A Land of Oz Marathon Report
As most of you know this past weekend I flew to Olathe Kansas to run the Oz marathon. What you probably didn’t know was that Olathe is the home of my most treasured running equipment, my Garmin. Garmin was the main sponsor and the race started and ended at the Garmin Headquarters in Olathe.
Well now that you know where I was, let’s get on with the story of the Oz marathon.
I left Detroit on Friday. This was my very first marathon that I traveled completely alone. Yes I was now going to be a big girl and brave the unknown.
The flight from Detroit was uneventful. The first thing I noticed in traveling alone is that if you order a shot at the bar at 7a by yourself people tend to look at you strangely.
When I arrived at Kansas City International (which by the way is really in Missouri) I was meet by a driver holding my name on a cardboard sign (I felt so important). Sharing my shuttle was a Marathon Maniac named Nancy. We talked and talked the whole 45-minute drive. I wish we had been at the same hotel because once I was dropped off I was again, completely alone.
I stayed at the host hotel, the Holiday Inn Olathe. Because my flight was so early they did not have my room ready but hey no problem, just across the street was the Great Mall of the Great Plains. Yes, visions of walking around the mall, looking at new and wonderful thing sounded just the perfect way to kill a few hours.
The Great Mall of the Great Plain was the size of our Great Lakes Crossing with one minor difference, NO STORES! I’m not kidding folks! In this huge complex there were probably 15 stores with 4 of them being sort of like bad dollar stores without the dollar price. The food court only had 3 places to eat so food was out. I did however walk around and around so I did get some exercise. I think John is happy that the mall was a disappointment since I didn’t spend a dime.
Back to the hotel, I checked in and planned on seeing what the expo had to offer. Now mind you I knew the expo was going to be small, after all there were barely 600 people signed up for the marathon.
I was pleasantly surprised! The expo was small but if you forgot anything you certainly could pick it up there. I received my packet which was a timing tag (no really they still used tags!) my bib and a cotton t-shirt that is adorable. I met one of the original Marathon Maniacs who invited me to join in the group picture race morning. I thought I would see lots of Maniacs since 51 were signed up, but with everyone coming in at different time, well it just wasn’t meant to be. With nothing to do, all alone I decided to again walk around. I didn’t make it very far because it was so cold and windy. Did I mention that I was in Kansas!
The weather had me a little worried for what the marathon would hold.
Not having a car, I stayed in the hotel and ate pasta at the restaurant again, alone. This was a new experience for me but since I was pretty tired anyway it was okay. By 8p I was settled in bed with a wake up call, the hotel alarm and my cell phone set for 4:30a.
Race morning was unbelievable! The day couldn’t have been more perfect, well perfect if you are running a marathon. The wind was calm, the sky clear and the temperature at 40 degrees with a promise of 70 by midday.
I met the group of marathon maniacs for a group picture. I was so fortunate to met a wonderful gal named Hoa, a long time maniac from Colorado. She was just running for fun and agreed to run with me the whole way. Why was that so cool, well her average marathons are around 3:30 while mine tend to be around the 4:20 range. She was amazing! It was like running a training run with Argenta, Lisa and Sharon all rolled into one. She was a big talker so there was never a time of silence, she was a tripper (and by that I mean she tripped twice during our run but I’ll get to that later) and she was spunky and had a great love of life.
The first half of the marathon was basically around the Olathe Medical center and mall then into the suburbs. Not very eventful but if you don’t count the over passes fairly flat. We were just cruising and talking. I couldn’t believe that we were at 1:57 at the half waypoint. The second half of the race was on a paved bike path. Now in my mind I was thinking it would be like the Oak Orchard trail, you know flat as a pancake. Wrong! While I would not call it hilly, it certainly wasn’t flat! No one big hill but lots of up and down to make life interesting. The water stops were a riot though. There was a lollypop guild stop and a full Wizard of Oz stop that had every character you could think of including several flying monkeys in full costume. It was awesome but it was also where I slowed down. One thing traveling to marathons out of your time zone can bring is a change to your body functions. I’ll never forget about mile 14 there was a kid with a sign that said “Don’t Poop” in huge letters with “OUT” in small letters underneath. Well it must have been some kind of message because at mile 15 all I could think about was; well now you know. I didn’t want to stop (since my option for potty’s was the woods) so we just slowed the pace and kept on going.
On the bike path there were a few wooden bridges that we ran over. Hoa tripped and fell at mile 16ish and blooded her knees. I couldn’t believe how fast she just popped up and kept running all with a smile on her face. She then told me, “hey don’t worry, I’ll fall at least one more time before the end”. I thought she was kidding but no, right about mile 21 she went down again. How sick is it that the two of us thought it was funny. Yes she popped right back up and we laughed like idiots. If anyone had seen us they would have thought we were insane or just really cruel.
Like most marathons you do get to a point that you want to stop. I did a little whining, a little walking but by the 26-mile mark I was so stoked. With only .2 to go we got back the runners high.
Crossing the finish line is always an amazing feeling that is hard to put into words. Each marathon holds something different. Sometimes your just amazed that you made it thought the course, had a great run with a friend, had an awesome personal best or a Boston qualifier. Sometimes your exhausted, delirious or hyped up and energized. While I did not run my personal best I did have a awesome run with a new friend, ran a 4:08:11 putting me in the top 1/3 of my age group and in the race overall, felt exhausted and energized but most important I Didn’t Poop!
Hoa had to catch a flight so she couldn’t stay to celebrate. The shuttles back to the hotel were not running until 1p so she planned on walking the 1.5 miles back to the hotel. After running 26.2 miles with her there was no way I was going to let her walk back by herself so we drank a quick beer (I took a second as a traveler) and walked back to the Holiday Inn. Finally a bathroom! Then since the finish line party was going on till 2p I walked back.
Let the fun begin.
I got a great official finisher picture and an even better one with Bart Yasso! Yes, Mr. Running himself ran the race and stuck around to cheer everyone in. He asked me if I had a good day for which I replied, “any day I can run is a good day”. That got me a huge hug and a new friend for the rest of the afternoon.
In the tent I met a group of marathon maniacs who, in the grand YPOM tradition helped me drink the beer tent dry. We had such a riot and were joined by Bart too! I guess he knew where the fun folks were. He even asked us to pose for a picture with him for Runners World. We’ll see if it actually gets in. I also met this amazing guy from Sweden. He is a professional runner and cyclist. His job is to run and bike races then blog about them. He loved my running club sweatshirt and took a picture of me in it for his blog! Looks like I went international for pictures this weekend.
The Garmin Oz Marathon was an awesome event that I highly suggest to all of you. The cost was low and the swag was high. I received a nice cotton t-shirt at packet pick up, an awesome tech finisher shirt and medal at the finish. Food was well, real food, Tyson was there to grill up bbq chicken sandwiches until the last finisher came in and a local florist gave all marathon runners a beautiful long stem yellow rose that had an imprint on one petal that said Oz Marathon 2012 I survived! I course was nice and the water stops fun. What more could you ask for…
Well after getting back to the hotel and showering I did meet some other runners in the hot tub where I kept the Myrtle Beach tradition of soaking, drinking and making new friends.
One thing about the running community is that everyone is welcome. It doesn’t matter whether you ran the full marathon or the half, whether you PR’ed with a sub 4 or just made it before the sag wagon. Everyone is a champion just for crossing the finish line.
I met so many people that were each amazing in there own way, from the Swed that ran the marathon in sub 3 to Nancy my shuttle companion that finished second to last.
The Wizard of Oz was actually a perfect theme for marathon runners.
Each of us who ran found what we were looking for: the courage to start, the heart to finish, the home of crossing the finish line but according to my non running friends I still have to work on finding the brains since I’m running my next marathon this weekend in Louisville Kentucky!
Look for my next race report from the Kentucky Derby Marathon. It is sure to be filled with stories of hats, horses and a mint julep or two.
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