Race: Papa John’s 10 Miler
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: March 26, 2016
Three years after I last ran my favorite race held in Louisville…I finally returned. I absolutely LOVE the Papa John’s 10 Miler. Seriously. I don’t call a race my favorite in the area if it really isn’t my favorite. I just love this race, despite the hills of Iroquois Park and all of that.
It has been a crazy couple of weeks for racing (heh…I guess when I get back into something, I totally jump right back into it, eh?). Two 2 mile sprints, a half marathon in NYC, and now a 10 miler. Whew.
Let me tell you, the travel time and early mornings to fit in some makeup time at the office have really caught up to me too. I was TIRED. T-I-R-E-D. In fact, I had logged online after doing my dynamic stretches Saturday morning before leaving for the race, and ended up almost falling asleep. Instead, though, I ate my breakfast (Chocolate Chex…yum!), brushed my teeth, and got my race bib pinned on and put on the clothes I could discard before the start…because the 32 degree air (with it feeling like 29 degrees) meant layers were necessary. And then…the trek over the river to Louisville.
Normally, the parking situation for the Papa John’s 10 Miler is easy. Park at the stadium. Good to go. Not so much this year. They weren’t letting anyone park at the stadium this time around. So…that was unexpected and different. Cathy and I ended up turning around and pulling into the parking lot of some little business and parking there, hoping against all odds that we didn’t get ticketed or towed. Seems a lot of people followed suit with that as well. Because we parked and soon the entire lot was parked up and so was the lawn. Go figure. We then had over a mile to hike from the car to start line due to this…so that was my warm up. Because I wasn’t going to have time to do my stretches prior to the start at this rate. I ate my banana as we walked and made the climb up the stairs to the overpass and crossed, where other runners were also making their way that way. Got there with 10 minutes to spare. Stretches weren’t happening. I shed my outer layer and went to go get into the massive group of people crowding the start gate. The wheelchair and pushers were set to go off first…so that was the beginning of the race. My friend, Daniel, was one of the pushers. These runners are amazing. And the wheelchair racers…inspiring. Especially on those hills in Iroquois.
Soon after the wheelchair and pushers were off…the start of the race was next. And with a “Runners on your mark…GO!” A horn sounded and we were off. It took me less than a minute to get to the start gate, and as I ran through, I saw Cathy waiving the sign and gave her a goofy “raise the roof” move and ran past. I was off.
Just coming off a half marathon in NYC, I had no plans to do anything but comfortably run this race. I had no idea what my previous times (I have run it 2 times before) were for this race. I didn’t look them up. Something I sort of lamented around Mile 2, haha! I think it was better that way. It meant I really would just run this as I felt.
Unfortunately, the cold air plays havoc with my hip these days. I am not saying it’s perfect in warmer temperatures, but it’s 70% harder in cold weather. The hip adductor locks up, gets tight…hurts. So, once again, I had to really make sure I focused on my form, on lifting that right leg up, on not doing any damage to myself. Stress fractures are not welcome here. Ever. Again. Between Mile 1 and 2…I heard someone call my name and turned around, and there was Geri. So that was really great. She was the first person to really take note of how my running form and style has changed since seeing my running specialist. She’s training for Boston…and London…and Grandma’s…and I’m sure another amazing adventure too. Beast mode is always on with Geri.
So, after all of that, I ran the rest of Southern Parkway and made the turn onto New Cut Road, running toward the entrance of Iroquois Park. Mile 3 is just before the turn into the park. I hit it and began to make the turn into the park. As I started on the hilly route, I came across Daniel and the athlete he was pushing for the race. I tapped him on the shoulder and told him that he was awesome. He said, “And you’re in neon…as always.” I might have a reputation, LOL! And just around Mile 4, I was running past the amphitheater and I heard Tammy and Dan start shouting at me. I gave them a wave and a smile…and it really just lifted me. The hills started soon after that…the first one is the one the training group does hill repeats on, and I took it easy on that. First hill. Done. The downhill was awesome, but I knew there were more hills to come. I let momentum carry me down, and did that throughout the rest of the park. Just after Mile 6, we come back out onto Southern Parkway for the straightaway back toward Papa John’s Stadium.
With the cold weather, there weren’t as many spectators that were out, but there were some…and I was happy to have them there. I ran comfortably, trading back and forths with a few runners. It amazes me how fast and hard people can push at later miles. Currently, I’m not ready to push…but I love hearing people discuss their paces and goals. My favorite was this mother running with her young son…around Mile 7 she said, “We only have one more hill at the overpass.” And they ran past me. I loved seeing that. They stuck together the entire time.
Miles 7-9 are all down Eastern Parkway, and then, right at the corner with the Starbucks, is Mile 9. Then, yes…the hill up over the overpass. My friend, Melissa, said that I really pushed her those last few miles. What a compliment. She was strong the entire time. Hills didn’t slow her down. Nothing seemed to. I hope to get back to that level some day. After climbing the hill, it was down and around to make the turn to take us into the stadium. Down the ramp, onto the AstroTurf, and I started to book it as much as I could toward that finish line. I could hear Cathy screaming at me from across the stadium, for real. I really pressed on the speed as much as I could (and that’s still not much right now) and ran across that finish line.
I felt great. I was smiling. I had a photographer come over to take my picture and then tell me that “he almost missed me.” Neon and all, yeah…I didn’t stand out much. LOL!! As I just got my medal, I heard someone say, “Karen?” It was Greg from Frankfort. We hugged and stood around talking for awhile about running and racing and things we have coming up, officially and unofficially. He took a picture of Melissa and I, because Greg is awesome like that. It was nice to see him again. He said at one point in Iroquois, we were running side by side, just like the 10K in Frankfort a couple years ago. I didn’t even notice…but he knew it was me. Guess I was in my zone.
I made my way out of the finish area and caught up with Cathy. She said the lines for the massages weren’t long so I went and stood in line. My friend, Renee, who I know from the YMCA and spin class came over and she had a new PR by 6 minutes. That’s huge. Cathy looked up my time on the official tracker…and I PR’d by 2 full minutes. 2 minutes, from the year I was running my best. What. The. Hell. I’m not complaining, but I wasn’t even trying. That’s…amazing. I was a little sore…I still blame most of that on the cold. But I felt good. And that was such a boost. The massage, by the way, felt great.
So…the official results of the 2016 Papa John’s 10 Miler were that I finished in 1:16:41, shaving about 2 minutes off my time from 2013. I couldn’t believe it. I was just running as I felt, and I felt I was running much easier and slower than I had run this race in the past. Like I said, sometimes I surprise myself. A lot of times that happens when I’m tired or not at my best (like with a tight and sore hip)! I was 361/5188 overall, the 71/2915 female to cross the finish line, and I was 13/466 in my division. I couldn’t be more proud of myself. Or surprised. Again.
I feel a little more confident these days when I hit the roads, but I’m still very careful and tentative. Honestly. But, it feels good to say that this run felt easy…and when I crossed that finish line, I felt that I could have given a bit more. That’s a good feeling. I hope I can continue to make easy and steady progress, and one day feel a little more confident and ready to push. Because I am excited to see what I can make this body do.
Thanks for continuing to be my favorite Louisville race, Papa John’s 10 Miler. This is what keeps me coming back for more.