Thursday, May 1, 2014

Yay, no tornadoes! (a.k.a. Garmin Marathon Race Report)

“There’s no place like home…” & ”I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…” were a few things we heard repeated over the weekend that Scot and I ran, with several friends, the Garmin Marathon in the Land of Oz. But really, we were just happy that we didn’t experience a tornado.

I was particularly excited about this race weekend for several reasons: 1) the Wizard of Oz theme is fun, and we were going to dress in costume; 2) many Maniac friends were going to be there, and we were rooming with Abbi; 3) we were attending the pasta dinner with guest speaker Meb Keflezighi, less than one week after he won the Boston Marathon.

On Friday, Scot and I were up bright and early to fly to Kansas City. We drove from the airport directly to Topeka so we could see the Kansas State Capitol. After photographing Magenta from all angles with the capitol dome, we headed to the Blind Tiger Brewery for some lunch and local craft beer. Then we were off to Olathe, where we’d check into our hotel and head to the race packet pick-up.

 
Magenta and the Kansas State Capitol

We bumped into lots of Maniacs while getting our packets, and a handful of them were going to attend the dinner with Meb. I’ve been following Meb for a few years and watched in astonishment on live TV as he made his way from the middle of the pack to finish in 4th place at the 2012 Olympic Marathon in London. We got to see Meb from a distance in Houston as he fired the starting gun for the ABB 5K the day before the marathon (and then won the US half marathon championship the following day). I was unable to watch the live feed of the 2014 Boston Marathon, but kept up on Meb’s progress through Facebook. How awesome that he was the first American to win the race since 1983! It was a proud day for all of us. The excitement continued at the Garmin pasta dinner as Meb received a standing ovation upon his arrival. He spoke of his history and his race strategy. He is not only a great athlete, but a genuinely good person and stayed to sign autographs and take photos with his fans after dinner.


Scot and I with Meb

Meb looks happier with Magenta

On Saturday morning Scot, Abbi, Magenta and I put the finishing touches on our costumes and drove over to the race start at the Garmin headquarters. We made it just in time to join the big Maniac photo. It was a lot of fun to see many people in costume.


Maniacs and Half Fanatics before the race

Jenn, Abbi, Amanda, Jc and me

Costumed Maniacs at the start

My Scarecrow hat flopped back, but Dorothy-Abbi and Toto-Magenta are ready to go

Tin Man-Scot, Barefoot Eddie, Abbi, Magenta and me

Abbi and I were planning to run together and set off doing a Galloway run/walk. Eddie the Barefoot Bandito ran with us for most of the first half of the race. What a first half it was! First off, Kansas is NOT all flat! There were some hills on this course. Secondly, from very early on, there were dark storm clouds looming behind us. Finally, the storm caught us and we had a couple miles of pouring rain, thunder, lightning and even hail! We were completely soaked! My polyester Scarecrow costume became heavy and droopy. My cheap Scarecrow hat blocked the rain a little bit, but then became saturated. We got cold. We hung in there and kept going. Eventually, the rain eased up. It took a while to dry out, and the sun came out only toward the end of the race.


This is how it looked after the thunderstorm

Completely soaked selfie from the storm

Parts of the race were on beautiful bike trails that twisted and turned among the trees and along creeks. There were hills on the trails too. Some of the water stations were themed. One, in particular was lots of fun. I think they represented every major Wizard of Oz character, and had lots of fun posing for photos with the runners.


"We're off to see the Wizard..."

Oh no! Flying Monkeys!

We found Carol on the out & back

On an out & back secton of the course, we saw many friends and got a few photos and hugs along the way. We eventually saw Scot, still looking strong in his Tin Man outfit and axe. Around Mile 19 I was feeling sluggish, a symptom of my continued lack of training (since the race, I’m actively working on training – finally). I told Abbi to run ahead of me because I needed to do my own run/walk intervals, and didn’t want to hold her back. She and Magenta took off and I saw them later at the finish.

A welcome sight!
And about the finish – they made the ground look like a Yellow Brick Road in the finish chute – how fun! The finisher medal was the Cowardly Lion this year. It was big and beautiful and heavy! The finish line food was good if you were not a vegetarian. The beer was good if you were a drinker. If you didn’t eat meat or drink beer…well, I guess you could always go out to eat later! We waited at the finish line for the remaining runners to finish their marathon. There were some Maniacs and Maniacs-to-be behind me. A bunch of us cheered them in and then we got a finisher pic of the remaining Maniacs.

Scot the Tin Man at the finish

Maniac finishers who stayed until the end

Magenta finished her first marathon in costume, as Toto
The medal was awesome and BIG!
 
It was great to get back to the hotel and get showers. Scot and I said goodbye to Abbi (who had an 8 hour drive home) and Eddie (who was driving to Oklahoma City to run the next day). We then drove across the river to Missouri to meet up with Scot’s aunt Nancy, his father John and stepmother Deb. It was my first time meeting all of them. We played some miniature golf (maybe not the best idea after a marathon) and had pizza before calling it a night. Scot and I got a decent amount of sleep before flying home the next morning. And the next day, we realized that we didn't take a single photo of the family reunion. :-(

If you are planning to run a marathon or half marathon in Kansas, I highly recommend Garmin. It was well organized and a lot of fun!

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