Independence, MO – Long or short sleeves?
At a balmy 62 degrees, that was the big question for those running the 14th Annual Gobbler Grind last Sunday in Corporate Woods.
As the race started, having ditched my Under Armour for a short-sleeved shirt minutes before the gun, I settled in behind a man running an 8:45 pace.
The Gobbler Grind was my second half-marathon. I ran the Kansas City Half-Marathon last month, finishing my first 13.1-mile race in 1:58:26.
That was the time to beat last weekend. And the guy I was following would lead me to my goal.
Or so I thought.
The first four miles were golden. Our splits were on the mark at 8:45, 8:40, 8:35 and 8:30. I was beginning to believe I could finish in under 1:55.
Until the first hill. It was a long one, heading east on 119th from Corporate Woods to Switzer.
Where the raced turned south. And headed up another, even longer hill.
Until it headed west on 127th. And up the longest hill of all.
Let’s just say three miles of hills weren’t something I was expecting. A friend assured me I could set a new PR (running jargon for personal record) on the course. I’d blindly believed him, forgetting the 3:26 marathon PR (yeah, a full 26.2 miles) he’d set the weekend before in the New York City Marathon.
Lesson 1: Consider your source.
Yet somehow I survived the hills. And as we turned north on Quivira and headed toward Corporate Woods, I stoked my stamina. I’d lost time but could still beat my previous month’s mark, if only by a minute or two.
The race headed down a long hill (what goes up must come down) on Quivira toward the southwest Corporate Woods trail entrance. Sweet, I thought: I’m running downhill.
That’s when the breeze blowing in my face began to make my eyes water. Correction: The wind howling in my face. All 22 miles an hour of it.
Lesson 2: Wind’s best at your back.
At long last, the terrain flattened and the course turned east into Corporate Woods. Returning to the familiar paths on which I’d run the race’s early miles, I mustered my determination and calculated it was still possible to beat my PR – if only by a few seconds.
Until a familiar, unwelcomed sensation came knocking around mile 11. I’d hoped it would pass me by for others more deserving, but alas it would not.
I was losing steam. The combination of quick early splits, hills and wind had tapped my tank, and I was running on empty.
Lesson 3: The last 2 miles are always the toughest.
The rest of the race was a blur. I finished in 2:01:02, several minutes behind my PR but a time with which I was satisfied given the unexpected challenges.
Fast forward four days to Thanksgiving. “Now this will be fun,” I thought as the Beem Team huddled before the 21st Annual Thanksgiving Day 5K on the Sprint Campus. “The five of us running together.”
That was until mile .50, when Joe, our 14-year-old, pulled ahead. We next saw him smiling widely at the finish line. He’d finished in 25:17, nearly a minute better than his dad’s 5K PR.
Lesson 4: Don’t ever think you’ve learned all life’s lessons.