If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you might remember our less-than-ideal experience at the Mill Race half marathon last fall. Despite the train fiasco (if you’re curious, click here) Nick decided to give it another shot, mostly because he favors the flat course and it fit well into his schedule. As I intended to run the Indy Women’s Half the weekend before, I signed up for the 5K, so that I would get a chance to race but could give my legs a break and still be at the finish line, too.
I must say that things went much more smoothly this year. The race was in its third year and I think much of the feedback from previous years was taken into account to improve runners’ experiences. There were no rogue trains passing through the course, and the course was made even flatter; as the organizers said in an email, they scraped the butter off the pancake flat course to make it even flatter. The real draw here is that it’s a Boston qualifying course.
On Friday morning, I drove up to Columbus, Indiana to pick up race packets for Nick, his friend, and me. I got there right when the expo opened at 10AM, because I had to be back in downtown Louisville at noon for a yoga class. While I didn’t get to walk around the expo, from what I could see there was a lot of great booths there. Packet pick up went smoothly, and we secured a parking pass. Last year they had run out of passes by race morning, so that was the real intention behind snagging the packets the day before.
Nick and I both got a good night’s sleep, and woke up fairly easily to our 4:40AM alarm. Our friend met us at our apartment and we were off by 5:30, set to arrive around 6:45. By the time we parked and pinned our bibs on, we just had enough time to use the bathrooms before the half marathon’s 7:30 start.
I saw the boys into their corrals and headed off for a 10 minute warm up. My legs were feeling okay, but I wasn’t feeling overly confident at the start. This was in part due to the fact that I was placed in the first corral with an incorrectly anticipated 6:27/mile pace. (I have no idea where they got that from!) I didn’t know how fast I would be running, but I knew it wouldn’t be that fast. I stationed myself at the back of the corral.
When the gun went off, I watched as a pack shot in front of me, but I was relieved to see that I was keeping pace with other runners. I wanted to go out relatively hard, looking to accelerate throughout the race. I like to mount surges during a 5K. I picked one woman to keep pace with, and I was just a step behind her going through the park. I remained steady until the third mile, where she seemed to lose steam while I shot ahead. I kept pushing the pace. After a bit, I worried that I was pushing too soon; as I had let Nick take my watch for his race, I was going by effort alone. Luckily, just when I was thinking about reining it in a bit, I saw that we had reached the three mile mark and just had a bit to go.
In the end, my time wasn’t fantastic. It wasn’t close to my PR, but considering my current fitness, it wasn’t bad. If the weather had been a little cooler and less humid, I could have pushed it more, but we can’t always have ideal race conditions. Overall, I was happy to be racing, especially since I was denied my big race the weekend before.
I grabbed some water and snacks, jogged a cool down, and eventually made my way back to the finish line to watch the half marathoners come in. Nick was hoping to match his PR, so as that time approached on the race clock, I got my phone out to take pictures. Good thing I did, because he raced through about two minutes ahead of his old record. I am so proud of him! Our friend, who was running his very fist marathon, came in about 10 minutes later, ahead of when he anticipated finishing.
We all went to collect print-outs of our race results – I came fourth in my division – and dragged ourselves back to the car to head home to Louisville and a nice lunch.
Next weekend Nick and I are running the Great Pumpkin 10K, so stay tuned for that race recap!