After much deliberation, I decided to give Rock the Parkway another go. It seemed fitting that this would be number 12 because the last time I ran this race it was number 2. They’ve opened the race up to a lot more participants so on Monday, I went ahead and registered. (In years past, it has sold out.) It is one of the larger half marathons in Kansas City and the crowd is always outstanding.
I’m training for Chicago in May so I figured this would be a great training race to get back in the groove. My last go at this race was challenging so I knew I’d benefit. A lot of people think this is a flat race. While I’ve definitely ran worse (San Fran) the course is pretty hilly. Like sneaky hilly. The first couple miles are a steady gain, which can creep up on you if you go out too fast.
I was a little nervous about this race just because I relied heavily on my cross-training this time vs. logging a ton of miles. To combat my crazy schedule I introduced NormaTec & Cryo Therapy (at Cryo Salon) religiously to my training routine. It helped keep my legs fresh and my body injury free. Another thing that I switched up was I went from taking The Right Stuff to nuun tablets + H2Pro. I am a salty sweater so I have to watch my sodium or else I cramp.
On race morning, I woke up at 6am to start fueling. I kicked off my morning with some toast + almond butter and a banana + 40 oz. of water with my nuun tablets. It ended up being a lot cooler than I expected so I went for the layered look; tank, long sleeve, jacket and leggings. I planned to keep on my Nike Flash Jacket the first few miles and then I would just tie it around my waste.
I live super close to Ward Parkway and the starting line so my running crew cruised over and swooped me up. We parked on a secret side street so we were in prime location to walk to the start. Boy was it a cold one! People were organized between waves & pacers. I was in group B so I got in formation and prepped for the national anthem. While this was a “fun run” for me, I still wanted to give it 100 but I chose not to run with a pace group or with a watch and just listen to my body. Here is the course map if you want to reference.
Miles 1-2 were super chilly and at a steady incline. I couldn’t feel my toes, which sucked. it took me some time to get warmed up. Around mile 3 my toes came to life (for the love) and I was able to really start cruising. Still gradually climbing that hill, I think I lost my jacket around mile 4. A good hill will get ya nice and toasty. I was happy with my pace but knew a tough hill was coming up at Loose Park.
For the most part we cruised down Ward Parkway but as we we were nearing Loose Park, the course wove through a nice neighborhood (off 61st) and gave our legs a little bit of a rest around mile 5-6. Mile 7 was the tough hill at Loose Park, this was definitely my slowest split. It wasn’t too bad though because lots of people were there cheering us on and there was live music!
This was an out and back course so after Loose Park we headed back to Ward Parkway for the final stretch. 9-10 were pretty steady with a few rolling hills and then the final stretch was all down hill. I always tell myself to not let the final three miles determine my race. I’m tired and always want to give up but this kicks my ass in gear. I worked hard at the beginning to set the tone and I didn’t want those last few miles to slow me down. My goal was to catch up and pass the dude wearing the #runsie (lol!) and pass the 1:50 pace group. I was really happy with my last push – it was in the 7 minute range. It is always nice to know that you have some gas left in the tank. I fueled during the race with Gatorade chews & GU.
After collecting our medal we sampled foods from Simple Science Juices, Smoothie King and t.Loft. Girlfriend needed a protein ball after 13 point 1. We also took some fun photos with the Rock the Parkway back drop but shortly after we bounced due to the chilly weather.
Overall my race experience this time was totally different and MUCH more pleasant. My time showed me that I am right were I need to be in prep for Chicago. I finished 1:48, which is my tried and true – I’ve clocked that time more than I can count. While the course seemed relatively flat with a few climbs I was surprised to see that my elevation gain was close to 500. No wonder my quads are sore!
Post race I treated myself to Joe’s BBQ and Cryo Therapy at Cryo Salon. I’m so familiar with post race soreness and I wanted to do anything possible to prevent it. Pre freeze you’re ready for a nap and post freeze you feel like you can take on the world. I am always so productive after.
📷 compliments of Rock the Parkway
Note: If you want to try Cryo Therapy at Cryo Salon, use code WTFARTLEK for a hefty discount on your first visit.