In the week leading up to the race, the event directors sent out multiple emails detailing packet pick up, the corral system, water and fuel stops along the route, what would be available at the post-race party, and their policies regarding weather (there was a chance of thunder and lighting in the forecast.) Everything was communicated very clearly, and the fact that the information arrived in multiple emails was nice; if it had been one, long email I probably would have just skimmed it.
I chose to go to the expo on Thursday evening to pick up my packet because I hoped it would be less crowded than it would on Friday. The pick up process was also stream-lined. Although I walked through all the vendors and booths on my way out of the expo, I didn’t stay long since I had to go teach a yoga class. I did, however, stop to enter to win two free entries to the St. Jude Marathon events…Nick and I agreed we would definitely do the half marathon, but I’m getting ahead of myself…
The day before the race, I reaffirmed my decision that this one was just going to be for fun, and to complete my ninth half marathon. I had taken a week off training in February when I traveled to Honduras, another week later in February when I tweaked my knee, and a third week off when I had the flu. I also ran very low mileage the two months leading up to this race because of these interruptions, and because of the issues I was experiencing with my quads. I almost feared that I wouldn’t make it to the start line when my allergies caused me to have an endless coughing fit on Friday night, but my sweet husband went out for some Robitussin and I finally fell asleep.
On race morning, I woke up able to breathe (huge plus) under dry skies! The temperature was in the high 50s to low 60s, and the sky overcast. I had my usual breakfast of oatmeal with banana + peanut butter + cinnamon. Nick dropped me off near the corrals about half an hour prior to the 7:30AM start. I used the portables one last time and found my place in Corral C. I was thankful that I was in an early corral, because I didn’t have to wait too long to get across the start line.
The first mile was a little speedier than I was expecting, but I was excited and trying to move around people. The next three miles looped around downtown and went by pretty smoothly; I felt like I was in the groove. At mile 5 I grabbed water and took my Huma gel. It was about that time that the rain showers moved in, and it actually felt quite nice. I just prayed a storm wouldn’t blow in before I finished!
We made our way through Old Louisville, and got offered beer by students as we approached U of L’s campus (I passed on the offers.) This was a pretty part of town to run through, although there were less people out cheering than I would have hoped.
Around mile 7 my knee started to ache a little, so I took a walk break through the next water stop. That helped and I soon entered Churchill Downs. As fun as it is to run through here, I don’t like running down and up through the steep entrances; it’s the same as entering the speedway for the 500 Festival Mini Marathon. My already aching knee didn’t like the sharp declines, so I walked those, too.
By the time we left the twin spires behind us, things were kind of going downhill for me. I did some more walking because my knee was aching some still, and my legs were just tired. I knew that I wasn’t properly trained for this race, so I wasn’t too surprised when my legs felt like they were going to fall off heading back into downtown around mile 10.
There was a moment that I made a decision during this race. I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t going to have a fast finish, and I almost considered going to a med tent and calling Nick to pick me up. But, as ever, I am not a quitter. I wrote myself a permission slip to walk when I needed to. After all, this race was just for fun, and I really wanted to complete it, no matter what. So I took some walk breaks. I wasn’t able to gun it until the last two tenths of a mile (and bless that last .1 of a mile for being downhill.) I finished much slower than my PR and I still had fun! And I can check half marathon number 9 off my to-do list.
The finish chute was also well-organized: pick up a mylar blanket, then a race medal, and then a bunch of snacks. The meet up area was near the great lawn at the Waterfront, so it wasn’t too hard to spot Nick. I was really happy to see him because we had planned to go straight to brunch at Wild Eggs, where I got a big stack of chocolate chip pancakes that I couldn’t even finish.
All in all, I really did enjoy this race. I’m looking forward to running it again, hopefully when I can train without interruption. Look for another post soon about what’s next for me!