Race: Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: April 30, 2016
You know…the week and morning I had leading into the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon was one that pointed to not running it at all. On Monday morning, I had an unexpected Great Cat Chase with my neighbors cat, which I was catsitting while they were at the beach. I love this cat, but that morning I was running late to my spin class and she slipped outside and just took off. I ended up having to wake my roommate up to find her while I went to spin. Since she is not my cat, I felt horrible not having her back inside while I wasn’t home. She behaved the rest of the week though and we had good purr sessions. Tuesday…my coffeemaker died. MY COFFEEMAKER DIED!! Do you know what that means??!! It meant that I had NO caffeine fix that morning. And after hitting up the gym, I begged my roommate for some Starbucks. She came through, with a tall sugar free cafe misto with coconut milk for me. She saved the day. Then…on Thursday…my Garmin died. I woke up to it having a blank screen and not turning on. I went on my 4 mile run sans-Garmin running watch. I was feeling pretty hated by technology at that point. One of the race ambassadors, and a friend of mine, Melissa, said that she had purchased an extra Garmin watch and that I could have it if I wanted it. OMG…that was the sweetest thing anyone has done for me.
Anyway…that was leading up to race day. I went to the race expo on Thursday night, and one of the first people I see is sweet Melissa. I gave her a hug and we lamented about the weather. I joked about carrying shampoo and body wash with me so as I head into the finish, I could just lather up, wash down, and look and smell immaculate at the finish. After chatting and wishing each other luck, I went over to the table to pick up my race packet.
This was funny…kinda. I listed off my bib number (937A) to the lady at the table. She asked for my ID…which I had to fish out. Cathy was poised with her camera to take a picture, which the nice volunteer noticed. So she had a plan to pose and everything, but before we could carry out the plan, Ninja Cathy already snapped the photo. The lady asked if she was ready to take the shot and Cathy said, “I already did.” We all laughed a little. I happily took my bib and the big plastic bag of stuff (including a full box of Cold-Eez) and went to retrieve the garishly bright yellow race shirt. I love bright shirts. What I don’t love on this shirt is the actual design. I loved the map route on the medal this year, but it didn’t transfer well over to the screen print on the shirt. Ah well. It’s another race/running shirt to add to my already full closet. I’ll take it. After that, we walked through the various booths at the expo. I was on the hunt for a Garmin at this point…but no one had any. I did purchase some new Bondi Bands (YAY!) and got to see my friend Daniel working at one of the booths. He was handing out free magnet things and I went to get one and he said, “Except for you…you have to pay for yours.” I love my friends. I also ran into my physical therapist, Katie, who was working an Alter-G treadmill. AH. I want to get on one of these SO bad. Needless to say, she messaged me after the race on Saturday morning and said I should come into the office and try it out. I’m SO taking her up on that. We wrapped up the expo and headed home for a late dinner and to settle in before the craziness of Friday at the office.
Friday night is the night before the race…so I pulled a Gluten Free & Vegan Veggie Pizza from Annie May’s Sweet Cafe out of my freezer. I don’t risk anything the night before a race. I knew I’d be fine eating this. And it was delicious and amazing. I rested that night, foam rolled, and went to bed around 9:30 p.m. I set an early alarm to get up and do all my PT exercises, my dynamic warm-up and to get an early start on my mileage.
I was scheduled for 16 miles this weekend. Which was one reason I signed up for the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon. Why not run 13 miles with people and get a medal at the end of it, right? That being said, I went out that morning before the race and ran a slow, steady 3 miles. I came back home, ate my breakfast and got dressed into some (unflattering) running shorts, a light singlet, and my compression sleeves and running socks (I went with the Injinji toe socks to help prevent any blistering should rain kick in as scheduled). I had debated wearing my favorite running shoes (my Newton Distance III) and opted to wear my Nike Free RN Distance shoes, which I have never worn over a 10K mileage, but I’d rather let rain destroy those than my Newtons. So…I figured this would be interesting regardless. That being said and done, I brushed my teeth gathered up my change of clothes for afterwards, got all the running gear out and ready to go…and headed out the door.
No joke, my roommate and I were down the road at a stoplight and I went…”I forgot to put on my wings anklet my mom gave me.” So…this is a thing now. Ever since I’ve returned to running, when I race, this anklet has been around my ankle. My mom got it for me because she said, “You don’t run, baby, you fly.” So, when I was finally able to get back out there to run and race…this anklet has been kept on my ankle. I feel like it’s carrying my mom’s words with me on each run. So, yeah…we turned around and I dashed back inside and grabbed the anklet. Back off we went…and I clasped the anklet on and felt better about life. We got back down the road to the stop light and Cathy started cussing and went to turn around. I was like, “WHAT??!” And she said, “We forgot the most important thing for today…” I was so confused. “What?” She said…”YOUR RACE BIB.” Oh…my…God. I felt like such a newbie, LOL!! We turned around and went back to the apartment. I was now a mess because we were running way late, still had to cross the bridge, still had to park, and had to get to the corrals for the start. I was supposed to meet up with my dear friend, Deana, to run with her, so I was texting her and telling her I had to go back to my apartment a few times and was just NOW getting underway. UGH. I was planning on napping on the way to the race, but it was now 7 a.m., 30 minutes before the start, and I now had to eat my banana. I was a mess now…feeling very stressed and rushed. I do NOT like getting to a race in this state. The parking garage Cathy wanted to park in was not accessible as they had closed the road getting to it. So, now we’re driving in circles looking for a place to park. She finally found a place…and paid only $5 to park there. We were shocked the price was so cheap! We got parked…and she grabbed the poncho I loaned her (it’s my super nice lined one from the NYC Marathon) and we headed down the stairs to the start. I tossed my banana peel and started to walk swiftly toward the start line. I got there with only moments to spare. No joke. We took a quick picture in front of the start line, I shed the poncho (it wasn’t raining yet) and ducked into my corral. I was so stressed and upset that I wasn’t going to be able to find Deana…and just as I found a place to stand…the gun went off…and we were off and running.
The morning was humid, but I felt good as I crossed the start line. I saw Cathy and gave a wave as I headed out for the first mile. I was determined to just keep it comfortable because I wasn’t here to race this half marathon. I was here just to run it. I fell into pace and headed down the long stretch of Main Street. It was crowded but I didn’t have to do too much bobbing and weaving, which is always appreciated. I felt good and blasted through the first 2 miles, making an easy turn onto 20th street. The pace remained relaxed for me, and I felt like I was pushing a little, but not hard, which I figured was fine for a girl who already ran 3 miles before the race. The course was a little less populated by spectators due to the impending weather. It was nice to have the scattered people out clapping and cheering though. At least this is a beautiful city to run, right?
I ran the full marathon back in 2014, pacing a friend of mine, and somehow forgot about much of this course. For some reason, I thought we ran through Churchill Downs around mile 6, so I was really looking forward to that. At Mile 6, I was heading down Magnolia Avenue and turning back onto 4th street. Churchill Downs was nowhere in sight. I was so confused!! But, I just kept going. I knew my running buddy, Tammy, said she was going to be out near Churchill Downs, so I kept an eye out for her…because I was certain it was coming up. Two miles later, I saw Tammy and made the turn to run into Churchill Downs. 8 miles down and now was one of my favorite parts of the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and Mini Marathon…the lap through Churchill Downs. Down the tunnel and back up…and then it was time to run around the infield. Normally horses are out, but the weather was gearing up to start raining and none of the horses were out running or training. So, that was a bit of a bummer. Ah well…then…back out through a different tunnel…up…and out of Churchill Downs. Just up the way is the infamous split. Mini Marathon runners go left…and Marathon runners go right (and start making their way to the hills of Iroquois Park). I turned left this time…heading into the last 5 miles of the Mini Marathon. 9 miles down…and soon…came the rain.
I had been silently cussing the fact that I wore a hat (I hate wearing hats when I race) and my Nikes instead of my Newtons…until this point. The rain, at first, was a light drizzle. It actually felt good. It was around Mile 10 when my friend Dan came up beside me and said “Hi” to me. I asked how he was doing, and he said he was starting to hurt (he ran Boston), and I wished him luck as he pulled up ahead. With the new front of weather, the hip started to get tight and I was feeling it now. The rain picked up a little more as I made it to the 11th mile marker. Two more to go. That was my mantra. Just two more to go. The stretch of 3rd Street was lined with few spectators…up until we hit the downtown area. Around Mile 12…the crowds picked up. People were shouting encouragement. And I made the turn onto Market Street. I could hear the announcer at the finish line, so I knew I was getting close. But that small stretch before making the turn toward the finish line felt like it went on forever. But I finally made the turn and pushed it as much as my tired legs could manage to hit that finish line. I saw Cathy just before crossing and she was just screaming. I heard my name get announced and I threw up my arms in victory and was all smiles at the end. My friend Daniel, who headed up the training program I went out with every Saturday, was there and he came over to high five me. That was the best part of the finish, right there. That high five meant the world to me.
I kept moving through the chute, got my Mylar wrap and my medal. And then I continued on for some water. I got an official finish picture taken and then continued on toward the Family Reunion Area…where I spotted Cathy on the edge of the fence-line…just waiting for me. I came up to her and she gave me my official time. I took 2 minutes (somehow) off my NYC Half Marathon Time and actually turned in my 4th fastest half marathon. I was shocked. I passed off the snacks I snagged on the way to the meeting point and did a few leg swings to help loosen up the hip some. After that, I was ready to get out of my wet clothes, get some coffee, and grab some actual food. So we left and did just that.
16.17 miles done that day!! And 13.1 of them were done in racing conditions. I never really felt like I was racing though, which speaks highly of my fitness levels. Given that I had to take a forced year off, this makes me feel really good as I come back from this hip thing.
So, the official results of the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon are that I finished in 1:41:18. I was 468/10,422 finishers overall. I was 95/6,209 female finishers. And I was 20/972 finishers in my division. I started this race under stress and a feeling more than a little flustered. I didn’t get to meet up with Deana as planned, but she and I texted pretty much most of the afternoon after she finished. We’re already making plans to train together for something bigger and better…and I couldn’t be more excited about this. My pace slowed at the end of this run, I think due to the weather and the fact that I ran ahead of the race. Next time, I’ll just count the race as my run. Regardless, this was my 17th half marathon I’ve run and my 4th fastest. Which…is super exciting given the challenges I have faced the past year. I am starting to not only regain confidence, but an easy, fast pace while racing too! I sort of needed this finish. I only wish I had felt stronger at the end of it.
I want to thank everyone who I met through the Norton Training Group (those who were race ambassadors, helping to run the group, and the runners themselves)!! I have some new running and, hopefully, lifelong friends who went through a rigorous training regimen and ran hills and did speed work and gave up their Saturday mornings just to train hard for this day. To everyone who finished…and to those who couldn’t…I am proud of all of you and am so happy to have met you.
I can’t wait to run with you more.