Half-Marathon: Sneezes and success

So, the good news is that I completed a half-marathon.

But, there’s a little bit more to the story than that, so I’ll start from the beginning.

On the big day-before-THE-day, Dan and I had a good balance of focus and fun.

First things first, we mapped out directions for our multiple destinations for the day.

Destination #1 was the Louisburg Cider Mill with Dan and his sister, Claire.

I’d been bugging Dan for the past few weeks to go along with me to a pumpkin patch. All I thought about were the fun times I had as a kid, frolicking in the hay and searching for the biggest pumpkin. Incidentally, I forgot all about the horrible allergies that I always develop at this time of year.

As soon as we pulled up, I knew it was going to be a bad idea. Instead of a corn maze, I saw a pollen sanctuary. Instead of a pumpkin patch, I saw an allergen field. Instead of a fun time, I saw acres of itchy, sneezy misery…

Fortunately (or unfortunately) Dan, who’s been battling similar allergies, was thinking the same thing as me.

To make the most of it, we skipped the fields and went straight for the good stuff: Apple cider and doughnuts.

As a kid, I was totally content with not touching a doughnut for 364 days out of the year. But, on the day that we went to the cider mill, I was in doughnut heaven. I loved the warm, sugar-coated dough fresh from the fryer.

Even today, there is just no comparison to a cider doughnut. Somethings are just worth a little splurge.

Dan, Claire and I sat around for a while, so as to pretend that we got our worth out of driving all the way out there…

Then, just for show, we tracked down some good lookin’ pumpkins to pose with.ย 

(Feel free to tell yourself that I went out and picked that myself.)

With a good balance between doughnut-induced happiness and allergy-induced misery, we called it good and hit the road.

Dan and I dropped Claire off and then headed in to Kansas City to meet up with my parents and quickly get settled into the hotel. After quickly saying hello, Dan and I took off again to go to the race’s packet pick-up.

Other than the Baldwin City 5K that Dan did in July, he’s never run a real race before. Because of that, this was his first taste of a race expo. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that impressive, so we made it in and out in less than 20 minutes.

Next on the list was dinner. We knew we wanted something easy on our stomachs. We knew we wanted something that would provide good energy. The only thing we didn’t know was where to go.

After about 45 minutes of searching, we finally settled on Mimi’s Cafe (Why, yes, I do like the name). However, no sooner were we seated than I looked at my phone and saw that my mom invited us to join them for dinner… Right across the street from where we were!

Out of all the places in Kansas City, we ended up within 100 meters… Those kinds of coincidences have to be good luck, right?

I didn’t spend much time reveling in the craziness of the situation, though. I had food on my mind.

Consumed: Veggie sandwich on whole-grain bread. Made with Tuscan white beans, ๏ฌeld greens, goat cheese, provolone cheese, balsamic tomatoes, fresh basil and red onions. Served with a side of Mediterannean orzo.

Although pasta is the generic pre-race meal, I figured this would also offer a good amount of carbs and protein to help fuel me through the run. Plus, it was kind of delicious.

Meanwhile, Dan opted for some traditional parmesan chicken and pasta.

In fearful anticipation of a 5:45 wake-up call, I went to sleep as soon as we got back to the hotel.

I feel asleep almost as soon as hitting the pillow. But, I woke up multiple times throughout the night feeling absolutely rotten with allergies. Around 3 a.m., I took some prescription-strength medicine and crossed my fingers that I’d be feeling better by race time.

Even though it was expected, it still felt all-too early when the alarm went off. I drug myself out of bed and put on the clothes that I had diligently placed out the night before.

On one hand, I was really excited that the long-anticipated race day was finally there. On the other hand, I felt as though I’d been run over by a bus…

I grabbed a few quick bites of Great Harvest bread that my mom had been nice enough to bring me from Nebraska. Even though I wasn’t really in the mood for it, I also had a little bit of coffee, because I drank it before most of my long training runs.

Then, with nothing else to waste time with, Dan and I loaded in the car with my parents and headed toward town…

We left with a good amount of time to spare, but still hit a ton of traffic near the exit ramp. By the time we finally got off the highway, I was pretty antsy about making it to the start in time.

My dad was nice enough to drop Dan, my mom and me off within a short walking distance of the start while he parked the car.

At that point, I handed my camera over to my mom and knew there was no going back. Fortunately, Dan was right there by my side…

Dan and I made it to the starting pen with 15 minutes to spare, which gave us enough time to maneuver our way up to our goal pace-group.

Miraculously, in the midst of 12,000 people, we spotted Dan’s roommate, Ian, and were able to start with him.

As photographically evidenced, my mom spent that time working her way up to the starting line…

At 7:30 sharp the race began.

About five minutes later, I passed the starting line and joined a mass of thousands of people storming down the street.

(Note: All the awesome pictures were taken by my dad, who brought his higher quality camera along…)

After making a loop around the Power and Light District, we wound back toward Kansas City’s Liberty Memorial. At that time, I was running on a good amount of adrenaline, but I knew that the allergies were going to be a problem.

With doubts already growing in my mind, it was a relief to see my parents for the first time. In fact, one of the most fun parts of the race was playing “where are the parents?”

We ended up seeing them a few times.

Some of the times I was feeling good…

Other times, not so much.

To cut a long, long run story short, the race was pretty darn hard. As in, harder than I expected.

But, thanks to a lot of encouragement from Dan, I was able to make it through.

Crossing a finish line never felt so bad and so good at the same time.

The time wasn’t what I hoped, but the sense of accomplishment that I felt was more than I imagined.

Most importantly, I did it all with my best friend…

Just for the record, somewhere around the peak of my pain mile 8, I said to Dan, “So, I’m thinking that after the Turkey Trot, we can start training for some trail races.”

He just looked to me and said, “Let’s finish this one first.”

Question: What’s the most difficult race you’ve ever run?

In terms of pain, this definitely was the most difficult. Interestingly enough, this was actually the nicest weather that I’ve run long races in: My past two 10Ks were during cold downpours!



18 responses to “Half-Marathon: Sneezes and success

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