Just Harried

Little Harrys on the Prairie

Marathon #2 – Kansas City

Remember in Tommy Boy when the deer they thought was dead goes berserker in the backseat of their car and jumps out through the roof and Tommy goes, “That. Was. Awesome!”? That’s exactly how I would describe my experience running the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon on Saturday.

In a nutshell, I believed I fueled right. I carbo-loaded according to this article and I went through two packs of PowerBar chews and two Stinger Waffles, plus water and Gatorade at the aid stations. I carried my own water bottles, and I’m glad I did because I could drink whenever I felt like it. I have only one regret about what I didn’t consume; I’ll get to that later.

So I started (and finished) with the 4:10 pace team! There were two leaders, Jeff (guy) and Chris (girl). They were great, but Chris paced us faster than she should have for the first half of the race, because we caught up to the 4:05 group and stayed right behind them for at least half of the race. Many people dropped off and didn’t finish with us, and I think that’s why. I’m glad I was able to maintain, but I feel for those who didn’t, because it might have been different if we were paced correctly from the beginning. There were only two of us who finished with the pace group – me and a guy named Paul from Oklahoma City.

The start was great. We ran through downtown Kansas City during the sunrise. Then, after mile 2, we climbed the worst hill of the race, and it wasn’t that bad from my perspective! We looped past Liberty Memorial and went through several great districts of the city. The half-marathoners split from the marathoners around mile 8, and the drop in congestion was really nice. Around that point, the next 12 miles or so were in great residential districts. Some had really unbelievable houses, but sadly, very few people were out cheering us on.
The crowd support was the best at the beginning. There were some great signs: “Don’t Poop Your Pants!” (I yelled, “Too late!”) and, “Chuck Norris Never Ran a Marathon” were my favorites. Overall, I was really disappointed with how few people came out to spectate. Perhaps I was spoiled during the Twin Cities Marathon two years ago, as I guess that race is known for its great spectators, but when I really needed some music, some encouragement, or a funny sign, none was to be found. This made the last seven or eight miles really tough. We rounded a corner around mile 21 and Hallelujah! There were five spectators, all with signs, jamming out to Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory,” and it was a little push that I needed so badly! I was so grateful to those five people that I blew each of them a kiss and nearly burst into tears. Paul from Oklahoma City was memorable with the spectators. Every time we passed one, seriously, Paul would cheerfully say, “Thanks for coming ooout!” and the “ooout” had a sing-song inflection to it. Thank God I was determined to stay positive during this race; otherwise, I might have told Paul to STFU.

OK, so many of us know that the first 16-18ish miles aren’t that bad, and that it’s closer to 20 and beyond when you find out if you really fueled and trained right. I started to get really quiet around mile 16, which for me means that I need to focus a lot more on keeping the pace, and I often end up talking to myself in my head to keep me going. Around mile 18, I started to pray the rosary to help me dig deeper, using my fingers to keep track of the decades, and told myself my tiredness didn’t compare to the sacrifice or test of faith happening during that mystery, so the least I could do was suck it up and finish strong! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” is my go-to mantra, and I clung to it for the last several miles, and by golly, it worked!

When my watch read 3:10:00, I cheerfully called out that we’d be done in an hour, while in my head I was thinking it would be the longest hour of my life! Shortly after that, at mile 20, I called out to my now very small 4:10 group that all we had left was a 10K – a piece of cake – even though I was wondering how the heck it was going to end! I felt my right calf start to cramp. Each stop and quick stretch at a water station seemed to make it worse. At one water stop, I think mile 22, I told Chris my right calf was bad, and she told me to stay and stretch as much as I needed to and then to try my best, but I said, “NO! I’m coming with you now.” I knew the cramp was due to low sodium. I had nothing to help it, I knew stretching wouldn’t matter, and I knew I could press on painfully and still get to the end and meet my goal. So I kept going. I stayed a short distance behind Chris and Paul (who was still singing, “Thanks for coming oooout!” to every spectator). They were cheering me on, telling me I can do it. I yelled ahead to them that when I’m in labor some day, I’ll wish for the pain I was experiencing right now. Whenever I lose the ability to run, walk, or even stand, I will wish for this moment. I will run through this pain because there are people who do not have the ability to run. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This pain was actually a gift, and I was going to treasure it.

Mile 23 was the last aid station I stopped at. When we hit mile 24, I knew I just had to keep going. I had the fuel and the hydration to make it. Again, it was so disheartening to see so few people out there to support the runners, but it made me look within for the strength to keep pushing. I pushed. Apparently I was keeping about a 9:30-ish pace in order to finish in the time that I did, but it didn’t look or feel like it! I pushed and I pushed, and then I rounded the last corner and saw the finish tunnel, and I just kept pushing. I don’t think I was able to surge. I really think I had already been going at full capacity those last few miles, and I didn’t have anything left. All of it was on the table already.

At this point, Jeff and Chris the pacers were ahead of me. Paul was at least 30 sec. ahead of us, getting a last few “Thanks for coming ooooooout!”s, no doubt. I wanted to cry from happiness and being overwhelmed, but my body couldn’t make tears. So I started yelling “Whooooooo!” hugely and frequently. It made Chris and Jeff slow a little and cheer me on, along with the droves of people who were spectating (where were you all a few miles ago!). Chris reached for my hand, Jeff reached for the other, and we ran the three of us, Whoooo-ing all the way. Pretty close the finish Jeff asked if I wanted to cross solo, and I said yes, so like two proud parents, Chris and Jeff let me go and slowed so I could have my little moment crossing the finish.

I must be watching too much Jersey Shore, because as soon as the pacers let go of my hands, I fist-pumped all the way across the finish. I turned around to thank Chris and Jeff. No doubt, they were critical in my success, and it was so sweet of them to let me have my little moment at the very end. Then I saw my husband, who had just set a PR for the half. Again, I wanted to cry, but no tears.

16 weeks of dedication, working hard, and pushing culminated in four hours, eight minutes, and 59 seconds of the biggest physical challenge of my life to this point. I can’t wait to sign up for another one (don’t tell my legs)!


Holy-Field Batman! Err… Holy-Field Winery!

There are many things about where we have landed that surprise me. We live in the state that ranks dead last as a tourist destination. To get to my house, you take the same exit off the highway to get to the Agricultural Hall of Fame. Never in my life did I think I would live on the same street as cows.

Never in my life did I think I would live walking distance from a beautiful, charming, one-of-a-kind winery either.

Holy-Field Vineyard and Winery is one of the community’s hubs for entertainment and friendship. After driving by them for weeks, holding back on a visit because I didn’t want to experience what I knew would be a gem without Andrew, he and I finally stopped in for the first time for their Valentine’s Day affair on a Sunday afternoon.

As we approached the steps of the winery, a giant, sleepling Newfoundland napped in the sun on the wooden porch.
Corky the Wine Dog

If that's not the perfect spot for a nap, I don't know what is.

Inside is a really charming shop with lots of cute wine and party accessories and snacks. The staff is happy to help guests sample the wines they create on-location from ten different grape varieties that are grown on the grounds.  The owner, Michelle, takes the time to talk to guests and get to know them.

If I had to pick a favorite wine from Holy-Field, it’s Corky’s Barrel, a drier red blend. Mostly, I like this one because of the flavor and its versatility (good with so many different things from red sauces to a spicy burger), but part of it has to do with it’s namesake, the owner’s always-hungry-or-napping Newfoundland – you guessed it – Corky. He is just a little pup posing on the label, but in person, he’s a big dude that loves to find sun for a nap or a sucker for a treat. It’s so fun to see him stroll into the event room to find people who will feed him. Overall, he’s very well mannered, but one time he put a muddy paw on our table for some cheese (that I didn’t give him), and when he knows he’s about to get some oyster crackers from his owner, he gets “vocally excited.” Both incidences were amusing, as also was the time he came poking around me, and I offered him a healthy treat of a grape and he refused! Fine, Corky!

Corky the Wine Dog & Friends

Corky makes some friends (with treats).


Needless to say, we loving going to Holy-Field. As the weather gets warmer, there are more and more events planned at the winery, including live music, murder mystery dinners, a grill competition, and more! What I’m most excited to experience is a Picking Sunday, where you actually get to help harvest and press the grapes! There will surely be another blog post to chronicle that adventure.

The Doghouse Daddies at Holy-Field Winery for Mardi Gras

The Doghouse Daddies of Kansas City played at the Mardi Gras party.

Pampered Peds and Blazin’ Saddles

Author: Cecilia

Andrew and I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day, but when my hunt to find a new salon/spa in our new home turned up a Valentine’s Day special of couple’s massage and pedicures, I went for it.

Bella Vita Salon & Day Spa was a great start to Andrew’s first full weekend in Kansas. We love getting massages and pedicures together*, and this place did not disappoint. The room was set up very nicely for a couple. The lighting and the spacing in the room was just right; we felt close to each other and relaxed while our massage therapists had plenty of room to work their magic. After a peaceful hour in the massage room, we chatted it up with our nail technicians and had a fun, social cap to our spa experience.

Everyone knows that after the pamperin’ comes the eatin’.

There is little BBQ place tucked on the same corner as Bella Vita called All Slabbed Up, and we thought we’d go there for a large lunch followed by a nap. We mentioned this to our nail technicians, and one of them told us exactly what to order and what to avoid.

All Slabbed Up looks modest from the outside, and the inside doesn’t deviate, but it is lovingly decorated, and you see single people, young and old, families, all sorts of people at the few tables around the restaurant and at the bar.

The menu is simple: a trifold, photocopied slip of paper. Everything on the menu is named after a Wild West cinematic endeavor. We started with Blazin’ Saddles, and we didn’t know what to think at the basic crock of beans that came out with a bag of Lays potato chips. All skepticism was washed away with the first mouthful of beans and chips. 1) This place knows how to make beans, and 2) Lays are a great baked bean accessory! I know, it sounds gross, but there’s something so right about it once you try it. Now, I love me some baked beans. Ask my family – I never turned down baked beans. I’ll eat them on a hot dog, with noodles, cold, hot, whatever. These are, by far, the best baked beans I’ve ever had, and that means a lot coming from me! The molasses was boldly present, and the smoke in the meat was just as pronounced, and it all blended together so perfectly. We ended up crunching up the Lays and mixing them in with the beans and then sighing in happiness.  I know we now live in the heart of BBQ Country, but I’m pretty sure it’s safe to give out the blue ribbon for baked beans.

Then came the ribs. And the french fries with onions. And they were good. It took little effort to get at the meat and lose the bone. The sauces were tasty, but I would not rave about either of them as I raved about the beans. Andrew was in love with the ribs, but those beans… I’m telling you… I still dream about them.  We will be back, but after reading a few reviews, we will try the burnt ends.

*Any of you blokes snickering about a man getting a pedicure need to get over your silly gender-conforming ideals and friggin’ get one already. Real men take care of their feet and thoroughly enjoy the process!

Is That Velociraptor in Pain, or is He Just Happy to See Me?

T-Rex Bar

A view of the bar area from the Ice Age area at T-Rex Cafe in Kansas City, KS.

Author: Cecilia

The first full day that Andrew and I had together started with a morning trip to The Legends at Village West in Kansas City, KS. It’s truly something to see; the entire area includes almost every chain restaurant I can think of, some unique places to dine and play, your pick of big-box retail, a Nebraska Furniture Mart, and a Cabela’s all within perhaps a .75 – 1 mile radius.  All of this is in the shadow of the Kansas Speeday (NASCAR), a minor-league baseball stadium, and the soccer complex being built for the local professional team and youth tournaments.  In Minnesota terms, if one could binge-eat about three Malls of America, two IKEAs, Target Field, and the Metrodome and then purge it all in one spot in the middle of the prairie, you would have this crazy shopping/entertainment area.  The sales tax rivals downtown Chicago, and it’s maybe 10 minutes from Leavenworth County, so it’s pretty accessible to us.

We were about to walk into Gymboree to buy a gift for friends when a Tyrannosaurus Rex announced his presence, which scared the crap out of Andrew.  He heard the big guy, but could not see him and had no idea why he was hearing a dinosaur call in the middle of an outlet mall.  Andrew didn’t know that right around the corner exists T-Rex Cafe, a Mesozoic dining and play experience by the same people that brought us Rainforest Cafe.

After Andrew survived about seven  minutes inside Gymboree (a personal record), we went to T-Rex Cafe for lunch. If you’ve been to a Rainforest Cafe, you can start to imagine what T-Rex feels like, however, given the subjects of T-Rex were much bigger than your average toucan or giraffe, T-Rex truly feels larger than life when you see it, and the little five-year-old in you will gasp and whisper, “Coooool!”

(I took pictures with my camera phone, and they sucked, so instead, I recommend you check out the additional photos here.)

There is so much decor to drink in, but in a good way.  There are several different sections across the two levels, and each section has a detailed theme (such as the underwater bar and the Ice Age second level).  There was a slight wait for a table, so we explored the “entertainment” area, also known as  the I Just Blew My Retirement Investment for the Week on My Kids Area.  There is a Build-a-Bear workshop with about a dozen different dino/mammoth choices where kids can stuff their own toy and add era-appropriate features to it, such as roller blades and an iPod.

When our table was ready, we were led by our nomad to the Parasaurolophus Room, which hosted about 10 different tables and was occupied by two different birthday parties.  I do not know my dinosaurs well, and I was really hoping the family of dinos in that room were velociraptors, but I am disappointed to say they are parasaurolophus, which are not nearly as fun at parties.

We passed on cocktails (although they all sounded fruity and delicious), and started with Dexter’s Dual Dip (tortilla chips with pepper jack and queso dips).  We split a BBQ Chicken Pizza, which was very tasty and had shoe-string fried onions tossed on top it (Andrew’s favorite part).  The food was good, but my sense of taste was not the sense that was wowed the most during our visit.  As spectacular as the scenes are, I cannot say vision received the biggest treat either.

There is something about sharing a lunch with your new husband and a family of parasaurolophus grunting/groaning/mating in your ear.  We were seated right next to these vocal creatures, and we had a ball joining in with their moans and constipated squeals, much to the amusement of a four-year-old boy a table away.

As with Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex Cafe also has a signature, visually exciting desert.  T-Rex calls theirs The Chocolate Extinction, which, coupled with the parasaurolophus chatter, reminded us of something like a crazy trip to the restroom, so we declined to indulge, but the birthday kids in our room each received one, along with an enthusiastic birthday song from the serving crew and Dexter the Dinosaur, who does a great running man with his short arms, if I may say so.

All in all, we had a great trip, and we would like to take our young nephews there when they visit us next month, but we could see it becoming a costly adventure with Build-a-Dino and other activities for them.  The food was good, but I would not recommend a trip out there just for what we ordered.  The overall experience, especially if there’s a special Paleontology Pal in your life, is really a fun one!

Just Harried

Author: Cecilia

We are the Harrys – Andrew and Cecilia.  He’s from Indiana; I’m from Minnesota.  We are about two months into our marriage, but only about two weeks into living together.  I moved to the Kansas City area (Leavenworth County, KS) for work at the end of December, and Andrew followed once he wrapped up his last assignment in early February.  I waited until he arrived to start exploring; I wanted us to discover the gems of the area and community together.

    Here is what we like to do:
  • Be together
  • Eat
  • Try new things
  • Run
  • Travel
    • Here is what we want to share here:
  • Local delights
  • Amazing food
  • Races and places
  • We hope this blog is interesting, funny, and helps other people who are interested in learning more about what it’s like to live out this way and what the area has to offer.

    We are excited about where we are living because we are at a really cool crossroads: urban playgrounds one way, rural charms the other way.  We are close enough to both ways of life that we’re not really sure which category we belong in, and that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that we want to find the good stuff and share it when we do.

    Other posts will be more entertaining, I promise.

    Next post: Is That Velociraptor in Pain, or is He Just Happy to See Me?

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