I’ve been struggling to write this race recap. Between work and life, setting aside time to just babble on about this race has been put on the back burner. Now that I finally have had some time to breathe and decompress, I’m ready to relive Rock the Parkway.
I registered for Rock the Parkway about 2 months after completing my first full marathon. Heidi suggested this race. She had run it several times and was so very close to breaking that elusive 2 hour mark on this course. We started planning our first girls’ running weekend around Rock the Parkway. Heidi, Megan and I made our way down to Kansas City on Friday, April 9th.
The previous two weeks had been a roller coaster of anxiety and depression. Friday was the first day of starting on a higher dose of my antidepressant. At our Thursday night run from Fleet Feet, we were discussing our plan for the trip. Both Heidi and Megan were super supportive and understanding if I wanted to not make the trip and were asking what they could do if I had issues while on the trip. I was nervous, but I had been looking forward to visiting Kansas City and I was fairly well trained for this half marathon.
Heidi’s friends, Tim and Sandy, graciously opened their home to us for the weekend. Tim also ran Rock the Parkway and picked up all of our race packets, when we were making the drive from Des Moines to Kansas City. The best perk being that their home was just past the 6 mile mark on the race course. Tim drove us through most of the course when we finished our pre race meal. (Megan, Heidi and I all ate the same meal, which was absolutely fabulous!) I made sure to note that the downhill finish started near mile 11, Trader Joe’s was my landmark to start kicking in for a strong finish.
I didn’t sleep well the night before the race. Nerves, doubts, exhaustion from my anxiety and depression from the past few weeks. Race morning the temperature was barely above freezing. The weather had been much warmer going into the weekend. I had brought some warm running gear, but hadn’t brought anything for weather that cold. So I pulled on my Capital Striders arm warmers, borrowed Megan’s Oiselle Lux gloves, snuggled into my Heads Up, Wings Out front zip sweatshirt and waited for my wave to start.
This was my first wave start race. My race started 10 minutes after the first wave. I settled myself between the 2:10 and 2:15 pace runners, tied my sweatshirt around my waist, set my Garmin to virtual pace around 10:15/mile, took a deep breath and started my race at a fairly slow pace…or so I thought. I hit the first mile at 10:08. Shit, can I keep this pace up for 12.1 more miles? Especially with the hills in front of me? Deep breaths. Look at the scenery along the course. Enjoy the residential areas. Take it in. Relax. You’ve got this. You can always stop at mile 6. Definitely drop your sweatshirt at mile 6. Man, people in full pants and jackets have got to be super sweaty now. My inner monologue continued a lot like this through the entire course of the race. I did drop my sweatshirt at Tim and Sandy’s. Actually I got Sandy’s attention and handed her my sweatshirt. Mile 6 was at 9:43 pace. I was definitely getting into a groove. Of course, next 2 miles were around Loose Park, or Hell. I hit mile 7 at 9:37 pace. The next mile was brutal. I was hurting. I walked the water stop. I walked some more trying to get my legs to stretch out. 10:46 pace. UGH! I pushed myself to far. Hopefully, the Gu Rocktane kicks in. Breathe. Is that the 2:15 pace runner? Oh hell no. I must keep up with them. 2:15 is a 3 minute PR. Chase that rabbit! Head up. Wings out. Breathe. Mile 10 9:43 pace. Guess that Gu kicked in a bit. Mile 11 is the start of the down hill. You can run 2.1 more miles and you can kick it in. Mile 12 10:15 pace. Ok, I slowed down a little bit. Keep breathing. Shut up, quads! Dig in. Oh there’s Megan! Did she just tell me I looked strong? Oh there’s the finish! Mile 13 8:35 pace!? Holy shit that was one hell of a down hill. Cross the finish line! 2:22:48??? What the fuck? Put arm up for finish picture. Stop Garmin. Oh there’s Heidi. Garmin says 2:12:07… I just broke my half marathon PR by 6 minutes! Must. Drink. Chocolate. Milk.