The two girls singing Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” was a nice touch.
Yes, of all of the expected and unexpected details that made Koach Karl’s Hardest Half – a 15-mile pavement run in midtown Kansas City on the Fourth of July – a special event, that took the cake for unexpected moments on a day that I was happy to make my lone pavement running event of the year.
I’d heard great things from Larry Long and Coleen Voeks about how challenging but fun the Hardest Half had been in previous years, so I jumped at the chance to run it when Larry informed me that there were open spots for the 2013 edition.
Coleen was unable to join us due to injury, but I ran the entire way with Larry, Danny Miller, Rick Troeh, Erica Carper and Elliot Snickerfritz.
The premise of the event is that Koach Karl seeks out as many big hills as he can find in the area and compiles them into a race course (it’s an unofficial race, by the way. No entry fee. You agree to take full responsibility for anything that might happen to you – as should be the case with any running event). The course takes you through some scenic parts of town, as well as some less savory locations. Then, Koach Karl prays for triple-digit temperatures in order to make you suffer a bit more. Unlike previous years, it only got into the low 80s this time.
The run was about as challenging as I expected it to be. We got about 1,700 feet of vertical gain, which is good for KC. The pavement made my joints cranky, and a post-run ice bath was necessary for my ankles, toes and knees.
The “Man in the Mirror” serenade came as we neared the top of Madden Mountain on Cambridge at the end of Mile Two. Our group was feeling plenty good at that point as it was early and the heat hadn’t risen.
The most amusing moment came while cruising along Troost and Cleveland when I heard the pop-pop-pop of fireworks being set off. On any other day, the sound would have been troubling – and not likely been caused by fireworks. I’m pretty certain that at one point we were targeted by bottle rockets on Cleveland as I heard the explosions in the tree branches directly overhead when some kids were shooting them off across the street.
The run started and finished at Filling Station Coffee Shop, and it was a relief to make it back. My legs felt good the whole way, but the pavement took its toll and I was happy to finish. Our group of six ran together from start to finish, and we tied for fourth in 3:05. It was a great to spend the Fourth of July sharing some miles with friends.
As far as the remainder of the week was concerned, the focus all week was on gaining more vertical. The Meet Your Maker 50-Miler will have about 12,200 feet of gain, and my legs need to be ready.
On Monday, I moved my hill repeats to part of the Red Trail at Shawnee Mission Park where I did a few out-and-backs and gained a little over 1,000 feet of vertical. On Saturday, I headed to Wyandotte County Lake Park and did a few out-and-backs over the Three Sisters at the end of the Winter Psycho course. I gained 1,601 feet during the course of nine miles.
This week’s totals include two strength workouts, three running workouts, 30.5 miles of running and 4,243 feet of vertical gained. Not too shabby!
The goals for the week ahead include elevating the mileage total to 35-40 for the week (including a 5-6-hour time-on-feet run Saturday) and 4,000-5,000 feet of vertical gain.
Pacing duties in Leadville will be wrapped up six weeks from today, and race day in Whistler is eight weeks from today!