Monday, October 20, 2008

Kansas City Marathon 2008 (WITH Pictures!)

Gather around is the story of my first marathon :-) I will upload more photos later to this post when I have access to them! This one was only at mile 4 or so...

Friday morning, my parents came to our apartment to pick my roommate Amanda and I up for the trek to Kansas City. I hadn't really slept much the night before because I was so worked up about running this marathon. We loaded our stuff in the car, took a "car ride" photo and endured 8 hours in my parents' Ford Explorer headed to Kansas City.

We got to Kansas City around 4:00 PM and went straight to Crown Center where the expo was held. Little did we know, that the expo was really at "Hyatt Crown Center" and not just "Crown Center". We found a nice lady to direct us through lots of hallways and skyways before we finally found our way to the expo. We picked up lots of free goodies, our chips, and a cotton T shirt that said "Kansas City Marathon" on it. Amanda thought this would be our only Tshirt and was a little upset that it was cotton...but we'll get to more on that later. I was trying to figure outa solution to carrying my gels during the race as well. Amanda and I both bought a spibelt for $20.00 to carry our gels and other items.

We left the expo and headed over to my Aunt Ellen and Uncle Jim's house where we would be staying. As we walked through the dining room, I spotted a cake on the table--it said "Happy Birthday Rachel!" It was very sweet that they had baked a cake for me considering I had not gotten one on my birthday. They also made a great big pasta dinner with breadsticks and a beautiful salad.

After dinner, I printed off some photos of my grandmother and uncle to attach to my back the next day. I also showered so that I wouldn't have to do that the next morning. Amanda and I headed to bed about 9:00 pm but definetly didn't sleep much at all. As hard as I tried, I could not really get to sleep. I woke up before my alarm even went off at 4:45 AM. Actually, correction, Amanda's alarm went off because mine had mistankenly been set for the wrong day.

Anyway, I hopped out of bed and ate a quick bagel and banana and attempted to hydrate up. I threw on my running skirt and then contemplated whether I wanted to wear a normal black nike running shirt or my NF shirt. I took both of these shirts on and off multiple times before finally settling with my NF shirt. I really didn't like the color on the NF shirt (green) but I figured it was what I should do. Since it was only 40 degrees outside when the race started, I knew I would need a jacket. The only one I brought was pink and blue, so I ended up looking a bit like a parrot in the beginning due to the contrast in colors.

Anyways, after creating my parrot costume...we headed out the door. 6 of us crammed into my Aunt Ellen's car and headed out into the dark Kansas City morning. We arrived at the Crown Center at 6:00 AM. We then took off into the Crown Center to do the neccesary things like use the restroom, stretch the IT band, etc. (Dad got a photo of me stretching my IT band that I'll add later). Anyways, around 6:30, we headed over to the start line. Amanda really wanted to finish in 4 Hrs 30 Min and I thought that this was feasible so we got behind the 4 hr 30 min pacer and said our final goodbyes to the cheering crowd.

The National Anthem was sung and the hairs on my arm stuck up in realization that I would be running within moments. The anthem ended, then gun went off, and we were moving. First, we took off with a little bit of a crowded jog and I was suprised we were above a "walking" pace but that quickly changed with a "car wreck" like effect. Everyone in front of us halted very quickly and we collided with the people in front of us. This happened about 3 times before finally we were at a regular walking pace towards the start line. Once we crossed the start line, we were off. I quickly realized that I had made a giant mistake by loading my brand new spibelt full of gels. It was bouncing around like crazy (and my number was attached). I was getting so annoyed by the whole thing and couldn't wait to use my first finally went away when I did.

Amanda stuck with me for the first 3 miles. She had to go to the bathroom right away and so she looked out for a port-o-pottie while I tried to determine whether I really wanted to stop. We found one shortly after our first really large hill up to the Liberty Memorial. I decided to be nice and stop with her even though there was a really long line. This was my first mistake. I should never have stopped for a bathroom that I didn't need to use. Anyways, Amanda and I continued on. We hit a few more up hills and then it was nothing but downhill for awhile. My knees really don't do well with down hill. They were starting to hurt so I started to slow down a little. This is where Amanda and I seperated. I think we may have been at mile 4. This is the reason why I seriously think I shouldn't have stopped at that porto-pottie.

Anyways, I caught back up to Amanda briefly about 10 minutes later and then she was gone again. I refocused my energy to try to stay focused on my run and on finishing. My knees were already hurting and I was starting to get really warm with the jacket on. I wanted to see the "support clan" so badly so I could throw my jacket at them. Finally around mile 6, I heard "Rachel! Rachel!". I veered from the center of the course and quickly threw my jacket at my aunt then headed back on course.

The next 6 or 7 miles kind of went by in a blur. Lots of uphills and downhills, and listening to the people around me. Actually, they put our name on our number tags so there were quite a few people cheering my name. That was pretty cool. There were lots of people on the sidelines to cheer the runners on which was really nice. The water stops were alright. My first few water stops I ended up with the quarter filled cups again. By the third water stop I took two glasses of water to make sure I could rinse my gel down. I don't know what mile I was at, but at one point I could see the 4:30 pacer ahead of me and since I knew that they stop at all of the water stops, I picked up a cup and took a run for it. It didn't really help in my favor because it happened to be the one water stop where they filled my entire cup with ice water (actual ice cubes in it). Yea, ice water and running at the same time do not mix at all. It made my breathing a lot harder and I ended up dropping the full cup and splashing everyone around me. I lost the 4:30 pacer even more in this endeavor.

Around the half marathon mark, there was an "out and back" loop. This is where I discovered that I was still somewhere between the 4:30 and 4:40 pacer because I saw the 4:40 pacer headed "out" while I was headed "back". That was pretty exciting. There were three girls in front of me running their first marathon who had also seen the same thing. They were equally as excited as I was.

I was in front of the 4:40 pacer all the way up until right before Mile 20. By then, my knees were killing me and I had to go to the bathroom so bad because my stomach was hurting. I stopped at a port-o-pottie again to wait in line. There were two Team-In-Training girls waiting for their friend in the John when we saw the 4:40 pacer run by. At this point, I had a bit of a panick. The girls around me were yelling at their friend to get out of the bathroom so they could catch up. I went into the port-o-pottie and realized that many, many people had stopped here before me. There was actually brown stuff splattered all over the toilet seat. Not a good sight to see when your legs are already so tired. I tried as hard as I could to keep my legs from falling on that seat. Yuck! I quickly made it out of the port-o-pottie and was on my way again.

My cheering team saw me somewhere around mile 20. My knees were killing me as I walked through the water stop. My mom asked me how I was doing and I said "knees hurt". My Aunt, not really having a lot of familiarity with marathons, said "Maybe you should sit down." This made me pick up the pace and take off. I told them I was fine, put on a smile and ran. I hit mile 20 and kept going. At mile 21, I walked a bit, gritted my teeth and kept going. Every one of the volunteers could see the pain on my face by this point. One woman who was shouting out free advice shouted at me as I passed, "Knees, yes knees hurt. I've been there. Knees hurt." At this point I could do nothing but laugh. Gee...I'd never heard of that sort of a cheer. Anyways, I trudged on. I kept thinking about my uncle and grandmother who couldn't run and why I was running. I thought about my support team and how they had chased me around the whole day and woken up at the crack of dawn to support me. I thought about all of the volunteers on the course, the National Guard, the police men.

At one point, I was struggling pretty hard. There were fewer and fewer cheer teams on the course, the bands seemed to be concentrated more in the beginning half than the last half, and there were fewer runners around me. I was hoping for one of those "runner comes along side you and tells you to keep moving" moments. But that didn't really happen. Instead, we were running through a little bit of a more economically challenged part of Kansas City. I saw two guys who an ordinary person might have thought of as "thugsters" standing along the course. They were high fiving everyone. They got a great bit smile on their faces and high fived me as I passed them. I'm not really entirely sure what their position was in their community, but I felt like they may have been youth advocates. Regardless, it gave me a new boost of energy to see someone on the side of the course in this particular area of Kansas City and to think that they took out a part of their day to do so.

Anyways, the last few miles were pretty tough. My knees and ankles were shot. Yes I say knees. It wasn't just my right knee by this point. OH! And then whole entire race, my elbow got this tingly sensation, and my arm eventually went numb. So I was dealing with that as well and trying to shake my arms out. The last few miles were all down hill. Amanda later told me that she was so excited to hear the news. I, unfortunately, was quite the opposite. I walked down pretty much every hill until the end. The down hills were killing me, even to walk them. By the time I hit mile 25, I was almost in tears. I walked a good portion of the last mile, knowing that I would finish before 5 hours no matter what. I just wanted to finish. I ran a portion of it because I saw a guy running while dragging his foot and figured if he could do that, then I could run as well. I kept looking for the finish line. We made two turns and I still kept watching for it. Finally, finally...I could see it. The finish line was ahead of me. 26.2 was ahead of me. I took off running as fast as my legs would take me. I don't even know where the energy came from but it was there. I ran, looking at the clock, trying to make sure my time was before 5 hours. I finished in 4 hours 53 minutes chip time.

I crossed the finish line, my parents, aunts, and Amanda were all there waiting. They took two photos in front of the finish line and then I wanted so badly to keep walking. My dad pleaded with me to stay there so he could take some more photos and I told him I had to keep moving. He tried to argue with me one more time and I just started crying. I couldn't handle the pain anymore. Finally they let me go and I meandered through the finish line spectacle. A lady ran up to me and asked me if I needed to go to the medical tent and I said no, that I would be fine. They threw a medal around me and said "you earned this". Then I was shoved through the "runner's food court" as they advertised in the race material. This consisted of bananas and oranges by the time I made it through...oh and some yogurt. I wanted a piece of bread so badly. I guess they had cookies and rolls earlier that were gone by that time. I was a little disappointed at this part of the race. BUT...they did hand me a nice "finisher" shirt that was moisture wicking and New Balance.

Anyways, I shoved through and meandered

around looking for my lost family for a good 10 minutes. Finally my aunt found me, and I tried so hard not to cry again but I couldn't help it. I broke down again. She took me over to the medical tent and runners cleared the way for me to get there. A lady ran up to me with a clipboard and asked me what was wrong. I think my dad told her that my legs were cramping, which wasn't quite the case. But they sat me down on a cot while they waited for a massaging table to get cleared. At this point I became hypothermic because we were no longer in the heat. I started to shake uncontrollably and tried hard to stay warm under the space blanket. About 10 minutes went by and finally my massaging guy came over and took me to the table. I had a hard time getting up but explained the IT band problem I had been having. My knees wouldn't move at all and it hurt extremely bad. He said he would focus on it. I started to shake pretty bad on the table and he piled more and more blankets on me. I kept on shaking while he massaged my body. He did it very lightly and so it didn't really feel like it did a whole lot to be honest. But it was good to rest for a little bit. When he was finished, he instructed my supporters to keep me warm and make sure I drink fluids because I was dehydrated and hypothermic.

We went out into the sun and I was a thousand times better. I looked for some sort of "food court" as they had advertised in the booklet and realized that the oranges and bananas was their idea of a food court. Interesting.

Anyways, after a bit of searching, we left. I called Andy to tell him that I made it. We headed home, the supporters crashed and I stayed up and talked to my aunt about the race.

We planned on going to the "After party" because it was also advertised that their would be food entertainment, and awards there. Well, there were awards but none of the other. It was another disappointment. Instead, we went to City Tavern, because we had gotten a $25 gift certificate in our race packets to go there. I made the mistake of ordering crab legs for $29.95 and finding out that it was a very meager dish for the price. There was probably less than half a pound of crab legs on the dish and far more of my side dish (fries). The crab was not cooked well either, it was really dry.

But anyway, all in was a great time. I finished!! may ask...will I do it again??

I think I may run Twin Cities next year...


chris said...

Wow, what a race report, Rachel. I really feel for you and the struggles you endured, not only during (and after) this race, but through-out your training. I am happy it is done and you can take some much needed time off. And the lady that presented you the medal was right, you really deserved. Congratulations on everything!

BTW, how are you feeling today?

Rachel said...

Thanks Chris. Feeling much better today. Still can't do stairs very well. Ankles and knees don't move all that well but I at least can somewhat walk looking semi-normal. :-)

Anonymous said...

You did it!!! Congratulations on finishing your first marathon! And even better, you did it in under 5 hours!!

I am amazed that after having to struggle so much through it you never gave up, never stopped, you always kept going. You should be so proud of yourself for getting to the finish line!!! I'm so happy for you, congratulations again!!!

Now it's time to give some love to your knee and make sure you recover properly, take care of yourself. Great race report, I really enjoyed reading it. Can't wait for more pics.

Topher said...

Good going!!! I really wanted to finish in under 5, but lost my pace group and friend I was running with so I didn't push myself. So good on you for doing so through all the crap you were dealing with. Hope your ride home to MN wasn't too bad considering your condition and that you got to take lots of rest stops to get out and stretch.

SueBob said...

YAY!!! You did it!! Congratulations! Now you can finally breathe and take it easy for a little while and let that knee heal. I can't believe you pushed through that far while in pain. I am sure your Grandmother & Uncle are proud of you!!

Maybe I will see you next year at Twin Cities!

Jill Will Run said...

Nice work! I'm sorry your knees hurt so much, but I'm still really proud of you for pushing on (and finishing in under 5 hours!). Impressive...

How did you like the SpiBelt (other than the early bouncing)? I've been contemplating one of those for my marathon day. Since I actually like the sport drink they're serving on the course, I don't have to carry fluid with me, but I still want to take my phone and gels.

Emily said...

What a great story to read just before I head home for the day. That puts me in a nice mood for the drive :) Way to go, Congratulations, Great Job. All of that !!!!!

*jen* said...

Congrats Rachel!! I was thinking about you over the weekend and was very eager to read your report. That's awesome you finished in under 5 hours. Great job on pushing through all the b.s.!!!

*jen* said...

Oh, and i just tagged you. Check out my blog.

EmLit said...

Congratulations, Rachel! I was thinking of you this weekend during my 18-miler and wondering how things had gone. It sounds like it was a hard time but it is inspirational and commendable that you pushed through to the end in spite of how difficult it was! I hope your knees are on the path to recovery...make sure to give yourself a nice long break now :)

Rachel said...

Thanks everyone for your comments!! I really appreciate all of your support through my training!! Good luck on your upcoming races.

Jill-- The spibelt was alright. Once it stopped bouncing, I didn't even notice it on me. It is pretty light weight and seems to do it's job fairly well as long as you don't put 6 gels in it!

Brad said...

Congrats! I ran the KC half and had a great time. Good luck on future runs. :)

Irish Cream said...

Congrats, Rachel!! I'm so proud of you for fighting through all of the pain and suffering and finishing that marathon (and in under 5 hours too--great job!) I agree that you deserve some good old fashioned R&R :) Thanks for the inspiring race report!

JonathanMarathonMan said...

Good job on your first marathon. hang in there. they do get much easier after a while !

JonathanMarathonMan said...

good job on your first marathon. hang in there. they do get easier !!

kch said...

Congrats on your first marathon finish . What great accomplishment!