Saturday was Fitness Expo day, where I needed to go to pick up my race packet.
Out my hotel room window, I could watch the creation of a start line/finish line and athlete village:
We were under severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings all afternoon on Saturday, so not much chance to get out and see the city, but I did pass this pretty view of the library in the foreground and a church in the background, as I returned to the hotel from the expo:
It sure was nice walking out the front door of the Hyatt at 7:50 AM, stepping out into the street and joining the throng of other runners waiting at the start line for the Prairie Fire Marathon/Half Marathon. Not all of them are this easy and convenient but when they are....it's great!
I had a tough time trying to decide between long sleeves or short sleeves this morning, since temps at the start were 54 degrees with a strong NW wind. Ultimately I chose the long sleeved shirt after considerable debate with myself this morning. It was certainly the right choice at the moment of the race start, but would it be okay later in the morning when the sun got higher in the sky?
The route for this race was great! We immediately ran over the Arkansas River on Waterman, then alongside for a ways, then back over the river on W. Douglas and heading east for a few miles before turning right into a beautiful and graceful residential district. The course was mostly flat except for a long steady incline going up W. Douglas toward our turn.
At about mile 5 I was beginning to feel a small stabbing pain in the ball of my right foot. I felt this same exact pain, only in my left foot, during my last race, the one in Nashville. In both cases it seemed to start while running uphill. While I walked most of the uphills in Nashville (a premeditated plan), the Wichita course was otherwise quite flat and I had not intended to walk at all. But at the top of the long gentle incline out W. Douglas, I was forced to walk for a bit to ease the discomfort.
Unfortunately for me, the pain stayed with me all the way to the finish line. I could run for a while, or until the pain became too great, and then I would fall back into a brisk walk until the pain abated a bit. This, after having a great 9 mile training run just last weekend. It just made no sense at all. And I was so looking forward to a good finish time for this race. I haven't had a sub 3:00 time since last spring. Now that the temps are cooling down, I expected to have a great time in this race. But it wasn't to be.
I kept as brisk a pace as possible for the remainder of the race, and tried to distract myself from the discomfort in my right foot.
At mile 12 we crossed a small pedestrian bridge into a tiny but beautiful park, The Keeper of the Plains, where a unique and impressive statue stands sentinel over the western KS prairies.
The park sits in the middle of the confluence of the Little Arkansas and Arkansas Rivers. Very pretty! And definitely unique! It was the perfect way to finish up the race.
Now just a mile to go to the finish. The course was laid out in such a way that the lead pack for the full marathon caught back up with those of us half-marathon runners near the back of the pack at around mile 8 or 9, then broke away from us again only to catch back up with us back-of-the-packers just as we were running through this park.
Across the finish line, I claimed my medal and then realized that there were finisher's shirts for us as well. The only other race I've done that includes finisher's shirts at the finish line is the Houston Marathon. All races - Wichita and Houston included - give each entrant a shirt when they pick up their race packets. And some of these events have "Finisher" shirts for sale at the Expo before the race. But to get a shirt that says "Finisher" after crossing the finish line - and knowing that only finishers will be wearing these, that they're not for sale to just anyone - is an awesome nice touch.
From the finish line I just kept walking bee-line straight. Straight to the front door of the Hyatt and straight over to the Starbucks counter to get a Latte and a banana to take to my room. I scarfed down the banana and dug into the little bag of chips I'd stashed from the day before.
I was eager to log into Runners World where I keep my running stats to see which pair of shoes I'd worn during the Nashville race. I had a theory that the foot problem was directly related to the particular pair of shoes. I had no problems in the VT race nor in the PA race.
And guess what? By luck of the draw, I wore the same pair of shoes in today's race as I wore in the Nashville race. And I wore the other pair last weekend for my pain-free 9-miler run. I always have two pair of shoes in rotation. When they reach the end of their useful life, I give them away and break out two new pair. This seems to support my theory that there's something wrong with this particular pair of running shoes. Not wishing to risk injury to further test this theory, I think I'm going to retire this pair prematurely.
Showered and dressed, it was time to find some REAL food:
And then, because I wanted to get some recovery walking in, I headed down the street a few blocks to McDonald's for a caramel sundae.
Here's what my 50 States-50 Half Marathons map looks like now:
Coming up next: Route 66 Marathon/Half Marathon, Tulsa OK. And this time, hopefully, I'll be wearing the "good" shoes.