There's No Place Like...Kansas!

As a runner, sometimes, your aim is to go as fast as possible and achieve a personal record. Other times, you just get out there and have FUN. After a tough fight in Boston, I needed an enjoyable race. Lucky for me, I bought this fabulous Dorothy outfit and spray painted my old Mizunos glittery red for the Garmin in the Land of Oz Marathon.

The role of Toto played by Pavel Goodwin
This event was planned as a part of my move to Missouri, so it wasn't ideal to make a 15 hour drive just prior to running...but y'all know me. The "fun size" expo offered a quick in- quick out and I enjoyed a fantastic pre-race dinner with my cousin Sara, Aunt Anne, and Uncle John in Overland Park. For some reason, I pictured Kansas to be nothing but farmland and tornado shelters (blame Hollywood) but was surprised to find dense towns with lots of green space...and rolling hills. Hills?!
My hosts from Boston showed me love in Olathe, too!
The race both started and finished at Garmin International Headquarters in Olathe- all sorts of fancy. After a heavy dose of inspiration from running into Larry Macon at the start, I enjoyed the initial spectator response to Dorothy: "Great outfit!", "look at her shoes- nice touch!", "Are you running the FULL in that?!"
"Yes, I'm running the full in this"
The first 5K looped around an industrial area and then fed us into quaint neighborhoods. I put down 8-8:30 minute miles and finished the first 10K in just under 50 minutes- much faster than expected having just run Boston a few days prior. Maybe it had something to do with the perfect weather or the fact that this was the friendliest bunch of runners I've ever been around. Seriously, everyone was eager to chat and just radiating positivity. There was a real sense of camaraderie before we even hit double digits.

Another bonus? Quite a few Marathon Maniacs on the course, including an adorable gal named Michelle who is from the (small!) town in Missouri I will be living in for the next 8 months. This race would mark my 13th marathon state in a 365 day period, which qualifies me for 5 Maniac stars. Great news, since I've been stuck at 3 stars since 2008..!
That's a 5 star smile
We hit a greenway path shortly after mile 10 and the rolling hills noted earlier were pretty apparent-a good thing for me, since I dislike flat courses. At the half marathon mark, all of the water station volunteers were dressed in full costume as characters from Wizard of Oz and I high fived the Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man, and Dorothy as I clocked 1:50. 

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I never really had a down moment during this race. Sure, I was challenged by the pace but it was never to the point where I hit a wall or fell out of enjoying the run. I'll save you the hard sell, but I continue to follow Crossfit Endurance as a training plan and believe, without a doubt, it allows me to enter these things at my peak instead of on the brink of an overuse injury. My times are consistently better (including several PRs!) and I'm doing half the mileage volume of my pre-CFE days. Plus I can do boy push ups, dead hang pull ups, and climb 20' there's that.  

There were several people dressed as Dorothy out there (good witches, bad witches, and lions too!)and I passed the only one ahead of me around mile 20. He...yep, he...had fashioned his hurache sandals into sequined red slippers- awesome, but maybe a bad idea for racing unfamiliar terrain.
The wig probably didn't help, either.
I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:39:14, an 8:23 average pace. I was delighted to secure 5th in my age group, 19th of 255 women, and (so I'm told) "first Dorothy". Keepin it real at HQ, my Garmin never lost it's signal either. The best part? I had an absolute blast running this race. It was FUN.

There's no place like....Kansas!
Follow the yellow brick road!