It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

September 10, 2013

A 20 Mile Half Marathon - Broadway Bridge Race Report

As part of my Chicago Marathon training (which is a mere 5 weeks away), I had a 22 mile run scheduled this weekend.  I normally do my long runs on Saturday so I have Sunday to recover.  Both Saturday and Sunday were expected to be at or near 100 degrees here in KC so I knew I had to get up early to get my run in; which meant getting up at 4am and out the door no later than 5am for a long, long run.  When you are slow like me a 20+ mile run is going to be in the neighborhood of four and a half hours.  

Anyway, Jim and I were going to the Royals game Friday night, so I knew getting up early Saturday morning would be tough, so I decided to move my run to Sunday.  I won't lie, with the heat I was seriously dreading this run.  It would be by myself, it would be long, and it would be hot.  But, as luck would have it....well maybe luck, there was a half marathon in downtown KC on Sunday.  I thought, if I could get up early enough, I could get in around 5 to 7 miles before the race and then finish up my run with the half marathon.  I knew I'd be shy a few miles of my original goal of 22, but in the heat....I would be happy with anything between 18 to 20 miles.  Yes, there would be a small break between the miles, but I would live with that too.

The Broadway can already tell how intense the sun was at 7:30 am

So, on a whim I decided to sign up for the Broadway Bridge Half Marathon the next day.  This is a race I had never done before, and knew nothing about.  Of course same day registration was a bit steep and Jim commented that it was an "expensive long run", but at the end of the day I would (hopefully) at least get a shirt and a medal and I would also have people and aid stations set up for me...something I would not get on a 20 mile run in my neighborhood.  I did end up with both a shirt and medal though they weren't guaranteed..the race was sold out.

So, on Sunday morning, I got up at 3:40 am.  I got a few things around and then went for a 5 mile run in my neighborhood.  I came straight in the door and got in the car and Jim drove me to the lovely City Market area in Kansas City (about 30 minutes away).  I quickly found registration and got registered and then began running again.  The plan was to run until the race started.  I ended up with almost 2 miles before the race start - which was great.  I knew I'd get in right at 20 miles for the day - perfect. 

Really weird picture for some reason

When I started the race I was already dripping with sweat.  I had ran about 2 miles at a 13 minute pace, but it was already 81 degrees and over 80% humidity (at 7am).  I was in for a long 13 miles.  I tried to snap a picture of my sweaty self which didn't turn out, so these guys behind me offered to take one.  I don't know why, but it came out really weird.  I think I look like a bobble head.  I don't know if it was the angle or what, but my head looks huge and my shoulders and torso look oddly small.  Oh well.

This is a "runners" half marathon, as walkers are not encouraged.  You have to maintain a 14 minute pace, which I thought I could do, but knew I'd be at the back of the pack.  I've been averaging about a 13:30 pace on my long runs.  I'm hoping with cooler weather I'm going to do a little better than this, but we shall see.  I'll be pretty disappointed if my 2nd marathon is slower than my first (it was a 13:32 pace).  Anyway, within the first mile, it became clear to me there wouldn't be too many runners around me, which was disappointing as that was part of the reason for doing the race.  The first five miles of the race weren't bad.  You go across the "Broadway Bridge" which has a little incline, and then run around the Charles Wheeler Downtown airport which is pretty flat, but there was little to no shade and I was feeling the heat really bear down.

Heading back across the Broadway Bridge and into downtown

I managed to average about a 12:30 pace for those first 5 miles, which was probably too fast.  It was hard to look at this as cumulative miles and not "just a half marathon".  But really, by mile 5, I was already at mile 12.  After you come back across the Broadway Bridget, you head into downtown Kansas City, and they routed you through some serious hills.  It was mean. Really....didn't they know the mileage I had already put in?  It was hot, hot, and I mean hot, and it was hills, hills, and then more hills.  By mile 11 (18) I was pretty much toast.  All I could think about was just being done.  It was getting hotter by the minute and there was almost no shade at all.

The hills were never ending those last 7 miles.  Almost 700 feet of elevation gain for the race, and almost all of it at the end.
I had learned my lesson the prior weekend at Women Rock Minnesota to bring my own water.  And luckily I did.  I refilled my fuel belt at every water stop, and was almost always out by the time I got to the next water stop.  I don't think I could have made it with just water stops.  And this is one of my biggest BEEFS with races.  When it's hot.......increase your ice!!!!  There was no ice at a single stop, and all of the water and Gatorade was luke warm to hot.  Nothing is more refreshing when it's 90 degrees than a nice hot cup of water.  Ok, sorry had to go off on that rant.  It seems to happen more often than not.

After the hills, and more hills the last mile was mostly downhill...with of course a little hill just for fun.  I finally crossed the finish line in 2:57, my worst half marathon time ever...but I had to remind myself it truly wasn't a half marathon - it was a 20 mile run.  The pace for my half was 13:25, and my overall pace for the 20 miles was 13:16, so honestly not bad for such a hot day (for me).  I'm not sure what the exact temperature was when I finished, but it was right around the 90 degree mark.  Too hot to be running.
The plus side of the race is you did get to see lots of great KC sites.

Sprint Center and downtown

Cool Downtown shot

Liberty Memorial (WW I Memorial & Museum)
I found Jim after the race and walked around a little bit to get my heart rate down, but I was ready to go home.  But first, all I really wanted was a GIANT soda.  I found one and it was the most amazing thing I had ever had.  So cold, with lots of ice and carbonation.  It was truly magical.

Have you ever done a race as part of a long run before?  This was my first time.  Did you feel like it was hard to remember the race was really not a race? 

Anyone else out there training for a fall marathon or half marathon and have this late heat wave to deal with?  I'm sooooo ready for fall!


  1. Good job Michael! I LOVE using races for my long runs. Yeah it can be a little pricey but it really increases my chances of having a decent run. I like having the aid stations and different routes rather than my usual path.

  2. Wow! I have a hard time running before a race. And you got up in the middle of the night to do some of it. Very impressive. I have used half marathons as training runs when I did marathons.

  3. You're a stud! It was soooo hot out there in the sun and I was really proud of you for getting through it. I probably couldn't have. But you are a trooper! You are going to be so great at Chicago, I can't wait!

  4. You are hardcore! Great job getting the miles in. Don't worry... winter will be here soon enough!!

  5. It's so much easier to do a really long run in company. What a great way to get the company you needed. But the weather conditions - ughh! To finish that far in that heat and humidity makes you a superhero in my book.

  6. You are a hero! Summer in KC sounds worse than summer here in Singapore. There is a good reason most marathons and half marathons here start at 5.30am... But think of it this way: "Fall PRs are made in the summer heat." (It really does work.)

  7. You really faced a difficult recipe with the heat and the long run/half! You will be more than ready when things cool down. Also- nice photos!. I think you look great- not a bobble head! I always think my head looks too small.
    The soda must have felt fantastic post race :) Well done, Michael.

  8. Nice job tacking a half marathon onto 7 miles already done. I agree with the ice rant!! Just think of how good that fall weather will feel once it gets here!

  9. Way to go! That sounded like a brutal day, but you planned it well to finish up with a race. Loved it! Nice work! Chicago is going to be fantastic!

  10. Can't believe Chicago is getting so close!

    Having a race in the middle of a long run always sounds like an awesome plan to me when I'm planning or registering, but when I'm actually doing it, it's pretty miserable. Hopefully I will learn my lesson one day and know that it's ok to pass up a race.

    Congrats on being a rockstar about it, though! Sorry it was so hot.

  11. You are hardcore sticking to a 20 miler in that heat! Stop saying "for me" ... You are great!

  12. Great job on getting in your 20 miler! Plus in the awful heat. I feel for you. Although it hasn't been unbearable during my long runs, some of my shorter runs have been sweltering. You are going to do amazing in Chicago. I can't believe how close it is. The Grand Rapids Marathon that I am doing is the following week.

  13. Good job getting it done!! The heat is so damn oppressive! I predict cold weather in October though!!

  14. All this running these long runs in the heat is gonna pay off and turn into 12 min miles in Chicago! We pay our dues now. I'm still panicking hoping I can keep up! Don't laugh, I'm serious!

    Did you end up getting a medal?

  15. great job! i'm a big fan of using races for my long runs... expensive yes, but much more fun!