Race: Papa John’s 10 Miler
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: March 23, 2019
There was a time when I would tell everyone that my favorite local race was the Papa John’s 10 Miler. That changed after last year, when I didn’t know we weren’t finishing in the stadium, the course was short, the weather was awful, the shirts were cheap and ugly…
I mean, the race can’t help the weather, but the rest of it…
At the Rodes City Run 10K, it was announced that the course of the Papa John’s 10 Miler was different this year, however, we would be finishing in the stadium again. Happiness. There was hope for this race yet. As for the race shirts…well…I’ll get to those in a moment.
The plan my coach gave me was pretty much similar to the plan he had given me before the Rodes City Run…race the race…and then hit some marathon paced miles in a long run the following day. The only difference was the distances I would be running. So, I try not to think about the fresh hell waiting for me on Sunday when I am all-out racing on Saturday. I, once again, waited until race week to register for this race. When I told my coach that I was eyeing these for my race calendar, he really took that to heart. And it was a good way for him to test my legs and endurance in the process. So, I registered and found out that, once again, I was a seeded runner with a low bib number. I didn’t put in for that on the registration, it just was assigned to me. Part of being a consistent runner in these races. I only missed it a few years due to injury. And I have come a long way since the first time I ran it in 2012.
Packet pickup for this race is always at Cardinal Stadium (formerly Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium) in one of the suites. So, Cathy and I left work slightly early to make the drive into Louisville to get my race packet. We parked and took the elevator up to the expo. I immediately saw Chris Powell. He said, “Can I help you, or are you one of those…I already know…you’re one of the speedy runners.” Chris…don’t ever stop making me smile. I walked over to the table for the elite and seeded runners and got my bib. I was 59 this time. I was told that the t-shirts were behind me. And here we go again with the cheap-ass, uninspired, ugly, unisex, poorly fit t-shirts. If you’re a man…these will look great on you. If you’re female…well, you’re shit out of luck because this race no longer does women’s cut. They do these cheap logo shirts now…where you have to size down and still not have it fit appropriately…not impressed. And it’s too bad, because I used to rave about the Nike, fitted, race shirts that this race used to give out. Cutting corners isn’t always a good thing. Not one bit.
Same dinner happened the night before the race…the cauliflower crust pizza I described in the Rodes City Run 10K race blog. No need to rehash that. My evening routine was much the same too. Stretch, foam roll, sleep. Then wake up, eat, stretch, foam roll, get ready to run.
I had lots of pink showing for the Papa John’s 10 Miler, so my mom was well represented. It was cold outside. Which, as you know, doesn’t make me happy. So I bundled up with layers for pre-race walking to the start and the inevitable wait for the start of the actual race. Cathy and I had to clear some ice off the window of the car, but we got out on the road with plenty of time to park and make the hike up and over the overpass to get to the start line.
Or so we thought. The lots that we were told to park in were being blocked by the police from the direction we were driving in from. This caused us to drive around in various circles through the Louisville streets, with many random turnarounds and wrong turns, with no instruction from the officers themselves…until we finally came at it from the opposite side and managed to get into one of the green lots.
Dear Papa John’s 10 Miler Race Director peeps…….in the future…let us know about road closures if we are coming from, say, Indiana, okay?
And now our little cushion of time was really condensed. SUCK! We popped out into the cold morning air, and started to swiftly walk the very far distance from our parking space to the stairs to take us up to the overpass, which we then needed to cross over and then turn the corner and make our way to the start. The thing was…the start line was further up from where it has been in previous years. That was unexpected. We had to pause on our way there, with speakers going in and out, for the singing of the National Anthem. Cathy was trying to get me to shed layers when our friend Laura came over to say HI and chat for a moment. I ended up shedding my winter hat prior to the race, as much as I wanted to keep it, because it would hinder my pigtails, and Cathy excused herself to go get a good spot for the start of the race.
Laura and I got to chat a little while longer, and a reporter for the Voice Tribune came over and asked to take our picture. So, that happened. She wished me luck and went to find a spot to start from. I moved a bit further up, spotting my friend Courtney. She was shivering in shorts, a tank top, and arm warmers, saying that she totally underestimated the cold weather that morning. I wished her luck and she did the same, saying that she was coming off of a stomach virus and I would definitely be ahead of her.
They were getting ready to start, so I went to get to the left side, and I spotted one of my favorite podcasters, Tina Muir. She’s amazing and super fast (and came in 2nd female overall in this race!) and went to introduce myself. She shook my hand and asked me my goals. I told her that I was hoping to beat my PR on this course, which I went in 2016. And then she asked me about the course, which I told her was pretty flat leading into the park. The three miles in the park are hilly, but then it’s flat coming back until the overpass climb at Mile 9. Then flat to the finish. She said her coach (also her husband) wanted her to hold back for the first 5 miles and then let loose in the 2nd half. I was supposed to be all-out the entire time. I wished her luck and went to stand a few spots behind her, as the elites filled in around me. I saw her infamous power pose at the start line and before you knew it…the horn was sounding at we were off.
My coach wanted me to not blitz the first couple of miles, and to ease into it with the pace, and then really start pushing it. So, I attempted to not hit the 6 minute miles and succeeded. HA! Honestly, it’s not hard for me because the 6’s are just not a place I can hang. Not yet. (Optimism!) They were between 7:15-7:19. I was sort of in the midst of that early pace when my friend Dan spotted me from the sideline and shouted out to me. I gave a wave and a quick, “HEY!” I felt good at this start, but the hard part of the race was yet to come, and with an intense week of training prior to this…well, I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to keep that up, because I had about 35 miles going into a 10 mile race that week. Whew. But I was feeling pretty good at the start and was just ready to see what I could do.
Mile 3 is where we enter Iroquois Park. In case you are unfamiliar with this park, or previous blogs of mine where I mention it…there are hills. LOTS of hills. I was hoping they wouldn’t slow me down too much this year. I wanted to make sure I was charging up them, not letting them slow down too much…and ride…ride those downhills down and prepare for the next uphill. I managed to make my legs work those hills and remain powerful throughout the park. I was wearing my hydration vest for the first time in a race, so water stops weren’t an issue. I came out of the park just after Mile 6 and knew that I had 3 miles until the next climb.
My legs felt trashed after all those ups and downs, but I continued to press, and my pace was able to pick back up as I headed back toward the finish, which would be in the stadium. I hit the low 7’s on my 7th mile and knew that I needed to wake them back up so that the climb up at Mile 9 wouldn’t kill my speed. I passed the spot where the start was, and the DJ was out there just really encouraging everyone to keep going. We were so close now. I made the turn at the corner and started up the hill. I was about halfway up when my friend Terry, shouted out my name. I turned and gave a wave and then powered up the rest. It officially killed my legs, that climb. I couldn’t get the speed back after the downhill and the run to enter the parking lot of the stadium. Here we now run around the stadium to enter on the opposite side that we used to, and then we hit the field. I had no momentum left, so I was glad this was it for me for the day with no additional miles to tack on. I ran as hard as I could manage, which wasn’t much, to the finish line and crossed.
Cathy was screaming at me from her spot in the stands and waving at me. All I heard was, “YOU SMASHED IT!” I had made a point of not looking at my watch or the clocks again on the course, so I thought I had come in around or after my 2016 time. But apparently I came in almost a full minute under my PR for this race. That was UNEXPECTED!
I caught up with my friend, Bekah, afterwards. She still had 6 more to run that day. I told her good luck with that, as I would be running the following day. I met up with Cathy outside after snagging some water. I went to snag the free pizza for her to eat and some of the free race snacks afterwards. And then…celebrating a new 10 Miler PR…we made the very cold hike back to the car. Cathy let me wrap the blanket she had with her around my shoulders to help stay warm. We finally got to the car and I started to get warm…and we spent the rest of the day shopping and celebrating a PR…and then going to the Louisville City FC season opener. For the record, the coach for LouCity ran the 10 miler and totally beat me in by 7 minutes.
So, the official results of the 2019 Papa John’s 10 Miler were that I finished in 1:15:52, which shaved just under a minute off of my PR time I set in 2016. WINNING. I was surprised, because I didn’t feel as strong in this one. But, sometimes I surprise myself. 246/2981 of finishers overall. I was the 57/1616 females to cross the finish line. And, I was the 11/231 in my age division. BOOM! Love a shiny new PR. It might just make up for the shirt I’ll never wear.