2016 Garmin Marathon Complete!

Race director Bubba Gaeddert, me and one of our 
giveaway winners Philip Shelley, at the race Expo.

What a day! This was my first run in Oz with no gusty winds, hail, rain or chance of tornadoes! This past weekend I ran the Garmin Half Marathon and the weather was amazing, not something we have experienced in the previous two years I have run it. Not only was the weather a change, but there were several other new changes to the race this year.
  • This year the race had some new folks in charge. The race director was amazing and did such a good job of thinking about all the little things that needed to come together to make this event memorable. From allowing me to giveaway a few race entries early this year to making sure there was coffee available after the race for participants, hats off to the Garmin Marathon planning team.
  • Communication. Although it seemed like the use of social media and App technology was even better than previous years, this race has always done a good job (at least in the 3 years I've run it) at communicating with the Olathe community and participants. From the countless Twitter and Facebook posts with helpful videos and updates, to the awesome LIVE tracking App you could download to your device, communication was definitely top notch.
  • If you have run this race before, you realized that we had a new route. Due to construction around both the Garmin headquarters and the usual race route, this year the 10K, half and full marathon had a completely new location. I have to admit that it wasn't the most exciting route I have ever run but it did still have its perks. Although much of if felt like we were running up a very gradual incline nearly the entire race (so much for a PR!) is was nice to run through neighborhoods where people were outside cheering runners on from their front porches. I always enjoy being out in neighborhoods during races. Some parts of the run (and remember I just did the half) did bring us out into some of the open, undeveloped areas of the city too, which was a good variety of scenery. The full marathoners basically stuck with us half marathoners until about mile 12 where they jumped onto a trail and ran 6.5 miles up it, turned around, and ran 6.5 miles back. I will say that it felt pretty congested the first few miles, but that isn't something original to this race. Widening the start line would have helped a little too; I got in line about 20 minutes early and it was already impossible for me to get to the correct pace group before the start. I ended up starting in a group about 15 minutes slower than me and with the narrow start line-up it was difficult to get caught up to my pace group.
  • The expo, start and finish were all located outside of the beautiful Olathe Convention Center and Embassy Suites. What a wonderful change! The expo/packet-pick up was organized meticulously, was larger than in the past, and the location provided for areas of indoor waiting prior to the race event. In the past when the event was held at the Garmin Headquarters, there wasn't really an area to warm up inside before or after the race. This was much needed.
  • Because of the new location, ease of parking was also a change. As with any big change like a completely different race route, kinks need to be worked out. Unfortunately, many of these kinks can't really be addressed through any other means than trial and error. Parking, construction, road closures due to the race route, businesses not allowing parking on their locations... these all created quite a mess afterward. Personally, anticipating this happening, I had my husband drop me off prior to and pick up me up afterward. I know that isn't an option for everyone, but we did drag 3 sleeping kids out of bed at 5 am on Saturday morning to do it and I am really happy we did. I heard that some participants sat in their cars for over an hour or two before they could get out of the parking lots and back onto the highways and roads.

Warming up inside just before the start of the race.

There were also some things that did not change, all of which were still as wonderful as they had been in the past.
  • Best hardware yet. I have run the half the last three years now and every time the medal the next year outdoes the medal from the previous. I really respect the Garmin Marathon. Medals aren't cheap. And you know what, as someone that primarily runs half marathons, it is nice to have a race recognize that those are difficult to train for and run in too. Too many times the full marathoners are the ones who get the sweet hardware. The half marathon medals are just as awesome as the full ones in the Garmin Marathon events. Thank you! This year I got to add Glenda to my growing number of medals.

Courtesy @GarminFitness on Twitter

  • The party afterward. Not only was it easy to get a post run massage afterward if you wanted one, but the food and drink were once again very good. Bananas, yogurt and water immediately after the race, followed by coffee (my first race with coffee after- THANK YOU!) and yummy grilled chicken sandwiches. And TWO free beers if you wanted to partake in those festivities. Usually runners get one beer, so two was very a very nice touch. 

One of my cheerleaders and good friends Lindsey(oh and
my photographer!)

Just about to cross the finish line.

So how did I do? Just fine. Not my best, not my worst. I'll blame the over 2 hour time on the incline of the route and my lack of training. Remember this was my first race back after shoulder surgery 4 months ago, so I am completely fine with my finish. I will never be a Boston qualifier nor will a likely place in the top finishers of a race, but I still love to run. I finished in 2:02:14 with an average 9:20 pace. In my division I placed 43 of 219 runners my age and gender, or in the top 19%. Of all women who ran the half I finished 195 of 1149, or in the top 16%. I was about 9 minutes over my best half ever, but 5 minutes under my worst. All in all, not bad for a comeback race with not as much preparation as I usually like to have. 

Definitely got my steps in that day with my Garmin activity tracker!

This is definitely a race I would love to keep running in. Not only am I lucky enough to live in the same city as this race, but participating in it supports my local community. Thank you Garmin for another great year! 

Did you participate this year? If so comment below. I'd love to read about your experience too.

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