Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 Hospital Hill Half Marathon Race Recap - 6/2/12

It was an ironic race all the way around...
From my preview post HERE, it's a historic race (this is year 39) that twists and turns through downtown Kansas City starting and ending in the hotbed of hospitals in the area.

One of those is Children's Mercy downtown.  If you have been reading this little blog for any length of time, you will know that my wife, me and our son have spent way too many nights and days there when my son was born and the subsequent year after his birth.  It was somewhat nostalgic to run by a place we had come to so many times and rather not see again, and here I was running in a race that showcases the hospital.  Ironically the hill we run to go by it is the first major nasty hill of the race.  Running by and driving to the hospital was joyless on both accounts.

As I mentioned, I was not out to set a PR...
Until I saw ScottyTris lined up in corral B with me.  The matter of the fact was that he was to be in corral A, a new system implemented this year based on your time from last year.  I was in B.  Scotty was to line up in A, but thought he belonged more with B.  Sand bagger.

He's got his sights on a Boston Qualifier this year and I figured with his running volume and my lack of wanting to exceed 155 beats per minute on the run, he was going to be gone as soon as the race started.

I didn't expect to have a chance at redemption after finishing behind him at the Jackson County triathlon last year. Yes, Scotty, I still remember that day you flew by me on the bike.

It was a normal race / training day...
I did nothing really different than any training day other than driving to the race location.  The Crown Center is reviving itself as a pleasant place to visit in downtown KC.  You could not ask for a better pre-race breakfast, powerbar energy blasts an hour before race time, drink mix and gear check.

Parking was a breeze at the underground lots, but we had to pay this year.  Boooo.  I hit my first potty stop at the Union Station indoor bathroom and had a no wait to my pre-race personal reflection period.  Quality.  That wasn't really an issue as they provided what seemed like 50 port-a-potties.  I think my longest wait was 5 minutes.

Weather... what can you say!?  53 to start the race and temps at the end were like mid to high 60's.  50% or less humidity.  Last year it was 70 at race start with like 75% humidity.  Stark contrast and it showed in my pacing while adhering to my target heart rate. It shaped up to be a perfect day for a training run PR without grossly exceeding my max heart range.

Liberty Memorial in the wee hours

When we were off, I was trained on HR...
150 to 155 was my target range.  When I dropped under 150, I picked up the pace.  When I exceeded 155 as was the case on many hills, I simply slowed down.  That's my normal strategy for training runs and with IMKS looming, I didn't want to tax my legs and cardio with only a week to recover.

It worked out great except watching people constantly pass me.  It took a lot of self discipline to not want to pick it up to keep my place in the pack.  I had to keep telling myself, this is part of a bigger plan.  It was also interesting to see those that blew past me in miles 1 through 8 slowly succumb to the hills around mile 10 and 12 as I caught them and put them back behind me.  I could tell from their labored breathing they had reached max capacity and they were just holding on to get to the finish line.

Throughout the race they delivered what I had come to expect.  The aid stations were plentiful and well stocked with great volunteers.  The course was new less crowded with the new corral system.  The course hits the highlights of KC; the Plaza, Westport, Downtown and the Brookside area.  Check.

With around 3/4 of a mile left, it was all downhill and I decided to let it fly.  I think the Garmin registered 5 minute miles for that last 3/4 mile as I coasted to the line.  It was nice to come to a finish with plenty in the tank where I wasn't completely toast and had nothing left.

A strange occurrence with 1/4 mile to go... I passed Scotty.  WTF?  How did I catch him?  He must have been bit by a dog or hit by a rogue runner or car.  Something was up that I could catch him, me thinks.  I caught up with him at the finish line, but didn't get the full report before I lost track of him at the post race area.  I'm sure he will post the race report and we can find out there.

Yes, I brought my camera phone for the run!  Lucky you, Scotty!

Speaking of the post-race festival...
Two things stood out.
  1. I could not find chocolate milk for the life of me.  What KC race is complete without some 2% chocolate milk?  Did anyone else find any?  Baffling.
  2. The BBQ. Normally I don't partake, but I was a little hungry and it was free. I stepped in line. Sadly the chicken BBQ sandwich I grabbed was cold and chewy.  Not sure what happened there, but I won't be eating the BBQ any more after the race.  Not pleasant.
They did provide a pre-loaded bag of snacks and goodies so you didn't have to hold everything in your hands and wonder around the festival area.  What the packet picket lacked in goodie bag amenities, post-race made up for.

Speaking of packet pickup, HH has now gone to soft cotton t-shirts for race shirts.  While personally I don't mind it, and have my fair share of tech shirts, it was odd to see the switch.  Guess more people wanted that.

And, what was a big deal made of nothing, the medals matched last years medals.  Word on the street that for the 40th anniversary, they will have a huge medal that you can buy a stand for and the past two years' medals can sit on either side, making some sort of design.  We shall see.

The results are in, and it's interesting...
1:45:59 for 8:06 min/mile pace.
Not bad considering I ran purely on heart rate.  I never looked at pace, mileage or time until after I crossed the finish line.

What's even more interesting is that out of the 5 times I have ran the half marathon distance at this race, this was a PR by 3 and 1/2 minutes. This was probably the best weather conditions I have ever ran the race in, but running by heart rate and finishing in relative comfort would lead me to believe this would be one of the slower finishing times.

Odd to say the least.

I'll take it though!

Lesson of the day, pick a training method and stick with it!  It will pay off in the long run.  Biggest test coming this Sunday.

And the last ironic part of the race...
As I ran by Children's Mercy musing about the days spent there with our son, I was happy to not have been back there for a while.

Little did I know that later Saturday we would be taking Wee Man back in for a fever and lethargy.  Turns out he has a nice little case of pneumonia that just came out of nowhere.  Fear not, 2 days of IV antibiotics and fluids and he's back up and running.  He should be coming home today and hopefully this is it for another year or more.

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