Monday, April 23, 2012

Clicked My Heels Three Times and Found a Marathon PR

Saturday, April 21, was the Garmin Marathon in the Land of Oz, in Olathe, Kansas. Sharon had mentioned the race to Elaine, who posted on Facebook about it, I jumped on it and posted about it. Before we knew it, we had 13 ladies ready to head to Olathe, a suburb of Kansas City, to run a half or full marathon. The $69 each way airfare Elaine found on American Airlines helped, as did the cute medals that were promised.

I've been in training for the Rock Creek Outfitters Chattanooga 3 Day Stage Race, so lots of fatigue training and strength training. But my last 4 weeks had also looked like this...

Lots of workouts, races, and some PRs to go with it. So my job from the coach for this weekend was to run easy and then, for more fatigue training, do 10 miles on trails the day after the marathon. And all this after midweek speedwork and hard strength training. This would also make my highest mileage week ever, with 47 miles.

Welcome to Kansas - Day Before The Race

Our flight landed Friday at 2 pm on this whirlwind adventure. We rented our car and headed straight to the host hotel in Olathe, 45 minutes away. Packet pickup was quick and easy, and the expo was small. They had cute cutouts from the Wizard of Oz movie.
Photo courtesy of Lucy
Then, stock up on water at Walgreen's. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Back to the expo to get a quick picture that Claudine really wanted with Bart Yasso before dinnertime.

Dinner just down the road at Zio's, where I could safely handle bread, pasta, grilled chicken, and meatballs, since I have such a nervous tummy for races. We couldn't end the night without grabbing a pre-race cupcake, and one to save for post-race, from Small Cakes nearby, which Lisa and Lucy had discovered before dinner.
Photo courtesy of Elaine
Finally, an early bedtime of 9:30 pm.

Perfect Race Day Conditions

A 4:30 am wakeup. Yawn. It was a 7 am race start, so that's a super early wakeup for this night owl. It was 35 degrees outside, with a light breeze. Total score! During the race it would be 40 degrees at the start, with a clear blue sky and breeze, going up to 60 degrees by the finish, with a few puffy white clouds. Just a completely beautiful, perfectly race-able day!

We dressed and drove to the start, which was at the headquarters for Garmin International and only 2 minutes from the host hotel by car. Parking for getting there an hour before the start was very plentiful, and we were just a 2 minute walk from the start line. You can't beat that! Maybe 3000 total in this race, we would find out it broke down into 580 finishers in the marathon, 1200 in the half (the "Wickedly Fast Half"), and the rest in the 5K (the "Dorothy Dash 5K"). We met up with friends, stayed warm in Luis and Amanda's truck, took a picture or two, and lined up.
Photo taken by Lucy's camera, thanks to Luis for taking it!

And We're Off!

Lucy and I lined up together. It was her third marathon. And we had around the same goal paces. I told her I needed to keep heart rate low (coach Jeremy said to run easy) and stick to my paces, knowing I tend to be chatty. And I did talk, a lot. Because Lucy, who said she was chatty, was kinda the quiet one on race day. Plus we talked with a lot of runners we would meet along the way.

The early miles we wound and wound like a serpent around the blocks, the way some races do where you can look to one side and see a block down the folks run by that are a mile ahead of you. We wound through a section of undeveloped future commercial areas it seemed, that were currently grassy fields. 

The worst part was then going completely around the very empty Great Mall of the Great Plains, a very big shopping mall. Very boring.
So glad we saw Elaine and Sharon around mile 4 of the course - they ran the half marathon
but discovered the potty lines at aid stations are atrocious.
After that, it improved greatly when we hit a residential neighborhood for several miles. Pretty picket fences and house with freshly painted siding. This section, with its many turns at every residential intersection, brought to light that they had so many great volunteers for this event. They directed everyone so well, having no problem repeating their assigned phrase for every single runner, and did it with a smile. In between that, they cheered us all on. We thanked as many of them as we could.

Mile 11ish and time to bid farewell to our half marathon brethren. And wow, there were a lot of half marathoners because by contrast, it seemed very alone. Then we got on a trail, off a trail, by a soccer field where a kids' league game was going on, and back onto the trail. This was the Indian Creek Trail. After running along a street and a creek for a very short bit, it was like we went back into the woods. We would spent 12 miles total out-and-back on this trail. Every once in a while it would peek back out to a road, and then head back into the trees. The trees gave nice shade (which helped just a little since I had forgotten sunscreen - not good!), and it was very pretty. We had a lot of pretty arched wooden bridges over creek tributaries. Those arched bridges didn't feel as good on the way back - I may have grunted at a few of those.
Lucy captured a pic of me on the trail! Look at that beautiful sky.
All through these miles, Lucy and I rocked a solid 12 minute per mile pace. Lucy said she has a tendency to go out too fast, and I would have to rein her in a couple times each mile when she'd start inching ahead. I had planned to take a walk break every 2 miles starting at the end of mile 3, but I knew Lucy didn't want to walk, and it was nice running with someone who was good company and gave me an additional purpose to stay on pace. My heart rate stayed in the target zones, except for the last half mile or so.

On the out portion of the trail, we cheer some runners coming back, some runners coming back cheer us. Good camaraderie. Little kids are stationed with their families and are holding up motivating signs. One aid station has a lion, tin man, and Glinda. There was a young high school age boy playing the saxophone who we saw 4 different times as he moved around on this trail. Along the way, I chatted for a brief moment with Larry Macon when I found him at mile 14. He had capped off running 114 marathons in 2011 by running the New Year's Eve race at my New Years Double event. He was all smiles out there - he's 67 and a 14-time completer of running a marathon in all 50 states! A mile later I saw friend Jon Walk who does a lot of this and much of that in the running community in Texas. He's in the Houston area and can be found announcing at a lot of those races as one of his many hats he dons.

At mile 18.25, we turn around to head back 6 miles the way we just came. I really didn't mind the out and back because it was such a nice trail, the aid stations were well done, and the spectators were great. Now don't go thinking they have the spectators of the Chicago Marathon - but they had a great amount of spectators for this size of race in this size of suburb. And I'm happy with that. Some people want wall-to-wall spectators all 26.2 miles so I wanted to add this disclaimer.

Mile 21 I start to have a meltdown. Heart rate is still good. But my abs and my legs hurt. Now remember, I have been running miles this week, I've done speedwork, and my personal trainer hasn't taken it easy on me. Luckily, since I've done some 50Ks, I'm feeling thankful at mile 21 that, instead of completely walking it in, I can still will myself to slog along at a slow run most of the rest of the way.

About a half mile away, I hear the announcer call my friend Elizabeth's name as she crosses, and it makes me smile. Although hearing the race announcer starting about a mile yet definitely raises the "are we there yet?" panic in my mind that whole time.

Then, the finish is in sight. I have 0.1 miles to go. I am SO there. I can hear Elaine, Sharon, Lisa all shouting my name! But I can't see them, because instead I feel this girl in my periphery, although I won't turn and look at her. And she's come out of nowhere, I can hear her footsteps, and she's trying to move in on my finish line. 

I am not going to let this girl pass me. One major reason: I know from them saying Elizabeth's name that the announcer mat is there and they are calling out names. If the other girl's foot gets to that mat first, they might not call my name as can happen when multiple people cross. And this had to just happened to me already at Big D last weekend when the top female marathoners finished at the same time as me. I'll be honest - it's nice to hear your name called out!

So I speed up, and she speeds up. WHAAA?? What are you doing, girl? You are not beating me 100 feet from the Finish scaffolding! Now we're both in an all-out sprint. And I get there first by a few steps, and I hear my name called out. YES!!! I looked at my Garmin later and saw I ran an 8:59 minute per mile pace for this segment - I don't even run that fast on 200m repeats!

And I see the clock that confirms what I knew. I had set a new Personal Record, besting my 5:34:10 time from the San Francisco Marathon by 11 minutes and 7 seconds! I finished in 5:23:06 chip time officially.

By the way, I did go over to the girl after leaving the finish corral and gave her a pat on the back. I told her, "Good job, but there was no way I was letting you beat me to the finish line." We both smiled.

The race medal was great. Solid, heavy, and about 3.5" by 4". It features the Scarecrow. I've heard now it is the first in a 4 year series of medals where you'll get Dorothy's friends she encounters in the order she meets them, and I'm guessing she must be the last one you get then. They also gave us a yellow race with the race name and year stamped on one of the petals. That was unique. And we got a (white) technical finishers shirt that says "had a Wicked good time at Garmin Marathon" - cute.

Next up: More beat-me-up training by my personal trainer Donnie and my running coach Jeremy. Oh, and New Jersey Marathon in 2 weeks!


Mile 1 - 12:01
Mile 2 - 11:56
Mile 3 - 11:53
Mile 4 - 11:50
Mile 5 - 11:56
Mile 6 - 11:50
Mile 7 - 11:35
Mile 8 - 11:59
Mile 9 - 11:53
Mile 10 - 12:06
Mile 11 - 12:10
Mile 12 - 11:48
Mile 13 - 11:45
Mile 14 - 11:59
Mile 15 - 12:04
Mile 16 - 12:00
Mile 17 - 12:39
Mile 18 - 11:59
Mile 19 - 12:12
Mile 20 - 12:01
Mile 21 - 12:42
Mile 22 - 13:03
Mile 23 - 12:55
Mile 24 - 13:57
Mile 25 - 13:33
Mile 26 - 12:51
26.0 to 26.28 - per my Garmin's measuring of the course - 12:04 pace
The last 0.13 per my Garmin - 8:59 pace


  1. I'm so glad we got to see u cross the finish. It was exciting!!! I'm glad I got the pics I did! It helps to show the great battle at the end!

  2. wow, fantastic! One of the women in my running group ran the half marathon.

  3. PR! Way to go! You've really been racking up the miles.

  4. Congratulations Libby! I am happy you got a PR.