September 17, 2013

Kansas City Plaza 10K

Start of the KC Plaza 10K
Quick recap: Kansas City Plaza 10K - 31:06, 2nd place [Fast Running Blog report]

Longer recap...

Somewhat random that I ended up running in Kansas City this weekend. Here's how it happened... I had a Frontier voucher that I needed to use this fall, so I started looking for places I could fly to and corresponding races. Browsing led me to this one, and I really liked that it was a big, competitive, stand-alone 10K (that wasn't a sideshow latched on to a HM/Marathon). After a few e-mails with Troy and Brad at the KC Running Company, I booked a ticket. I just had a sense that these guys were putting on a fantastic event and I wanted to be a part of it.

At that time (early August) I was leaning towards running the 1/2 at either Long Beach or Des Moines (mid-October), so the timing was great for a good 10K effort. I figured after TOU 1/2, I'd hit some speed workouts for a couple weeks and take a crack at lowering my PR (30:03). But then I ended up having the opportunity to take the trip to Colorado (anti-speed workouts!), and decided to push back my target HM to the Monumental 1/2 in early November. Still, I felt like I was capable of knocking out a good 10K race and be in contention to win the race.

Despite some airline fiascos (due to the unfortunate rain/flooding in Colorado) I arrived in KC late Friday night. On Saturday I had the chance to spend some time talking with Troy Fitzgerald, who owns the KC Running Company. I really enjoyed our conversation and his thoughts on balancing higher-level racing with mass participation and providing the "event experience". Obviously a relevant topic after CGI dropped elite running a few weeks ago. Troy feels like a good race can have it all, and he's willing to put up prize money and incentives to create competitive races at the front end... while not taking anything away from the middle/back of the pack, and providing them with a first-class experience all the way. I came away very impressed by Troy and his company. There are lots of great, local / regional races out there who are directed by people who understand all aspects of the sport. They "get it" - while participation is what drives the market, competition is also important... It's a SPORT, after all. When I first heard about Competitor's decision, it made me worried about the future of competitive road racing. After meeting Troy, I wasn't worried anymore. So I'll urge anyone listening - while there's nothing wrong with the (RnR style) mega-races, seek out and support the local races like this. The ones that provide an excellent experience across the board - from the runner finishing in first place to the runner lacing up their shoes for the first time.

Now, the race itself...

It was a little breezy in the morning and that probably made the course harder than I expected. "Flat" is a relative term in KC... it wasn't that hilly, but had a few short rhythm-breaking inclines. Weather was good, though - low 70s, and rain held off until after it was over.

Around 2.5 miles into the race - Benson with a commanding lead
The race started slow (5:10) in a big pack (10 guys) then I injected some pace and got it strung out a little. Benson Chesang shot to the front and rolled off a couple 4:45s, opening up a large gap that was hard to bridge in the wind. By ~3.5 miles it was down to me and the long-haired guy (Javier Ceja) for second. Miles 2-4 were 4:51, 4:58, 4:46. So, all over the place, but felt like a consistent effort.

Short finish video that Troy sent me
The pace slowed on miles 5-6 (5:10, 5:05). Javier and I went back and forth a bit, neither one of us really wanting to commit to a long push. Just before the 6 mile mark I noticed his stride falter a little, so I threw it down and was able to outkick him, putting about 6 seconds on him over the last quarter. I'm closing races a lot better, and starting to get more confident in my ability to finish strong.

Not a very fast time, but I feel like I ran smart and competed well. Benson (2X Big 12 Champ in XC and 13:57 5K) won in 30:55. After talking to him afterwards, I realized he was fading at the end. Another half-mile and I might have gotten him. I honestly (and stupidly?) wasn't really even paying attention to him at the end - I was more focused on my race with Javier. Waited a bit too long to make a push to break the tape, but like I said - I ran the smartest race I could to ensure a high finish and not blow up. Did a cooldown run with Benson and the guys from the KC Smoke team. Nice group of guys.

This was a great all-around event / atmosphere. T-Shirts, medals, and post-race snacks were as good as I've seen at the major races I've run.

I'm glad I decided to make the trip to KC. In addition to the race, I thought the Plaza area of the city was really nice. The day before the race (and on a longer cooldown post-race) I enjoyed running along the river and through some of the parks / sculpture gardens. I'd definitely like to make another trip back there next year.

On a final note, I noticed A LOT of runners wearing Saucony shoes and racing clothes at the race. That made me happy! :-)

Saucony representation at
Gary Gribble's Running Sports

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jake - thanks for stopping by my blog and congrats on the 2nd overall - amazing man! That's speed that I only dream of. I loved the detailed recap of the race - it's so cool to read what elite athletes like you are thinking and your strategy during a race. I think it's similar to the rest of us schlubbs, but at twice the speed - ha. Anyway - I'm saving your blog as a reference - I know there's a lot I can learn from you! Glad you enjoyed KC - have a great week and congrats again.