October 17, 2015
Kansas City, MO
I-35 Challenge-Day 1
The I-35 challenge. It was one of two events that defined this running season. The first was my first (and last) ultra-marathon. This would prove to be harder.
Two marathons. Two states. Two consecutive days.
I have a hard time walking for a couple of days after a marathon. So, the idea of running a marathon on dead legs intrigued and terrified me. Training was a challenge. Back-to-back long runs took a lot of time, and caused a world of pain. I started to lose my passion for running and I caught myself just going through the motions at times.
At last, the time had come for this challenge. The Kansas City Marathon would be the first leg on Saturday October 17th followed by the Des Moines Marathon the next day.
The drive to KC was uneventful. I arrived in time to get some BBQ before hitting the expo. The BBQ was great. The expo was small and rather boring. I got my bib and shirt (bib number 10!) as well as a second bib and shirt for I-35.
Race morning came and the weather forecast called for mid 30’s and climbing into the 50’s by late afternoon. I got dressed up in layers and thermals when I saw that the current temp was 48F. I went outside to see for myself, and quickly changed into shorts and a t-shirt. I did add throwaway gloves, headband, arm-warmers and a garbage bag to the ensemble since it was cold when the wind kicked up and I really wasn’t sure what the weather would do.
The staring line was one block from my hotel. Sweet! I left the hotel at 6:45 for the 7:00 am start. It was one mass start for the half and the full. I seeded myself well towards the back. The plan for the day was simple…go slow, and save the legs for Des Moines. The plan for Des Moines was even easier…go as slow as I can and try to survive the day. Basically, I was aiming for two consecutive “personal worsts” in these races. Keep in mind, I have always been a slow plodder on the marathon…and getting slower (having just completed by first finish of over five hours at the Twin a Cities Marathon just two weeks earlier). I decided to start with the 5 hour pace group and slow down from there.
The first eight miles or so were great. It was a beautiful but hilly course, and we got a great tour of Kansas City. At that point, the half and full split and the course got lonely really fast. The course also got boring. It was pretty obvious that most runners are doing the half and the course was structured that way. The additional 13 mile loop seemed like an afterthought with endless filler miles. Also, crowd support dropped from “limited” to “non-existant”.
That said, it is a tough and hilly course…and those hills did not let up. The volunteers were great and we got everything we needed.
Unfortunately, by mile 20, my legs were trashed. By mile 22, I was rethinking the whole I-35 challenge. By mile 24, I decided to change my registration in Des Moines to the half marathon. I was taking walk breaks every quarter mile and my feet and ankles were in serious pain. By the time I hit the finish line, I was at peace with my decision.
Finish Time – 5:07:23
The finish area was just OK. They had limited food (I think that there were more options at the adjacent festival…but I did not have time to check it out). The medal was awesome. As I left, Chick-fil-A was handing out free sandwiches…tasted great and I needed a little pick-me-up. Then, off to the hotel for a quick shower, late check-out, and a long drive to Des Moines…