Monday, April 4, 2011

2011 Rock The Parkway Half Marathon, 10k & 5k Race Report - 4/2/11

No, I didn't run all the distances... =)

I did, however, run the half marathon. In 2010 I ran in the inaugural event and tried out the 10k. For some reason the half marathon didn't fit in right for that weekend and training.

I happen to work near by so it was it an interesting experience to see the surroundings I drive by every day but miss since I'm in a car wizzing by in a hurry to get home or go to work.  It was also an additional challenge since I decided to ride my bike to and from the event since I could store it and change at my employer... not to mention save around $10 in gas for the round trip.

So in reality I ran a reverse duathlon.
16.5 mile bike ride
13.1 mile run
16.5 mile bike ride

This wasn't an A race, but I have attachment to the race and I can say I've ran it every year it's been in existence.  Also, seeing that participation went from 3500 to 6500 in one year, it will probably be around for a while.

On with the report:

WHAT : 2011 Rock the Parkway Half Marathon

WHERE : 9400 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO
DISTANCE : 13.1 miles



After biking 16.5 miles to get there, I was definitely curious to see how my training has paid off in terms of transition from bike to run.  I was curious about endurance, speed and jello-leg factor.

Luckily Kansas City has had a few nice weather days and allowed me to get some outdoor cycling in.  My speed is not where I want it, but I've definitely got my bike legs worked back up from just trainer riding.  I knew this wasn't going to be an A race, so I was looking to go out above training pace at 8:30, but I was not looking to PR and chance over-exerting myself too soon for too long of a distance and jeopardize future races this season.

Mile one was a blessing in disguise.  I hate trying to weave in and out of traffic at the start of large races, BUT since I wasn't looking for super man speed, I was content following the crowd and setting out at 9 minutes for the first mile.  After mile one, the road opened up and I got to my comfort pace.  Notice I said comfort pace, not push it pace.  Comfort = auto pilot, Push it = going for a PR.  Important to note that!

I'll spare you the details of mile by mile, but lets say I was at 7:30 minute miles more often that I thought I was and by mile 11 I knew I had a shot at a PR even though I hadn't been shooting for one.  I even had a shot at sub 1:40... well in my mind with MY math I did but that didn't happen.

But I did get a PR at 1:41:28, better than last year's Kansas 1/2 Marathon by 1:30.  Not bad for riding an hour before running.  Gives me satisfaction in knowing that my training is yielding improvements and I can better IM KS 2009 run time (that was a suck 13.1 mile run time).

But whoa riding back home was a challenge.  Can you say jell-o legs?  It was all I could do to sit in the lowest gear and spin up a hill but I wasn't going for speed... just endurance.  =)

Here's the Garmin recap of the before and after rides.

That's still considering the fact that the half marathon race course had a fair share of ups and downs from this elevation chart.

  • Registration
    • Online and easy, check.
    • The earlier you enter, the cheaper it was.
  • Communication
    • Twitter page, check.
    • Facebook page, check.
    • Email notifications - not too much, not too few, check.
    • Website hip and stylish with all links working and informative, check.
  • Packet Pickup
    • Pretty standard, check.
    • Vacant mall store room to run you through a gauntlet of vendors which was a little different.  You had no choice but to walk by the vendors and their tables.  Personally I didn't feel comfortable and avoided eye contact so I wouldn't get harassed by the sock people, sun glasses people or whoever else they had that I wasn't really interested in talking too.  Got the goods, waited a little long to get my t-shirt and I was out probably in 20 minutes.
  • Goodie Bag - Mixed bag (pun intended) on this.
    • Personally, if you are going to put anything in the bag, make sure it's quality.  Rock the Parkway's approach was quality over quantity.
      • They provided a nice tech t-shirt
      • $2 off road id (LINK) and you could use your race bib for a running store discount. 
      • Also in the bag was probably 10 to 15 inserts for other races.
      • Normally you would get a few freebies like popcorn, GU or other items.  None of that.  Maybe they figured freebies bring down quality?

  • Arrival / Parking
    • If you didn't get there early or have work parking around the area... prepare to park and walk.  I'm an early bird so I had no problem but some people faced a 1/2 to 3/4 mile walk to the start line.  Snooze, you lose.
  • Port-a-potties
    • They sported 25 to 30 johns.  There wasn't much issue that I saw since they also staggered event starts so everyone had ample time to "drop off some excess baggage".
  • Course
    • Aid stations no more than 2 miles apart, check.
    • Port-a-potties on the course at 3 different locations, check.
    • Gatorade and water options at each station, check.
    • GU at stations, nope.
    • Quality streets, check.
    • Closed to traffic, aside from the one instance were a driver crossed the route and hacked off a runner enough for a confrontation, check.
    • Accuracy of markers within 0.03 of my Garmin, check.
    • Ample volunteers, check.
    • Good course markings, check.
  • Finish Line - The finish line structure showed timers for all 3 distances which was great to see what your time was crossing the line
    • Water, check.
    • BIG FAT MEDAL, check.

    • Foil blankets, check.
    • Someone to take your timing chip off, check.
    • Ample space, check.
  • Post Race Accommodations
    • Food options more than bananas and bagels, check - pizza, milk, coffee and more.
    • Gatorade - not that I could find.
    • Tents, check.
    • Post race massage area, didn't see one.
    • Band belting out 80's tunes, check.
    • Someplace you could hang out with friends and family and relive the race, check.
    • Heaters, would have been nice at the start, but not needed at the end and lets be honest, I've never seen that at any event.
  • Would I Come Back
    • Yes
  • Would I Recommend to a Friend
    • Yes
Check out the review from www.Triathlon-Reviews.blogspot.comFill one out as well if you ran any of the races!  I'm trying to get a good database going.

It's a great event, branded and hosted well.  They've done this right since day one and with almost a doubling of participants, as long as they don't get greedy it should be around for years to come and the sky is the limit!

And, after riding 36 miles and running 13.1, by far my biggest load, I had to hit the chocolate Fluid Recovery and relax with the kiddos at home.  I also want to mention my SockGuy socks stood the test for all of it with no blisters or hot spots!  The legs are sore today, but in a good way.  And that recovery trainer ride this morning was TOUGH.  Slogged through my 20 easy miles.  Good times!

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