to the mix. And with your heartrate soaring it sounds like your body had enough. I mean you don't want to collapse out there from going too hard, so your body seemed like it wanted to walk a couple times. Not sure if there was anything you could have done other than maybe dousing yourself with water at every water stop to try to cool down your body - just seems like it was overheating.

    Awesome job!

  21. And I think the next 10K you do on a flatter course with better conditions I could see you getting like 6:15-6:30 pace or something around there, you will destroy this race in terms of time!

  22. I think you did GREAT! Remember every race makes you better and you learn from it! Awesome job!

  23. Great Pictures of before the race!

  24. Ugh, I've been there. I like 10k's because they're over faster than a longer race, but sometimes they hurt!

    I love the flip flops in the swag bag!

  25. Wow, was the course really that hilly? It must have been with the times you wrote about (and only 15 runners under 7:00/mi). Congrats on doing so well!! Who cares about the the end you finished the race and with a great time.

  26. could the two of you be any awesome-R?

    Those photos are simply freaking classic.

  27. Phenomenal job!! Super time and first place in your age group. It doesn't get any better than that despite the heat.

  28. great job on the age group win. sounds like a grinder of a course.

  29. Chalk the walking up to heat and humidity and don't beat yourself up about it. You still ran a great race and have the AG win to show for it. Congrats!


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