Here we are with another year of the Rock the Parkway half marathon under our belts. This race that has been around for over a decade now is still going strong in the otherwise struggling market of races. We all know that racing is on the decline, but you wouldn’t know it at this race. I believe that the race hit its 5000 runner cap. So a big congratulations to the folks at Rock the Parkway.
Rock the parkway was my first half marathon back in 2011. Do you know what has changed the most about the course over these years? Nothing! This is the same course now that it was back then. There is something to be said for consistency. Every single year though I fall for the age-old lie that most races tell you. When a race says that it is “fast and flat” they are more often than not full of it! This race might be fast, but it is certainly not flat. There are definitely more difficult courses out there, but when you reach the top of the hill at mile marker 12, you are pretty much mentally done with climbing hills!
Our race started at a nice balmy 31(f) degrees. Another cold Spring race here in Kansas City. I’ve run this race in previous years in a tank top and shorts. Not this year! We cannot seem to buy a warm race so far in 2022. The Liberty Hospital Half Marathon started at 35(f), and now a start at 31(f) degrees. Ugh. Will the real spring arrive soon please?
The starting area was jam-packed as always. There were quite a few fans cheering on their loved ones. The 5k runners started thirty minutes after the half marathoners, so they were all lining the starting chute at that point. Music playing, announcer announcing, and just like that, we were off! I will say that the first mile of this race is flat as a pancake. You can really get a false sense of confidence in that first mile. For me, I just used this first mile to get my legs warm. They were a little cold standing around in the cold temps during the pre-race festivities. After that flat mile, you start to get into the rolling hills of Ward Parkway. It always feels much flatter when driving in a car. Up and down you go until you come to mile marker seven. That is when the problems begin.
After mile marker seven you go downhill. Way downhill. Well, what goes down, has to come back up! Therein lies the problem. You have a half-mile uphill leading to mile marker eight which is the absolute backbreaker of this course. Yeah Yeah, I am sure the elites have no problems with this hill, but as I am not elite, I hate it! The hill going up and around Loose Park has been the bane in my existence nine times now doing this race. I know exactly when and where my wheels are going to fall off every year. This year was no different. After tackling that hill, getting back in rhythm for me is just not a feasible option.
Your last four and a half miles are going back over the four and a half miles you started the race with. Just on the other side of the road. It is a beautiful road with huge historic houses. There is a lot to look at to try and keep you distracted. Distraction is the keyword because you still have two monster hills that you have to conquer before you head to the finish line. Mile Marker 12 is at the top of the last of these monsters, and thankfully it is all downhill from there.
I never finish fast enough to enjoy the post-race party that they have. Vendors pack up and leave pretty quick it feels. Thankfully upon finishing my race, I was able to get a picture at the official backdrop and get a free beer from Boulevard Brewing Company. A local Kansas City brewery. With my medal, pictures, and unopened beer can, I begin the trek back to my car. Another Rock the Parkway in the books.
I saw so many familiar faces at this race. It was great to see old friends and make some new ones! Some of whom will be on this show in the coming months!
Last but most certainly NOT least is our new friend Ms. Erin! Our first podcast fan to actually make a sign and have it on the side of the road to support the show! This could not have made me any happier! It was such a wonderful surprise! I cannot thank her enough for listening to the show and supporting us at the race! I hope this is a sign of things to come as this podcast helps to re-energize the running community. Downtimes don’t last forever and I hope we can help to get these races hopping again!
As for Rock the Parkway….. I can’t just leave it at nine. I guess I better get back there next year for Rock the Parkway number ten for me! Hopefully with more and more podcast signs along the route! I like to dream big! Thank you all for reading. We’ll see you next week!