Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Waddell & Reed Kansas City Half Marathon Race Recap

Disclaimer:  I ran the Kansas City Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave to review, find and write race reviews. 

The Kansas City Marathon and Half Marathon took place on Saturday, October 15th.  
It was a day to remember! 

I love racing!  I love crossing finish lines.  I love the excitement of race day and the events leading up to road races! This half marathon was super fun and so memorable!  If you want a beautiful, historical and challenging road race, this race is for you!  Did I say challenging?

Kansas City race management doesn't lie when they say that this race is hilly.  Make sure that you train on hills or this course will eat you alive.  But, the reward at the finish is absolutely worth it and the views during the run are top-notch!  I am not lying when I say I think that this race had a hill around every corner - if not every corner -  for SURE every mile.  Some hills were small and others were larger. 

I arrived at the race and stayed right downtown at the Sheraton Hotel.  This was extremely convenient because the hotel was connected to the expo and only one block from the race start/finish line. It couldn't be much easier than that!  The hotel offered reasonable rates and valet parking which I would highly recommend.  Do plan on tipping your valet and concierge - it is well worth it. 

The race expo is medium-sized and held in a convention center room.  It is easily maneuvered and the race packet pick-up seemed well organized!

This race started at 7 am with fireworks and the national anthem. The fireworks were a great touch! There is not a segregated corral start, but pacers/pacer flags are well marked and you are able to enter the gates easily.  

Once underway, brace yourself for well maintained buildings, beautiful green spaces and historical buildings; including the World War I Memorial and Nelson Sculpture Gardens.  I loved running by the 5500 lb. birdies, or "shuttlecocks" as I was told by the museum guides after the race! :) 

A tad too much fun after the race :)  At least we could jump!

This race had ample hydration stops with Gatorade and water at every one and they were well stocked and had cheering sections to boot!   Trust me, you will need the water to conquer the hills on this race!  Spectators were definitely at the major aide stations, but they were few and far between otherwise.

Up until about mile 6, the half marathon and marathon run the same route.  The split is well marked and spectators also make sure that you know your way and that you are on the right track!  At about mile 10, I realized that my goal of a sub 1:55 race was not going to happen.  That's ok.  I amused myself with the spectators instead!  There were some creative race signs.  This was one of my favorites.

The last 1/2 mile of the race returns back to downtown and has a nice little down hill before a slight incline to the finish line.  I wouldn't expect a PR for this race - although I do know many that achieved that.  The weather was unseasonably humid and warm, but there was no sun - thank goodness! 

This race personally kicked my butt.  I still finished in 2:03:40 - but it was 9 minutes off of a PR for me.  That would not deter me from running another race with Kansas City again though.  They've got this race down and it is managed very well. 

The post race party was fantastic!  Live band, bounce houses for the kids, inflatable games, beer, and food galore!  Chick-fil-A was even there handing out their famous chicken sandwiches!  How cool is that?  

I personally enjoyed the PR gong.  Even though I didn't PR - I hit that thing hard to celebrate half-marathon #7.

Let's talk about the medal!  Wowza!  It's a great size and it's HEAVY! I liked that the medals were larger depending on what race you finished.  The 5K was smaller than the half; with the marathon medal being the largest!  

The finish line had heat blankets as well.  I had to giggle;  living in MN nothing feels cold to me.  I absolutely did NOT need one!  But my Oklahoma friends welcomed it in the 64 degree temps. 

Make sure you put this race on your list of must-do's.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and would love to go back someday!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Afraid of the Dark? Never again with Knuckle Lights!

 Crisp, cool air.  Leaves rustling.  Autumn smells. Football.  
Bright moonlight.  Pumpkins.  Cinnamon.  Hot apple cider.  
Flannel Pj's.  

These are a few of my favorite Fall things.  One of my MOST favorite things about Fall is the amazing running temperatures.  I can finally get back into my groove with pace without feeling like I'm going to fall over from heat exhaustion.  I can wear cute long running pants and tops.  I eliminate the need to carry so much water.  There are bountiful races to choose from this time of year.  All is nearly perfect for running.   There's just one
small problem........
I have now crossed into the DARK SIDE.  Oh the HORROR!!! 

You see.... if you're going to live in Minnesota and be a runner.... the Dark Side is just something you have to get used to.  By "dark side", I mean complete and total darkness on my early AM runs.  It's the black abyss with maybe a few glimmering stars - which are beautiful by the way.  

My alarm rings most mornings at 4:45 am.   I roll out of bed and tiptoe down the stairs so as to not wake my family.   My life is jam-packed nearly every minute, so I complete my run before work and before my family wakes up.  

Unfortunately, in Minnesota that 4:45 am wake-up call means I only have about 3 months of light in the morning.  From June to September, the sun is up in the morning when I start at 5 am.  But, the other 9 months of the year what do I do?  I need to BE SAFE and BE SEEN!  Knuckle Lights to the rescue!

I am writing this review unprompted by Knuckle Lights.   They did give me this pair complimentary because they knew just how much I loved the first editions!  All opinions are my own.

I am so in love with these babies I want to shout it from the rooftops!   If you are a "dark side" runner you need your very own pair.  They are just that awesome.  Absolutely, hands down, these have saved my life while running in the dark! 

These are my second pair of knuckle lights.  What intrigued me about this pair is the fact that they are rechargeable.  My first pair, which are still available online, take batteries. 

Here's a bit of a back-story.  

Nearly two years ago,  I decided that I just wasn't bright enough in the morning and my arm strap that I was wearing wasn't lighting up my path.  Many days,  I was running solo and images of ghouls and goblins jumping at me from every corner was getting to be too much for my imagination.  I found knuckle lights online and decided to make the purchase.   Can you believe how bright they are?

My first run with knuckle lights I was absolutely blown away!  I COULD NOT believe how bright they were.  They absolutely light up the street and the sidewalks beside me!  My running partners actually got annoyed and told me that I couldn't run next to them if I had them on because they were just SO BRIGHT!  

That next week, I went on vacation and had about two weeks off from runs with my friends.  When I finally hooked back up with them, what did I see?  Each of them had their OWN pair of knuckle lights!  I made some sassy comment about how I thought they were too bright for them and they replied...  well, we just realized we saw so much better on the roads!  From that point on, everyone was hooked! 

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't use these lights.  Just yesterday at 5:30 AM a woman came out of her house and told me that my lights were shining in her living room as I ran by.  She thought they were awesome because I was so visible!   Here is an example taken one week ago.  Two photos - one is total darkness, the other with knuckle lights illuminating my way!

Complete Darkness - I'm standing in front of the tree.  UNEDITED

UNEDITED.  My view with Knuckle Lights!

For the purpose of this review I will focus on the rechargeable set.  These are fantastic.  They have a small charger base that will show green when fully charged.  These lights actually are magnetized as well so oftentimes I hold them in one hand.  They click together at the sides by magnets so they can act as one pair if you don't want to hold them in either hand.  There is an adjustable rubber strap that fits over your hand and while running you can loosely grip and they are not even noticeable.  

I notice that I get about 3-4 hours of intense brightness before they start to fade.  I can go about 5 hours - or 5 days of running before I really need to place them on the charging base.  Even when they start to dim, they are still bright.  But, my personal preference is to have them as bright as possible, so they charge often for me.  

The first edition requires batteries which had me replacing batteries often; about every month.  However, I use them 5 days a week so that all depends on use.   This was a perk for me when switching to the rechargeables.   The price difference is about $20.  And in my opinion, these are very affordable as well.  You can never put a price on safety.

Knucke Lights are light-weight, extremely bright, easy to use and affordable.  They have made my dark runs so much easier and I cannot image running without them!  Cars see me from blocks away and immediately slow down and move to the side of the road as I pass.   I have even used them to wave at cars that seem distracted and know instantly when they see me by the quick swirving motion they make. 

I have several running friends that LOVE their knuckle lights.  Here are a few testimonials: 

Knuckle lights are great!
 If you are an early morning runner, or if you run late at night, nothing is better than a brightly lit up trail, and knuckle lights provides that!  - Casey 

I totally love the convenience of not needing to "hang on" to them (like you would a flashlight).  I usually only need one of them at a time because the light from just one is sufficient. I also use them for walking the dog! - Kimberly

If you're afraid of the dark like me or you just want to be seen.  You will not regret this purchase.  They absolutely are a must have for my early morning runs!  Be Safe. Be Seen. Enjoy your Run!  Go visit their website today!