Tag Archives: Kansas City Marathon

The Allure of the 50 Marathons/50 States

First of all, I have given up on this idea and I am NOT changing my mind about it.

But I can still see the allure of it…

Starting with a blank map, you start to fill in the spaces. Before you know it, you have a fair size chunk filled in.

I completed a back to back marathon weekend a couple of months ago, and filled in two states in one trip…Missouri and Iowa. The map now looks like this…


There is a nice solid and satisfying streak down the middle of the nation. Is does bring up the temptation to fill in a few more…

I am registered for the Fargo Half Marathon next spring. Upgrading that to the full would let me claim North Dakota. Sioux Falls (South Dakota), Omaha (Nebraska), and Olathe (Kansas) are all on the eastern borders of their states and a fairly easy drive from Minneapolis. That would really beef up that filled in area on the map. Of course, Chicago is still on the “must do” list. That would leave Indiana as a blank gap in the Midwest. I suppose I could fill in the gap during a trip home to see family in Detroit. Then, of course, there is the NYC Marathon (New York) and Marine Corps Marathon (Virginia) that would really start filling in the Northwest…

Yes, I can see how it can become a bit of an obsession. I think that I will just stick with what I have already got.

Well, except maybe Fargo, since I am going there anyways…



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Race Report: My Final Marathon

October 18, 2015
Des Moines, IA
Marathon #15
Event #88
I-35 Challenge-Day 2

“Forward Motion IS A Pace”

After a not so quick shuffle back to the hotel, shower and check out, I was on my way from Kansas City to Des Moines, and the second half of the I-35 challenge. The journey is just under 200 miles and should take about 3 hours.

My legs were just trashed from the hills in KC. I went slowly in my first marathon, but any illusions that this strategy would “save the legs for Des Moines” were dispelled. I would be changing my registration to the Half Marathon when I reached the expo. I was at peace with this decision. The I-35 challenge was to complete a half or a full marathon in each city over the weekend, so I would still technically be completing the challenge…but it wasn’t what I trained for. Iowa would have been my tenth state (enough to join the 50 Marathon State Club), my first back-to-back (which would have elevated me from one star to four stars in the Marathon Maniacs), and my fifteenth overall marathon. What bothered me the most was that I trained for a marathon double, and I would be taking my first DNS.

The drive was slow. I stopped every chance I could to stretch my legs and to hydrate. As I got into Iowa, my legs started feeling slightly bit better. Walking was not so arduous…but I was still gimping around quite badly.

I parked about a block from the expo. The walk wasn’t horrible. I saw several other runners in the same boat. Most of the late arrivals were I-35ers. “Did you run the full in KC” was the typical conversation starter. The expo was at the far end of the exhibit hall. By the time I got to packet pick-up, I had changed my mind. I had a flashback to T2 at Ironman Wisconsin. I barely able to stand up, I was dehydrated and bonking. I only had 15 minutes rest before starting the marathon. I finished that run in 6:09. For Des Moines, I would have 7 hours to finish, and have the benefit of a good hot shower and 10 hours of sleep. I would attempt to do what I came here to do. I picked up my marathon packet. I would succeed or fail, but I would try. DNF is better then a DNS.

The expo was good, bigger then KC, but many booths had already closed up before I arrived. After a quick dinner I settled into bed.

The next morning was chilly. The air temp was 38F and windy. The forcast called for gusting winds from the south and a rapid warmup into the low 60’s. Creative layering was the order of the day. I was walking pretty well. My feet were sore and my leg muscles were stiff, but in pretty good shape for the day after a marathon. When I laced up, I discovered a pretty severe new pain on the top inner portion of my right foot. It was right over the laces and I thought that I may have laced up too tightly, but loosening the laces didn’t help. These were a new pair of shoes (I ran 5k in them to test them out, but they were not yet broken in). I quickly switched to the older pair that I had worn the previous day (which had fortunately dried out overnight). Those were even worse. I examined my foot. There was no swelling, but there was a small point that was very tender. Great. The newer shoes were less painful. I left the laces a little loose around the pressure point and walked to the start. The foot hurt with every footfall. Nothing I could do about it now…it may vanish as so many pains are prone to doing during a long run, or it may get worse. Time will tell.

The plan was to go even slower then yesterday. My legs felt OK, but they were sore and tired. They would rebel at some point during the race, and the longer I could keep them happy, the better my day would be. I joined to slowest pace group (5:25) and vowed not to run ahead of them.


Once again the half and full marathon runners started in one big coral. The first two miles were a loop of downtown and the half marathon runners went off in another direction. That’s when the hills started.


KC had about 2400 feet of elevation gain. Des Moines has about 2200 feet. The difference is that almost all of the uphills in Des Moines hit between mile 2 and mile 10. So, for 8 straight miles, we were climbing. My legs were hanging in there. Slow and steady was winning.

A few words about the course. Des Moines is a small town. We pretty much left the downtown area at mile 2. When I looked at the map after the race, I was surprised to see that we had run the length of the downtown area twice. After that, we ran through some nice tree lines neighborhoods for 15 miles or so. It was nice, but just a collection of out and backs that got pretty dull. After that, most of the rest of the race was along walking paths in a large park area before heading downtown for the final half mile. Basically, there were a lot of filler miles, which you have to expect in these smaller venues. The filler miles were nice, but still filler miles.

What was AMAZING was the course support. There were aid stations at every mile! There were port-a-potties every half mile (there was no line up at any of these). And, they had dozens of cyclists on the course handing out candy, Kleenex, and basic medical aid. I lost count of the number of twizlers that were given to me by a random cyclist! Musicians also crowded the course, with entertainment every half-mile or so. Overall, this is the best supported race that I have ever participated in. There were quite a few spectators as well, until we reached the park reserve.


I chatted with the pacer and the rest of the group which helped the miles go slowly by. At mile 19, the inevitable happened…my legs turned to concrete. I was also collecting various different pains in my feet and ankle (the earlier foot pain had disappeared by had now returned, along with multiple toenail pains, blisters forming, pains in my heels, arches, Achilles, ankle, etc). I knew I would not be finishing with my pace group, but planned to hang with them as long as I could. At mile 23, I gave in and let the pace group go. I was run/walking at this point, taking a walk break every half-mile or so. But the last few kilometers clicked by and I saw the finish line.

Finish Time – 5:26:09

The post race area was great. Got my medals, pulled pork, pizza, nachos, and a couple of sandwiches for the road.

I-35 Challenge complete!


Next up, a long drive home, and one final race before the off-season…Monster Dash Half Marathon on Halloween Day…


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Race Report: Kansas City Marathon

October 17, 2015
Kansas City, MO
Marathon #14
Event #87
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…

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My Legs Need An Offseason…

Heading into October, and my final cluster of races of the year, and I am NOT feeling good about it.

I have a 1 mile (untimed), 5k, 10k, half marathon, and 3 marathons next month (with 2 marathons in one weekend).

I am just not feeling it.

My running pace has slowed…a lot. My long slow runs used to be 9:30 min/mile, now it is 11 min/mile. The level of exertion feels the same…until I look down at my Garmin.

Part of it is my lower level of training this season (I will never match my Ironman training season). But part of it is that I am always in pain.

When going for a long run, things hurt. I analyse them long enough to figure out if this is something serious or not. Once I am certain it isn’t something vital, I block it out and move on. That is more or less what I have been doing…and not discussing any of it on my blog. But, everything is lingering. My running gait is completely screwed up, I have to go down the stairs one at a time, and someone at work asks my why I am limping EVERY DAMN DAY!

It’s not that there is one bad injury that needs rest and rehab. It is, instead, a whole bunch of little things. I have finally decided to listen to my body long enough to get a full accounting of what hurts. When I started to pay attention, I realized that it is a long list…

  1. Right 1st MTP joint (the knuckle on the big toe) pain and stiffness (worst at the start of a run).
  2. Left arch pain (generally will start up mid run). Sharp/tearing pain.
  3. Left knee instability. There is a sense that it will buckle and give out. It came close a couple of times. I don’t trust it.
  4. Right anterior knee pain-anterior (very mild runners knee). This is the least significant thing on this list. A dull ache that comes and goes.
  5. Left hip bursitis. Hard to run on and throws off my gait. Hard to sleep on that side.
  6. Sciatica-left. Doesn’t affect the run, but driving will cause some discomfort.
  7. Piriformis syndrome-bilateral. This is a small muscle in the buttocks. I don’t even notice it until I push on it. That will send me through the roof every time.
  8. Posterior Tibial Tendinosis. This is the worst of the bunch. I was diagnosed with this a few years ago. The tendon on the inside of my ankle is “shredding”. This was seen on MRI. Only fix is surgery…but the surgery results tend to be poor. Change in footwear has kept this at bay for the last few years, but it has started to bother me again. Knowing that the tendon could rupture, it is the only thing on this list that could convince me to bail on upcoming events…but it has remained at a dull ache for the past couple of months. Right side is worst then the left.

Causes for these are not known, but I have a few theories:

  1. Core weakness and instability. I was working with physical therapy in the preseason to correct this…but I have not maintained my exercises.
  2. Inflexability. I am the least flexible person my physical therapist has ever worked with.
  3. Shoes. I probably should spend some time looking for a new brand.
  4. Running too much. See below.

So, is running the cause? Am I running too much? Maybe. I am constantly training for a marathon, and I always have long runs on deck. My enjoyment of these (physically and mentally) has dwindled. The longer distances have never been my strength (I have finished in the top 5-10% in 1 mile, 5k, 10k and half marathon distances, but consistently finish in the back of the pack in the marathon). I have never been able to figure this out or have a breakthrough in the marathon.

At this point, I am trained and tapering. I intend to complete this race schedule unless something dramatically worsens (my longest training runs did not aggravate anything so I doubt that the races will either). These events won’t be pretty. I will be gimping in all of them. I predict three consecutive “personal worsts” in the marathon, but there will not be a DNS or DNF if I can help it. I may end up walking the entire last marathon in Des Moines (with its generous 7 hour time limit) but I will finish it. After that, I will have to do some soul searching about my future. I will also need to give my legs a chance to heal…



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Marathon Taper Begins…

Yesterday, I completed my final long training week of the year. I ran 6 out of  7 days with a long run if 21 miles followed the next day with a 15 miler. I totaled just over 60 miles for the week. Today, I plan on a final bike ride of the season (which will get my cycling total to just over 300 miles…a far cry from the 3000 miles last year). This weekend looks perfect for back to back “long-ish” runs at 12 miles each (hopefully) and then mostly 5-10 k runs until the Twin Cities Marathon and I-35 Challenge.

I was getting burnt out with the training, so getting these last long runs out of the way is a huge relief. The finish line is in sight for the season and I am finally confident that I will actually get there.

I am already getting excited for the DisneyLand Star Wars Half Marathon. I bought a light up lightsaber to carry with me for the photo stops (my wife already thinks (knows) that I am a complete dork, but I am sure that reading this will make her cringe…). Still trying to decide on the second Star Wars race in Disney World in April. If I run that, I would skip the Disney 25th anniversary marathon. Decisions, decisions…and, with registration coming up fast, I won’t have long to decide.

Until then, I need to focus on a few more training runs before marathon madness hits in a few weeks.

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The Final Training Push…

It had been an interesting few months. I had an intense running spring and a busy triathlon summer tailing into an intense running fall. This has resulted in odd training patterns. My last triathlon of the season is tomorrow, but I have not done any recent training swims or rides…opting instead to work on my run (and using one race as training for the next). Yesterday, I did a slow 21 miler. This would seem a little odd and early 6+ weeks out from a marathon, and two days out from a sprint triathlon. But I have 3 marathons in October (nothing in September), including 2 back to back marathons (2 marathons in one weekend).

So, what is the game plan?

Well, for starters, I need to be more careful in setting up my race schedule in the future!

Next, I viewed the triathlons as “fun” events and as an excuse to cross train. I stopped cross training a couple weeks ago when I hit the heart of triathlon season 3 races in 15 days), and focused on running. I figured that yesterday would be a good time for my last long run. Next week, I will shorten the run but will have back to back long runs each week to prepare for the back to back races. I will then stretch out my back to back runs. Next week will be 15 miles/18 miles, then 18/18, then 18/21, then taper.

Twin Cities Marathon will come three weeks later, with a 10k/5k/1 mile combo the day before (so, basically a 10.3 mile/26.2 mile combo). Then another quick taper heading into the dreaded 26.2/26.2 combo. I end the season two weeks later with a half marathon. I am looking forward to the downtime as planning and executing this schedule has been a challenging mess…

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Back To Back Long Runs: Round 2

With two marathons in one weekend (the I-35 Challenge: Kansas City Marathon October 17 and Des Moines Marathon October 18). I need to get some back to back long runs (and increase weekly mileage and running frequency…I know!) Last week was a disaster. I hated every moment. It felt like a chore. I cut the second run short and I went so far as to post that an injury would be a blessing so I could get out of running those races.

Well, Karma has a way…

Two days later I strained my back quite badly. I could work, but barely. I needed help tying my shoelaces. Yesterday, I almost took a DNS at the Minnesota Half Marathon due to the pain. However, the pain had improved enough that I took a chance and it paid off. I completed the Half (and got a new “personal worst” in the process). However, running helped the pain. I was almost pain free by the finish line.

This morning, I was a little stiff, but better then the last several days. The schedule called for a slow 18 miler. I decided to try. Unlike last week, I was enjoying it. I was slow, but I was having fun again. By the end of the run, I was pain free!

This has taught me a valuable lesson. Don’t take for granted the things you love. Whether they are skills, hobbies, work, pets, health, friends, or family. Sometimes we take things for granted, and don’t realize how fortunate we are until these gifts are gone or threatened.

With the turning of the calendar page, a new urgency has come upon me. I have 4 triathlons in the next 3 weekends. Back to back long runs will not be possible. I should have time for a single long run each of those weeks, but not two. After that, I will have three weeks of training available to me before the taper start for the Twin Cities Marathon/10k/5k/1 mile weekend, and that will be my last long run before the I-35 Challenge two weeks later. Time is getting short. But with back to back 13.1 miles and 18 miles, I should be able to ramp up the miles by race day…

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Where Has All Of My Motivation Gone?

I was scheduled to run 15 miles yesterday morning. It would be a hot one, so I was up before dawn to beat the heat.

I wasn’t feeling it. Not at all. I wanted to be back in bed. I bailed after 12 miles.

I have three marathons coming up in October (likely my last marathons) including back-to-back marathons in Kansas City and Des Moines (the I-35 Challenge). As I was running, I was questioning why I was doing this. I am not enjoying myself (and haven’t for about 10 months now). I have 12 marathons under my belt. Would three more matter to anyone (especially me).

I thought about downsizing the event to two half-marathons…but I don’t want the time/travel/expense for halfs. I thought about just canceling altogether. Nobody else would care.

In looking back, I had so much enthusiasm heading into Ironman Wisconsin and all that proceeded it. Nothing since has gotten me excited. I was going through the motions in Tulsa, Houston, Pittsburgh, and FANS Ultra. I am going through the motions now.

I am enjoying sprint triathlon (including training, but the commute to the pool and bike trails make it a struggle to get going). I am enjoying the shorter events (but they still have a less painful going through the motions feel).

Part of me wonders if my stubbornness at completing these final three marathons will permanently beat the joy of running out of me. I have caught myself thinking that a minor injury would be a blessing in disguise…that it would make the decision for me. Of course, thoughts like those are just crazy, but it gives you some idea about just how apathetic I am about the whole thing right now.

I remember training for IMOO and reading FB posts about lack of motivation and insufficient training. Posts where people would wonder if they should still run the race, or sell the bib/defer registration. A third of registrants DNS most marathons. I never understood this. Now, I get it. You push yourself too hard for too long and you burnout. I guess I feel like I do at mile 22 of a marathon. I have come so far, but the finish line still seems so far away…it is hard to stay motivated.

Next weekend, I have a half on Saturday (I am fine with that) and will try to back that up with a longer run Sunday. Then, I have 3 weekends of triathlons. I will hope to get one long run each of those weeks. Then, a final short push and ramp up before I taper for the Twin Cities Marathon which will be my last long run before I-35. If I can do the TCM, then KCM two weeks later should not be a problem. DMM will be a sufferfest, but one that I will have seven hours to complete.

I just need to pull my head out of my ass and get it back in the game for one final training cycle. After that, I can park it at Half Marathons and Sprint Triathlons as long as I wish…


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The Rapid Mileage Ramp Up For My Spring Marathon

Some runners run diligently throughout the winter…training hard for their spring marathon. They run through polar vortexes, mountains of snow and sheets of ice just to be well trained and properly prepared for their event.

I am not one of those runner.

After sustaining a near season-ending ankle injury training for the Goofy Challenge a few years back, I have limited my winter running to indoor track or treadmill.

Of course, I can only handle 30 minutes (occasionally 60 minutes) of such tedious and mind-numbing boredom.

So, I call it my off-season…which is much needed and quite rejuvenating.

I also naively sign up for a spring marathon?..and I wallow through my off-season.

When spring hits, I look at the race calendar and start to panic at just how quickly my spring marathon is coming up.

Every. Damn. Year.

Last weekend, I did my season opening Half-Marathon. It was a satisfactory 1:59 performance. Far from my 1:44 PR, but better then previous year opening HM performances.

But, the Pittsburgh Marathon looms ahead of me, and closer then I thought.

So, I started my “Half-assed/half-panic rapid ramp up to an undertrained Marathon/Death March training plan”.

My neighborhood is compact and offers a 3 mile loop. My usual “I am not actively training” long run is 5 loops (15 miles). When training, I start adding 1 loop/week until I get to 8 loops (24 miles) and keep doing that until I taper.

Yesterday, I did my first 5 looper of the year.

Damn, that hurt (and I was darn slow too).

Looking at the calendar, I will have time to get up to 24 miles one time before I start to taper (first week of the taper will bring the Hot Chocolate 15k). After the marathon, I will do one further 24 miler a couple of weeks later before running the Minneapolis Half Marathon the week before my one and only Ultramarathon.

With the ultra behind me, I will start triathlon training (well, will start that during marathon taper). This will not be too stressful since all of my triathlons will be sprints this year (1/4 swim, 15 mile bike). I just need to get comfortable swimming and riding again. During tri-season, I will try to maintain the 5 loop (15 mile) long run weekly (to have a more solid base) until I start my ramp up for the October Marathon Mayhem…3 marathons in 16 days (Twin Cities, Kansas City and DesMoines) the last two are on the same weekend.

After that, my marathon career will be over. I am surprisingly at peace with this decision. I want health and fitness to be a part of my healthy lifestyle, not to overwhelm it. I am hoping that, knowing that these are my last few marathons, that I will enjoy them more instead of viewing each as just another generic race. Unfortunately, I was still just going through the motions yesterday and I was feeling like training was a chore or burden. Hopefully that will change as the weather warms and race day approaches…



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