Papa John’s 10 Miler – Louisville, KY (March 31, 2012)
Race: Papa John’s 10 Miler
Place: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY
Date: March 31, 2012
This was the big one.
Not only would this equal out to an amazing long run for my half marathon training, as well as really give me an idea of the pace I’m capable of, this also was the final leg of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running. Before I go into the race itself, let me just say this…kudos to Louisville for putting on this amazing and very fun racing series. I’ve enjoyed the build up to the Papa John’s 10 Miler, with the 5K to start it off, and the 10K in the middle. This has been a great series to be a part of. I loved every mile of every race and experienced a PRs at every single one.
How’s that for my first year doing this?
So, the morning started off in typical fashion. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to get dressed for the race, eat some Honey Nut Chex cereal and a slice of Udi’s Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread with a schmear of Wowbutter (nut-free peanut butter) on it. Mmmm…gluten-free breakfast for the energy to get through 10 miles. WOOT! I was feeling good. I slept amazingly well. Apparently we had storms come through. I heard some thunder around 10:30 p.m., but missed the rest of it. I’m okay with that as storms usually wake me up and I really, really wanted to be well rested for this one.
I updated my iPod Nano and quickly mixed up my vegan chocolate protein shake for after the race. That went into a makeshift cooler, my running bag was packed with a Lärabar (Apple Pie, for those wondering), a granola bar for my roommate, and I put some chunks of dehydrated papaya into a baggie to carry with me should hunger hit on the long run. A quick brush of the teeth and getting my number pinned on and we were set to make the drive into Louisville.
And that went smoothly up until we hit a line of traffic on I-65. BAH! Apparently they are busting up the concrete barriers to, allegedly, put in taller ones. But until that happens, it’s just a mess. But we got through it and made it down toward the stadium, where we were now on a mission to find parking. Our original route, it turns out, was blocked and we were directed to a very far-off lot that was not to our liking. We basically had to hike toward Churchill Downs from there and it was not close. So, we skipped parking there, turned around and headed back. Where, somehow, we stumbled on side roads that got us around the road block and into a parking lot for the people in the race. SWEET!!
The hike then started. From our parking spot, we headed toward Cardinal Stadium, then through a parking lot, up a flight of stairs to a bridge that carried us toward our destination. The start was near a Starbucks…which you know, caffeine and coffee are a runner’s best friend. I never deviate from my pre-race food though so by-passed it, knowing I was going to a locally owned (and my favorite coffee shop around here) afterwards.
I had a little bit of time to stretch before finding a place at the starting gate. I didn’t want to be too far back, but I didn’t want to be too close either. I usually fall in the middle of the pack, but I got into that area before it got stupid-crowded, so I was near the front…so that it took me…just about 2 minutes to get there after the race kicked off. Not bad, considering my roommate headed toward the stadium for the finish line wait and there were tons of runners and walkers still waiting to round the corner to even see the starting gate. LOTS of people in this race.
Another important note I should make is that this was my very first time racing with a GPS watch. You know, I swore up and down that I would never be one of those runners who ran with one of those watches…but I needed to stop running with my iPhone. Seriously. So, I treated myself to a Garmin 210 and absolutely love it. I didn’t get to test it out pre-race though because the night I was going to go for a run, I ended up twisting my knee at work and thought it better to ice it and rest. Good decision in the end.
So, the basic break-down is this. The first mile went by quickly. And I held a pretty steady pace throughout the entire race. That is something I am very proud of. The second mile was just as fast and soon we were rounding a bend heading toward Mile 3. This is what I knew about Mile 3. At Mile 3, we entered Iroquois Park, which, I have run before and I know the hills are KILLER!! So, I was trying not to go out too fast because, I had 10 miles to run, and because I knew I would have steep hills to contend with. This was a smart move.
The hills were just as I remembered them…long and steep. And I did my best to push on at each one. I never once walked. My pace slowed…but only slightly. I credit that to my practice on hills as of late while running outside. I am off that treadmill as much as possible these days now that the weather is warming up. Miles 3-6 were on hills, mostly going up, as the downward bits were not as long as the upward climbs. Naturally. But, my headband of choice today stated: “BEAT THE HILL” and that’s what I intended to do. And I managed. And finally, Mile 6 passed and out of the park we went. And here is where I clocked my fastest pace on the entire race. Yes…after running up hills. After coming back to a flat track. From Mile 6 to Mile 7, I was flying. I didn’t even realize it until I plugged in my Garmin and uploaded the data. Very proud that I can turn on the speed that late in a race.
At Mile 7, I knew all I had left was less than a 5K, so I tried to keep a good pace going, even though I knew I was starting to get fatigued. I managed. I powered on through Mile 8. This was where we passed where we started. I knew…the finish was getting closer. I kept it going, loved that I was being told I was in the top half of runners in the race and then rounded the corner at Mile 9…to be greeted with yet another hill. Oh, Louisville…curse you and your random hilliness. This hill was the bridge we had to walk over to get to the start line. I should have thought of that as we were walking it that morning that I’d probably be running up it later on. But it didn’t occur to me. Oh, miles 8-9 also meant running straight into the wind. Of course. So, hill and strong winds. I can do this, right. Yes. Getting up the hill meant I was now heading into the finish. Half a mile away and I could see the runners making the turn ahead to enter the stadium. I had a corner to round, then a small straightaway and then…I rounded that corner to head toward the stadium entrance. I rushed through the gate, hit the concrete, ran down the ramp, and then hit the turf. Which, I wasn’t expecting. And I had never run on that before so it was just a matter of getting used to it.
The finish line was on the opposite end of the stadium, so we had to round the field and head in toward the finish. I knew I was doing better than my goal I had set for myself. I didn’t realize how much better. My roommate was on the sideline in the stands, cheering and clapping and telling me to GO! I crossed the finish, smiling, and headed away from the finish area so other runners could come in and not run into me.
I found some stairs and got into the stands, found my roommate, and downed my vegan chocolate protein shake. After that, we moved around and I drank up some water to rehydrate. Then called my mom as I propped my feet up to get the blood rushing back to all extremities and out of my legs. After talking to my mom, I went into the bathroom to change and prepare for the rest of the day, which meant a coffee stop, some shopping, lunch at P.F. Changs, and then the rest of the grocery shopping.
As it stands, my results for the Papa John’s 10 Miler are that I finished the race in 1:29:33. I was 1599/6912 finishers overall and 79/573 in my division. Let me tell you…I am way beyond thrilled. All the hard training I’ve been doing for my upcoming half marathon has really been paying off. I can tell with these results. I’m right on par with where I hope to be for the half. So, this is a great sign.
And with that…the Louisville Triple Crown of Running comes to a close. And now I can’t wait to do it all again next year. This was a blast. I’m so glad I participated.