Race: Papa John’s 10 Miler
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: April 7, 2018
I don’t even know where to start with this one. And that’s rare for me, because finding words has never been a problem.
Normally, the Papa John’s 10 Miler would be considered my top and favorite race that Louisville has…every year…hands down. But this year…it just wasn’t what I remember it being.
And that’s sad.
First of all…yes…I am very aware that my time is 7 minutes slower than my 2016 time (I didn’t run it last year because my hip flexor had flared back up and I wasn’t allowed to run double digits yet…) This was by design…as this is a training run and not to be treated as a race for my training purposes. Is this hard for me to come to terms with. Yep. Not going to lie. My brain has a hard time wrapping around this style of training more often than not.
Second of all…going into this, the weather was predicted to be…unpredictable. At first, it was we were in a Winter Storm Watch…5-6 inches of snow. Then it was 1 inch of snow…alert lifted. Then the alert came back…and, honestly, I am just so DONE with this winter weather. It’s spring. It’s April. Winter needs to move along. Needless to say, a very small part of me (or maybe not so small) was sort of hoping that the weather would happen and the race would cancel, because, honestly, I wasn’t feeling it.
Thirdly…what the hell happened with the shirts this year? Usually the Papa John’s 10 Miler has really nice shirts…great colors (usually red and black), great logo…all the things. This year, the shirt was bright neon green with this year’s logo in solid black on the front. I hated it. AND…they ran out of female smalls. Never mind that I’ve been registered for awhile and specifically noted the shirt size I wanted was a women’s small. NOPE. In fact, my running coach signed up last minute for it and went to the expo early and the women’s smalls were GONE. So, now I have an ill-fitting race shirt that makes me feel like Slimer from the Ghostbusters with pizza on hand for a snack. I can’t even begin to tell you how much the shirt let me down this year. There was no thought put into them. And that just…sucks!
The rest will be mentioned as this race report goes on. My friend Melissa was a doll and went to pick up my race bib and shirt and deliver it to me, since she was already over in Louisville that day. She had Cathy tape her Achilles while there. After she left, I finished baking up some Lemon Blossoms, did the rest of my stretches, and hauled myself to bed, because rest is ultimately the most important thing going into race morning, even on mornings where you aren’t giving it your all.
I woke up the next morning around 5 am to fit in my stretches and figure out what I, ultimately, wanted to wear to the race. I glanced out my bedroom window and everything looked very underwhelming as far as the weather went. There was some snow in the air, and the grass was white…but the sidewalks and pavement just looked wet. Not icy. Not slippery.
This, obviously, boded well for the race director as the race was definitely a go. But I just wasn’t feeling it. I did my push-ups and my stretches prior to eating something small for breakfast while home. I went to get dressed, opting for layers this time around. I wore some fleece-lined running tights to keep my legs warm (and we all know that I already hate wearing pants when running). I put on a base layer top, followed by one of my warmer running tops (lined) and then my Saucony reflective vest to help with the gusting winds that morning. I originally had on some warm running socks and compression sleeves, but ultimately changed into a pair of my ProCompression socks to keep my ankles warm. I was so unenthusiastic about the race and the weather that I opted to not put my hair in pigtails…and braided it again. my Run The Bluegrass Ponya Band went on over my ears and my Dunkin’ Donuts hat I got at the start of the 2014 NYC Marathon went on to keep my head warm. Despite knowing I wouldn’t need them, my sunglasses were put on atop my head (I feel better when I have them). And that was that. I was as ready as I was going to be for the race.
Cathy had brought the sign with her to the car, but the wet rain was still happening, and that, sadly, would ruin the marker on the poster board. So the sign stayed in the car. We got down to the stadium and parked. Linda and Suzane were parked just a few cars up so I headed over that way…waved at the stranger (I hadn’t met Suzane yet) in the driver’s seat and greeted Linda when the door opened. The plan today was to run at a 9 min/mile (technically it was supposed to be slower). At this point, the wet snow was coming down hard and we were all still trying to figure out what we wanted to keep on for the race or shed. Ultimately, the three of us all decided to keep all our layers.
It was already close to the start time of the race, so we made our way up and over the bridge and toward Third Street. Along the way, Manivannan caught up to us and joined us in the trek. Linda and Suzane decided to take advantage of the plentiful and large line of port-a-potties near the start. The lines moved quickly and that is a good thing. Despite some killer hydration on my part…I was fine and didn’t need to worry about it. Probably good too, because there was, apparently, no toilet paper in the port-a-potties at the start line. Ummm…that’s sort of important. Just sayin’.
After a photo near the port-a-potties, we decided to head into the crowd of runners and find a good spot where to start. We inched our way forward…and then forward some more…because we saw a lot of the green WALKER stickers and wanted to at least get in front of that. Despite running this at an easier pace than usual for me…we at least wanted a good point from which to start.
And after the wheelchair racers were sent off…the start of the Papa John’s snowy 10 Miler…was off and running. I started my watch as we crossed over the mats and waved at Cathy, who looked miserable, standing on the sideline. And fell into an easy pace, dodging some people here and there just to find the space I needed to stretch out.
Apparently before she went to head to the finish and the (hopeful) shelter of Papa John’s Stadium, Cathy stumbled upon Paul and Melissa at the start. This is always exciting…especially since we were hanging out later that night for Wino & Dino (wine & dine, but with vegan foods, wine, and Jurassic Park). Melissa passed her NYC Half Marathon Mylar to Cathy to hold for her while they headed out. Talk about really good timing. Now she can use this one another day! Cathy tucked it into her backpack to make the trek to the stadium.
Once we found some open space, it was time to focus on the miles ahead. Linda’s watch was still set wrong for racing, so, just like in Run The Bluegrass, our run was serenaded by the constant chiming of her watch telling her that her pace was wrong. Not being able to change it…it was just how it was going to be. Good thing I tune things out and after awhile stopped hearing it.
We hit the first mile marker a full 0.1 miles ahead of my Garmin watch. I checked with Linda…she had the same. Hmm…this isn’t a new course…so it should be measured properly, in my opinion. We kept on, hoping that it would right itself as we got further into the race. Suzane wanted to shed her vest with a friend at the water stop after Mile 2…but it turns out he was, in fact, standing at Mile 2, which wasn’t Mile 2…because it was 0.25 miles off where it was supposed to be. Um…that’s a problem!! Having missed that opportunity Linda and Suzane decided to make use of the water stop just after the mile marker. They thanked the volunteers and hydrated before we stopped walking and went back to running.
Linda says I need to be kept on a retractable leash. HA!! We were definitely over the pace we were supposed to/trying to keep on this race. But, in the end, she’d thank both me and Suzan for it. We made the turn onto New Cut Road from Southern Parkway, and Suzan ran over to the First Aid tent to drop off her vest so she could pick it up on our way out of the park and wear it back in. We paused while she did this and then continued on. We passed the Mile 3 marker, now 0.3 miles off the actual distance (as in short) and a lot of runners were starting to take notice and complain about this while out on the course. The entrance to the park was different than I recall from 2016 and the other years I ran prior…and we ended up making some weird cut through a parking lot, back down, and then starting into the park. It was weird, I thought…because we always went in that first entrance and started up the hills. Not this time.
But this is where the hills basically get to play with your speed. Mile 4 ticked off, still before where it should have at this point in the race. I stopped looking down to see how much it was off. I was done. I know they have no power over the weather, but the mile markers being off were just as annoying. And I usually LOVE this race. I wasn’t loving any of it.
As we came up the climb at Mile 5, the halfway point, we actually hit the mile marker right on. That was exciting. Perhaps it would all be back on and correct. YAY! It was in here that another water stop was around and Linda and Suzan went to grab bottles and I said I wasn’t stopping…it was a downhill and I needed to fly. They grabbed and came with me, cracking their bottles when things leveled out. Just after Mile 6 we exit back out of the park and run back the way we came, so super flat…but as we were heading into that last hill, a woman asked, “Do you run Iroquios Park often?” I said, “Yeah.” And she said, “Are we almost out?” I nodded. “Just up this hill…down the other side, and out. Then you just have to worry about the hill over the bridge at Mile 9 heading toward the stadium.” She thanked me…and Linda called me back because I had gotten too far ahead.
We came down the hill and exited the park, stopping for probably a minute or slightly longer for Linda to take a salt tablet, drink some water, and for Suzan to grab her vest from the First Aid tent and put it back on. Suzan commented that I had white eyelashes. That’s how heavy and wet the falling snow was. When everything was situated, we headed back out down the road.
Mile markers were off…again. And I wasn’t going to even worry over by how much. It was by a good amount. And I just gave up on looking. While running, in an attempt to keep me slower, I was asked about my job, what I love doing, and all this. And then…at Mile 8 (on her watch)…Linda let me go. I think my watch was now ahead of the mile markers, but at this point, I was just happy to attempt to pick up my pace. The problem is…when I start slow…I don’t seem to be able to find my speed so picking it up isn’t easy. I’m not a finishing kick person and that makes the 2 mile push I was given feel like a slog. I also hate running on wet pavement…so there’s that.
Mile 9 came and eventually I made the turn back onto Central Avenue to climb up and over the bridge. I felt like I took on the bridge quite strong and my legs felt good as I battled up and over and took the downhill in stride. My training plan wanted me to kick it in at a 7:45-ish pace…and I was pushing as much as I could at this point given the weather and circumstances. I hit the turn and the flat road toward the stadium. I made the turn…and this is when I saw the finish line.
Outside. Of. The. Stadium.
I had looked at the race course map…and everything had the race finishing INSIDE the stadium. It has ALWAYS finished INSIDE the stadium. Apparently last year it didn’t, but again, I didn’t run it last year and most of my friends did Run The Bluegrass instead of the 10 Miler. I glanced at my watch and knew that the course was going to be short.
I wasn’t wrong. I crossed the finish line and stopped my Garmin, making a point this time to do it immediately instead of throwing my hands up in elation as I finish like I normally do. I wasn’t feeling happy at this point. I was wet, cold, and the course was wrong. I wasn’t amused at all. My watch showed 9.95 miles…so did Linda’s. And Paul’s had the course at 9.92.
Afterwards, I decided I wanted my full 10 miles (dammit!), so I jogged to the end of the parking lot and hit it. Then I snagged a banana, some mini KIND Bars, and a water. Cathy hadn’t eaten, so she nibbled on my free pizza (since I can’t eat Papa John’s pizza…and why let that go to waste, right). I walked back to where she was with Linda and Suzan and they went to go to get their own pizza and celebrate their finish.
It was cold and miserable and we decided to call it a morning and leave. We had invited them to brunch, but Suzan needed to get back to Frankfort…but I supplied them with some Lemon Blossoms for the ride home. As we were walking back toward the cars, we noted the computers where we could pull up results so we braved a few more moments in the cold to check them out.
Glad we did too…because Linda came in second in her age group! Bet she’s glad that I pushed the pace a little now (even though, ultimately, I wasn’t consciously doing this. I just have a high cadence so my pace is faster without me feeling like I’m pushing my limits).
So…the official results of the 2018 Papa John’s 10 Miler were that I finished in 1:23:33, which I already explained why this was kept slower than I raced it in 2016. I was 391/2890 overall, the 101/1573 females to cross the finish line, and I was 24/242 in my age division. It occurs to me more and more that I’m not big on training in races because, ultimately, I compare past results (if I have run it in the past) and then feel like a failure when everyone I know is hitting new PRs and I wasn’t even able to try for one. It just messes with my delicate runner’s psyche. HA!
Needless to say, this year’s Papa John’s 10 Miler, what I used to tote as my FAVORITE local race…let me down. And I just didn’t love it this year. Weather wasn’t their fault, but the rest just felt like it was disjointed and…honestly…disorganized. And that’s a bit of a letdown.
I don’t know if I’ll come back to it. I need to let it sit for awhile.
Thank God I went to North End Cafe afterwards, was able to change into warm, dry clothes, and drink a lot of nice hot coffee and feel human again. No less angry. But human. I felt a lot better after settling in at Melissa & Paul’s house that night for some wine and food and dinosaurs and exploding kittens. Sometimes the best therapy is friend therapy!