Race: Rodes City Run 10K
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: March 23, 2013
Breathing is highly overrated. Not really. But this race just went to prove how important breath control is when you are running. I’m battling bronchitis…and on the morning of the Rodes City Run 10K…the last thing I really felt like doing was running. Every breath I took was a rattling, wheezing mess in my lungs. My nose was stuffed. My body was just tired and worn out, fighting off this nasty bug. The sheer act of climbing out of bed was enough to make me want to climb back in and take a long, long nap.
I felt like death.
No really. I felt…like death. Sort of looked like death too.
It was enough to think that all my attempts the previous night to feel better were a waste of time and money.
After picking up my packet at Louisville Slugger Field after work on Friday, my roommate and I headed out to Oxmoor Mall…for my prerequisite night-before-the-big-race gluten-free pizza. I still had money on a gift card for BJ’s Brewhouse, and since they have gluten-free pizza…it was a logical choice. We kept the toppings easy…cheese, mushrooms, roasted red peppers. And then, as a treat for making it through the week, and because I wasn’t feeling good, we also split one of their gluten-free chocolate chip Pizookies. Which, while calorie content might be insane, I didn’t care…because the cookie was warm, gooey, delicious, and the vanilla ice cream was melty and creamy and…oh…so good. Hey, sometimes you just have to treat yourself, right?
As I was not feeling good, my roommate hauled me over to Teavnana in the mall and had them brew me up a cup of Sick Tea. Which was really good and just what my body needed. Afterwards, we made a few stops at some of our grocery stores while we were out on Shelbyville Road, so we could avoid it on Saturday. I bought a tea specifically for colds at Whole Foods. Then, I hit up Walgreens for Vaporub, Mucinex, and Halls, and hoped my self-medication would knock this out of me overnight so I could at least have a good run.
That was wishful thinking. As I mentioned, despite downing tea, Mucinex, and slathering my chest and feet (yes…my feet!) in Vaporub, I woke up with a deeper rattle in my chest that was a bit more persistent than the day before. My nose was still stuffed. And I felt…like death. Have I mentioned that before?
That being said, I went ahead and got cereal into bowls for breakfast, grabbed a few protein bars for pre-race snacks, and started the coffee maker. While the coffee was running, I went ahead and brewed more of the tea for colds and let it steep. Which meant I had time to drink that down just as my roommate was waking up. So, cereal, I sip of water, and then coffee followed. I didn’t take my Mucinex in the morning because I was reading online that taking cold medicine before a race isn’t the best idea. I decided to slog it out without any and take some immediately following the race. I tucked a bunch of tissues into my shirt sleeves and more into my jacket for pre-race, and we got into the car to head into downtown Louisville to find parking.
That wasn’t as difficult as we anticipated and we ended up parking in an open lot a short walk from the start in front of the Brown Hotel. And…extra bonus…it was only $3.50 to park. NICE! So, we tossed our stuff into the trunk and started hiking in the cold morning air toward where the start of the race was.
We were so early…the start line wasn’t even up yet. And, because this race is held in the midst of downtown…there really was nowhere we could duck into to keep warm. That was something I didn’t need to worry about the year prior, as it was quite warm for that race. I remember being really hot at the finish line. Standing around outside last year was awesome. No problem. This year…I was shivering and fighting my need to stretch. Cold weather means you best be good about your stretching. Get those muscles warm and keep them warm. But I couldn’t get myself warm. So…thirty minutes before the race, I at my No Gii Protein Bar and did a few lunges, stretches, high knees, butt kickers, knee circles and some hip circles.
As I was warming up, a photographer from Brightroom came over, noticing the sign that Cathy has at every race. He said that he sees that sign at every local race and looked at me and asked if I was Karen. I nodded and said I was and he asked if he could get a picture. Of course. So we posed with the sign. And then he reminded me he needed to see my race number, so the warm fleece jacket was unzipped and pictures retaken. The legendary sign does it again. After that…I ended up shucking the jacket and hoodie I had layered over my cold weather running top (I think if I hadn’t been sick…the running skirt and short sleeves would have been on regardless) and removed an extra tissue and a cough drop.
With the start line up, people were already filling the starting area, so I gave Cathy a hug and she wished me luck and told me to have a good race. I looked at her, and practically in tears, I said, “It will be slow.” I, to this very moment, can’t believe how much it pained me to say that. Probably because I have been feeling so good about this race series. I’ve been training through the winter, getting stronger at racing, and just loving the runs. I was loving nothing about running this morning. Fighting back tears, I folded a tissue into my hand and went to find a spot to stand for the start of the race. I found a little pocket that was about 30 feet back from the start line and tucked in there. Lots of people were talking…discussing the race and their strategy to run it. I was just hoping not to die from lack of oxygen.
The National Anthem was sung and we all fell silent and paid due respect to our flag. A minute before the official start, the four wheelchair racers were sent off on the course. It was almost time to go. I popped the cough drop into my mouth in hopes that it might ward off any coughing fits like those I’d been experiencing in my training runs for my upcoming half marathon. The starting area snugged up and then we were sent off with the air horn. At least…I think an air horn sent us off. Because most everything is a foggy memory to me…damn bronchitis.
The crowd I was standing in began the starting line shuffle…slowly moving toward the actual starting gate. It took me less than a minute, I think, to reach the line…and I was off. I started my Garmin and darted over the sensors at the start. I spotted Cathy with the sign and gave a wave, but she didn’t see me. I could tell. And…off I went.
The race starts on East Broadway, which we basically run all the way down until we hit Grinstead. This is a good stretch of downtown Louisville. And…this also had the wind blowing right at us for the first couple miles of the race. You just suck it up and go. Or in my case, wheeze through it. I was running slower than I like…but not taking it easy either. I knew I wasn’t hitting my normal race pace, but I had to push myself a little. It’s race after all. Not that I enter the Triple Crown of Running to win anything. I am not that fast of a runner at all. I enter it because it is one of the best race series in this area and I had SO much fun with it the year before. That being said, even with bronchitis, I felt that while taking it easy I still needed to challenge myself. I told myself I’d listen to my body…and my body was still sounding a lot like Pumba rustling through the African desert for grubs. UGH! Stupid lungs!
I survived the first mile, which was an accomplishment all its own in the cold air. My body was fighting every breath. I was struggling. I could tell my legs were fighting each time I pushed off the pavement. I was pretty certain a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was a struggle to just draw breath…and breathing is integral to running. So…color me screwed!
Mile 2 was up next and I was thankful to have made it this far. I navigated the water stop and continued on my way. The turn onto Grinstead to take the road around Cave Hill Cemetery was ahead. And I remembered that path from the previous year I ran. Little bits and piece of the course were filtering into my head. I guess it was one way to keep my mind off the rattle in my lungs and the chesty cough that I let out every now and again.
Mile 3 meant we were past the “hilly” portion of the race and what remained was virtually flat. Awesome. And I was running through that halfway point before I knew it. I made no attempt to glance at clocks or my watch…because I didn’t want to know. I just wanted to run my race and make it to the finish line. It was the only goal I set considering how I felt.
Around the cemetery I went with a large group of runners and then Mile 4 clicked by. Two more to go…plus the added .2 for the 10K mark and I was home free. I wheezed, I coughed, I gave my all and pressed on through the next mile. One more to go. When I made the turn onto East Main Street, I knew that it was a straight shot down toward Slugger Field, around a corner, and then onward to the finish line at the waterfront. The last mile had me at least entertained by a couple of guys who started singing Wham songs. I don’t know why…they did. And it was what I needed to take my mind off my rough breathing and just laugh (or cough, in my case) a little.
I made the turn and could see that finish line ahead. So, with whatever reserve power I could find, I made the final turn onto the straightaway to the finish line and just…powered as much as I could toward that gate. I ran as fast and as hard as I dared and could manage. My body was just tired and worn out. It was fighting bronchitis. It was fighting the cold. But I really just needed to hit that finish line. I did. I threw my arms up in the air, then gave a wave to Cathy before stopping my Garmin.
And somehow…even with bronchitis…even with feeling like death…I pulled off a new PR, beating my previous 10K time by 4 minutes. I was shocked. I was surprised. I am still trying to figure out how I managed it.
That being said, upon spotting Cathy in the finish area, I walked over to her, saying, “I…I can’t breathe. I…I can’t…I can’t breathe.” I couldn’t. Each breath was a rattle and a gasp. She told me to head down toward the water and she’d meet me there. So, I slowly began to walk that way. I grabbed a cup of water and slowly sipped on it, feeling how fast my heart was beating, how hard it was to even draw in a single breath. I coughed hard a few times. Finished up the water and spotted Cathy as I grabbed one more cup.
I asked her for my jacket…which is something I never do after a race. Even on the coldest race mornings, after running I’m usually too warm to even want my jacket back, even if the temperature is cold. But I was chilled to the bone, and all I wanted was to be warm. As we were standing around, another runner came over and congratulated me on a good race. She said she spotted me at Mile 4 and used me as a pacer for her. We stood around and talked for awhile about races and sparkle skirts (she was wearing one and is good friends with the creators) and all that crazy stuff. We congratulated each other again, then I went to grab a small banana to split with Cathy as we made our way back toward the car. No hanging around this time…I wanted some breakfast and to get warm.
As we were walking to the car, I woman runner noticed the sign and asked who was running the Chicago Marathon. I told her I was and that sparked a conversation as we all walked through downtown toward our respective parking areas about marathons. She ran Boston a couple years back and said that while everyone talks about Heartbreak Hill…the entire course is hilly. This made me laugh…and cough.
I love my fellow runners. We said goodbye to downtown by piling into my car and making our way to Annie May’s Sweet Café for gluten-free donuts and a gluten-free/allergen-free/vegan breakfast sausage and “cheese” sandwich. I changed clothes before eating and did my best to warm up with a good breakfast post-race. It was a good day…and I was actually surprised…and quite proud of my accomplishment. I wonder what I could have pulled off had I been feeling 100%. Maybe I can figure that out next year.
So, as it stands, the official results for the Rodes City Run 10K are that I finished in 47:40. It was a new 10K PR for me, despite being sick! Wow. I was the 523/6572 finisher overall and the 97/3694 woman to cross the finish line. And I was 25/609 in my age division. Not too shabby for a girl running while having a hard time breathing and battling bronchitis. I’ll take that.
Next year…Rodes City Run 10K…I intend to take you on stronger and much, much healthier. But…good race. I might have felt like death that morning, but the race definitely put a little life into me.
Drastic weather changes suck.
No. For real. They do.
Let me explain why. Last week, Saturday morning offered up gorgeous 60°F weather. I went out to Seneca Park in Louisville, Kentucky, and ran an easy six miles for training. It was gorgeous out. So gorgeous that I enjoyed that run in shorts and a t-shirt. No need to layer. No compression gear necessary. Leave that winter gear at home. It was the perfect morning for a run. It got up to 72°F that day and I was out in it as much as possible.
That night…rain rolled in. Rain and cold. And when I woke up the next morning, the cold, damp blech was still falling from the skies. A check of the weather showed that it was going to be with us all day. And I had a race to run that evening in Frankfort, Kentucky. And errands to run that afternoon once places began opening for their Sunday hours. So, out into the cold blech I went. And I can say that, because at one point, we had the cold air, the rain, the snow, and sleet all falling from the sky at once, making road and sidewalk conditions rather…treacherous. Not. A. Fan.
I also was not a fan of being inside and then back out into the mess of the world that day…time-after-time. I’d finally get some warmth back into my bones and it was time to scurry through the pouring rain back to the car. And…remember…the high the day before was 40 degrees warmer than it currently was.
I ran my race in just the cold. The rain stopped moments before the run, and started up again about the time my booty hit the seat of my car to drive back to Louisville. I was thankful for that. But…the crazy weather took it’s toll…
Here I sit…with this upper respiratory…THING. I am NOT a happy runner. A happy runner wouldn’t have to fight for each breath. A happy runner wouldn’t have a coughing fit in the middle of a run. A happy runner wouldn’t have to carry a pack of tissues. A happy runner would be in shorts and not layered still. It’s the end of March. Last year I was in shorts and t-shirts by this point. This year, I’m sucking in cold air and my lungs just aren’t handling that very well.
The worst part is…I have a race on Saturday. Not just any race, where I feel like I could plod along and be okay with my finishing time. It’s not “just another” little 5K race to run to work on, maybe, getting a little faster. Nope. This is the second race in the Louisville Triple Crown of Running. The Rodes City Run 10K. And last year I ran my heart out in this race. And I’ve only since gotten faster.
Coming into the Triple Crown this year, I was definitely feeling that I could improve on all of my times from last year. And I definitely did that in the Anthem 5K, with my first sub-23 minute 5K race time and my new 5K PR. So, that made me feel good about the 10K this weekend. Until the mega blahs hit. When breathing becomes difficult, running becomes even more difficult.
Needless to say, the best I can do now on Saturday is hope I just run the best race I can. Not worry about my pace, my time, who might be ahead of me. Breathing…that’s the key. Maintaining a pace where I can still attempt to breathe is far more important than blitzing the hell out of the streets of Louisville in search of a new PR. There will be other 10K events and other Triple Crown years ahead of me. No need to do something crazy and make a bad situation worse.
I won’t lie…I am beyond disappointed. I’m angry. I’m upset. But, these are the cards I have been dealt. At least I can still get out there and move. At least I can still run. Albeit it, my training runs have been less than enjoyable…slower than usual…and have involved quite a few moments of labored breathing…lots of gasping…even more coughing. I think I sound like a warthog in search of something to eat while I’m out at 4 a.m. getting my training run logged. That is no lie.
So, I suppose…Saturday I’ll just get my Pumba on…run the best race I can in the condition I am in…and just enjoy it. That’s what it’s all about for me anyway…doing something I love. Even if it sounds like I should be out nosing through the African savannah in search of grubs…the Rodes City Run 10K will be finished by me.
Hakuna Matata – no worries. There’s always next year…
Race: Run For The Gold 3K
Place: Frankfort, Kentucky
Date: March 17, 2013
Take that…last year’s time. I just beat you by 2 minutes and 21 seconds. HA!
And I did it…when I really, really, really didn’t want to.
As I stated in my previous blog…the weather…got ugly. Very, very ugly. And it turned in a blink of an eye. No warning. No gradual recession back into the winter blues. It went from 72 degrees and sunny on Saturday to a gross, wintery mix of snow, sleet, rain, and cold all at once…the following day. That day…was St. Patrick’s Day. And I was to head to Frankfort, Kentucky that evening…to run.
Also, as we all have come to find out…if I run in Frankfort, Kentucky…it will rain. Whether it does so before a race, during a race, or following a race…there hasn’t been a run in Frankfort that I have attended where it hasn’t rained. I. AM. NOT. JOKING.
Well, it seemed evident on Sunday that rain was happening. Why? Because starting really early in the morning, before the sun even came up, the rain began to fall. Not a sprinkle…no…downpour. It really soured my mood that morning. After glancing at the radar, it looked like the rain was with us the entire day. Here in Louisville, and certainly there in Frankfort.
Well, you can’t change the weather…you just make the most of it. And it’s not like I haven’t run in the cold and wet before. I just…wasn’t feeling it that morning. I didn’t want to do it. I said as much to my roommate that morning as we were packing up my running bag with my running clothes to change into, as we were going to spend a good lot of the day in Louisville before heading to Frankfort. There would be no return trip home. So pack and go. We’d get the required pre-race gluten-free pizza from Uncle Maddio’s for lunch. And then…we’d do a bit of shopping and walking around at the malls. Anything to stay inside as much as possible and out of the cold wet. I decided I didn’t pack an appropriate top for the run, with this sort of weather, so we ended up heading to Dick’s where we spent, probably 45 minutes trying to find something that wasn’t expensive and would keep me warm in the cold wetness. I found something. And bought it. As much as I didn’t want to.
By early afternoon, the rain had turned into sleet and snow. Big, wet flakes were falling to the ground. My mood was getting worse. It was cold. It was wet. And I was still NOT feeling it.
So, what do I do? I go get ice cream. Now…I am lactose intolerant, and while I can take something to help with digestion, eating ice cream before a race is generally not something I would do. But, as I told my roomie…I didn’t care at this point. So, ice cream it was. I ate my mint chocolate chip ice cream, which I topped off with hot fudge, before ducking into the bathroom at the ice cream parlor to change. And that was when I realized…I had no sports bra. I forgot to pack one.
Mood…just got worse.
We left the ice cream place and hopped back into the car to drive home, on precarious roads, so that I could get into proper chest-holding gear. As I was gingerly walking across the slick pavement at my apartment, I asked my roomie if, perhaps, I needed to bring my YakTrax. Why? Because here the pavement was coated in slick slush. I didn’t know what it might be like in Frankfort. She agreed it would be a good idea to at least have them on hand. So, after I changed into my sports bra, my new top, and threw the tech shirt I originally planned to wear over that…we were back in the car and now making our way through the driving rain and weather to…Frankfort, Kentucky.
We had rain the entire way. Much suckage.
As always, we arrived in Frankfort with time to spare. So, we parked in our usual parking garage and climbed the stairs to make our way over to where packet pick-up was happening. I ducked inside and got my packet, which always comes in a reusable bag, complete with race bib, goodies, and my t-shirt.
Normally on St. Patrick’s Day there would be quite a festival going on, however, with the rain…that wasn’t happening this year. Nothing was open. Nothing. Except the local coffee shop. So, after we dropped a few items back over at the car and made our way through the cold rain, we stopped inside the coffee shop and took a seat in a corner. At least it was warm and dry in there. Cathy went to get us some water to wash down our pre-race protein bars with and returned with that…and a banana to split after the race.
As she was making said purchases, two very nice ladies came and sat down opposite us. They were just really fun girls and I was glad that they were there to keep us amused and talk about crazy stuff with. Seriously. Some of the topics of conversation were…very different.
With about 30 minutes before the race, I finally was able to eat my protein bar. Usually for this short of a race, I would split the bar, but technically…this and the half a banana would be dinner. So…the entire bar was eaten. I also normally would have done that further away from start time, but the line for drinks was long. It took Cathy a lot longer to get through for the water and banana than anticipated. So…I finished my bar, drank my water, and sat there for a little longer.
The rain suddenly…stopped.
It was still cold as heck out there, but it was no longer raining. Were the weather gods finally smiling upon me? Perhaps?
With ten minutes to go before the race, Cathy and I stepped outside with our new friends (this was their first race, btw). Already people were lining up in pace groups, so Cathy gave me a hug, wished me luck, and I went to find a spot in between the 6 minute mile and 8 minute mile pace groups.
I mean…this race wasn’t even 2 miles…so it would be a quick one regardless. No sooner had I found a spot in the small sea of humanity…that the starting pistol was fired.
Holy hell…the race was starting…and it was a little early.
Thankfully, my Garmin had found its satellites at that point because I hit it as I pushed over the start line and hit the course with the rest of the pack. I guess I should just be thankful that we didn’t decide to linger a little longer. This meant, however, I did absolutely no stretching to loosen up my muscles, which, I remind you, really dislike cold and wet…especially together.
Frankfort is a really great place to run, and I think that’s why I keep going back there for different races throughout the year. The Frankfort Trifecta, however, is one of my favorite racing series to do. And the Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K is the race that kicks it all off. For the second year in a row, under very different circumstances, I now found myself running through the streets once again in this sprint out and back race.
Last year, it was about 74°F out during this run. This year…it was 34°F…with a crazy cold wind. It was SO chilly. So, we’re talking a 40 degree difference between the past two years. That’s crazy.
But…enough of that…I’m running here…
This is a very fast course, mind you. It winds through downtown Frankfort, taking you up towards the Governor’s Mansion, but not around it as most races there tend to take us. We turned around before making that loop. It was a rather quiet run. Thanks to the weather, there weren’t the normal crowds lining the streets that most of these races see. The volunteers were out, and there were a few spectators shouting words of encouragement…but most people stayed nestled in their homes…and I couldn’t blame them.
The cold air was wreaking havoc on my lungs. I could feel this rattling wheeze with each breath. I was not liking that…but I needed to keep pushing. I reached the bridge and ran down the hill, taking the roads back through the town, rounding the corner, and spotting that finish line up ahead.
I ran…I ran with everything I could find in me to cross that finish line. It felt great, seeing the time on the clock, knowing that even though I was not really feeling this race…and with my mood and choice of ice cream before hand, lack of stretching, and just…general BLAH over the entire day…I just accomplished a new PR on this distance and race. Awesome. It actually felt great.
Soon after crossing the finish line…Cathy and I scurried back to the coffee shop to get hot apple cider before they closed. Then we went to wait at the finish line and see if our new friends we made in the coffee shop crossed the finish. They did. And we went and congratulated them on a good race.
Results were being posted as we were hanging around…so we went to get the official results and…I placed in my division. Second in my division. Second…behind someone who finished 2 minutes behind me the previous year. WHAT?! Ah well…some people get faster…some people get even faster than the people who were faster than them last year. Such is the life of a runner. This now meant we got to hang out in the cold even longer now…for the awards ceremony. I pulled my jackets out of the bag and finally got back into them to stay warm…and Cathy and I finally split that banana. The awards were handed out…and I was in the 30-39 group. Which…placing second in an age division that goes up by 10 years is beyond amazing. I accepted that award quite proudly. Maybe all I needed was a fast little run to lift my spirits.
Anyway, the official results of the Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K are that I finished in 13:02. I was 38/423 finishers overall. I was 2/69 in my division. And the 30-39 women’s division was the largest overall for the race. So…this felt good. I didn’t think it would…but it did.
After receiving my medal, Cathy and I decided it was time to make the drive home. No sooner had we gotten into the car, the skies opened up and the rain poured down again. Good timing. It stopped just long enough for the race. Couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Except maybe a little warmer temperature.
Maybe next year…
Because, trust me…I’ll be running this one again next year!
So…tomorrow I go to run in Frankfort, Kentucky.
You know what that means?
It’s gotta rain. I have yet to run a race there where it didn’t rain on me or rain prior to or after a race. I. AM. NOT. JOKING.
So, it only seems fitting that the racing series (3 races) that Frankfort, Kentucky hosts each year kicks off with winter temperatures and rainy weather. Right?
After enjoying a long run this morning in 60 degree temperatures and having the high hit around 71 degrees…the fact that it’s going to be low 30s tomorrow evening with lots of rain doesn’t make me eager to put on my running shoes and head to Frankfort to run. In fact, last year this race was run in beautiful weather. A little warm for my liking…but sunny. It stormed after I left…but at least the race saw nice weather.
Tomorrow is the first race of the series – The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K.
Short little race. But…a nice run, regardless. Runs in Frankfort are always nice. I always get rained on, but the city is gorgeous, the people are amazing, and I have to admit…I love running there. So…just under 2 miles tomorrow evening, at 6:30 p.m. Rain…is pretty much guaranteed. Cold weather…oh yeah…expect that too.
Me being unhappy…definitely expect that.
There is definitely something badass and enriching about running in the rain. But…I still have to leave Frankfort to come back to Louisville…and doing that soaking wet and cold doesn’t sound like fun. At all. And it’s not. Been there, done that…more times than I can count.
So, I’ll probably grouch around for much of tomorrow about the weather, try to figure out what to wear for this short little run, go and get my wintery, wet run of suck out of the way, then head back home.
And pray that the next two races see better temperatures and weather.
The Frankfort Trifecta series also includes the Pro.Active For Life 5K on May 17th and the Capital City Stampede 10K on June 15th. It makes the Run For The Gold the only race in this series to run in the same month as the Louisville Triple Crown of Running. And, thankfully, this year it isn’t running on the same day as one of the Louisville races. Last year, I ran the Rhodes City Run 10K in Louisville in the morning, then hopped over to Frankfort for the Run For The Gold 3K that evening. Crazy day, that one.
So…aside from miserable weather, all I want to do is run a good race and just have a good time. In the end, rain or shine, cold or heat, that’s what it’s all about. And, I do have a soft spot for this racing series. While some runners might shy away from the cold, wet run tomorrow…I will embrace it. Begrudgingly, of course…but I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
For the record…winter can go away now. I run better when I’m not cold or in layers.
Alright, Frankfort…bring on the rain…bring on the cold…bring on the run!
Race: The Leprechaun 2 Mile Run
Place: Jeffersonville, Indiana
Date: March 12, 2013
Last year, this race was known as The Shamrock 2 Miler and if you will recall…it was a somewhat toasty 76 degrees at race time. I was reveling then in the beautiful evening. And cursing the heat after the race because…76 degrees is comfortable when you’re mulling about…but it warms up fast when you are running a race…especially a shorter one where you can give a little more sooner than you normally would.
This year, however, it was 53 degrees when I arrived, but we had serious winds going on. Over 10 mph gusts (The Weather Channel said winds were gusting near 20 mph) were sweeping down the streets of Jeffersonville, sending my ponytails fluttering in its wake and driving a lot of the runners inside the 300 Spring building where packet pick-up was happening. Honestly, last year after I got my packet, I headed outside…walked around…enjoyed the weather. This year…I parked myself in a chair inside until it was close enough to race time to stretch. I got to say “HI” to Dawn and Matthew who ventured by, so that was nice. I love seeing friendly and familiar faces at the runs. I even saw Derek from BlueMile as well. I was still sitting and not stretching or warming up.
I’m not good about stretching when it’s cold. Or when I’m cold. Or both. Seriously.
Believe me…I was not looking forward to stepping outside, but race organizers made the announcements that runners needed to start heading toward the starting line as the race would begin in 15 minutes. Honestly, I need to get over being the ‘cold runner’ because there were people out there in way less clothing than me looking very comfortable and doing a few sprints to warm up. No kidding. Me…I was walking around with my arms crossed and shivering in the wind. I am such a wimp when it’s even slightly chilly out. I mean, I run in the cold pretty much every early morning I get up to do my training runs…but there is something about racing in the cold that just discourages me. I can’t put my finger on it.
Anyway…Cathy and I ventured outside. It was sunny and windy and I knew the start line was further up from the finish chutes that runners return to (women on the left, men on the right). But no one else was venturing that way. So I started heading there…and stopped…because I was by myself. The race organizers, the Fast Freddie people, came to announce where the start line was and that runners and walkers should move that way, with runners, children, strollers and pets toward the back of the pack giving runners the space they needed at the front.
And now…the pilgrimage of runners began. Heck, I could have beat them all there. As it was, I was one of the first to arrive at the start anyway…just behind a couple of track teams. Track teams are often encouraged to come out for this race as it is fast and flat. But, dang, they always win everything. LOL! The high schoolers dominated this year, for sure…but I am getting ahead of myself. As I was one of the first to arrive, I had a spot right on the green tape they placed across the road to signify where the race started. I felt out of place standing up there at the front. I normally avoid being up there because I am certainly not one of the fastest runners in this area and I never believe I rightfully belong there. Everyone else was hanging back, and I was boxed in right there…so regardless of whether I felt like I should be up there or not…I was now up there.
I finally shucked the hoodie…even though I didn’t want to. The wind was strong and chilly…but this was a 2 mile run, so at least I wouldn’t be cold for too long. As it was, I had on my green compression socks, my capri running pants and an orange tech shirt. I knew, being a St. Patrick’s Day themed race, that most people would be in green. I was right…so I sort of stuck out more than others did. We were told the race would start in about 5 minutes, so a few track members sprinted out away from the line to keep those muscles loose and warm. Me…I don’t think I ever really loosened up my muscles or got warm. But, that’s typical for me. The sad thing was…it wasn’t really even that cold. The wind just made it feel colder.
With everyone back behind the starting line, the race organizer got on the bullhorn and said that the race would begin with a “Runners ready…and then the blow of the whistle.” He gave the verbal cue and then…whistle blow.
And the track team left me in the dust. Honestly. I was coming into this race having run twice the day before and hitting up the gym for a hard cardio and strength training routine. So, tired legs…you betcha. But, I never really let that get me down…or slow me down too much. Not when it comes to racing. My own training runs…sure…I’ll take it easy and slow and not worry so much on time. But racing…no. That competitive nature…not really with others, but with myself, kicks in. Especially on races I have run previously…because I have a time I want to beat.
I admit, I pushed hard on this one. It’s not a difficult course at all. Basically, you run down the street until you get to the little island of trees, run around that, head back. Last year, with the weather being warmer, people were out mowing their lawns…and it made for a difficult push. This year…no lawn mower fumes or grass clippings to contend with. Just run with all your heart, round that island of trees and come back home. Simple. I was pushing myself for this. Why? Because I needed a good, hard run this week and I had been taking it rather easy on my training runs. My legs were tired, but I wanted to really challenge them.
The run out felt like it was over in a flash. I saw runners heading back the other way as I was coming up to the bend in the road to take me toward the island of trees. But there it was…the almost halfway point. I circled the trees and passed the Mile 1 marker…ignoring the clock. And that was when all of the runners had the fun (insert sarcasm) of running straight into that crazy wind. I mean, this wind was strong. And while we might have had it to our backs for the first half, we were taking it straight on now.
The last mile of the race was a battle between gusts of wind and those little calm moments. They were few and far between, but you work with what Mother Nature hurls at you, right? I was recognizing buildings from the start of the race, so that meant I was close to the finish. Up ahead, I could see the little glow of the red clock as it counted up the minutes each racer was taking. I tried to push, but the wind was laughing at me. Mocking me. So, it was then that you just let up and have some fun with it. I pushed as much as I could and ducked to the left to finish in the proper chute, crossing at the exact same time as one of the male entrants. I was handed a card and my medal for being in the top 100.
Cathy hurried over to me to tell me I was just flying at the end so she didn’t get the finish line shot. BUMMER! I hate not having that shot…even if I am blurry. I just want to see me at that line. No such luck this year. But, I did have an official new 2 mile PR…of 14:42. Which…is good. Yes. It is good. But I can’t help but wonder…if we had less wind…what I could have been capable of.
We moved back inside the building to fill out my card with my official time and information. These would later be used for the door prizes…which we stuck around for this year, and of course my name wasn’t drawn. If I leave…it’s always picked, LOL! But it was fun. I was coveting the Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt…but had no money with me to buy one. But now I was craving. Damn late runs when I don’t get dessert. So, we stuck it out for the door prizes, then took leave. I said goodbye to Dawn and Matthew and congratulated them as well on great racing.
Official results of The Leprechaun 2 Mile Run is that I was finished in 14:42. I was 37/171 finishers. I was also 7/105 women to cross the finish line. That…is awesome. And I love doing this little run. It’s a nice, short race that allows you to really push without having to pace yourself. Can’t wait to do it again next year!
Race: Anthem 5K Fitness Classic
Place: Louisville, Kentucky
Date: March 9, 2013
Make a note of that time! Please! Because I just ran my first sub-23 minute 5K. And that, my dearest friends, is something to celebrate!
This race was not easy. Well, technically, it was…for most runners. But most runners weren’t up past midnight the night before at a concert. Pink was in town and I wasn’t going to miss that show for anything. Knowing that I had the race that I needed to be up early for the following day meant, as I told my roommate, I was going to take this one easy. Run at a comfortable pace. Not worry about time.
And that was exactly what I did.
My alarm went off way too early for my liking on race morning. I mean, when you crawl into bed just before 1 a.m., the last thing you want to do is crawl back out of bed at 5 a.m. to get dressed and eat something before driving into Louisville to run. I mean, I love running more than a lot of things in this world…but I was not happy to be awake that early.
Oh…and my company decided they would sponsor me as a runner. Bought me some shiny new running clothes and everything with the company logo. I promised the company president that I would debut the uniform at the Anthem 5K. The problem was…while the afternoon was supposed to be in the 60s temperature-wise…the morning was in the low 30s. But, true to my word, I put on my compression socks, donned my new running skirt, and put on my new running t-shirt as well. I laced up, threw on some arm warmers, and chose a BondiBand for the occasion: “Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever.” It was painful being awake that early on so little sleep…which was why I chose it.
I managed to get just about everything done, including pulling my hair up and putting in my hair extensions, and then brewing some hot coffee, just before my roommate shambled out of bed about an hour later. Yeah…I was moving slowly. Hare I was not…totally tortoise.
Breakfast was simple. My cup of coffee and a little bit of water. And my gluten-free cereal with a bit of almond milk. I ate that slowly and carefully, not wanting to just cause an unhappy stomach by eating too quickly. I sipped on the coffee, got up, washed dishes and went to brush my teeth.
Getting my change of clothes together, I tossed it all in my run bag and threw on a pair of pants to wear over the running skirt so that my legs would be warm up until I really needed to stand at the start line. My roomie pinned on my bib and I threw on my jacket and grabbed some gloves. It was time to head out to the race.
Stepping outside I was already not fond of the fact that I was going to be running in a skirt and not something warmer…like my tights. But, it was time to suck it up (gluten-free) cupcake and be a real runner. LOL! Okay…real runners come in all sorts of weather tolerances…and I just happen to dislike being cold. I run in it…quite often…but it doesn’t mean I like to. And today…no layers. Last year, when I ran the Anthem 5K, I was in shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt with my running jacket over it. I know…shorts made no sense. I didn’t realize it was that cold. This year…no jacket. No long-sleeves. Arm warmers. I was all about the arm warmers.
Anyway, the drive to Louisville was easy. We took the exit to get to Slugger Field and paid $5.00 for a parking spot across the street. We threw a couple things in the trunk and then trudged into Slugger Field to find a spot out of the way and wait for the race to get close to starting. This was what we do with every race that starts there…because it is usually on colder mornings and it’s nice and warm inside. There were a lot of runners and walkers milling about, but I found a spot against the wall to stand and relax…and get some stretching in. I tried not to half-ass the stretching as I wasn’t out in the cold…and I knew with the cold air, getting those muscles warmed up was important. So, I did put some work into it.
I finally decided it was time to let the legs get a little acclimated to the air from the doors that were opening and closing that lead to the great outdoors. So, I shed the pants and handed them to Cathy…who tried to figure out what to do with them and then decided to use them as a scarf. Hey…it worked.
A little more stretching and we noticed more people were heading outside, so with about 15 minutes to start time…we headed that way too.
And ran into Kelsie! YAY! We gave hugs and stood around to chat for a little bit about the race and sunglasses and Disney. Kelsie is so awesome, so I was happy to have run into her in the sea of humanity over at Slugger Field. We wished each other luck, said to have fun, and went our separate ways.
There were a lot of people already lining up for the start of the race. There were even more people waiting in line at the port-a-potties…but that’s rather typical. Cathy and I started to maneuver through the crowd, working our way up to what might be a good place for me to stand while waiting on the official start of the race. I stopped a good distance back…but Cathy told me to move up more. LOL! I guess she was feeling more optimistic than I was. I ended up standing next to two older gentlemen who were some of the funniest people I met. They said that they were here to make the rest of the 8,998 runners look good. And they made jokes pretty much the entire time, save for when the National Anthem played, about 10 minutes before the official start.
I shed my fleece jacket…although not wanting to…and handed them over to Cathy. She gave me a hug and wished me luck. And then…she was gone. Swallowed up by the throng of people on the sidelines. We had discussed earlier that she would try to get a spot on the right hand side for the start and on the left for the finish…so I at least had an idea of where to look for her when I headed out and when I came in at the end.
I jogged in place, jumped up and down, did some butt kickers, and just did my best to keep those muscles in my legs loose and warmed up. They were not feeling the cold air that morning…at all.
Now, apparently we had a wheelchair racer, who didn’t get an official start…but they did send him off before everyone else started. And then…before I knew it…the countdown to the start of the 2013 Anthem 5K Fitness Classic was underway. A airhorn blast…and we were off.
It took me a minute or two to actually get up to the starting line. I started my Garmin as I crossed, noticed Cathy and gave a wave of a hand…and I was off.
Zen was the name of this race. Like I said…I was running (literally) on very little sleep. But, you know how it is with races…you just sort of get caught up in the moment. You get excited…because everyone is excited around you. There are people cheering on the sides, runners running at different paces, some talking, some blaring music in their ears, some just trying to keep up with the crowd.
And here I found myself zigging and zagging through all of these people for open spots. I was moving forward. Onward. Ever onward.
Before I knew it…Mile 1 reeled by. I was taking it easy…for me in a race. The clock on the mile marker told me that much at least. But I forgot that it took me about a minute or so to actually get to the start line and officially start. I don’t think of these things when I’m running. I used to focus on the music I listen to…but I’ve stopped wearing my iPod during races as well, finding that I actually do run better without music. Go figure.
One mile down…two more to go.
I was feeling good. I was still moving forward and even finding my little rabbits in the group of runners. My little game to get my feet moving. Find a runner…and tell myself I will pass them. Then make sure they don’t pass me again. This race was HUGE so there was no shortage of little rabbits for me to select. And I continued to push onward. I followed the crowd around corners, through the streets, and even up a tiny little hill, which didn’t even slow me down.
And soon…Mile 2 was behind me.
One more mile to go. And I could almost taste the finish. I’ve been working hard, while running, on strong finishes. No matter if it’s early in the morning or on my longer runs, I always try to finish strong, even on tired legs. Even on days I run twice. Even on the dreadmill. I do whatever I can to make sure my legs, when they are feeling the most tired, learn that on that last mile, I am going to work them harder than before. Because while I am not a sprinter and you won’t see me flailing towards the finish line, I love that rush when I push just a bit more than I thought I could and cross that finish line.
The last mile took us down Main Street and back towards Slugger Field. About halfway there I could hear the crowd…hear the music. I could taste that finish line. I headed under the overpass and I could see the finish line straight ahead. I pumped my feet hard, I pushed, and it came closer and closer…
And as I crossed it, I paused my Garmin…just feeling good about that run. Never once did I focus on time or pace. Not once did I even dwell on it. I ran this entire race by feel…and it felt amazing. It was only then that I glanced down at my Garmin and noted the time.
22:42 seconds. I double checked the miles…and my Garmin showed 3.14 miles. HOLY RUNNING COW!
Cathy was easy to spot with the sign. She was cheering and screaming at me. I hurried over to her…and showed her my Garmin. I was in shock. I felt awesome. I felt invincible. I struck my finisher’s pose right there in the finish line area. And then, we decided I should move through the crowd and get some water and a banana. Cathy would meet me in the recovery area.
Which she did…as I was staring at bananas, trying to find one with enough green to make me happy but not be under ripe. I am very picky about the state of ripeness of my bananas. Trust me. I asked Cathy for my phone, because I suddenly remembered that I signed up for runner tracking so I could get my official time just after finishing the race. I pulled up my text messages and there it was…
22:41. Twenty-two minutes and forty-one seconds.
Pardon the happy dance.
The Anthem 5K runs on a fast and relatively flat course. Despite the cold air and a tired body, I managed to pull off my fastest 5K time to date. And it was sub-23 minutes! I felt like I was on top of the world. A new PR…and I wasn’t even trying.
I don’t know if it’s because I love running so much and just forget, at times, that I am running. But I once again had some wings on my ankles Saturday morning and I pulled a race time off that I never would have dreamed was actually possible…for me.
So, the official results of the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic are that I finished in 22:41. Still shocked. I was 510/7800 finishers. WOOHOO! In addition, I was the 77/4,482 women finishers. And, I was 18/737 in my age division. I couldn’t be happier with these results. I couldn’t be prouder.
I guess, sometimes, the key to having your best run is not to focus at all on the act of running. Run with your heart. Because, if you truly love the sport…if you are doing it for selfless, not selfish reasons, then…you just sort of get caught up in it. And nothing else matters at that moment. You just feel it…with every stride, every breath, every bend in the road. The road truly does rise up to meet your feet. A simple push, some forward movement, and before you know it…it’s over. And it felt good. It felt really good.
This race should not have gone this well for me. But every moment of it…felt amazing.
And now I can’t wait to do it again next year!
(P.S. – I hope my sponsors are proud of me!)
You know you love a race series when, after participating in it for the first time, you immediately declare, “I want to run this series next year!”
And that’s how it was for me last year when I participated in the Louisville Triple Crown of Running. If you are unfamiliar with the Triple Crown event, let me get you up to speed. The Louisville Triple Crown of Running is a three race series that takes place at various locations of Louisville throughout the month of March…and this year into April. This series of races is rather well-established and runs in varying distances, starting with the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic (3/9/13), the Rodes City Run 10K (3/23/13), and then the Papa John’s 10 Miler (4/6/13). Runners can participate in all three legs of the series or just pick and choose races from it. However, if you compete in all three races and finish, you do receive a race series t-shirt in addition to the individual race shirts you get for each race. And, as runners, we all know how much we love those race t-shirts.
This race series draws nearly 20,000 participants who run in at least one of the three events. Over 5,500 runners will complete the annual series and earn the Triple Crown t-shirt. (Yes…I was one of these people last year!) The first Triple Crown of Running occurred in 1984 and featured the Rodes City Run 10K, the Run for the Arts 15K, and the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon. But in 2003, Triple Crown Race Organizers announced the new series, which omitted the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and instead added the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic to the mix.
I am quite proud to be in the city that hosts this race series. It is very well organized, highly attended, and just a lot of fun!
Which is why I was so eager to sign up for it again and do it all over this year.
So, this Saturday, while the cold weather will still be here in the morning, I am going to head downtown to Slugger Field and run the first race of this year’s Triple Crown series – the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic. I have no goals for this race…not even to beat last year’s time. And here’s why. I’m going to be out late the night before. At the PINK concert at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. So, I am going to be exhausted after rocking out, getting home late, and then getting up early to head downtown, park, and get ready to run. So…my goal is just to finish and finish strong. And that’s the best goal to set, I think. No pressure. No reason to push it. Just enjoy the run, soak it in, and maybe next year work on a new PR or something.
I am looking forward to picking up my race packet tomorrow at Slugger Field and, despite not really being at the top of my game on Saturday morning, running a hell of a good race. In the end…I can only do what I am capable of and try my best.
So, for all of you who are running the Triple Crown this year in Louisville…I’ll see you at the start and hopefully the finish lines of each race. And good luck. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun.