This weekend, I ran my third Hospital Hill race weekend (second time for the 5k/10k re-run. Two years ago, I challenged The Hill, and it was one of the hardest races I’d done up to that time. Last year, I did the re-run for the first time, and was just pummeled by the 5k. The heat was crushing, and it was all I could do mentally to go back out on the course for the 10k the next morning.
I’ve run 100 events since last year’s Hospital Hill, and I was determined to not only be a little faster than last year, but to enjoy the experience.
I drove out to Kansas City Friday morning. I-70 is a relatively quick, albeit kinda dull, drive between here and KC. Three-and-a-half hours after leaving the house later, I was pulling into the Sheraton Crown Center.
This is the host hotel for Hospital Hill, and I’ve really come to enjoy my stays there — the expo is right there, and the race start/finish is just a couple of blocks away. Perfect!
I checked in (early, even!), dropped off my stuff, and headed to the expo. Specifically, I was looking for Lifespeed Sports, but unfortunately, they weren’t there this year. However, there were plenty of races represented, and loads of vendors selling their wares. Aside from picking up a buncha flyers for races I’ll probably never do, I really didn’t walk out with anything aside from my bibs and shirt for the event.
This race starts at 7pm, so I always have time to burn between packet pickup and race time. Just hanging out in the room added to the tension of the upcoming race, but I did get to nap a bit, and I’m sure that wasn’t a bad thing.
I got myself together, and wandered downstairs and to the start line. Like last year, there were loads of folks enjoying the pre-race festivities… stuff for kids, a great fountain, and some clouds. Yes, clouds. This was gonna be a night with cooler weather than last year!
We got corralled up, and in short order, we were released onto the course! As I’ve mentioned before, the 5k course starts out with a ginormous hill, almost ¾km in length, and pointed kinda straight up. I’d strategized that this year, I was gonna walk up the hills, and run the downhills and flats. Previous years had seen me running up the hills — especially the first one — and burning myself out.
My plan worked pretty well, and I enjoyed churning through the course, running through sprinklers, speaking to anyone who’d listen, and generally making the best of my race. I scooted back down the big hill, and continued my run to the finish line, finishing three minutes faster than last year. Woot!
I gathered up my post-race goodies, including an ice cream sammich and a carton of chocolate milk. Those are absolutely the best things ever post-race, and really oughta be required at every race!!!
I headed back to the hotel, grabbing some Jimmy John’s on the way, and changed back into street clothes. One of the challenges with a race that starts at 7pm is that by the time you get settled down after dinner, it’s already at least 9pm, and the clock is already ticking down to wake-up time for Saturday’s 10k.
Typically, I awoke before the alarm, and had time to kill — my favorite! — before heading down to the race site. I nibbled a little breakfast, and headed down.
The scale of the Saturday race is enormous compared to the Friday race. Saturday has both a 10k and half marathon, with about 3500 racers combined. The field stretches for almost two blocks, all lined up by pace. I’d placed myself at the back, knowing that I would be slow, slow, slow.
I started talking with three ladies — a mom and her grown daughters — that had also lined up near the “Walk” pace sign. We chit-chatted a bit, and I found out that this was the youngest’s first official 10k. It’s always fun to kill my nerves with some small talk, and frankly, the older I get, the more I hear my father’s voice in mine. He never met a stranger, and I’m beginning to see that same trait in me. Not bad for guy who was a total wallflower as a teen, eh? 🙂
The gun fired, and almost four minutes later, we crossed the start line. As it ends up, these ladies were walking at the speed of my trot, so I eased into a walking stride, and continued talking with them.
And we talked, and talked, and talked. Quickly, we were a mile in, and then two. In fact, the course just seemed to melt behind us as we chattered about a little of everything. In short order, we were headed down the final hill, aimed toward the finish line. Suddenly, we all hit a big gear, and ran across the finish line in the same stride. It was awesome!
That’s the first time I’d had someone to chat with through a race that long, and it really made a difference. Obviously, I need to find me some folks to run and walk with.
It was a great weekend, and I nabbed three more medals for the wall — nothing wrong with that! I survived the heat of Friday night, and had a great 10k race, meeting some new folks along the way. It was a great race weekend!