This morning, Nick and I ran in the Papa John’s 10 Miler, the last leg of the Triple Crown. This is one of my all-time favorite races because of the unique distance. It’s challenging, and yet not quite as demanding as a half marathon. It’s a great race to complete in the build up to the Kentucky Derby Marathon and Mini Marathon.
If you’ve been keeping up with my training, you know it’s gotten interrupted with travel, knee tweaks, and muscle tightness. It’s been one heck of a ride the past few months but things are finally getting back on track. That said, I knew going into this race that I would not be gunning for a PR as I had hoped at the outset of this season. I decided to use it as a training run and allow myself to take it easy if I wanted to. My main goal was to finish without having to stop to work out my muscles, which I’d had to do on most runs for the past month. Here’s what my race looked like:
Miles 1-3: We had a cool 35 degree start, but with plenty of sunshine. I said goodbye to Nick as the gun went off because I knew he would be faster than me, even in the warm-up miles. The first few miles leave from around Churchill Downs and go out Southern Parkway. It’s a pretty flat straightaway. At first I felt like the miles were going to drag by, but when I looked at my watch after the first mile, I was moving along at a surprisingly good clip. Still, I had to coax myself to “just make it into the park.”
Miles 4-6: After the first few flat miles, the course enters the hilly loop in Iroquois Park. These are the hills that people always complain about in this race and the Derby Marathon. However, I remember thinking last year that the hills had nothing on those in Cherokee Park; although there are more in Iroquois, I think the ones in Cherokee are bigger. This year, though, I knew my legs wouldn’t handle the hills as well, as I hadn’t been able to do much hill training. I wagered that I would average a better pace if I saved my legs walking the uphills than if I ran up them and burned out before leaving the park. Walking the uphills also made it easier to take water and a gel at mile 5. BTW: Someone please tell the race organizers to stop using bottled water at the stations – it’s so hard to undo the cap and carry the bottle while on the go!
Miles 7-9: These miles are the back of the out-and-back along Southern Parkway. I was really glad that I had saved my legs because I was able to pick up a good pace heading back in. However, I think this is the most mentally challenging part of the race. Without any turns, the parkway can seem kind of endless. Luckily, there are a lot of runners and spectators to keep energy up. I had to play a few mind games with myself to get through mile 8, but soon enough I saw the 9 mile mark.
Final mile: The last mile turns onto Central Avenue and then into the stadium lot. It’s about half a mile from the road into the stadium. Last year I falsely assumed that I would just run onto the field and to the 50 yard line or something, but that’s not the case. You actually run across the field, down the far side, and then into the finish chute. This year I was prepared and didn’t try to start my kick too early. However, when I did go to kick, I had no kick in me. I guess I had no gas left in the tank. I left it all on the course, which is a good feeling.
Even with walking some in the park, I managed to hit my goal pace for a half marathon training run. I also never had to stop to stretch or shake out my muscles! Despite how insecure I felt at the start line, I came out feeling proud of what I did. I have more confidence that I can get my training back on track before the half marathon at the end of April.
To celebrate, I skipped the slices of Papa John’s pizza at the finish line (because ew, I’m a Chicago-born pizza snob) and went with Nick to get pizzas at Whole Foods. I also had a huge craving for Buckeye Blitz ice cream from Graeter’s in the afternoon. For recovery, I aggressively used the foam roller and wore my new Tight Stuff Tights from lululemon, which I shared on Friday. I’m also looking forward to doing yoga on Sunday morning and perhaps sneaking a dip in the hot tub before Easter dinner with Nick’s family.
You can read last year’s race recap here!
Did anyone else race this weekend? What are your plans for Easter?