Are You a Good Race or a Bad Race?: Garmin Land of Oz Half

So I really wanted to PR at this race so the title would be “I’ll Get You My Pretty (Medal) and Your Little PR Too!” But I didn’t. So now I’ll just have to come up with more cheesy Wizard of Oz puns as I describe the very Kansas-themed Garmin Half Marathon: In the Land of Oz.

Seriously. It’s a 10K, Half, or Full Marathon in Kansas that’s called The Garmin Marathon: In the Land of Oz. So of course, everything is Wizard of Oz themed. In case you didn’t know, Dorothy lived in Kansas. It’s the black and white boring part of the movie, which is pretty accurate.

The race kept the accuracy of the movie with the ever-changing Kansas weather blessing us on this fine race day. I woke up at the crack of dawn (5:00am) and checked my weather app. Sunny and already close to 60 degrees. Some humidity. For now…(ominous music)

This is my friend Sam. He had no idea when he dressed as Dorothy that they would use his picture for EVERY SINGLE PROMO MATERIAL for this race for the next bajillion years. It always makes me smile though. He's such a great guy and a happy runner.

This is my friend Sam. He had no idea when he dressed as Dorothy that they would use his picture for EVERY SINGLE PROMO MATERIAL for this race for the next bajillion years. It always makes me smile though. He’s such a great guy and a happy runner.

Alrighty, I put on my gingham checkered dress and red running shoes and… just kidding. I put on my raspberry pink Brooks Ghost 6 shoes and a tank top. At least it was a blue tank top. There were plenty of other people in costume that day to make up for my lack of it. One guy was in a full body lion suit. I don’t know where he got the courage to wear that thing.

It was a very strange race for several reasons. For starters, it’s WAY out in Olathe, a suburb of Kansas City that’s kind of like the red-headed step child of all the suburbs. It’s a quirky, strange mix of lots of housing and warehouses and business headquarters. So by Oz, they meant Olathe. Which really made sense if you know Olathe.

The race starts at Garmin’s HQ, which is a very tall shiny building. Not green, but very shiny. And the goal was to run 13.1 miles by following the grey paved road back to the shiny tall building, cross the great and powerful finish line, and then we would be able to go home.

It's hard to pay no attention to the giant building behind the strip mall. Garmin HQ is a beautiful building.

It’s hard to pay no attention to the giant building behind the strip mall. Garmin HQ is a beautiful building.

My goal for this race was to NOT SUCK. Or, more specifically, get under 2 hours and not hurt like hell. Rock the Parkway Half had gone terribly for me two weeks prior (read the sad but true When Your Half Marathon Feels Like a Full Failure).

The first few miles were great. They were fast and mostly downhill. I was optimistic, holding under a 9-min mile pace and feeling good. My shin splints were being suffocated into submission by my calf sleeves. My knees were all happy and well from the chiropractor a few days prior. It was sunny and pretty.

We passed the Court House, and I thought about stopping to change my last name. I hadn’t done that yet since we got married. No, I don’t have time. I thought. It’ll ruin my splits.

The scenery got boring fast – it was mostly neighborhoods. Then a park. 3 miles in I was wondering how long I could hold my pace for. Surely there’s got to be a real hill around here somewhere. The whole thing can’t be downhill.

Although, our bibs did say “Wickedly Fast Half”. Thinking Wicked immediately made me think of the musical so I had “Defying Gravity” stuck in my head for awhile but with the words changed a bit to be about running. “And you can’t stop my runnnnn!” instead of “And you can’t bring me downnnnn!”

After Mile 4 I turned a corner, and there it was: a hill! A rather large hill. It didn’t look too bad. My thunder thighs did their thing, and I zipped right up the hill only to find a second steeper hill on the other side. For a moment though, I just saw blank road.

Maybe we don’t have to run up it! I thought optimistically.

When I say our medal was very unassuming looking, it's because it was next to THIS at the expo table. This is for the marathoners who definitely earned their medal as they got rained on before they were even halfway done with the race.

When I say our medal was very unassuming looking, it’s because it was next to THIS at the expo table. This is for the marathoners who definitely earned their medal as they got rained on before they were even halfway done with the race.

Then I saw other runners on it. Or not. Guess we do get to run up somewhere over the hill. It killed my time a bit, but no worries. I usually love hills but this year we have not been the best of friends.

Mile 5 was energy gel time. I had the foresight to check the aid station map and saw a lovely aid station gap between miles 5 and 8. Rock the Parkway also has this horrible gap. Mile 6.5-7 is the perfect time to take in extra carbs. By the time they kick in, you’re on miles 8 and 9, which are the worst miles in the world because you are over halfway done but not far enough to feel like you’re even close to being done.

You’ve also hit the over an hour mark, which is when your body starts wondering why it’s still moving. Hasn’t it been long enough? it asks you. Shut up and have some Gu! you reply.

So Mile 5 felt early, but I wasn’t in the mood to crash like I did at RTP, so I pulled out my Honey Stinger gel with 32 mg of caffeine. It was a pleasant change over my Cliff espresso flavored shot. This tasted like honey and went down smooth. The espresso gel always seems thick and pasty and gets brown all over my hands and face. I was impressed.

I also noticed the sky as I chucked my empty Dixie cup and gel wrapper into a trash can (please do NOT throw them at the volunteers or your fellow runners – if I want your leftover Gatorade spilled all over me I’ll let you know, but I’m not usually THAT delusional).

The sky was a pretty dark blue.

Mile 6: The sky is really dark blue.

Mile 7: The sky is a really close, really dark blue.

Mile 8: It’s gonna rain.

Mile 8.2: It’s raining.

When the wind started up and the clouds were moving in, I wondered if we would get a tornado. I also wondered why my weather app hadn’t warned me about this. But it’s Kansas, so if your weather app is accurate half the time, that’s pretty accurate.

Thinking about the finisher medal is always good race motivation.

Thinking about the finisher medal is always good race motivation.

A tornado would definitely make me run faster, I decided. I felt bad for the race spectators and volunteers without jackets.

My time was slowing down. My legs were starting to wear out, but my energy level wasn’t bad though. I decided if this wasn’t a wickedly fast race it would at least be a wickedly wet one.

We turned onto a paved trail going through forest. The tree cover kept us somewhat dry, and the change of scenery was motivating.

Mile 9: It’s definitely raining. The trail was now pretty wet. And so were we. And the trail was getting slicker. And I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere because all I could see were trees.

I just have to make it to mile 10 I told myself. Then it’s just a 5k. I was 5 minutes under my 2-hour goal. I got this.

Mile 10: And it’s still raining. Harder. Like I’m soaked. Oh look, it’s raining even harder now if that’s even possible.

Puddles everywhere. I wasn’t melting, but I’m sure anyone with green face paint was regretting that decision. I was glad I don’t run races with my iPod. And I was glad I’d decided to leave my phone in the car.

I am completely soaking wet and shivering. Which way to the hot shower?

I am completely soaking wet and shivering. Which way to the hot shower?

Wait, didn’t you get that really expensive LifeProof case for your iPhone? So you could go to Xtreme things with it?

I do Xtreme things, I argued. Sometimes I don’t run on the sidewalk. Sometime I take the stairs at work. Sometimes even I take my phone out of my purse.

So I didn’t test out the waterproof feature of my LifeProof case, but I really did need both my hands free. One hand to wipe off my Garmin so I could figure out my time and the other to keep tugging on my shorts.

Once you’re soaking wet, shorts don’t follow the rules anymore. They get bunched up and stick. It’s awful. My hat was dripping water from the brim. Giant puddles kept attacking my feet, and they became squishy and heavy.

It felt like being in a water ride at an amusement park…forever. I wondered if a flying monkey could come take me away. Then I saw lightening. Nevermind. I’m totally fine here on the ground. Running under trees and past metal poles.

Mile 11 it got NASTY. It started Hailing. Granted the hail was the size of lawn fertilizer, but it’s falling from the sky, and by the time it hit my bare skin, that shit had some velocity going. I was really glad for my hat.

We were almost at mile 11.5 – should we quit now? Hail no! No one screamed or ran for cover. We just kept plugging along.

The hail stopped after a few minutes. The rain was letting up some. But the damage was done. I was right on pace – couldn’t go any slower and lose more time if I wanted 2 hours. GAH!

I was hurting now. And I was so wet. And I was tired. And I just wanted to be done. The last half mile we ran around a local high school parking lot, and I kept wondering WTF?! WTF?! WTF?!

Where’s The Finish?!

Finally, after my Garmin had almost hit 13 miles, I saw the finish. I had 2 minutes to get 2 hours. I tried so hard to go faster. The last few yards had yellow bricks painted on it, which was a cool idea except they were even slicker than the pavement.

I finished 2:01:12. My splits for the first 6 miles was 8:21 min/mile and for the second half of the race 9:16 min/mile. Ewww. This race definitely was a nice race the first half and a bad race the second half.

It glows!!! Now I don't have to do the Glow Run.

It glows!!! Now I don’t have to do the Glow Run.

Next race I need to watch the pacing. Regardless, I got my finisher medal! Which I later discovered it GLOWS IN THE DARK!!! It’s a very unassuming-looking finisher medal, but once I figured this out, I liked it a lot. I didn’t have a glowing medal yet.

Although I didn’t get the time I wanted, I was glad I had the heart to finish. And the courage to brave the hail. And the brains to run a half marathon…no, wait. There’s something terribly wrong with that sentence. That’s why runners run in the first place – because we’re missing the part of our brains that tell us NOT to do painful silly things like run half marathons. 🙂

And with that we headed out because there’s no place like a hot shower.

This is our dog Walll-e photobombing my post-race photo. I feel like he is saying "You smell funny and you're wet, but I still love you"

This is our dog Walll-e photobombing my post-race photo. I feel like he is saying “You smell funny and you’re wet, but I still love you”

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About jhartz87

An English major turned Software Engineer, Jenny currently spends most of her time coding and running. And eating. And then blogging about these things for the enjoyment of others.

Posted on May 1, 2014, in Going Local, Humor, Lessons, Races, Running and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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