Sunday, November 16, 2014

2014 Longview Half-Marathon Review

2014 Longview Half-Marathon
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Longview Lake - Grandview, MO
Runners: 1,523  (564 men, 959 women)
Start Time: 8:00 am
Course: Two challenging hills, a few rolling hills, combined with flat stretches
Weather: 25 degrees, 8 mph wind, 60% humidity, spit a little snow late in the race but no accumulation
SWAG: Initially marketed as a "race jacket", runners received a dark blue long sleeve quarter zip shirt
Race Organization: KC Running Company event, so it was really well organized as always
Crowd Support: Good considering the weather
Volunteer Support: Unbelievably GREAT!!!
Water Stops: Frequent and Enthusiastic
Food: Gels during the race, chicken soup and bananas
Age: 45
Finishing Time: 1:36:30
Average Pace: 7:22
Place: 52/1,523 Overall, 4th/60 45-49 Age Group

Man-made Longview Lake in Jackson County Missouri ... one of the least scenic lakes in the Kansas City area

2014 Longview Half-Marathon Finisher Medal
On the right, long sleeve zip technical shirt originally
marketed as a "jacket" on the race's website

If you Google "Longview Half Marathon", you'll come up with several results for a Longview TEXAS race.  This was NOT that race.  This race was the inaugural run at Longview Lake which spans Kansas City, Lee's Summit, and Grandview, Missouri.  The location is considerably north of Texas, and accordingly, the temperature was considerably south ... about 25 degrees, with a "feels like" of about 17 degrees on race day.

KC's Finest organizing traffic before the race
I knew exactly what to expect in this race since I'd only ran about 45 miles in the last month, and gobble down every poor diet choice within arms length.  To say that I was "out of shape" would be kind ... fat, slow, and lazy would be more accurately descriptive.  I drove to the race with Michael understanding full well that it would be a grind.  And it was.

Kansas City Running Company organized the race to benefit St. Luke's Hospital Home Care & Hospice.  And as usual, every event that's managed by KC Running Company is very well organized and attended.  They simply do a great job with promotion and organization.

Typically KCRC's execution on race day is seamless as well, however on Saturday, they ran into a little hiccup.  The race sold out at 2,000 runners, and even with the frigid November temperatures, about 1,500 still showed up.  The problem was that there was only one point of entry for parking, which meant a line of traffic for about a mile as runners waited on Raytown Road.  Even with Grandview and KCMO Police, this bottleneck delayed the start of the race about 15 minutes. And even with the delay, dozens, if not hundreds of runners were still scurrying to the starting line well after the race began.  Obviously an oversight.  The delay wasn't a huge deal to me on Saturday since it wasn't an "A" race, but if I would have timed my warm up to begin at 8:00 am, I would've been a little ticked as I stood there and cooled down for 15 minutes in the starting chute.  It was kind of strange as we passed the quarter-mile point, watching runners hurry from their cars to the starting line after the race was already under way.

2014 Longview Half-Marathon Elevation ... 463 ft. of elevation gain
As the gun sounded and we began running, I really didn't notice the cold.  Plus, I didn't feel nearly as bad as I thought I would.  Sure ... I felt my over-sized gut jiggling against the waistband of my layered pants with every step, but my legs didn't seem as jello'ish as I thought they might.  The goal of Saturday was to finish without killing myself.  A few months ago, I could have ran this race backwards ... or on my hands ... and finished just fine.  But the layoff had really taken a chunk out of  my endurance and I wasn't even sure I could make it to the finish line.

I went out fairly slowly to get a "feel" for running again.  I'm not joking.  You'd think with about 10,000 miles under my belt over the past few years, putting one foot in front of the other would be second nature, but the whole concept just seemed so foreign on Saturday.  I cruised through the first mile with a very comfortable 8:03 and picked up the pace a little in the second mile before I had to pull over behind an Pine Tree for a quick pit-stop.  That cost me about a minute and I ended up with an 8:28 for Mile 2.

Besides the typical top three Age Group Awards, the 2014 Longview Half-Marathon featured a mid-race event called "King Of The Mountain".  The top 15 men and women to ascend the 100 ft climb with the fastest time during Mile 3 would be awarded a special plaque as one of the Kings or Queens of the "Mountain".  I first learned of the challenge the night before the race, but knew that I was in absolutely no shape to run uphill quickly.

Long lines at the Port-o-Potties, and also on the main road into the event
As I passed the sign, and the timing mat, noting the "Staring Line" of the mid-race event, my legs felt pretty decent.  So I picked up my pace a little.  I looked down at my Garmin and I was running near a 7:00 pace and felt like I had a little more, so I sped up to about 6:30.  That felt fairly comfortable, but I didn't want to burn my legs up for the rest of the race so I settled there for most of the hill.  I mean, after all, I wasn't winning anything today!  As I made my way up the climb, I felt like I could have given quite a bit more, but started to throttle down toward the top.  I was actually feeling much better than I thought, but I knew there was much more race to come.  I soon crossed the "Finish Line" of the challenge, almost immediately made a U-turn, and then headed back down from the direction we just came for a much more relaxing descent.

After the race, out of curiosity, I checked the "King Of The Mountain" standings to find out how fast the leaders had climbed to the top.  As I scanned the list, there was obviously no sign of my name in the Top 15 award winners.  But shockingly, at number 19, it read ... JAMES WEATHERLY, LEES SUMMIT, 45 YEARS OLD.  I was really surprised, followed by kinda ticked off!  If I would have pushed it all the way up "The Mountain", I could have taken home an award.  I ran that portion of the race in 5:47, only 9 seconds off of 15th place.  And I murmured to myself for awhile after that, somewhat lamenting the missed opportunity, because I knew I could have easily matched that time if I'd tried a little harder.  But oh well, I hadn't planned on a top finish of any sort going into the race, so I got over it fairly quickly.

Me and the best looking girl I could find
after the 2014 Longview Half-Marathon
After the climb at Mile 3, we settled into a fairly flat stretch that took us on an out & back through the park along the Little Blue River.  I used to hate out & backs in races, but lately I kind of enjoy them.  The "outs" give you an exact idea of who's ahead of you, and the "backs" provide an opportunity to watch for friends and family who are also running the race.  On Saturday, I saw Michael, her friends Michelle and Kelly, and many other familiar faces from the running community.  And after the race, I got to say "Hi" to Allison of DailyRuns, a really cool hometown blogger, and also meet up with Chadd, Michelle's boyfriend.

Most of the race was ran along Raytown Road, which runs adjacent to Longview Lake.  The route was closed off for the race so there was  no issue with traffic.  Michael and I have both train at Longview occasionally on several nice maintained trails that make their way around the lake.  I was a little surprised that the course didn't incorporate some of them.

At the midpoint of the race, I was consistently in the mid to low 7's, which felt relatively comfortable.  I remember being surprised at the ease of the pace since I hadn't run much for the past 30 days.  But for most of the summer, trained at 6:15-6:30 for my fall marathon that didn't happen, so I guess some of the quick leg turnover was still there.  Looking back at Saturday, I have no doubt that I could have pushed the pace for most of the race to around 6:35-6:45.  But even though it was only a half-marathon, I was scared to death of walking the last 3 or 4 miles.  So for most of the day I would look down at my Garmin, noticing a quick pace, and slowing it way down to conserve energy.  Hindsight being 20/20, I could have pushed it for a 1:32 or so at Longview.

One of the MANY volunteers who braved the cold
weather just to assist a bunch of runners
At Mile 9, after we turned onto 109th Street, we made our way East across the Corps of Engineers Dam at the North end of the small municipal lake.  Longview Lake is a small, man-made, very nondescript body of water between two suburbs south of Kansas City.   The over & back on the dam was supposed to be the "scenic" portion of the run, but honestly, Longview just doesn't offer much to look at.  This two mile stretch was really the only time I remember the wind or cold being a factor.  There was only about a 10 mph breeze, but in the 25 degree air, it carried a damp chill from the lake that felt much colder.  Plus, there was a short steep climb immediately before the turn around.  More than any other point in the race, this stretch stole my energy.

At Mile 11 I reached the point in the race where I was constantly looking at my Garmin, counting down, almost every tenth of a mile, and constantly repeating to myself, "Just make it Mile 10.  Just make it Mile 11.  Just make it ..." I was ready to be done, but have ran enough races to know that I was fairly close to the leaders in my age group.  I wanted to fall of the pace and just jog it in, but of course, I began to push it in hopes of an Age Group Award.

The last mile had one last short climb and I was just about spent.  My pace slowed back to almost  8:00 I ascended the brief quarter-mile hill.  After that, I picked it back up to about 6:30'ish, but my overall pace for Mile 13 was only 7:03.  I crossed the Finish Line with a respectable 1:36:30.  It was my third slowest Half-Marathon every, but all in all, not bad for almost no training of any sort for most of Fall.  And it was good enough for 4th Place in my Age Group.  And yes ... I was a little ticked off by that too, ha.

Runners worshiping the heat post-race
There were so many great volunteers at the race, and one very kind lady was ladling out steaming hot chicken soup!  So I enjoyed a cup full and tried to warm up a little.  As I waited for Michael to finish, I slipped into the VIP Tent (which I hadn't paid for) to warm up a little.  It was nice and toasty.  I laughed as almost all the runners had the same idea ... GET YOUR FROZEN FINGERS IN FRONT OF SOME HEAT.  Almost everyone stood around the 7-foot tall portable heaters and lifted their hands in the air as if to give thanks to the propane's flame. It was magical!

I soon thawed out and made it over to the finish line in time to watch my amazing wife come through the finish chute.  It was spitting a little snow by then.  Well, really little ice pellets more than anything.  And even though I HATE SNOW WITH EVERYTHING INSIDE ME, it was kind of cool to see it during a race.  Plus, hey ... I was already done running and didn't have to deal with it, ha.

Snow falling at the end of a very cold 2014 Longview Half-Marathon
So for an early Winter race, after not training during much of the Fall, I would have to give this one a passing grade.  I've worked really hard over the past few years, and now, if I don't run at or below 1:30, I'm pretty frustrated.  But all things considered, it could have been much worse.  I don't mean to sound "spoiled" or arrogant, because I know many people would LOVE to finish 4th in their Age Group.  But I've trained really hard to be a runner that can often finish near the top, and when I don't it's a little frustrating.  But besides some dumb award ... that would just go in a box anyway ... it was a really cold, but really good time!
... be great today!


  1. Great job!!!! I knew it wouldn't be as bad as you thought it would be! you finished without dying!!!

    I ran a similar race yesterday too,and yes I placed 5th in AG and was thinking if only I picked it up at mile 7 I could have made top 3 in AG!!!!!!!

    this just goes to show you that you still more endurance and speed than you originally thought.
    great job!

    1. Thanks Melissa, I think sometimes if we could see the results before a race, we'd push it a little harder.

  2. Not clear on the King of the Hill thing. Was it the first 15 to top it or the fastest 15? If the former, I might be pissed that I got a late start because of the traffic jam and missed that chance.

    Also, the idea of a VIP tent in this kind of weather seems almost immoral. I'm glad they were letting anyone in.

    1. Good point Paul - I just changed the wording on that - it was the fastest 15, so everyone had a shot at it. Yeah, I made up my mind after the race that I was going into the VIP tent no matter what, ha.

  3. Thank you for the shoutout!

    Funny story: my running buddy signed up for the Longivew Half marathon in Texas! Needless to say her mom was ticked off at her for wasting $50

    Traffic was terrible. I had to run .75 to the start and nearly missed the start because of traffic. My running buddy missed the start due to traffic and was 15 minutes late. Unfortunately we didn't get to run together.

    I'm very impressed (and envious) of your speed. You should be happy with your time.

    It was great meeting you and Michael!

    1. Your friend signing up for the Texas race is hilarious Allison, Michael and I died laughing at that!

  4. you ran very well considering...

    and I kinda like the "jacket"

  5. Well done for being fat and out of shape!! HA HA!! I like the way you start your recaps, I may crib that for my own. You did well Jim in some cold weather. Amazingly enough up here in the Northeast barely a dusting of snow. Must be that huge warm Atlantic Ocean...

    1. Thanks Beth, before long we'll probably be wishing for this weather, but it just got so cold so early

  6. I wanted to do this one so badly, but $ prevented registration for this one (and almost every other event for me this year) - but I was out cheering and screaming and clapping and cowbelling at the turn-around after you crested the hill on Scherer ... I'm sure KC Run Co will address the parking/traffic issues somehow for next year. I will say that if I had paid for the VIP option, and then everyone was allowed into the tent, I would expect a refund for the extra I had paid. That being said, if there's a VIP option for races I always opt for that because they've always come in handy.

    Great job!

  7. I was one of the volunteers at the Finish Line, handing out the (heavy) metals…! I probably saw you but didn't know it was you! Great job - it was definitely COLD that day…I told all the runners that it wasn't snow you were seeing - it was frozen confetti falling from the sky, in the runners' honor - for braving the elements! :)


Thanks for stopping by ... your comment's always welcome!