Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon – Louisville, KY (November 3, 2012)
Race: Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: November 3, 2012
Ever do something that completely surprised you and surpassed all your expectations? That’s kind of how I feel about the Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon. Honestly. In all truth, the way I was able to run it shouldn’t have happened. I should not have been able to do it as quickly as I did. Or as well as I did. In fact, I probably shouldn’t have been able to run this one at all. And there are a few factors that go into why I feel that way.
- I was only 2 weeks off of another half marathon, and never let up on my training, including that 10 mile run the weekend before.
- It was my first half marathon in bitterly cold conditions.
- Rain and sleet…yeah…that was interesting.
Needless to say, when I crossed that finish line I couldn’t believe the time my Garmin told me. Honestly. My plan was to run this one easy, and that’s what I did. Which means…I might actually be capable of breaking 1:50:00…one day. You know…but pushing it some (but not too early), but only if the conditions are right.
The conditions last Saturday morning, however, were anything but ideal.
The night previous, after having my mandatory gluten-free pizza meal (it brings me luck!), I headed over to Dick’s Sporting Goods. Why? Because I really didn’t want to wear my jacket during a half marathon, fearing I would definitely get too hot and then I’d be stuck wearing it for the rest of the race. My intention, being that it was going to be in the high 30s, was to find a long sleeve tech shirt with some sort of ‘keep you warm’ technology. There were a few options, actually, but I went with one from Nike. Purchase made…off I went to grab a dessert of ice cream and head home to get some rest.
And then came morning. I could tell it was cold when my alarm clock went off and I had to fight with myself to peel back the covers and get out of my warm cocoon of blankets. But, I did have a race ahead of me and I needed to get a little water into my system before that. So…I got up and got dressed in my compression tights and my new thermal top. For a moment, after seeing the exposed skin at my neck, I thought about putting on the running jacket anyway, but logic told me it would warm me up too much…so I skipped it. An hour later, my roommate got up and we had some cereal for breakfast. Then came the rush to get everything together. We played this morning very casual because the race was simply across the river, not miles and miles and miles and a lengthy car ride away. I decided, that since we were in close proximity to home, I wouldn’t bother with a change of clothes this time. I always have a change of clothes, even at local races…but I knew that post-race I was going to get some gluten-free goodies from my favorite allergen-free bakery and coffee from my favorite Louisville coffee shop before heading home. Why bother?
THAT decision came back to haunt me…so lesson learned.
We got my protein shake, some snacks, and my water bottle together. I filled up my race water bottle with Smart Water (my beverage of choice…yay electrolytes!) and then I shrugged into a few layers to wear pre-race and we were off. As we were driving across the bridge, my friend Keith, who was also running, texted to see if I was down there yet. I told him I was on my way and he said he was near the start line by bag check.
When we arrived, Cathy picked a close parking garage and for $5.00 we parked and headed out toward the start line. Which just happened to be right outside the parking garage. WOOHOO! How is that for some good race day mojo, yes? I couldn’t see any signs that said Bag Check, so Cathy and I meandered over to the Pure Tap 5K Registration booth…but still nothing. I texted Keith to let him know where I was. Then, I ate my mandatory pre-race banana while he made his way over.
Now, Keith and I had been going back and forth on what we were wearing during the race that day. He kept telling me he was wearing a parka…because he doesn’t do cold. Well, he wasn’t too far off. He arrived where I was waiting for him, dressed in his running tights that heat up when you begin to sweat or they get wet, a thermal shirt, a windbreaker, gloves, and a hat. I asked him if he was going to get too hot wearing all that. He joked and said he’d be the guy scooping up the discarded clothing of other runners and crossing the finish line with more on than he started with. We got a good laugh from that. We stood around and talked and then the Pure Tap 5K was about to start, so we stood there during the National Anthem and cheered when they took off, after a call to post by the official bugle player from Churchill Downs. Pretty awesome. A gunshot…and they were off.
This left us about 30 minutes before the start of the half marathon. While we were standing around and talking, the fountain we were standing next to came on. Yeah. Moments ago, runners were standing in there. And on a cold morning, starting off soaked to the skin due to a sudden fountain surprise would not have been good. Thankfully, they had all cleared out by this point so no one got soaked.
And soon, I was saying goodbye to Cathy and Keith and I were making our way to the starting area of the race. We hung back a bit. He said he was going to use me for pace as I was going to run this one easy being only 2 weeks off my last half marathon. I said that was fine and promised to run faster than a 10:00 mile. The National Anthem was played again…as was the call to post. We were told to go on the gun. But…no gun was heard. And I hadn’t started my iPod yet. Apparently it was fired because Cathy ended up getting the bullet for me as a souvenir. Yeah. Best souvenir EVER. We walked with the group toward the start line…and soon we were jogging…then…we were off.
And so a comedy of errors began immediately when it came to me. I started my watch…and it stopped. So I had to hit it again. My start line photo that Cathy took of me has me futzing with the damn Garmin. Then, only a few moments later as I’m taking off down the first stretch of road…my iPod falls off my belt. Seriously? It was just dangling as I ran, so I had to scoop it up, reel it in, and reattach it, all while running, and dodging people in that first initial sprint from the start. Blah. Not the best way to start the race. Kind of like getting off on the wrong foot.
Oh…and I left Keith behind…somewhere…
Mile 1 flew by, however. I have run the streets of Louisville numerous times. But nothing was as bad as coming out of the first mile and into the second mile and having to smell the fresh manure that was out in one of the feed store lots. Yeah. Not pleasant at all. The worst part…we later had to run by there again as we were coming into the finish.
Just after Mile 2…it began sprinkling. Nothing hard. Just a little bit of water. I had checked and the rain wasn’t supposed to get here until afternoon…so this was unpleasant, but if it stayed light…it would be okay. And for the most part…it did. I got through the third mile and headed into Cherokee Park for the next 3.5 miles of the race. This is where the hilly portion was. And I figured I was as ready as I could be at this point for it. Why? Because this is where I do a lot of my running. And the day I accidentally ran 11 miles instead of 9 was done on the path I would be taking for this race. Hills…I had this. I could eat these hills for breakfast, brunch, and second breakfast.
Cherokee Park was great. People who had been out getting there walk were cheering on the runners and just really keeping us motivated, even in the light sprinkling of rain. No better way to get over the steep hills of Cherokee Park than with a lot of crowd support. We had it here. And as we exited the park, near Mile 6, that was when the rain decided to really kick it up.
As in pour. As in downpour.
So, not only was I running in the cold weather…it was now cold and wet. And as I stated before…cold and wet are my two least favorite conditions to run in…especially simultaneously. BLECH! And…even better…the rain didn’t let up. Not one bit. So, for the last half of the race…I did it in the pouring rain.
I had my sunglasses on, and I was glad I did to keep the rain out of my eyes. However, my sunglasses were steaming up, so I’d have to use my gloved hands to rub them and clear them up. In addition to that, my Nike shoes, which are about a full size bigger than my normal shoes, were now getting soaked. Which, no big deal, except with how big these are, the water would slosh into the toes of my shoes and it just felt…weird.
So…the last half of the race was quite miserable…but you just have to make the most of it. I was actually just enjoying the run, regardless of the chill and dampness. I even broke a cardinal rule of mine and gave one of the announcers, around Mile 10, I think, a high five. Why? Because he asked for one. And it was awesome. Made me smile.
Coming back through the city meant that I was in the home stretch. I ticked off Mile 11. And then the announcer just after Mile 12 really lifted our cold, drenched spirits. He’d call out the bib numbers as you were running toward him and just tell you how great you were doing, that you looked amazing, and that the finish line was just down the road. Almost there. Yeah…that’s what we needed to hear.
And yes…about half a mile later, I could see the finish line ahead. I didn’t know what time I was coming in it, but I did pick up my pace. Slightly. Awesome. I made my final push for a strong finish and crossed the finish line. I went to pause my Garmin and saw that it said 1:52 with some seconds. And then I moved on through the recovery area with Cathy screaming her excitement from the sideline.
I was handed a Finisher’s medal and then made my way through the lines for a space blanket, water, Powerade, chocolate milk, bananas, and whatever else was being offered. I grabbed a couple of items. And then I met Cathy in the recovery area. She took my stuff and told me to go check out the runner’s afterparty to see what stuff they offered. I went to move around through there, keeping that space blanket wrapped around me because…I was cold. Nothing really grabbed my attention, so I went to find Cathy again. As I had been getting ready to head that way, I had dropped my Vitamin Water and my regular water, so I ducked back through the line to get those again. And then hurried back. She had my protein shake out and ready for me and I downed it. We went over to one of the buildings that acted as a buffer against the cold wind, and laid out the space blanket…and I propped my feet up to hopefully prevent any muscle cramping. I kept them elevated for about 10 minutes. Then…I was ready to get going. The race was great, but it was still cold and wet and I was beyond shivering now.
We had plans to stop by the allergen-free bakery (Annie May’s Sweet Café) in Louisville, KY so I could grab some breakfast and then we were heading to Highland Coffee for some warm coffee goodness and so Cathy could have one of their breakfast wraps. We did just that…and after devouring our breakfast at 11:00 a.m…we headed home. Because I needed a hot shower to get warm after being chilled down to the bone. And…we had the Bruce Springsteen concert in Louisville that night. Whew…busy day and a busy night still ahead.
LOVED this race. And fared very well in it, considering the conditions I was running in and how soon I was doing it after my half marathon in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I wasn’t running to set a new PR, but I sure as hell came close to doing it.
Official results of the Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon are that I finished it in 1:52:22!!! That is less than 1 minute slower than my PR I set in Hershey. WOOHOO!! I was 490/2143 overall; 107/1066 women; 21/194 in my division. Beyond thrilled and quite surprised at how well I was able to do two half marathons with so little recovery time in between.
I guess what Bruce Springsteen says is right…Baby, I was born to run.
On to the next…