Photo Diary: The Hills Are ALIVE

Jul 7, 2013

With the sound of - my thighs rubbing together...

Note to self: running 13.1 miles in shorts is a terrible, terrible idea.  Under Armour, you chafe my thighs.

(via Instagram)

This past June this lovely lady flew to the Lou and the next morning we started our road trip. Which meant 24/7 gabfests, karaoke in the car, and spending quality, uninterrupted time with a friend. And running. If that's wrong, I don't wanna be right...

Our drive took a bit longer due to heavy rain and traffic caused by an accident, so we were extra excited to get out of the car and explore Kansas City. This is the first race we have done sans entourage/cheer section/built in drivers, so staying true to our non-directional selves, we forked over the extra dolla dolla bills and stayed at the host hotel.  Which meant we literally just had to walk out of our hotel to the start line. Something we couldn't get lost doing if we tried. I can honestly attest, though is the pricier option, was well worth it.

After we checked in, we hit the expo.  Which was in the hotels ballroom. #winning. Got our bibs, and began the tedious task of exploring every vendor and spent a ridiculous amount of time finding the perfect Bondi Band.  At one point we were both on the floor, knee deep in headbands hoarding all our favorites like squirrels.

On the way back to our room we stopped by the hotel bar for our obligatory glass of wine to start off the race weekend. And calm our nerves. Then we looked at the elevation map and contemplated getting a bottle. Turns out Hospital Hill has SIX hills. Hold me.

We quickly laid out our race gear, freshened up, and met my old roomie for dinner (here) at Power and Light District. Opting for the tuscan chicken pasta, and splitting the tapas appetizer I was pleased, as was my sen-si-tive belly with my choice. On the way back to the car in the opposite direction, we had gelato. Because life is better with GELATO.

Back at the hotel and into our jammies in record time, we were in bed, lights out before the sun went down.  And it was glorious.  #hotelbedsrock #ilovefluffypillows #goodnightsrest #nodogsbarking

Race morning we rose before dawn to get ready.  First up, coffee. Gratefully our hotel had Starbucks coffee in the room, so there was no need for my emergency stash of instant. 

Glanced outside to see the race final preparations being made, and the giddy jitters set in. We are running 13.1 miles today!

Breakfast of champions - brown rice cake, peanut butter, banana, and coffee with two sugars. 

Once breakfast was down and we were caffeinated, we headed downstairs to the race. Literally 30 steps from our hotels front entrance was the start and finish rocking our fancy Boston Strong bic bands (thanks again Amie!)

After prayer, we waited to start. The corral process at HH was the BEST in my racing days to date. Hands down, winner winner chicken dinner.  Each corral was separated by a rope and moved efficient and swiftly. Once we reached the front and were off, there was zero beginning-of-the-race-congestion-bob-and-weave. The morning started off with a threat of thunderstorms, but thankfully passed over KC so it was probably 65-70 and slightly overcast.  Perfect running weather.

Amie and I set off, like always together and encountered our first hill between miles 1 and 2. We ascended, chanting "what goes up, must come down", and finding our rhythm. The course gorgeous and idyllic, a great distraction considering all the hills.  Somewhere around mile 3 we split off cuz my spibelt got completely sweat logged and the elastic loosened too much so I had to slow down to retighten.  For the rest of the race I played my mental game of "find Amie", and while we could have caught up at a water station, I knew the hills were constant and didn't want to waste energy just for the sake of running together. The first toughest hill for me was the slow, sprawling almost two mile long hill along the UMKC campus. It was agony. At this point I was talking to myself aloud, panting like a dog, and sweating likeI'd just gotten off a water ride. But I pushed through.  I walked every water station, drinking both water and Gatorade each time to keep from dehydrating in the heat, and took gels every three miles. I had my routine down, music blaring and was focused. I bounced back and forth between pace groups, using them to keep me on task during mentally challenging times and to break up the solitude. I did constant body checks - "Can I push harder?", "Do I need to slow down?", "Is anything in pain?". I used my body as my guide and pushed myself mentally and physically as hard as I could. I made a conscious effort not to check my Garmin until almost half way done, and even then I tried not to dwell on the fact if all went well, I could potentially PR. Somewhere around mile 11 or 12 I found the pace group and they pushed me through the last hill, my second most tough hill. It was straight uphill on a steep grade and the two pace leaders keep yelling "just get to the top, it's all downhill from there", so I pushed, high fived the Elvis impersonator at the top, caught my breath and descended the hill like I was on fire. Until I realized the finish was still over a half mile away and the lethargy from the race and that last hill caught up with me.  I slowed slightly to conserve what little energy I had left, said a quick prayer and keep pushing my "comfortably hard" pace until I saw the finish line and sprinted as hard and fast as I could to the finish. 

Official Time:

32032626Marcia GingerSt. LouisMO30Female2:23:35
Race photos - here

Bib: 2626
Time: 2:23:35

I immediately felt my legs start to buckle so grabbed a chocolate milk, post race snacks and sat down on the curb to catch my breath. After pictures I saw the pace leaders and went over to thank them, from the bottom of my heart for helping me push during the race.  And although I never ran any length of distance with them, each time I saw them along the course they were incredibly encouraging and I owe them a debt of gratitude for their support. 

Once the milk kicked in and I got my energy back we walked straight to the beer tent, collect our brew and explored the post race area for a bit before heading back to our room.

After a long, hot shower I got cozy, snuggled into bed and took a glorious nap before meeting up with E again that evening. When we woke up there was only one thing on our minds In that order. So we headed to the plaza - had lunch here, and strolled around doing damage in Lululemon (hello clearance rack) and J.Crew.


When we finished shopping we headed to E's house for drinks on her patio, trips down memory lane, lots of tunes from college, and Sangria.  Lots and lots of sangria.  Which lead to the brilliant idea to hit up a bar to watch the Cardinals game. 

So we went here. Wine tasting, apps, a bottle of wine, and more apps later this goose was cooked. But we kept drinking. #rookiemistake #imnot21anymore #twodrinksismylimit

My memory is foggy after that. Apparently there was a mexican restaurant + margaritas. Oh and I biffed it out of the car on the way back to our room. I'm gonna end my story here. cuz I'd like to retain some semblance of dignity. 

And yes, we rocked the race swag jackets, HARD from the moment we got them. In public. With sundresses.  #shorthairdontcare #swagbagsrock

We had a fantastic weekend. The next morning we hit the road early and made it back to STL in great time to still have a Sunday and unwind before life and the work week. 

Race recovery took longer, which is understandable considering the race being so hilly. So I took off three days, ran, noticed serious ITB tightness near my hips, and took the remainder of the week off to rest completely.  Along with a little ice and foam roller goodness. More info on my injury - herehere

In addition I rocked flats (with my new J.Crew capri purchase) and cozied up with my favorite socks. 

And ate all the post race snacks, including these guys. And was sad when they were gone. Light, crisp, nutty corn flavor made me dig the wrapper out of the trash, stalk them on all forms of social media. and beg to know where I could buy them all. To my shock and awe, this family owned Australian based company was ecstatic I enjoyed them enough to write them - epic blog post about this great company coming soon.

Race Highlights:

Playing "Stop Sign" on repeat 
Getting to the finish, and thinking "I wanna do this again now!"
Spending the weekend with great people
Signing up the the St. Jude full marathon

Hospital Hill was the most challenging half marathon mentally and physically. Yet it was the most rewarding - I can honestly say I ran the race hard, challenged myself the entire time, and finished with an empty gas tank. And it felt incredible. 

I'm so running again next year.

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  1. I want to go back! This was such a fun trip!

  2. Great race report, and congrats on finishing a tough half marathon! I have heard about this race and how well known it is for it's crazy hills :) It looks like you had a blast with it. Have thought about doing it since it's relatively close by - maybe next year : ) When is St. Jude's?


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