Jun 13 2011

Army Birthday Marathon 2011

The weather was perfect, the course tough and repetitive, and the company enjoyable. Of the 85 or so people that showed up to run a 5k, 10k, Half-Marathon, or Marathon… 6 ran the full – and so the prophecy was fulfilled … you were pretty much guaranteed a win place or show. Even in the other races, 85 competitors competing for 288 awards – your odds were pretty good. I imagine most people walked away with a medal.

Now if this marathon had been rated on somewhere like marathonguide.com – I can only imagine the slew of complaints and disdain that would be showered on this abomination of a marathon. For me, and likely the rest that ran it – we knew this going in and won’t fault it on its many, many short-comings.

To be fair this is the first small marathon I’ve run, and quite possibly probably one of the smallest ever. It was nothing like a ‘normal’ marathon by any stretch of the imagination. It was an afterthought.

We hurriedly made for the starting line at 7:59:20 to then promptly start at 8:00:00 — and as most people were still lining up the gun was sounded and everyone departed for parts unknown*.

The race started with my friend and I, Tad, cruising along at an easy pace if a little hurried. We cruised to the first hill, which is a monster and ran up the darn thing despite the fact. We hit the first aid station 1.5 miles into it… (the 5k turnaround) and watch several people trekking back. Cruising along the mountain a little while later the 10kers are turning around as well.

I was running with my friend and conversation went back and forth with pleasantries, and we began to talk about a few deeper things. Somehow, a fairly innocent question of mine sparked an enormous tale from my friend… one that would take me from mile 4 to mile 21. A marathon is an epic event, and the tale I listened to was no less epic in scale and feeling.

I listen now, as I write this, to a song describing a desperate and epic landscape… one that isn’t a radio hit but a haunting rendition of realization synapses exploding like fireworks. A swirling and ethereal cloud of musical fusion that your head can be dipped into as if into a bucket of water – below the surface you have a new reality – one with new rules, new sounds, new sights, new dangers, new realizations and sensations. If I were to piece my friend’s tale together in a movie, this would be the soundtrack. A tragic and beautiful tale of a solitary American life. At times I could could scarcely believe what I was hearing… it was just too fantastical, but it wasn’t — it was all too real. Too real, infinitely tragic.

In a joke – the marathon we were running would easily wield the same adjectives… too real and infinitely tragic. We ran to the half turn-around and made our way back to the start line. We passed a few people going, but not too many… it was clear the vast majority were currently partying with free beer and trinkets at the finish while we lived and died on the course.

A quick diversion here, and an annoying one – coming down the huge hill (to be known henceforth as, Murderest) I saw a sign – an arrow quite plainly pointing directly right. There was a suggestion of left, but the sign was unmistakable… a sign that CLEARLY pointed right. I will admit 100% on this one… I saw the sign, pointed it out and went right. We knew soon that things were wrong. We saw a person — he told us he had seen another person going this way – yes – specifically with a running number attached, but we were highly skeptical. In no time we located the authorities (I flagged them down as they approached) and we verified, yes, that we had missed the turn. We turned around and ran back, and I was somewhat justified in now seeing the sign correctly. It was now corrected. It was an arrow sign positioned on an orange traffic cone in such a way that it was freely able to swivel 360 degrees around it. A fine design in a vacuum to be sure, but not so much in Kansas. The sign I viewed earlier had been blown about and showed the wrong way. It now showed the right way because it had been adjusted by the previously mentioned authorities just prior to our arrival. No matter all of the rabble – point is… I led my friend and I .4 miles off the course, which when doubled is – you guessed it… .8 miles off course! Nearly one mile astray is highly annoying. I beat myself up for a couple miles after this mess.

But. What can you do. We doubled back, found the right track and went to the turn around. When we got to the finish it was a party. I spied several people drinking what I knew was free Annie’s Amber Ale. There was jubilation. People cheered whenever anyone crossed the finish line. There were provisions aplenty. We only viewed such activities for a second. We just spun on our heels and proceeded to do what we just did, again.

My friend’s story persisted, and so did I. I will confess, at mile 15, heading back up Murderest, I wanted to quit. That was it for me… it was done. Just 15 miles and it was time to be done. Somehow though, Tad was bounding up the hill, and so I followed.

From here out I was quite sore and tired and wanting to quit constantly, but was also sort of on that rare second plane in which pain doesn’t really matter and I can just continue on no matter what. I debated about turning around early to make the finish line a 26.2 instead of 27.something but in the end decided to just run the whole thing.

About mile 20.5 Tad urges me to continue on my own. I grudgingly concede. From there on out I listened to the same tunes I am now. The ones I spoke of which convey so much depth and feeling. It was heartening to be listening to music and absolutely adrenaline pumping when it swelled, but it was also already a day done, a soul taxed, a will stretched – so I only floated along in half belief. On hills I walked. On flats I madly slammed the asphalt. On downhills I let gravity take over.

The hills were insurmountable, but I ran and walked them. I hit my watch at a 26.2 split at 4:27. I crossed the finish at 4:35. There was no one there. Ok – there was one person that took my ankle bracelet. I walked up the hill to the starting area. I saw the free beer lady packing up… she gave me a friendly and subtlety inquisitive acknowledgement… she looked like she knew I’d been through the wringer and back, and could use a beer, but conveyed a sense of sadness that she was packed up and done. Did I just read all of that in a 1 second glance? Yes I did. And am I confident of that dissection? 87%.

Well it was done. There was hardly anything left. I had to read the timekeeper the time off my watch. If I’d done it again, I could have told him anytime within about a 10 minute window and could have gotten away with it, I was quite tempted to actually — after my blunder off course… but… it was what it was. I still finished 1st in my age group… by default. Yes that’s right, (and you’ll never hear it in those terms again) I placed FIRST in a MARATHON in my age group. Well that was my goal and now goal accomplished. My medal says, Marathon, 30-34, FIRST PLACE. How’s that? Fine.

My friend finished a little while after and we both congratulated each other, chit chatted with the 3-4 people left there, and went on our way. What a day.



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Jun 5 2011

Hospital Hill 2011 by the numbers

Participation Year by Year:

Year Total Half 10k 5k Increase
2006 2692 1339 594 759 N/A
2007 3036 1545 710 781 344
2008 3434 1823 817 794 398
2009 4829 2400 1273 1156 1395
2010 6176 2970 1528 1678 1347
2011 6582 3169 1411 2002 406

And then my updated numbers…

Year Date Time Overall Age Gender Pace
HH 07 6/2/2007 1:56:32 637/1545 59/105 479/955 8:54
41% 56% 50%
HH 08 6/7/2008 1:54:57 390/1823 41/111 290/993 8:47
21% 36% 29%
HH 09 6/6/2009 1:51:37 668/2400 102/204 521/1267 8:32
27% 50% 41%
HH 10 6/5/2010 1:48:42 443/2970 72/258 360/1502 8:18
15% 28% 24%
HH 11 6/4/2011 1:54:51 595/3164 90/278 450/1604 8:46
18% 32% 28%

Race Report coming soon. . .

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Jun 4 2011

Hospital Hill 2011


Hospital Hill 2011


Unofficial Result: 1:54:51



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Jun 3 2011

HH is almost today…

Yes it’s 11:15… and here I am still up. So many loose ends I need to wrap up here, but don’t believe I have time for them all. I believe I was going to talk about Hospital Hill race reports of past present and future… and generally spout out lots of data like this:


I also wanted to mention just how INSANELY busy KC is tomorrow. It’s a perfect storm:

Bus leaving with 600 volunteers from Ft. Leavenworth to go to Tornado ravaged Joplin.
Protestors rallying for Private Manning in Ft. Leavenworth.
National Trails Day. Grand opening event in Leavenworth for a new trail.
Big race weekend at Kansas Motor Speedway.
Hospital Hill.
Royals Game (yes, I’m going to this too!)
Gay Pride fest in KC.
Local Relay for life tonight/tomorrow in Leavenworth.
My son’s “school’s out for the summer” bash. (in-between Hospital Hill and the Royals game)

Is that enough going on? Oh well. Should actually be a beautiful day. 🙂

Luckily I’m getting tired and everything is ready… everything is ready… zzzzzzzzzzz.

See ya after the race.

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Jun 3 2011

2010 Medal

Hospital Hill 2010 Medal

You’ve likely seen this one. It is big though! You have to see this thing to really appreciate it. It’s half again the biggest medal I have pretty sure.


2010 Tech Shirt


Third one now (including 2011) that says this on the back, but for good reason. Only change I’d maybe recommend is adding an s… hills.

2011 Medal Tomorrow!


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Jun 2 2011

More Hospital Hill Stuff

In trying to get to Saturday’s big reveal of the medal of fortune in a timely manner, I will now display 2008 and 2009’s gear:

Hospital Hill 2008 Medal

Whew… isn’t that one a beauty? and the back…


And now the Shirt from 2008… as an informative aside, the current 2011 shirt can be seen behind it. The question you’ve been asking yourself for days is now finally answered… just how much bigger is the large than the medium? Well now you have an answer… the 2008 is the one shirt I have that is a medium, and the 2011 behind it is large. They are made by the same manufacturer (Leslie Jordan) so they should be uniform in sizing. Unfortunately you’re likely finding out a day late or don’t care at all. Such is life. There’s always next year.

Hospital Hill 2008 Shirt



On to 2009… the medal:

Hospital Hill 2009 Medal

Now I know what you’re thinking: “OMG. Does that sucker spin?”

Yes it does.


Pretty sweet huh? There’s at least a couple minutes entertainment any time you pick it up by spinning it. Superimposing each image on each other. It’s a wonder truly.

And the 2009 Shirt? It’s special…

Hospital Hill 2009 Shirt

… there’s a quote on the back!

Ok… so that’s it for today. 2010 tomorrow. 2011 Saturday!


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Jun 2 2011

Hospital Hill Countdown… 2007 Schwag

Well I really had wanted to do one of these each day starting Tuesday with 07, then Wed 08, Thu 09, Fri 10, and Saturday, the new 11!

But I didn’t. Oh well.

Here’s some goodies from 2007:

2007 Hospital Hill Medal Front


2007 T-Shirt Front

T-Shirt Back

In 2007 I also received I believe: a drawstring bag, a water bottle and a pair of socks. Wow talk about some race schwag. The bag is shredded and long gone… used a lot and eventually fell apart. It was fine quality… it just got used! The water bottle and socks I still have. Oh… and I think a hat too?! Yeah… I think so! Man. They really hooked it up… but just wait until you see what I got in the ensuing years! That means more posts coming soon. Happy Hospital Hill week!

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Jun 1 2011

What’s different about Hospital Hill 2011?

Well quite a few things have changed… obviously things are going to change from year to year but there is one important thing you need to be aware of for sure… there is no race-day packet pick-up this year. Kind of a bummer, I always enjoyed that about Hospital Hill. I can understand them wanting to get more people to the expo though. I can find it in my heart to forgive, yes. But only you Hospital Hill… only you. Oh, and don’t blame it on the KC Marathon… they never had (at least not since 07) a race-day pick up so they’re grandfathered in. Anyway… what’s important is… get yourself to the expo or find a friend that will.

Now… for the real entertainment. The starting line has been moved – and this is a great er… move. No longer will it be with the center of Crown… Center (these are too easy tonight)… it will move up to slightly north of Pershing and the end of the race looks like it will roughly stay in the same place. To accommodate this loss of mileage at the start, which works out to be roughly .25 miles, a little runabout has been added to the southernmost part of the course. Have a look for yourself:

Hospital Hill 2011 Course Change

This isn’t exact, but I think I’ve got it to within two thousandths of a mile:

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=4546020 .3706
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=4546021 .1224

Difference: .2482

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=4546026 .2484

A change for the better as far as the start is concerned, especially because of another change: the 5k, 10k and Half-Marathon now all line up together and all start at the same time. I’ve never run anything but the Half, so I can’t comment as to how those runners take this change… but I imagine not well? That’s really got to crowd the 5k… which if I remember correctly started 10 – 15 minutes later. Should add some obstacles logistically, but apparently eliminate some as well. No harm in trying… and with the expanded start area perhaps it will not be so bad. I believe this will also be a record crowd this year in 2011 though… well if everyone can line up with pacing… – ad nauseum… that could be debated for a while.

Here is the quote from e-mail from May 17th:
“New in 2011, we will have one start line and one start time for all 3 races: the half marathon, 10K and UMKC School of Medicine.”

Email from May 19th:
“Event start times:
All events will start on Grand Boulevard just north of Pershing.
6:55 a.m. Wheelchair divisions of Half Marathon, 10K and UMKC School of Medicine 5K
7:00 a.m. Half Marathon, 10K and UMKC School of Medicine 5K
(New start time for 10K and 5K)”

Email from May 24th:
“Since everyone is starting together in 2011, the 5K can benefit from a pacer for the first 2 miles and the 10K can benefit for the first 3 miles. Take this advice from someone who almost always starts out too fast, by hanging with a pace leader you will guarantee a great finish!

The official website, www.hospitalhillrun.com, under the individual race info(s) has the start times for the 5k and 10k listed as 7:15am. Pay close attention race morning as it looks like you will be starting at 7:00am. NOT 7:15am.

Another change… no Boulevard!?!?!?! We’re getting Michelob Ultra instead!!!?! I still gotta hold out hope that Boulevard might show up (additionally)… but if they don’t… I’m a realist. I could see how this could happen. Do I particularly like this change? No I don’t. But, I don’t believe I’ve ever turned down a free beer before*. If you don’t know (and you probably do) Boulevard is the home-town KC brewer of some of the best beer on the planet. Michelob Ultra is quite the opposite: one of the lightest beers on the planet. It’s really not half-bad though… and for runners** well, they should enjoy the beer- being the “sporting / healthy” beer. Whatever… I could probably write about this topic debating the two endlessly as well. Suffice to say for the record that Boulevard is my favorite if you must quote me, because you may see me with an Ultra in hand.

(TIP ALERT – Get your age verified at The Expo, or if you don’t – have ID ready on Race day)

Hospital Hill ALWAYS (ok, since 07 at least) has a BOMBASTIC medal. Seriously, its pretty much guaranteed to be one of your best each year. This year they are starting the first of a three part puzzle which will culminate with the 40th anniversary in 2013 and the puzzle’s completion. Now won’t that be a beautiful sight?

Here’s something else new while I’m running through them all…

(copypasta from email:)

“New in 2011 prize money of $500, $250 and $100 to the top three male and top three female finishers from Kansas and Missouri. Additionally, a bonus of $300 will be awarded on top male and female finisher from EITHER Kansas or Missouri. Let the battle of the border begin!”

The expo is new too (not just the lack of race-day packet-pickup) and there are lots of speakers there including Bart Yasso from Runner’s World.
Also new – the race packets shouldn’t have any paper in them … (or barely any) as Hospital Hill is “going green” as is becoming quite popular for races. Not only are they doing this but many other things as well.

Well, I could go on and on and on trying to track down everything that’s new this year, but those look to be the highlights.

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