{State #14-Kansas} Pilgrim Pacer Marathon

IMG_4496Saturday was the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon in Shawnee, Kansas. This race report starts very similar to others. We arrived later than expected Friday night due to road construction and a later than planned departure after work. I got to bed at 2:00 a.m., but did get to sleep a fair amount en route to Kansas thanks to my amazing support network aka the husband.
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Upon arriving I was pleasently surprised by our hotel room. We always get rooms from Hotwire when staying out of town-ALWAYS. I usually love our rooms, and I love Hotwire for their great rates, reliable star ratings, and excellent customer service. Of the 26 hotels rooms, 5 car rentals, and 2 flights I’ve booked through the company I’ve only had one issue with a hotel room. They immediately refunded my purchase and helped find a new room. If there star ratings change after you’ve booked a room, then they offer you two choices- #1) Keep the room and get $25 towards a future room reservation through Hotwire or #2) Cancel your reservation with no consequences and rebook a room you want. This has only happened twice to me in the past few years.
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This weekend was no exception except we got a lot more space than I’d anticipated for $125 total (both nights).

Trying to show the arm warmers.

Trying to show the arm warmers.

After five hours of sleep, I was up and getting ready. I was hungry so I ate a granola bar I’d never eaten before (Broken Running Rule #1-Don’t eat new foods on race day). I got dressed for the warmer weather (highs in the 60’s) I was looking forward to. Because of the cool initial temps I wore Asics Arm Warmers I got for Christmas last year, but had never gotten to wear yet (Broken Running Rule #2-Don’t wear new race gear on race day). They turned out to be perfect for the change in temperatures during the race. Then I grabbed breakfast at our hotel (a bagel) and headed to the race without my water…oops (Broken Running Rule #3-Drink water/start hydrating before a race.)
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When I got to the race everything was smooth sailing. Within 15 minutes I had picked up my packet, used the bathroom, and taken my extra gear back to the car. While in line I met someone originally from Wisconsin and chatted with runners about the challenging course. Soon it was time to take off.

Times 2!  Out-back-out-back.

Times 2! Out-back-out-back.

My goal for the race was to run near 9:00 minute miles and run under four hours. The first half of the race was good. I noticed in the first miles that this course was going to be much hillier than I’d anticipated. I knew I was in for it on the last miles.

mile 1-8:49

mile 2-8:44

mile 3-8:44

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We then passed Shawnee Lake and continued on the trails. The entire race was ran on paved trails that connected Shawnee to Olathe, Kansas. The race was an out and back half marathon and an out and back x 2 marathon. I’d never ran a marathon route like this before, so I wasn’t sure what I’d think about it. I didn’t feel like water so I skipped a few water stations (Broken Running Rule #4-Drink before you feel thirsty.)
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mile 4-8:56

mile 5-8:56

mile 6-8:44
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The colors were in full blaze and the temperature was warming up. I was feeling really good at this point in the race. I reached the first turn around and had a mix of feelings-the exciting, it’s the turn around and the dreadful-I have to run back to this spot again.

mile 7-9:04

mile 8-8:31

mile 9-8:46
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It was at this point in the race that I realized just how tired my legs felt from running a PR in a half marathon six days earlier (Broken Running Rule #5-Don’t race a PR before running another much longer race days later.) My legs hadn’t been sore or tired on my mid-week runs, but I hadn’t ran far either.

mile 10-8:44

mile 11-9:02

mile 12-9:17
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The hills we ran down in the beginning were rough on the way back. I just couldn’t believe that I wasn’t done at the half marathon. I had to repeat this whole distance again! I really wanted to be done at the half marathon and actually let my mind go to that place of maybe I should short change myself and finish after 13.1 miles. Then I slapped myself mentally! You don’t drive to Kansas to quit. I must have been delirious or just a damn dummy. Ryan’s grandma, Evelyn, used to affectionately use this phrase often. You damn dummy!

mile 13-9:12

mile 14-8:32

mile 15-8:47
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Miles 13-15 offered a shift in mentality. This race was full of highs and lows. These miles were highs as fans cheered really hard for marathoners since there were not a ton of us mixed in with half marathoners. Even fewer than marathoners, I learned, were female marathoners. The encouragement of fans saying “go marathoner”, “way to go lady”, “go #236”, “your the fifth female”, and just the extra excitement they gave to marathoners helped me push passed my mental struggles. On the second out and back so many half marathoners cheered for me that I couldn’t help but smile. I really needed it at that point, too. I saw the guy I met at the bathrooms who recognized me and began yelling, “go Wisconsin”. The running community is so supportive and kind!

mile 16-9:46

mile 17-9:07

mile 18-9:29

At this point in the race I was basically running alone. My mental state began to swing low again. I was also thirsty. I passed a water stop and only had one drink. Bad idea. (Broken Running Rule #Whocankeepcount) Then my mental state went waaaaayyyyy low. I had used my mental toughness up earlier this week PR’ing at the Rails to Trails Half Marathon. Yes, I believe it is hard to run challenging races back to back. The mental energy it takes to stay focused and on pace should never be underestimated. It can be freakin’ exhausting at times. I really struggled with this as evidenced by the rest of my mile splits. I just couldn’t get my mind to go to that mental place where I push through.

mile 19-10:19

mile 20-11:15

mile 21-9:13
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At the second turn around of the full marathon I had three drinks. One gatorade, one water, and one ginger ale. I had never had ginger ale in my life (Broken Running Rule #7-Do not try new food or drinks on long runs/races), but learned I really like this stuff. I knew I was dehydrated at mile 18. I was starting to get dizzy and feel disorientated. All I could think about was being done running and guzzling a gallon of anything. It was warmer than I’d anticipated and I have only myself to blame. I did not drink enough fluids the day before or the day of. Going out Thursday night and having adult beverages until too late in the morning was not good pre-race preparation either. (Broken Running Rule #8, 9, and 10-Get a good nights sleep two nights before a race, drink extra fluids the days before, and avoid things that dehydrate you i.e. alcohol.)

mile 22-9:45

mile 23-10:15

mile 24-9:54

I knew I had to drink more fluids so at all the remaining water stops I had both a gatorade and a water. It helped and by mile 23 or 24 I started to at least think clearly again.

mile 25-10:35

mile 26-10:24

The last two miles were uphill. I hated them. I didn’t like running them one bit. I would not run them again with a fox (no matter what it says.) I would not run them in a box. I would not run them again for free socks. You get the point. This was a rough race for me and I have only myself to blame.
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Considering I broke at least ten common sense running rules prior to and during this race it is a bit of a miracle that I finished. I didn’t reach my goal, but was content with my time considering it was way hillier than I thought it would be and that my last run over 13.something miles was the Big Cottonwood Marathon in September in Utah (and we all know how in shape I wasn’t for that race.) There were also only 34 female runners who ran the marathon compared to 90 guys.

The mixed emotions at the finish.

The mixed emotions at the finish.

Nevertheless, I think the last paragraph sounds like a whole lot of excuses. It was a weird feeling at the finish line; I actually felt kind of stupid. Who did I think I was? What was I thinking breaking so many “running rules” and expecting to run decent on a challenging course. These were new and unexpected finish line emotions for me. In all honesty, I needed a challenging race like this. I needed a race like this to humble me and remind me of the beast the marathon is. You cannot outsmart the distance. I needed a little kick back to reality to remind me that you have to train, prepare, and get your body ready. No matter how many races you run, you are not too good for simple running common sense. I let myself get cocky and overly confident.
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Consider myself humbled. I’ve learned my lesson until the next time. I look forward to my winter recovery and base milage building that will help me start spring training with a strong base. I look forward to actually training for a marathon again, instead of running them underprepared. Running the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon was the perfect wake up call I needed.

The actual race was well organized, beautiful, and challenging (which they said many places on their website). The medals were huge (size of a cd) and the shirts were super cool; a big part of why I picked this as my Kansas.
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I also chose this race as my Kansas because it was close as possible to home and the time of the year worked well for my schedule. I was bummed to not get pumpkin pie or a mug like the website said, but in all honesty I didn’t really deserve those things after the performance I gave.
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Enough of my self-pity. Humbled. Lesson learned. We all need races like this every now and then. It doesn’t mean we’ve failed; we just get to come back smarter, stronger, and better ready to face future challenges.
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Pilgrim Pacer Marathon
Time: 4:06:38
Pace: 9:25
Overall: 32/120
Gender: 6/34
Age Group: 3/5
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{Honky Tonk Half Marathon}

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It was an early and cold start to the morning in preparation for the Honky Tonk Half Marathon. I woke up to my alarm at 5:45 a.m. tired and so cozy warm in my covers. You know the feeling; the air in your bedroom is cold and the covers are oh, so warm. It’s that amazing feeling where you never want to get up and feel like you could stay in bed for hours. Who are we kidding, I would actually never do that for fear of wasting my day, but sometimes I might spend 30 minutes slowly waking up. Well, hours for me this a.m. meant ten minutes. I checked the Weather Channel hourly forecast in hopes that it hadn’t actually gotten as cold as they’d said it would. It had. I scrolled facebook to see if there was anything super exciting in my news feed, although at 5:45 a.m. that is not usually the case. Then when I’d stalled past the point of leaving on time, I got up, showered, and got dressed for the race I wasn’t feeling so much.

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From earlier this spring!

I really wasn’t ready for running in pants, layers, and a headband. You see, it seems it wasn’t so long ago that this was an everyday thing. That’s because last winter lasted FOREVER and EVER, Amen. With snow flurries still flying in early May and a cold, rainy June I am just not ready for winter running yet. Fall is my favorite time of year to run ,but it seems we are already in colder than fall temps. It was 28 degrees when I woke up-not acceptable. But, what can I do. Put on my big girl running tights and suck it up I guess.

Enough complaining already! Or is it. I was in a grouchy mood on the drive to Wisconsin Dells. I pulled off the interstate and realized I was almost out of gas, but really didn’t have time to stop for gas, so I took a chance and pulled into the parking lot with 40 minutes before the race began. Because I’d payed extra money to pick up my packet race morning, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to get my race gear, use the bathroom, and get to the starting line on time.

The race was low key, fairly organized, and there was no waiting in line for restrooms or navigating through crowds. Aside from logistics, I was not really sure how I’d run. I knew I was treating this race like a longish training run, and that I had only run one 8 miler since the Big Cottonwood Marathon 5 weeks earlier. The 8 miler had been awesome, but sometimes one run is great and the next one is terrible.

The race started on time and headed downhill. I remember thinking that uphill finishes are my favorite-NOT. Like I said, I was kind of grouchy. The fall colors were beautiful though. Around mile 1.5 we had gorgeous views of the Wisconsin River and fall colors near the Wisconsin Dells River Walk.

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It was actually cloudy during the race, and I didn’t feel like taking pictures, so I found this one online. It really looked like this though fall color and all. (http://www.flickriver.com/photos/27847413@N00/sets/72157625219745538/)

A mile ahead we turned onto the main street of downtown Wisconsin Dells, crossed the Wisconsin River, and then turned down a country road with rolling hills and lined with trees showing their colors for the miles leading up to the half marathon turn around.

mile 1-9:18

mile 2-8:22

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At mile two I made a mental note that it seemed there would be a lot of uphills on the way back. Still grumpy! Probably good I was alone at this race. I would have been nobodies cheerleader.

mile 3-8:55

By mile three I was not crabby anymore. Imagine that; running improves your mood. I’m feeling a little sassy as I right this report as I had such a great day doing all things active and fall. There were great views of the water, rocks peeking out of the hillsides, and tree lined roads.

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Ditto with this photo (dell.com)

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mile 4-8:16

mile 5-8:47

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At mile 5 I took my first GU, a new flavor I had never tasted before, Salted Caramel, but had ordered just for my fall races. This may be my favorite GU ever. It might have been the fall flavor, the colorful leaves, and cool temperature. Or it might just be these are awesome. Imagine eating a rich caramel; sweet with a hint of salty. It was divine. Cam from Modern Family would be so proud of my word choice.
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Soon we hit the turn around for the half marathon. It is often at this point in a race that I encourage myself to pick up the pace. I also couldn’t believe that we were already half way.

mile 6-8:48

mile 7-8:29

mile 8-8:20

At mile 8 I was hoping for some water, but the water stop was out of cups. I knew I’d survive, but I felt bad for those full marathoners who would hit that water stop at mile 21. If those volunteers didn’t replenish the cups, then their lives might be in danger.

Getting high fives from the kiddos!

Getting high fives from the kiddos!

mile 9-8:06

mile 10-8:24
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Mile 10 had water AND cups. We climbed the hill and rolled back down (not literally). We then made the turn back down the main street of downtown Wis. Dells before turning back towards the start.

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Once I saw the River Walk and the 5k turn around, I knew that I was going to feel good the rest of the way.

mile 11-8:18

mile 12-7:46

Mile 12 was uphill, then a slight downhill, and then uphill before flattening out for the last 100 meters. Poor marathoners. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

mile 13-7:11

This out and back course had rolling hills, with some that were of medium size. I hate to say this to hill haters out there, but I really didn’t notice the hills. Even though I rarely train on hills, I’ve always considered myself a good hill runner. I always pass a large number of people without much of an increase in my perceived effort, and almost never see those runners pass me in future miles. Today was no different. I ate those hills for breakfast!

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Speaking of hills, the downhills which I had previously not loved in the past-ain’t no thang! After running down a freakin’ mountain last month, I could really tell how much better I was at running downhills. Either that or my pain tolerance has increased to new levels after the pain cave of an experience I had those last 6-8 miles running the Big Cottonwood Marathon in Utah. Maybe it is some of both. Regardless, hills seem a lot easier than they used to.

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I came through the finish, accepted my belt buckle medal, cowboy hat, and banana and water. There was a free beer ticket that came with our race entry, and growing up in Wisconsin I learned that you don’t pass up a free beer even if it is only 9:55 a.m. I’d like to say this is the earliest I’ve ever enjoyed the barley pop, but we all know that’s not the case. I mean some Badger games start at 11:00 a.m. and required tailgating starts long before that. Then there is the Oktoberfest parade that begins at 10:00 a.m. You wouldn’t want to bring beer that went bad to the four hour long parade, so you’d obviously test it ahead of time.

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After drinking up my one whole beer and enjoying the live country band for a few, this cowgirl was onto greener pastures. I had plans that involved Pumpkin, Spice, and Latte followed by a hike.

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A photo from my post-race hike.

I really enjoyed this race course. The country roads in the fall were scenic and the hills were surprisingly a breeze. I’d recommend the race to anyone who lives near or far. The morning logistics were simple with plenty of parking and a warm place to stay inside with restrooms and food/drinks to purchase. The belt buckle medal is unique and the free cowboy hat a fun touch to fit their theme. I’m not sure where exactly the theme fits the Dells, but yeehaw.

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Aside from the race there are so many fun attractions in the area that it is a great race to make a weekend of. With nearby shopping, hiking, and family friendly fun (indoor water parks, Knuckleheads, etc.) there is something for everyone. Literally everyone if you consider Cruisin’ Chubby’s, too. I did’t consider this though.

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Honky Tonk Half Marathon (RunKeeper said 13.56 miles)
Time-1:52:30
Pace-8:35
Overall-88/505
Gender-35/355
Age Group-6/69