Races #35 & #36 – Hospital Hill 5K and 10K

Veni, vidi, vici collis.  Twice.

Hospital Hill is one of those legendary races.  From folks out here in the midwest, you hear just how wonderful and awful this race is… the folks are wonderful, and the hills are awful.

A year ago, in a stroke of questionable sanity, I ran in the Hospital Hill 5K.  I was slow, the hills were steep, and the heat was hot.  I had no idea what I was in for, but I finished, and I was thrilled about that.

This year, in another stroke… of something… right after last year’s Hospital Hill 5K, I signed up for the Hospital Hill Re-Run.  This is the combination of a 5K up The Hill on Friday night, and either a 10K (in my case) or half marathon less than twelve hours later on Saturday morning.  Not only would these races be close together, but this would be my first 10K.

Darla and I drove across the state Friday morning, which is a pretty quick trip from our home — Kansas City is only 3½ hours away.  We got checked into the hotel, and visited the health expo next door to pick up my race packets for both races.

These health expos are pretty cool, and are a great way to find new products associated with running,   You can also meet folks representing other races in the region, and pick up any doodads for the race that you left at home.  🙂  I picked up a bunch of brochures for other races around the midwest, thinking about my racing plans for the rest of the year.

I also talked with someone who makes custom medal displays.  Displaying my medals has been a real challenge, as it seems like I’m adding finishing medals at an alarming rate.  I’m halfway through the year, and I’ve already run as many races as I did all of last year.  Wayne, from LifeSpeed Sports, showed me a display and shelf option that I think will look good in my office.  Probably more to come on that in the future.

The weather dudes had been talking about rain in KC all weekend, but when Darla and I walked to the start line Friday night, it was bright, sunny, and hot — not what I was hoping for.

On the 5K race, you just barely get started before having to climb Hospital Hill.  This is a crazy hill, rising about 120 feet across half-a-mile, and since it’s the first thing you see, it sucks the life out of you before you really get into the course.  Blecch.  The cool thing is that you close out the race coming down that same hill, and that definitely helps your finish time.  I climbed the hill, slowly, and carried on.

As I always do, I found some other turtles to stay close to.  Every now and then, you chat, and then you either pass or get passed, only to catch up again.  It’s nice, because those folks are hoofing through the course the same way you are.

5K Finisher!
5K Finisher!

I finally got to the finish, and I was just spent.  Darla was waiting for me, and it was nice to see a familiar face as I crossed the line.  I got my medal, chocolate milk and an ice cream sandwich (which absolutely rocked!), finding a place to sit down.  There was just no fuel left in my tank.  The sun had beaten the fight out of me, and I hobbled back to the hotel after successfully completing the 5K.

When I got back to the room, everything hurt.  I was a little wobbly, and so discouraged about Saturday morning’s race.  If the 5K had taken that much out of me, what would the 10K do to me?  Could I really finish it?

The news Friday night said that we would have sunny skies again Saturday morning, and I wasn’t too excited to hear that.  Imagine how thrilled I was to awaken to the news that storms were due in sometime during the 10K race!

Storm Clouds
Storm Clouds

Last year, I was driving away from KC in very strong storms at the time the 10K began.  That event was delayed due to those massive electrical storms, and while there was rain due in, it appeared I would complete my race before things got ugly.  But with the rain coming, it was under 70, cloudy, and just enough breeze to keep things nice.

The 10K and half marathon shared the same course for the first five kilometers or so, so we all started together, and began the race.  This time, however, Hospital Hill came about two kilometers into the race.  For some reason, this approach to The Hill was much easier for me.  I dunno if it was the nicer conditions, or being able to warm up for a couple of kilometers before getting to it — regardless, it wasn’t nearly as tough on Saturday morning as it was on Friday night.

The course wound on, rolling a bit up and down the ridges, until the 10K and half marathon runners split, and I was facing another hill, the 39th Street Hill — rising about 85 feet across a kilometer or so.  This hill led to Broadway, where the half marathoners joined us again at their eleventh mile.

Suddenly, flash, boom!  The storm had rolled in, and the rain began.  With only two kilometers to go, I was really hoping we would be allowed to finish.  With lightning in the area — and close — I wasn’t gonna be surprised if the race was paused for safety reasons, but the skies quietened, and we continued, albeit in a bunch of rain.

From there, the course was good, until we reached Trinity Hill.  This crazy hill looked like it went straight up into the sky, rising about 75 feet across a city block or two.  It was brutal, but was the last hill on the course.

With the 10K and half marathon runners finishing side by side, there were plenty of folks cheering us all on as we approached the finish line.  In fact, that’s one of the nice things I noticed about the 10K.  There were supporters all throughout the course, even for those runners turtling along at my speed.

10K Finisher!
10K Finisher!

And just like that, it was done.  I crossed the finish line, grabbed my two medals (you get an extra medal for running the 5K and one of the races on Saturday), and found Darla on the side.  And I felt pretty good.  In fact, I felt real good.  Maybe it was just adrenaline, but I was in so much better shape after the 10K than I’d been after the 5K.  Success!

I was really pleased with how my 10K race went.  It seemed to go quickly, and I was no worse for wear after it was done.  All that was left was a little BBQ celebration dinner, something we both enjoyed!

Race Courses