Saturday, October 19, 2013

Prairie Fire Half Marathon: Wichita, Kansas, State #17!

State #17: Kansas
There are no direct flights from Newark, NJ to Wichita, Kansas. So, Side-kick and I flew into Dallas/Ft. Worth, and then on to Wichita, Kansas. I wanted to run in Kansas in honor of my daughter's performance as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz this past year.
There's no place like home!
Girlfriend is at college in Boston, and couldn't come, but she really wanted to. On the other hand, Mini-man wanted to be "mature" and stay home by himself. He proved he could do it - my home wasn't trashed by drunken teenagers! So proud, Dude!

Anyway, after we landed in Kansas, we made our way to the baggage claim. I usually always check my bag. I think it's ridiculous how people try to jam their luggage in the overhead compartments. I think it's even more ridiculous how panicky and bent out of shape they get when the stewardess says, "I'm sorry, we are going to have to check that below."
On the way to baggage claim area, 
we noticed this 9/11 tribute:
We Will Never Forget! 
The eagle is spreading its wings above one of the steel beams form the WTC
I got very choked up. I took some photos and texted them to my kids, saying, "See, I was meant to do this! To run a half in every state!" This goal is so very important to me. It's my way of saying that they didn't crush us. They killed my husband, but they cannot and will not keep his family down - not in New Jersey, New York, or any of the other 48 states!
It is also my way of saying that Crohn's disease will not keep from running
 ...just make sure I get to the Port-O-John (STAT) at the end of the race!

After picking up our bags, and getting the rental car, we checked into the Wichita Hyatt Hotel, and picked up the packet. The race was set up right outside the Hyatt ...talk about convenient! The race goodies were "eh", although the knapsack bag was nice. We walked around town, and had dinner at the River City Brewing Company. Great beer list! Wichita has some very beautiful sculptures, statues, and water features around town. The paved pathways made it easy and fun to explore the town.
Sidekick along-side the Arkansas River
More sculptures in the background
Lots of water features
I was a tiny bit nervous before the race. See, I just finished my RD Med-Surg rotation at a local hospital, and hardly got any sleep the week before the race. I slept 2 hours from Sunday to Monday, 0 hours from Monday to Tuesday, gave my lecture on neutropenic colitis, secondary to chemotherapy, secondary to endometrial cancer, slept 4 hours from Tuesday to Wednesday, and only two hours from Wednesday to Thursday - only to repeated that from Thursday to Friday. I was exhausted! I still am!

On race day thousands of runners lined up to run either a half or full marathon. On the way to the race, the announcer shouted, "Okay runners, make your way to the finish line." I was walking next to a small woman - she looked a little older than me, but was much smaller - this is pretty hard to beat, since I am only 5'2.5" and like 105 lbs. Anyway, we looked at each other and started to laugh, "Finish line," she said, "He must be confused." She had a little accent - Indian/British sort of. I laughed and said that maybe he just didn't wake up yet - quite like myself! We laughed, and lined up (at the start). Someone sang the Star Spangled Banner, and we were off.

The weather was great - about 55 degrees F, with a clear skies. I ran the race in 1hour and 41minutes. It was the fastest I've run since last year. I have to say, finally the TP Therapy foam rolling, TPTherapy Total Body workouts, and exercises from Dr. Metzl have paid off. I've really felt a lot stronger, and faster lately, in spite of the lack of sleep. Of course, it didn't hurt that this 13.1 was a fast, flat course. Nonetheless, I finished 2nd in my age group, making this the 11th, out of the 17 states that I've come in 1, 2, or 3 in my age group.
2nd in 45-49 yo females
In comparison, this was one of the most well-run races. The most impressive thing about this race was that there were over 1,000 volunteers. The best part of this was that for about ten miles, I ran next this young man, who kept thanking all the volunteers we passed along the way. He was cracking me up. I kept telling him he was the most polite person I've ever met!

When I finished, the announcer announced my name, and stated that I was from NJ. Just then, out of nowhere, a guy came running up to me, "Did they say you are from NJ? OMG. I grew up in NJ!"
What's that expression? 
Six degrees of separation?
Well, it gets weirder. 
On the flight back to NJ, we flew from Wichita to Houston to Newark. Boarding the flight to Houston, I see the woman that I was walking next to when the announcer told us to line up at the finish line. I smiled to her, but it looked like she didn't recognize me. When we landed in Houston, Side-kick and I jumped on the air tram to the next terminal. There was that woman, again - on the air tram. I asked her if she remembered me from the race - she did. She asked me where I lived - I told her NJ. She started to laugh. She said, "Me too!" At the same time, we asked each other, "Why were you running a race in Wichita?" She told me that she was trying to run a marathon in every state, and that Kansas was her 48th state! Wow! I was so impressed. I told her that I was trying to run a 1/2 in every state, and humbly proceeded to say, "This was only state #17!"
She was incredible.
She had lots of fun state racing stories, 
and some great running advice.  
What are the odds?
Talk about six degrees of separation!
Train Smart Today!
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