Race: Reindeer Romp 4K
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: December 8, 2012
Welcome to the kick-off race for Louisville’s infamous Polar Bear Grand Prix. I was able to participate in the Grand Prix last year and had a blast running the different races through the winter months (one race in December, one in January, one in February)…and through varying degrees of weather and temperatures.
It looked like that was going to hold true this year for the first race of the series.
The Reindeer Romp 4K is the lowest mileage of all of the races. A 4K race (that’s 2.48 miles…but my GPS had me at 2.55 when I crossed the finish line) that runs the scenic loop of Louisville’s Cherokee Park. We ducked out onto Eastern Parkway though near the end to loop the statue and re-enter the park before heading up toward the finish line.
Yes…up. Remember, Cherokee Park is hilly!
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
On Friday, I was constantly checking the weather forcast. All I knew was that we were supposed to get rained on this weekend. A lot. Yep. Ugh. Now, I do love running in the rain. I run some of my best runs out in the rain. But…I also have a 10 mile run for training to fit in this morning (and it’s supposed to rain!) and I was hoping to return with dry shoes.
Mother nature had other ideas. But…at least it was only 53 degrees out. That at least meant I could wear shorts or a running skirt.
That morning I woke up and heard the rain. I think I might have cussed a little under my breath, but went through my usual routine of getting ready for a race. For the most part. I pulled out my running skirt and one of my short sleeve tech shirts. Decided that I could run this race in cotton socks and got out my green and red striped knee-socks for the holiday spirit. My hair extensions were green and red as well. And, as this is one of my winter races, I opted to wear my new snowflake BondiBand. I was a mish-mash of spring and holiday colors. But…that’s how I roll.
It was still raining after I polished off my breakfast and started to get a change of clothes together in my running bag. I sighed, pulled on my hoodie (so I would have a hood to keep my head dry) and my roommate and I headed out the door to get to Cherokee Park. I never made it to packet pick-up at Fleet Feet Louisville on Friday, so I had to get my packet, my Polar Bear Grand Prix knit cap, and my Reindeer Romp ornament at the race. Which, normally isn’t a problem. We park at the park, I get my gear, we walk it back to the car. No problem.
This morning…there was a problem. The race started at 9:00 a.m. We pulled into Cherokee Park at 8:00 a.m. One hour prior to the race and already the lot near the shelter where packet pick-up was being held was parked up. And all along the side leading down the hill was already parked up as well. No room in the park for the little Corolla. So, my roomie and I circled back through the park and I said we should just go out of the park on Eastern Boulevard and park there. So, we did, finding a spot a good ways up…but at least parked.
This, of course, meant that we now had about a .7 mile walk up hill to get to packet pick-up. It was sprinkling rain, lightly, so it was still a damp hike. I was at least getting warmed up…though not the way I would like. I didn’t want tired legs for sure. As we were hiking up, cars were lining the entire pathway. A traffic cop, who entered the park, got on her loud speaker and alerted drivers they could NOT park there…as it was blocking the flow of traffic and the race came through here. Those who were still at their vehicles moved them.
We reached the top of the hill and headed to the shelter. Off came my hood and I went to go get my race bib, hat, and ornament. I got them without any issue and then had to find my roomie, who had wandered off somewhere in the shelter. She saw me looking for her and waved her arms. Keep in mind, most runners and their families/friends were all under this shelter to keep as dry as they could before the race. I got my number pinned on and stood around for a couple of minutes before getting my stretching done. Between the parking craziness and the hike up, it was 30 minutes until race time. So, it was best to get warmed up now.
With 10 minutes to go to race time, the rain had stopped and I made my way out toward the starting line. It was humid out with a light breeze. Not cold at all. As I found a spot near the front of the corral, I spotted my roommate in Hogan’s Fountain. Of course. I waved and she attempted to snap a picture around a freakishly tall man who wandered into the shot. That always happens!
And then…the skies opened up into a nice downpour.
Well, I guess rain is the new cold. Because it was relentless. Before the race even started I was soaked to the skin. Joy…oh, joy!
And then, moments after the rain started, we were off.
I crossed the start line, started my Garmin, and took off down the hill to run a route I know by heart – the Scenic Loop.
There were a lot of runners this year at the race. Much more than last year when I ran it. That was evident. And I felt like I was doing a good job, running. Keep in mind, ever since last week, my left foot has been twinging at me. I think I strained a tendon or something. The fact of the matter is…it doesn’t always like it when I move. So, I was trying to keep that in mind as I was running. But when it didn’t even hurt with each pounding my foot took to the pavement, I figured…why not push some.
Mile 1 ticked off in 7:10. I was moving faster than I thought. And that’s good and bad. That’s good, because I’m teaching myself to be somewhat competitive and actually try to move up to my capabilities during a race. That’s bad because the second part of Cherokee Park is the one with the steep hill ascensions that are definitely no walk in the park (or run, haha) to get over. So, when I hit those…my pace did slow, but not too much. For that, I am proud. I was even passing people on the hills. WOOHOO!! I made it up Dog Walk Hill, feeling the energy I had to put into that in my legs, which were screaming at me. But, it was downhill, out to loop the statue and hit Mile 2 on the way back in. I ran that one in 7:45. And I still had the last hill to conquer.
Normally when I run the Scenic Loop with my fun run group at the local BlueMile store, this hill is the first one we take on. It’s not as steep as Dog Walk Hill…but it does go up. And if a race is run in Cherokee Park, it’s the last hill that takes you up to the finish line. Yes…you do finish going uphill. I’ve run plenty of races in Cherokee Park…but this hill always kills me.
I decided to just give it all I had. I was just under half a mile to the finish line. Push. Get through it. See how you do. So, I began just pumping my legs to get up this incline. I passed a couple of people, including one guy who pulled off and started walking. The woman in reindeer antlers (who passed me at the end) encouraged him by saying “Keep going…you’re almost there!” She was right. I could see the shelter. Hear the crowd at the finish. And there was Hogan’s Fountain. The hill leveled off and I started for that finish line. The woman in antlers passed me up right there at the end, but I finished…and finished as strong as I could manage on my foot and in the driving rain. I paused my Garmin and attempted to catch my breath.
I should note the woman in antlers wasn’t even breathing hard. I shake my fist at her. Runners who can just run a race easy and finish that early frustrate me, because I have to work so hard for it. But…alas…
It was a good, wet, romp in the rain that morning. Cathy came bounding over and I asked if we could get under the shelter so I could at least attempt to start drying off. Note to self: pack a towel in the race bag. Seriously. Do it this time.
We headed under the shelter where most of the other finishers were loading up on water, bananas and apples. I grabbed some water and took a seat on the bench near the snacks. I grabbed a banana and refueled a bit after that run. Cathy thought I might have placed in my division because I was at least in the top 15 women to come in. So, we decided to hang around for awards and see what might come of it.
Now…this literally took forever to get to. We had to wait for all the walkers to come in. And by then, it was still raining, but now a wind had kicked in and I was getting cold. There I was, sitting around in super drenched clothes…
I finally asked for my hoodie to at least put around me in an attempt to stay warm. That helped a little. And since she wasn’t using it, my roommate put her hoodie over my legs. It helped…a little. No sooner had that been done, but the race directors came over to hand out awards. They did the overall males first, then all the division winners for the men. So, the females were up last. I shivered through much of the award ceremony. My division was up. And, lo and behold, I took third place! I was actually shocked. While my time was a big improvement on last year’s time…I didn’t really expect to actually place. So proud of that.
So, the official results of the Reindeer Romp 4K are that I finished in 19:02, my new PR for a 4K race. On hills, in rain, with a sore foot, no less! YAY! I was 104/796 finishers overall. My roommate definitely called it by saying I was in the top 15 women to cross. In fact, I was 15/429 women finishers. And, of course, I landed 3/67 in my division! All of this in the driving rain this morning! NICE! I am so proud of my accomplishment on this race, besting last year’s time and even placing in my division. I’m improving as a runner…and I love seeing the results.
So, this morning I have a 10 mile long run to do…before getting some stuff done in town. Then I need to clean up the apartment and prep for a holiday dinner here tomorrow. Lots to do…and only a Sunday morning and afternoon to accomplish it in. Oh, and it’s supposed to rain this morning too…so my long run might be…interesting. But it has to be done as I have a half marathon next Sunday.
Looking forward to the Frostbite 5K in January now! Polar Bear Grand Prix…we are off to a famous start!
(Ticker currently not updating…but I am at 1035.1 miles so far for the year!)