Sunday morning I went way downtown to the River Market area to run the Broadway Bridge 10K run. That’s right, TEN K. (That’s 6.2 miles for those of you on the old system.) That’s twice my normal distance for these official runs.
I’ve run that distance before on my own. My run to and from the dog park on the weekends is longer than that. The difference is, however, that when I get to the dog park, I stop and take a rest. That always makes the return run more manageable. I didn’t know if I could do the whole 10K of this run without stopping and resting at some point, and that was one of the things I wanted to find out by doing this run. Could I complete it without taking a break?
We were on the road before dawn and got to the staging area while it was still dark outside. As usual, I was nervous, though I tried to remind myself that I have run this distance before and that there is no shame in walking or even stopping if necessary. We were chip timed, which meant that the exact times when I crossed the start and finish lines would be recorded so I would know my pace for that distance. For this run, which included a half marathon, a 5K run/walk, and a kids run, they made sure that the half marathon and 10K runners were the first to start. That way we wouldn’t have to be running around the walkers (as was the case with my last run, which was a little annoying).
The run started just a few minutes after the scheduled time of 7:00 a.m., and it took us through the River Market area, which is old and quaint and has one very unpleasant hill. Of course everyone was passing me. Everyone! Even the old woman with the limp. I didn’t really mind. I wanted to keep a pace that I could sustain over the distance; I run these things for myself (and to raise funds for the Special Olympics, which was the charity connected to this one). Not long after the start (and that unpleasant hill) we were crossing the Missouri River on the Broadway Bridge. Here’s a photo of my return on the bridge:
Not a soul in sight. Yes, I was among the last runners to complete the 10K, BUT I WAS NOT THE LAST. (Okay, I was the last in my age group, but there were some men who were 10 and 15 years younger than I who came in behind me.) The course crossed the river and then circled the downtown airport. Somewhere out there was the mile marker that would tell me I was nearly half way; that would be the point at which I would suspect I needed to take a break, and I dreaded getting closer to it because I was afraid of what I would find out.
Running around the downtown airport is pretty boring. The kids at the first water station were encouraging and upbeat. I didn’t take any water since I was carrying my bottle filled with Gatorade. It’s that yellow container with the black strap in the top photo. (I tell myself that I don’t really need any liquids when I run, but I probably do. And I’m trying to get myself comfortable with carrying the thing since I hope my runs will get longer as my stamina builds. I’ll certainly need hydration then.) I also carried my camera, obviously, which I won’t do again. It wasn’t really too heavy, but taking it out of my pocket and then fussing with it to take a shot or two was a nuisance. Then dropping it back into my pocket made it feel like it weighed twenty pounds.
Here’s an interesting photo:
That’s part of the Kansas City skyline, and those silver arches on the right make up the Broadway Bridge. I had come across that, and I was heading for it again. This was the farthest point from the start/finish, and it was also, coincidentally, about the halfway point where I feared I would need to stop.
But I had found my pace long before then, and I found I really had no need to stop at all. I just kept throwing one foot in front of the other. I wasn’t passing anyone, but neither was anyone passing me. I feared that I was the last runner on the 10K, but when I looked behind me, there were several way back there who had pooped out and were walking. (The trouble with learning I didn’t need to stop is that now I pretty much have no excuse for stopping on my longer runs, at least if they’re no longer than a normal 10K distance.)
Something unfortunate happened soon after this. Note the emblem on my running jersey in the top photo: the University of Missouri – Kansas City Kangaroos. Some of the finest people I know have graduated from this university. Well, I was approaching the second water station, which was staffed by a big pack of students from a certain local high school that has a corresponding college here in town with the same name. While most of these youngsters were cheering as I plodded past, a few took the opportunity to say some negative things about my school. Yes, they were kids, and sometimes kids can do stupid things, but that was disheartening.
But I kept on. As I ran across the southern part of the airport, a private corporate jet came in for a landing and flew directly over me. I waved, and I’m sure the passengers waved back, wishing they could be pounding the pavement right beside me.
Not long after this I was mounting the bridge again, about to head back into the River Market area and the last few blocks to the finish line. Most of those last few blocks were uphill, but I didn’t have any real trouble with that. I guess knowing I was nearly finished encouraged me. Plus, I had maintained a consistent pace through most of the run. Again, at the start when I was surrounded by faster runners, I think I probably pushed myself faster than I normally would.
As I said, I was among the last of the 10K runners to come in, but there were still throngs of people at the finish line, shouting encouragement to random people. That was nice.
I did not sprint for the finish this time. I had the energy in me — in fact, I really didn’t feel the need to stop running after 6.2 miles, but there was no point in continuing after that. As usual, I didn’t check the display clock for my time, knowing (believing) that my chip time would soon be posted. That’s the more accurate time anyway.
But it seems that the organizers were already starting to pack up by the time stragglers like me got in. They had stopped printing the times perhaps fifteen minutes before and had no plans to print any more. They were even taking down some of their displays. (That must have annoyed the half marathoners, who were still way out in other parts of the city, doing their 13 mile runs.) So between the rude comments from a couple of high school kids and the fact that the organizers didn’t seem to have much respect for us slower runners, I was pretty much disgusted by the time we were ready to go.
Sure, I stopped twice at the booth extolling the virtues of butter because they were handing out cartons of chocolate milk. And I did snag a banana and a roll. And then we walked around the farmers market that operates there year round. And we each had a feta and spinach pastry of some delicious sort. But after that, we decided just to leave. Getting out of the area was not easy. Many of the roads in the area were still blocked off because of the half marathoners, so we had to bob and weave our way through the tiny streets until we got to a highway on the east side of the city. Then we could sprint down to the art fair that happened to be taking place in another part of town. After that, lunch at a noodle place. Then a weird jaunt into North Kansas City, which doesn’t merit discussion.
Now I’m home. I feel fine. I’m not sure I will run again until Tuesday at the soonest, and I am sure I’ll get over my frustration with how this 10K was operated. I have another 10K coming up in two weeks, and for the first time I’ll have a running partner. Then I have a couple of 5K runs after that. Easy.
(My chip time was posted late in the day at a local running webpage. I maintained about my usual pace, and since it listed all of the runners’ times, I could see that I wasn’t the last.)