I had been looking forward to running the marathon of my Ironman more than anything this year.
I have learned a lot in the short time I have been competing in endurance sports and have worked very hard to develop as a runner since I began running 3 years ago. After manipulating my approach this season and training alongside some great athletes in Colorado this summer, I felt confident in my ability to put together a solid Ironman Marathon. Unfortunately, after battling with nutrition at Ironman Boulder, I did not get the opportunity to execute this. After the ups and downs following Boulder, I decided to sign up to run the Kansas City Marathon.
Steve got into town Wednesday and we went straight from the airport to the pool to knock out 4,500 yards in our true style. He had been with me through training, racing, and picking up the pieces after Ironman Boulder. I couldn’t imagine stepping to another start line after everything without him by my side. I was very fortunate to have him here with me.
I had a few fun things planned for us in the days leading up to the race in addition to my 3 midterms and a 7 hour shift at the expo the day before the race. Between it all, I did not have time to stress or contemplate over the race.
Honestly though, I never felt stressed in the lead up for this. I never felt pressure to perform a certain way or to hit a certain time. I didn’t have an indefinite plan or a pace that I wanted to maintain. I just wanted to run to the best of my ability on that day on that course and to finish with a smile on my face.I honestly wasn’t sure what I could do in an open marathon vs. an Ironman marathon so… I went into the day very open minded.
Race morning, I woke up at 4:20 and had my usual bowl of oatmeal, peanut butter toast and coffee. My mom, Steve, and I hit the road about 10 minutes short of our goal time (5:30) to head down to the race. I was a little on edge as I sometimes am race morning when we are running late, but my anxiety was soon eased as we had no problem finding parking and getting situated once we arrived.
I left them to do a short shake out run. Despite the fact that the sun had not yet come up, I was drenched in sweat after a mile. It was warmer than usual at this time of year and I was suddenly thankful again to have brought a hydration pack and Base Performance salt.
After hugging my mom and Steve, I stepped into the start chute. My mom hung onto the railing parallel to me until the start making faces at me and snapping mom-pictures the way she always does. Steve brought my bike and rode ahead before the start to scope out the course.
We moved forward and waited for the start. I found myself reminiscing on the first time I was standing in the Kansas City Marathon chute. It was 2013 and I was running half marathon. It was my first non-swimming race of my life and the first goal of mine after stepping away from collegiate swimming. I remember finishing and wondering how anyone could ever push their body further than those 13 miles. A lot has changed in 3 years.
The plan was to build into the first 8 miles, maintain the next 8 and have energy to push the last 10. The first 8 went by quickly. I played the hills conservatively and was mindful of my heart rate. As we turned down Main Street, (mile2-3) Steve rode up beside me on my bike. I was surprised and happy to see him as I did not know if he would have access to ride on the race route. He rode alongside me with the go pro making me laugh for a while then rode ahead.
I ended up seeing Steve just about every mile. The course was perfect for bike spectating as the roads were wide and closed to traffic. I took in my first gel and had a sip of my electrolyte mix 40 min into the race then a second round when I hit the Plaza around mile 10. I felt great and energized from all of the people along the route.
After the plaza, we hit more hills around loose park then headed South down Ward parkway. I did not start with a pace group, but found myself settling in with the 3:30 group around mile 10. The pacer, Scott, was conversational and kept an eye on everyone in the group. We all talked and I felt happy to have friends to run with. I felt great and was running strong but noticed my heart rate was much higher than I wanted it to be at this point. I considered slowing my pace to accommodate, but decided to let it play out. I saw Steve again around mile 14 as we were coming down Ward. I must’ve looked relaxed or too happy because he signaled to me to pick it up.
I started to break away from the 3:30 group. I was still concerned about my heart rate and noticed it was creeping over the “high end” number I had set for myself on many of the climbs. I didn’t put much distance between myself and the group, but the break was healthy for me as allowed me to listen to my body again in solitude without distraction.
We turned to head north towards the finish shortly after the 15 mile mark. I always remind myself during a marathon to respect the distance and to be PATIENT in the miles where I feel GOOD as I know the hurt will come.
We hit the 18 mile marker as we turned on to the Paseo. I was in great spirits and had great energy at this point despite my heart rate being high so I told myself I would let loose a bit on the last stretch. By the time I hit 24, it hurt a lot but I was still smiling. I knew the last push was around the corner.
The last two miles, as always, were hard. I was ready to be done and my smile was starting to fade, but I regained it when I rounded the last corner and saw my family, Steve, and Molly standing at the corner. Steve, easily distracted by dogs, took this time to take some pictures of Molly. Luckily he caught my right leg as I rounded the last corner to the finish.
I crossed the finish at 3:30:50.
Take away feelings: I am overjoyed. I didn’t set out to run a certain time or pace. In fact, I did not look at my pace once. I was smiling from the start and I was smiling through to the finish because I loved what I was doing and I, ultimately, did exactly what I set out to do.I put together a solid race.
I was smart, I was patient, and I felt I had good energy in the back half while still feeling as if I left it out on the course by the time I crossed the finish. I would’ve been thrilled with that result no matter what that meant for time.
Although when I think about Boston, I have always envisioned running it step for step with my sister. I would’ve never pursued running (or triathlon for that matter) after I walked away from collegiate swimming if it were not for Miranda. She saw potential that I did not see in myself and encouraged me to this same Kansas City Marathon start line to run the half marathon 3 years ago. She has always been my #1 supporter and while I am honored to have earned a BQ I am equally honored to wait to experience it until I am able to live out that dream the way I have always pictured it.
After all, everything is better in good company.
Data: Garmin: 3:30:50 26.50mi 7:57/mi
1 8:09 2 8:25 3 8:31 4 7:57 5 8:01 6 7:35 7 7:49 8 7:58 9 7:53 10 8:03 11 8:07 12 7:33 13 7:59 14 7:51 15 7:54 16 7:37 17 7:17 18 7:42 19 8:12 20 7:34 21 7:54 22 8:16 23 8:00 24 7:50 25 8:17 26 8:31
Thank you to my co workers and friends at Ultramax Sports who sacrifice their sleep and sanity to make these races happen‼️ I am fortunate to work for such a great company and am lucky any time I get to compete in the incredible races we host!
Thank you to Base Performance for fueling my race and keeping me cramp free.
Thank you to Hoka for making the best shoe Eva! (Clifton 2s all dat er day)
And Thank you to my friends and family for the unconditional love and support through everything and to everyone who reached out to me with encouragement after Ironman Boulder this year Xo