Before moving to Kansas, I had never heard of 39.3 challenges and before this year, there was just one in the local area in the Spring. I personally am not a fan of racing in the Spring but when I found out that there was going to be a 39.3 challenge in the Fall, I signed up immediately.
The Harvest Half is 3 half-marathons in 3 weeks (15 days from the first half to the last). You start off with the Kansas Half Marathon in Lawrence, Kansas, then move to the Gobbler Grind in Overland Park, Kansas, and finish with the Pilgrim Pacer in Shawnee, Kansas. I thought I would share my experience in case they do this series again.
If I were staying in the Kansas area, I would probably sign up for this series again because it was actually pretty fun. I finished the series with a total time 5:37:34. Overall, my stats… (based on the spreadsheet and based only on individuals that completed the entire series)
- 57/301 overall
- 9/173 female
- 2/23 age group
I PR-ed during this series and actually could have set a second PR but fell short.
Kansas Half-Marathon (1:53:57)
Dear god this race. I ran the most magnificent race up until 8 miles. I was in front of the 1:50 pace group and I was just absolutely cruising. I kept having this overwhelming feeling of … not good enough. I hadn’t trained at all for this series. I had a few long runs, I did some hill repeats, but honestly my training was a joke. I kept being amazed that I was ahead of the 1:50 group when I had thought I would be struggling to keep up with the 2:00 group. Between beating myself up mentally and then hitting the levee (the absolute worst part of this race) and then having my shoulder act up, I had to peel off and work out my shoulder. I ended up having to walk a bit as well. So I was pretty surprised that I was able to finish under 1:54.
Kansas Half-Marathon wins for best crowd participation and loses for worst course. Sorry, I hate the levee.
Gobbler Grind (1:51:28)
Well, spoiler alert, this is the race that I PR-ed. This race had a huuuuuge line for the bathrooms and I got to the finish line for just moments to spare. I quickly started the race and then impatiently stared at it as it couldn’t find location. The race was starting and my watch still hadn’t found location so I said fuck it and just decided to run blind. There is a girl that I know and I spotted her early on in the race. I thought, ok, I’m going to just try and stick with her as long as possible. She’s a far superior runner than I am so I thought if I could keep her in my sights for 5 miles or so, that would be awesome. We were a couple miles in and I was feeling pretty good so I decided to put my blinders on and just run. I knew that the course was go around a big circle, then go straight, go around a big circle, then go straight to the finish line. So I kept that in mind while I was running (I’m a “chunk it up” type of runner). At one point in time I started getting worried that I took a wrong turn and ended up running with the marathoners and not the half-marathoners. But I didn’t. I also didn’t see the girl I know (turns out she was tapering for a marathon) or any pacers. Around mile 11, I saw the 1:50 pacer pass me and I fought like hell to keep up with him. But I wasn’t able to. So I fell back a bit. Then around mile 12 I saw the 2nd 1:50 pacer and I tried keeping up with her. I was able to keep them in my sights but they were too unattainable for me. I sprinted to the finish line and glanced up at the clock…I thought…maybe just maybe I PR-ed. I walked around and found the results booth and found out that indeed I did PR!
Gobbler Grind wins for best course and loses for shirt. A brown long sleeve shirt that was sized very small and immediately ended up in my donation pile.
Pilgrim Pacer (1:52:09)
This race. Oh this race. They had a shuttles picking up everyone. I ended up in the wrong parking lot and figured it out eventually, got parked, waited in line, got to the packet pick-up and learned that they weren’t going to have enough medals for everyone and some were going to have to have theirs mailed, the “secured drop bag” area was just bags thrown in a corner, and it was windy. And cold. There were no pacers for this race so I got where I thought I should be and waited. And waited. And waited. They ended up delaying the start of the race since the shuttles weren’t running as quickly as expected. The race finally started. I knew that it was an out and back so what I was seeing now, I would be seeing on my way back. Unfortunately, that meant 2 miles of hills, going up, on the way back. I tried to ignore it and concentrate on chunk 1 – which was seeing my sister. My sister lives in the area and came out to support me. I saw her and ran up to her and gave her dog, Molly, some pets. Spent about 10-15 seconds doing that. Didn’t regret it. Molly loved it. Then took off to get to the turn around point. I got there and took off – this was the place to make up time because it was all downhill. I got back to the park where my sister and Molly were at and didn’t stop this time. I felt it in me, I was going to get that PR. But yet again, after I hit mile 10, I fell apart. This time my calves were on fire and my mental game was thinking about those 2 uphill miles. I ended up peeling off to massage my calves and walk for a bit. And with it I said so long to my new PR.
Pilgrim Pacer wins for best shirt and loses for organization of race.
Mile 90 photographed the Kansas Half and Pilgrim Pacer. They do amazing work and let you download the photos for free.
It was a great experience – 7/10 would recommend for a good challenge but also some fairly irritating aspects to the series (logistical stuff). If I did this series again, I would need to train better. All 3 races I felt great and was ahead of the 1:50 pace but fell apart at the end. I imagine that me falling apart is mostly due to the fact that I just didn’t put the miles in for training. It also makes me wonder…if I actually trained, is a 1:45 half in reach???