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Kansas City, MO North Face Half with Dean Karnazes! 11-17-12

Saturday, November 17, 2012

This was an enjoyable but very challenging race. emoticon It was part of a series called the North Face Endurance Challenge. It was only the second time the North Face has put on a race in KC and one of the few (maybe only) road races they put on. North Face, in the running world, is more known for trail running and ultras.

My husband Kirk and I left Quincy around 9:00 AM after I took some time to have coffee with the Running Club Starbuck’s hooligans. We arrived in KC around 12:45 after an uneventful drive. We headed to our hotel, checked in and picked up my race packet. This was a fairly small race so the packet pick up was just in a lounging area on the lower level of the hotel. I guess I should not say “packet picket” up because there we no bags. We were told by email ahead of time we would get a “virtual goody bag” by email. So basically they handed me my number, my shirt and my arm warmers. The arm warmers were very high quality and a fun added bonus. I love when races give different things. Enough with the shirts already I can’t close my drawers! emoticon There was a little North Face store set up you passed through next. One runner told me that not giving us bags was a marketing play to get us to buy something from the store so we would have a bag rather than fumbling around with everything like I was. Well, that did not work for me…most North Face gear is out of my budget range! We left, drove the course (YIKES! So many hills and 37 turns!) emoticon and went of f to see my niece and her new 6 week old baby boy Owen. We then had a late lunch of some tasty thin crust pizza at a little local joint called Waldo’s Pizza. We headed back to the hotel for a short nap emoticon and got up to go hear a race panel which included Dean Karnazes. I was SUPER excited to see him and had a hard time waiting for 6:30 PM to arrive so I drug my husband down to the room with the panel a little after 6:00 so I could get a front row seat and fully live up to being a dorky Dean Karnazes groupie. emoticon The panel was great and after getting Dean to sign my Ultra Marathon Man book I was ready to go up to the room and get all my race gear ready. Some great quotes I heard from Dean were:
“Listen to everyone follow no one” and “Always stay in the moment just putting one foot in from of the other during the tough times.”

I was in bed by 8:45 but pretty wired. I finally fell asleep, I think, around 10 and woke up every couple hours until 4:30 AM which is pretty typical or me the night before a race. I got up around 5, grabbed some decaf and tried to stay calm. I was incredibly nervous emoticon . I had a goal time of 1:50. Even with how challenging the course was I felt confident I could hit it. After what seemed like forever, it was time to head to the start. There were 5 races (5K, 10K, Half, Full and 50K) and mine was set to start at 7:10. I headed to my half-marathon start area and began looking for the 1:50 pacers. I saw ALL the other paces but not 1:50! Within about 2 whole minutes of searching for them I started to panic and was convinced they were out too late the night before, were not coming and I would not have any pacers! emoticon I told my husband “Oh no! I would have set my Garmin virtual training partner if I had known that the 1:50 pacers were not coming to the race! (I was to much of a basket case to know how to set it now) Oh no, what am I going to do!?” A very patient man…he just calmly said “Karen, I think they will be here. Finally I saw them just a few minutes before the start! The first thing I blurted out to them was “Thank God you are here! I could not find you and I almost started crying!” emoticon Oh Geez, I could not believe I said that to these two men who were perfect strangers. These poor guys must have been thinking “OH NO we have a real wacko on our hands for this race!” Nothing like having to deal with a hysterical female for 13.1 miles! Thankfully, all they said was “Whoa this is a lot of pressure!” They turned out to be the some of the best pacers I have ever run with. So upbeat, encouraging and fun. My pacers at the Twin Cities marathon and the Little Rock marathon barely spoke to us. emoticon Here I am with the awesome 1:50 pacers!

This course was very challenging. I kept remembering what Dean Karnazes said just focus on the present moment. This is what I tried to do when climbing each of the many hills. On the downhill I felt like I could fly and these stretches were fun. The final big hill (there were several rolling hills all the way to the finish) was at mile 10. This one I had trouble recovering from. Even on the downhill I could not get my speed back. The pacers got a little bit ahead of me but I stayed close, fought and soon caught back up to them. The last two miles of hills were extremely grueling for me but my pacer kept cheering me on and telling me I could do it! emoticon I am certain I would have run slower without Pacer Brain. I had a strong kick for the final 400 meters and came in right between my two 1:50 pacers. I was shocked to see 1:51:03 on my Garmin. I was disappointed just for a split second but I knew I had pushed hard, knew it was a tough course and knew I fought really hard to hang on to my pacers so I was really happy in the end. Plus the medals were cool!

My husband and I hung out for a while in the plaza area with all the North Face tents and such…I love their slogan “Keep Exploring” and then headed back to the hotel to redeem our breakfast buffet coupons. All in all a great race on a beautiful morning with perfect temps for running! I am so grateful for my husband Kirk who supports me through all my adventures and calmly tolerates my not infrequent near melt downs!

Official Results: 1:51:13
29 seconds away from an age group award! 4th in my age group out of 42
64th female out of 493
183 out of 841 overall

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