|Water cup near Mile 23|
The Inaugural Prairie Fire Marathon has come and gone. There are still some reminders around Wichita that something big happened out in the streets on 10-10-10. From worn street markings to a little debris, there is enough evidence that Wichita just pulled off it’s first urban marathon.
|Red arrow marking turn in Riverside|
|Gu packet left behind|
|Several silver Gu packs are shining along the course|
|Red arrow still visible right before mile 25|
I was lucky enough to be a part of it too.
There were several races taking place on Sunday. I lined up for the 8 AM start of the Full Marathon. We shared the start with the half marathoners, too.
It was a beautiful October morning. The temps were predicted to get unseasonably warm, but at the start it was around 60 degrees and sunny.
|At the starting line with my Dad|
There was a great crowd of runners and spectators. Unlike any year previous when the Heart of Wichita Marathon started in Derby.
The race started right on time and the crowd was very thick for the first 1/4 mile or so.
The loud speakers were placed all along the Arkansas River. It was great to have music cranked as we embarked on our 26.2 mile trek. I quickly said hello to many people as the herd started to find it’s pace. It’s wonderful knowing so many people in this running community!
|At the start with one of many great training partners, Brad.|
The race headed directly into downtown. There wasn’t a ton of spectators, but there were enough to make some noise. By mile three we were headed into the College Hill Neighborhood and the crowds got very thick. Mile three is one block from our house and I was so surprised to see several of our neighbors out on Douglas cheering. I doubt they were out there for me, but it’s nice to hear your name as you pass.
The course ran around College Hill park just before mile 4. Again, I was lucky enough to cross several friend’s paths. Many people were out to support the runners, that was a wonderful feeling!
|Nearing Mile 4 in College Hill Park|
Just before mile 5 the race entered the Crown Heights Neighborhood. I came across an “unofficial” aid station here. Small kids were out with their parents filling Dixie cups with Powerade. That was wonderful. That sort of attitude has never existed in Wichita’s Marathon past. It was another early sign of a great race future.
It was also near here that the half marathon course split from the full marathon.
I was able to met up with some runners I had gotten acquainted with through the Daily Mile. We shared our hopeful finish times and entered into Eastborough. This part of the course switches back through a neighborhood park. We had our first distant glances at the front runners. Many of them were our friends and/or acquaintances. It was great to shout out to them before we made the turn ourselves.
I also saw my friend, April Gochenour. She and I expected to be close in the race, however she had a strong lead on me from the beginning. She looked strong and was very far ahead of me.
We made the turn as another live band played in the park. This was the third live performance of the course.
We left Eastborough and quickly entered the Rockwood neighborhood. I was still running with the same group of runners at this point. It was nice to have a few faces to chat with as the paces clipped off.
|Rounding mile 7 with an incredible group of runners|
The course took it’s first of two trips through Rockwood. The neighborhood is completely covered by trees. This was especially helpful as it was still very sunny and the temps were starting to climb. This was also the first time we encountered early starters. There was a full marathon start at 7 AM as well. My path was coming up behind some of them and I was also being crossed by others. This particular street, Armour, was also the return path into Rockwood, just before mile 11. It would have been useful for early starters to have a different bib color.
|Heading to mile 8|
I’m not sure of all the names of the neighborhoods between mile 8-10. These miles were the most twisting miles. This part of the course included sidewalks and footbridges. One sidewalk was a neighborhood bike and walking path that served as a connector between two neighborhoods. This was a nice scenic route, but it was definitely not great for momentum and pace.
I was fortunate enough to see a running partner and her new born baby just before the sidewalk started. I hadn’t seen the baby yet and his little wave was just what I needed to get my mind off the side stitch I was developing.
Another personal bonus was coming up at mile 9.5. My massage therapist, Nancy Bowers, lives right on the course. She had offered her house to Kenton and Judah as a pit stop, as they were keeping up with me on the course by bike. Not only were they all there cheering at the house, she had food, water, and honey sticks for the runners. She’s a marathoner. She gets it. My son had a blast hanging out at her house and passing out treats to the runners.
|My son and my massage therapist’s daughter passing out honey sticks at mile 9.5|
By mile 10 my little group had changed. One had pressed on with a quicker pace, others had fallen back. I was traveling along through the wonderful shade of Woodlawn Village with a new friend named Greg. He’d been with me since mile 6. We kept together as we passed several groups of spectators. Many were out for one specific runner, but some were out in their drives to show their support for all. I passed many people I knew. Whether they were out for their family, or an early starter taking a pit stop, and even a few people hollering my name that I wasn’t sure how they knew me, it was wonderful to be nearly to the half and feel such support. Greg asked after the 5th time I heard my name,
“Does everybody know you?”
Later on twitter I read a tweet,
“I just heard @lacyjhansen’s running partner ask, “Does everyone know you?”
I felt so surrounded by a community on Sunday, that’s for sure.
The race entered back into Rockwood, just like I saw previously with the early starters. At this point the course was two lanes thick of runners. It was awesome to see such a strong group coming. This really opened my eyes to how large the field had grown to.
Before the route turned back west, my new friend Greg bid me goodbye as he was going to pull back. I wished him well and pressed on.
I was still feeling good. I was happy to engage the crowd, when there was one. I kept telling them thank you for coming out, or simply wishing them a good morning. This seemed to waken a quiet crowd. It was great to have people out, but the runners needed some noise!
The route quickly ended up back in the Crown Heights Neighborhood. Mile 12 was in Crown Heights north. They were ready for runners. They had signs welcoming us and several people were lining the streets. There was music playing and even a block party celebration going on. This was my favorite part of the entire day. That was the best spirit all morning. I was just so proud of that neighborhood. Instead of griping about the street closings, they supported the entire event.
Just before the half we headed pass Watermark Books. Several of their employees are runners and were running that day. They had live music in the parking lot and a nice crowd enjoying 26.2 cent cups of coffee from the cafe.
The arrows pointed me back into College Hill. Mile 13.1 was on my street. There was a bright sign on a brick street that it was halfway over. The bricks don’t bother me. I learned to run on that very street, I’m used to it. However I know others didn’t like the footing. The surface wasn’t an issue, but I was having issues by that point. I noticed I was fading. My energy had dropped. I wasn’t having fun anymore. I got worried, there was a lot of pavement to cover still.
As we were sent back west down Douglas, the very route we had started on, I met up with another runner, DJ. He and I had briefly met a few time in the last 6 months. Now we were both in stride with each other, noticing the gentle downhill back into downtown.
DJ and I had covered several miles throughout the morning near each other and now we were sticking close once more. We lost each other just as the route turned onto the brick streets of Old Town. As I passed First Gear, one of the local running stores, I saw Raquel Stucky up on the steps stretching. I hadn’t learned that she just won the woman’s half marathon portion of the race. She hollered at me and I waved. It was nice to have any distraction at this point.
The route had begun sharing the course with the half marathoners once more back near mile 12. By my mile 15 through Old Town Square, most of the half marathoners I saw were walking the course.
I passed through Old Town and headed up towards St. Francis Hospital. I had been able to see April anytime the stretch ahead of me was straight. I hadn’t seen her in a while due to all the turns. Because of the early start bibs being the same colors as the regular start a volunteer told me I was the 7th female. I was a little surprised at this news, but assumed he was wrong. I just hadn’t seen that many females ahead of me.
I caught up to another friend. Jon has been running with my Saturday morning group most of the summer. Jon’s a super hero. I joke and say he’s nine-tenths leg. On his first marathon attempt in Wichita last October, he won. With some crazy fast time like 2:40 or something. When I saw him he was walking. Obviously he was not having a good day. We all thought his super powers would make up for the holes in his training. Apparently even Superman can’t skip too many long runs. We ran together all the way past mile 19. It was quiet and hard. The half marathoners had turned off for their final miles into the finish and we were all alone. As we entered into beautiful Riverside, I didn’t think I could keep up with wounded Superman. We ran through Oak Park and watched the disc golfers play their rounds. We crossed over the river and saw the awesome Riverside Castle. We turned through another shaded, quaint neighborhood. There was lots to see as we barely talked. However, there weren’t many people there to see us. A few faithfuls were out ready to catch their runner. There was one cowbell just before an aid station, but other than the deep breathing of Jon and me, it was disappointingly quiet.
To my surprise Jon pushed me on after the aid station. He said he couldn’t stay with me. I couldn’t believe it. I felt horrible for him. I assumed his altered state was still going to smoke mine.
I carried on along the residential street. One side was houses, the other was Sims Golf Course. The route followed the golf course for quite a while. When the race got the toughest, the route got the loneliest.
While it was still mostly shaded, the weather had made a complete shift. The clouds had completely covered the sky and a cool breeze had lowered the temperatures. I really hadn’t noticed. I was just doing the deduction of distance with each passing step.
As the path began it’s course out of the golf course, a literal loop was required to fullfil the distance. I came across a friend who was riding his bike. He told me there was water up ahead and gave me hope that maybe this race was coming to an end.
As I began my switchback, I saw Aprils’ face for the first time the whole morning. She was headed out as I was headed in. This is where the whole race changed for me.
I gave an interview this week and I think the writer captured the rest of the race very well. All of this happened as we were routed out of the golf course, through the literal Ghost town of The Old Cowtown Museum, pass the Art Museum, through Riverside Park, back through downtown and on the shared half marathon route. Across the Keeper of the Plains Bridge, and finally back down the Arkansas River, across the Lewis Street Bridge, and across the finish line in front of the Hyatt.
|Just before mile 23, moving in to 2nd place|
“April Gochenour, 31, of Rose Hill was in second place and running strong with Lacy Hansen, 29, of Wichita in third for the majority of the race.
Hansen knew that Gochenour was a strong runner and also a friend and didn’t expect to see Gochenour until the finish.
However, at mile 21, Hansen was able to see Gochenour for the first time since the beginning of the race at the switchback where Gochenour jokingly said, “Come get me”. At this point Hansen didn’t think she could catch her friend, “I was so worn out I didn’t think I stood a chance.”
By mile 23, Hansen had Gochenour in her sights and caught up to Gochenour. Gochenour explained to Hansen that she had hit the wall at mile 16 and was just wanting to finish.
Hansen encouraged Gochenour by telling her “hang tough, you’re almost done,” and just hoped her own legs would carry her to the finish line as well.
Hansen finished strong in second place with a time of 3:19:51 just 32 seconds shy of her personal record. Gochenour held on for third with a time of 3:23:26.” (From Karla Gregg’s Article in The Examiner)
|Mile 25, D.E.A.D.|
|Waving with all the energy I could find to Judah and Kenton|
|I had just heard my name over the loud speakers, passed my parents and several friends.|
|My son was bouncing up and down with his hand out for a high five, a reason to smile.|
|Best part of running: Stopping!|
Videos and pictures can not capture what it’s really like to finish a marathon. As far as finishing the Prairie Fire Marathon, I had the best view. I didn’t know how I was going to get to the end. I was barely moving at mile 25. I had walked through the final aid station and I didn’t have anything but a remembrance of a desire to finish. Apparently that was enough. I didn’t finish strong, I just held on. I didn’t meet my hopes for that day, I just got lucky everyone else wasn’t having a better day. I watched a lot of people come to grips with their humanity this past Sunday. The strong became weak. The fit became fragile. The prepared became survivors.
The marathon is always a humbling experience and 10-10-10 was no exception. As I rounded the final turn of this wonderful new marathon. I was once more humbled. I was blessed enough to have had friends all along the way. And in the final strides I was being welcomed in from battle. I looked all around and had a family of believers bringing me in. I believe heaven will be like this one day. A line of those who won’t give up the faith, welcoming me home. My God uses the marathon to teach me so many things. Sunday I learned that no “marathon” is run with out the love of friends.
|I was SPENT|
|Most of my Saturday morning crew. They make me the runner I am.|
|My Dad after his Half Marathon PR. He started this all. I wouldn’t have gone 1 mile without him.|
|Dane Rauschenberg handing out age group medal. 1st in Age Group.|
|Receiving Female Runner up award.|
|You can see where I really fell apart towards the end.|