Race: Louisville Half Marathon
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: November 12, 2017
Training has kicked in for sure this week for my January races. And these days, I’m slowing down my speeds on races and weaving more runs together. This is imperative. And I have to be smart about speeds at distances because I am just DONE with the whole hip/body falling apart JUST before races. Usually just prior to taper, so when the mileage is super high.
So…that is what went down with this race. I know…I just ran a half marathon last weekend (the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon), which I finally blogged about yesterday! WOO! See, I’m getting this done early. Good for me! *pats self on back*
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that this week I took two full days off in the middle of the week (Tues & Wed), and then had short runs through to the weekend. Yesterday, I ran half of my distance by myself and then met up with some amazing ladies to do the Thanksgiving course with them (they have never run it) to finish up the rest of my distance. Damn, I love running with people. Maybe that’s why I love racing so much.
Today I was supposed to run/walk this half marathon (which I signed up for last week, no joke) as part of my training, with my training partner, Matthew. But he had some family come through unexpectedly and texted me last night to let me know. It was just me today and I had to decide on my run plan. Since I really took it easy yesterday, I made an agreement with myself to walk the hills and water stops at this race instead of doing the 4 minutes running/30 seconds walking I was originally going to do. Since this is held in The Parklands, I knew there would be hills. BIG hills at times. SO…this was a good compromise with myself now that I had no one to reign me in with standard 4/30 intervals for a run/walk.
Packet pick-up was a MESS! Seriously. It was held at our local Fleet Feet in Louisville, but, the new location has very limited parking spots and the race organizers were setting packet pickup for 5 hours only…on Saturday. Whew. So, I arrived when the store opened and was told I needed to come back at 1 pm. *sigh* There was also race day packet pick-up, but I like being able to pin up and be ready on race day and not have to get there even earlier and concern myself with more lines and people and waiting. Especially when the weather is cold.
It was 20 degrees warmer than my 10 mile run yesterday…but it didn’t feel like it. HA!
Anyway…I went back at 1 pm. and got my bib and my shirt. It was a madhouse. I signed a waiver thingy…had to go up and tell people my bib number. There was nothing on it with my name, so then I started to second-guess myself on that. MEH! I double checked on my phone and I did have the correct bib. I just hate not having the security of my name being on the big itself…somewhere.
I spent the rest of the day grocery shopping and making homemade nut butter. I do that. HA! OH…and I swung by Annie May’s Sweet Cafe to place my Thanksgiving order and buy something to eat post-race (the pumpkin coffee cake was the winning selection!). Sorry, race organizers…I can’t have your Derby Pie at the finish, or beer, or granola bars. I mean…what race doesn’t have bananas??!! So…that happened. I made sure I recovered well from my 10 miles that day so I would be good to go for 13.1. This meant, I did finally get in some stretching. And then, my feet were up and I was on the couch, watching the new Spider-Man: Homecoming on blu-ray. Thanks, Redbox!!
Went to bed later than anticipated (I was up at 3:30 am to do my Saturday run and now I was going to have to do the same to get to the shuttle area and to the start without being too crunched for time)…but slept pretty well. I was probably just overly tired because I was fussing about the time my roommate was going to get up so she could eat breakfast and get ready without feeling rushed. And she is the worst about getting to races for parking. We were parking at Papa John’s headquarters and being shuttled and she still was stressing over that. But not as much as parking in a muddy field.
We were out the door in time to not be stressed for sure. I had my pre-workout mix with me and a Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Big Fig Bar to eat before the race. That was new for pre-race. But as I wasn’t running this race for time…I figured…why not try something new. I had the Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Matcha Happiness Ambition Bar before Monumental and that was new too! Whatever! I needed something to start off my race with some fuel in the tank. And I, myself, failed on the banana front for the second race day in a row. I think it’s time to get back into the banana habit.
I took a short power nap on the way to the shuttle buses and happily toted my blanket from the car with me to the bus and the race start. It was chilly, and while I was wearing my longer compression shorts, I knew I was going to be cold. I am ALWAYS cold. Getting on a bus to the start line was super easy. The return trip…is going to come at the end of this post. Wait for it! It might be in the form of a rant.
But I’m getting ahead of myself! GAH! So much running around in my head.
Okay…the announcer at the start/finish line was actually really perky and excitable. But he did keep using the same jokes over and over again. It was definitely too cold for the runners to be all excited at the start line, and he kept trying to get us to shout. At one point, I let out a loud “WOOOO!” and he said, “ONE PERSON…ONE PERSON IS EXCIED.” HAHA! Honestly, I was miserable because I had to give up my hoodie and really didn’t want to. But, we all started to crowd into the start corrals, which had tiny little areas for paces. No one really wanted to go up front…but there were some who honestly did belong to be up there and proudly went up to take their spots. There were also some overly-ambitious sorts too. HAHA! But I took up my spot around the 9 min milers at first and then was shuttled forward as the race neared the start time. They played the national anthem (we had NO flag in sight), and then…with a countdown from 10…we were off.
Now…I knew how tough the first 2 miles of this race would be because it was the same route as the Great Pumpkin 10K. I knew there would be ONE SUPER BIG HILL within the first 2 miles. I left the start area feeling good and loving not having any sort of time goal for this run. I just wanted to run it smart and get to the finish line. The first hill I ran up, but knew that the next one would be done at a walk because it would be STEEP! Totally didn’t care that I tossed up a hand to indicate my intention to walk and went up the hill that way. Of course, after doing that, it was difficult to get back into my stride…but I fell back into eventually. The first water stop, I didn’t walk. I had just finished climbing an evil hill. MEH. I kept going. Just before Mile 3, the turn-around for the 10K was happening. Most of the people ahead of me were turning around, but I was continuing on straight. This did open up the course a lot more, which was nice. I crossed over the timing pad for the 5K at 23:42. I can’t complain with that. I walked a monster hill, which also meant I conserved a bit of energy for the rest of the race as well. Miles 3 through the turn-around point were pretty much a steady downhill, with a few small inclines thrown in. Mile 4 was Pope Lick Park where I train a lot with my training partner, so I loved being familiar with the twists, turns, and terrain there. The hills aren’t bad through there and I figured out exactly where we would be turning around.
There was a water stop at Mile 4, but one of the pace groups was right behind me so I had to wait for them to pass before tossing up my hand to alert anyone else of my walk break. I took in some water and a bit of my Nuun Performance, then picked it back up again. The turn around was tight, but manageable. I hate hairpin turns in races, but when you are running an out-and-back race…it’s going to happen.
After turning around, the fun began. I actually caught up to a woman I had been talking to at the start of the race. We were just started talking and she mentioned she was from Minnesota. I told her that I was born in Minnesota. She asked where, and I told her Bloomington. Turns out she was a teacher in Bloomington for 34 years. I never went to school in Minnesota though…we moved to New York before I turned 4. But that was really cool. Her racing season is usually over by now and she goes into cross country skiing (how Minnesotan…my Grandpa did the same thing when he was a runner), but she came down for this one. That’s pretty cool. I was set for some fuel, so I let her go on ahead and I fell back to take in more Nuun Performance. Short break…back to it.
Out and backs are awesome because I can see friends of mine on the course. And I tried to say “HI” to as many as I could. I saw Nikky, Katie, and a few others that I know through Instagram and smaller races. And I got an amazing high five from my friend Melissa, who was pacing the 6 hour group for the marathon. That was just what I needed. I knew a crazy bunch of hill climbing was coming. And that basically started around Mile 9 and lasted through around just before Mile 11. BIG shout-out to my friend Kathryn who cheered for me when I came through the race initially and then on my way back through. It was fantastic to get the shout-out on the course. Really lifts you up.
I was actually concerned as I was coming back as the mile markers were a little off from my watch beeps, but as I started down the steep hill that I had walked up near the start of the race, my Mile 11 beep came just as I passed the sign. All was right in the distance world. With 2 miles left, I just did what I could to get there. My legs were tired, sure. Even walking hills takes a lot out of you. Just not as much. I started to catch up to people, which was nice. And as Mile 12 ticked by, I was ready to get to that finish line. There was one last hill to go up before making the turn to round out to the finish line. I decided not to walk it, but my pace slowed. This nice man in front of me, who had commented about me not liking hills when I was walking the bigger ones between miles 9 and 11 (and I explained I was coming back from injury and just not going to blow it all on a hill), waved at me and said, “Come on! We got this. Let’s do this one together.” It was just what I needed. Up and over and down. From there…it was just a matter of making the turn and taking the road around to that finish chute.
Some of the 10K walkers were still coming in at this point, and there was a couple right at the finish line as I was running in. They were holding hands and pretty much taking up the entire finish area. I squeezed past, which was fine, but it also meant they blocked the finisher photo that Cathy was trying to take.
I ran into Paul and Michelle (I met Paul through the KDF Ambassador Team last year and Michelle is gluten-free like me) just after finishing. Results weren’t posted yet for the half, so we were just sort of hanging out. Cathy was checking the phone for finishing results and told me that I had “unofficially” placed in my age division. Heck yeah! So did Paul, for that matter!! It was cold, so I pulled my blanket out of the backpack Cathy had and wrapped it around me. It wasn’t enough. I was sweaty and the wind had picked up. No Mylar blankets at the finish…no banana…meh. I was over it.
The official results finally were posted, and officially both Paul and I placed. YAY! But now we had to wait for the official results to be given to the age group award holders…which involved a lot more waiting. I was cold and hungry now. But…I’m glad I waited. Once I saw the papers handed off, I went right up there and…yep…there I was. Number 3 in my age division. BOOM!
Paul and I both obtained our age group awards and we went to take some photos. Afterwards, we parted ways. They were heading back to their car and I was on my way to meet the shuttle bus. We were told by people there that the shuttles were picking up at the dog walk park. So, we hiked that way. There were people standing there, so we joined in, after double-checking with the kid who was the volunteer there to be sure we were in the right spot. He said the buses had just left and would be back soon. After 10 minutes, a bus came into view. Full. And kept driving. And then, another 10 minutes later, the same thing happened. One of the ladies who had been standing there before then, flagged down that bus driver and asked about where the buses were picking up people. He said they were told to go to the finish area.
Now we were all pissed as we were told to come here and had been freezing waiting on a bus. He called back to the finish and said a bus was coming for us. Thank God. After a total of about 30 minutes, we were on a warm bus and making our way back to Papa John’s headquarters and the car.
I was extremely tired and hungry. The plan had been to go home and do breakfast, but the whole return to the car took longer than expected. It was almost 11:30…so Cathy decided we would go back to North End Cafe today and have brunch. Good call. We had a 30 minute wait, but we already knew what we were ordering. Coffee…and the potato melt (minus the cheese and sour cream for me). Food and coffee hit the table and then were used as recovery as we both devoured our food. Coffee…they gave us some to go on our way out if that tells you anything. HA!
So…the official results of the Louisville Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:44:09…walking the steep hills and the water stops. Hell yeah! I was 59/749 finishers overall. I was the 12/420 female finishers. And I was 3/76 in my age division. Once again, taking smart and planned walk breaks. It’s all about staying injury free right now. I’ll focus on time again when this body is really ready and fit to race.
For a first-year race…not bad. But they really need to work a bit on the after-race situation with shuttles, when shuttle use is being encouraged. Having runners stand out in the cold that long after a run is not good for anyone involved. Especially runners. Hypothermia is real, friends. Thankfully, it all worked out in the end. Also, I would like bib’s to have some sort of deciphering quality as to which race is being run. There was a mass start for a 10K, Half Marathon, and Marathon this morning and no real way to tell who was running which race. ALSO…I wish the medals were different. The finisher’s medal was for all three races, with no separate ones for the 10K, Half and Full. Which…I guess saves money, but having one for your distance is way nicer.