A little over a week ago, Kathleen and I crossed the border of Missouri and ended up in Bucyrus, Kansas for the Running with the Cows Half Marathon. I love any half marathon that I can do with my sister, and was looking forward to this one for the awesome medal and the endless food waiting for us at the finish line.
I went into the race feeling confident in my running, but not confident I would get a PR. I think part of it was because the whole week while looking at the forecast, all I saw was storms, storms, and more storms for the race. I had a feeling that we wouldn’t even be able to get to run, so I won’t lie it was a little hard for me to actually believe we would even be running!
Kathleen and I got there on Friday after a long drive in the rain, picked up our bibs and race shirt at the packet pickup, and then hit up the Olive Garden to carb load. We got back to the hotel pretty early, hung out for a while and watched some Dateline and then went to bed pretty early since we had to wake up around 5 to be able to make it to the race and park in time. The night before we were alerted that we could no longer park in the grass because of the rain, so we would have to park our car about 20 minutes away from the start, and then get a shuttle to the race.
We woke up early, got ready, and ate some breakfast. To our amazement, storms were no longer in the forecast and now there was only a small chance of rain. We were incredibly lucky! We both decided to wear hats just in case it did rain, but we ended up not even needing those!
Around 5:30 or so, we got in the car and headed to the race.We got off at the exit they told us to and then a sheriff was at the exit and pointed us to go right. We went right FOREVER down a long, winding country road, and the shuttle bus was no where in sight! Some cars in front of us ended up turning around, and after a while of driving into oblivion, we decided to do the same. Good thing we did! Turns out the sheriff had pointed us in the wrong direction, instead of right we should have gone straight! Luckily we were there in plenty of time so it’s not like we would miss the start, we just wasted some gas and warmup time.
So we ended up parking on the side of the road and walked a bit to get to the shuttle bus. A volunteer was on the bus and was really friendly and explained some race information to us. About 20 minutes later, we were at the school and church which was the start for the race.
Behind the starting line there were pacers, and I lined up next to the 1:55 pacer. I had run less than that a couple times before, but since I didn’t want to start off too fast, I thought it would be a good place to start.
But at the beginning, I apparently did start too fast because during the first mile I was with the 1:40 pace group (WAY TOO FAST FOR ME!). It felt fine for a couple of miles, but around mile 3 I started to fizzle out and ended up with the 1:45 group and then they were too fast so I settled for being a bit behind them which was a much more comfortable pace.
The course was between farms on two-lane roads, and even though it was the Running with the Cows Half Marathon, I only saw a group of cows ONCE! They must have been too tired to come out and watch.
At around the 6.5 mile mark, we turned around and headed back to the start line where the finish also was located. On the way back, I saw Kathleen on the other side and we were able to wave a quick HI! to each other. At this same time, I had accidentally whacked off my headphones with my arm and then one of the buds from my earbuds fell out, never to return to me again :(. So the second half of the race I only had one earbud which was fine, at least I still got to hear my music!
The second half of the race was tough for me. I was getting tired, it was getting humid, and I was ready for the food at the finish! I tried to keep up with my pace though because I was pretty sure I was headed for a PR and I made sure the 1:50 pacer never passed me because I really wanted to get under 1:50.
Once I saw the church, I knew the finish was near so I really kicked it up and it ended up being one of my fastest miles (8 minutes)! I crossed the finish and was so happy to get a PR – 1:49:09! I received an awesome medal, and then went inside the school and was AMAZED at all the food! I knew there was going to be tons but there was literally everything – tacos, pizza, cookies, chips, bread, cinnamon rolls, and so much more. It was like a dream!
I took a plate and then went back to the finish to wait for Kathleen. She crossed a little while later and I was so happy I was there to cheer her on! I was so proud of her, less than a week before she had run a half AND a full and here she was doing another half and crossing another state off her list. What an accomplishment.
This race was really fun. The course was hillier than I thought it would be, but honestly the volunteer support, medals, and food absolutely made it all worth it! I only wish it was closer so I could do it every year, but maybe one day I will be able to come back. I was happy to find out I ended up in the top 10 for my age group (8 out of 109) because usually I don’t do as well place wise for the longer distances. Definitely one of my favorite half marathons and I would recommend it to anyone!