Taper For A Cause 5K – Louisville, KY (April 12, 2014)
Race: Taper For A Cause 5K
Place: Iroquois Park, Louisville, Kentucky
Date: April 12, 2014
First of all…FINALLY!!
Finally I had a 5K race this year that was the correct length.
Second of all…UGH!! Coming back from injury sucks. It was so disheartening to see my finishing time, compared to where I was last year. I try not to focus on it. I honestly do. But it’s hard…when you know you are capable of doing better…your body just can’t get there. I want to feel strong and fast again. And it isn’t coming back quickly.
I had no idea that Louisville was even holding this race up until Thursday afternoon. Seriously. It came over an e-mail or on Facebook. Somewhere. And I had my friend, Indy, in town. Before heading this way from California, we were hoping to find a 5K race to run. The only one I could find was a trail run. And I do not do trails. So, we were content to just meet up with my running group on Saturday and do some miles and then head out for the day.
But things changed when I heard about this race.
This was the first annual Taper for a Cause 5K, which is a race that was set up by 2012 Boston Marathon winner, Wesley Korir, to benefit the Kenyan Kinds Foundation. The race also boasted the perfect opportunity for Louisville’s running community the opportunity to “taper” for some of Louisville’s finest spring races with a 5K for a great cause. All of the proceeds, in fact, went to the Kenyan Kids Foundation.
Even more exciting, Wesley Korir was going to lead the race. And yes…he was on hand on race day. But I’m getting ahead of myself. While sitting in Game, a local Louisville restaurant, both Indy and I used our cell phones to get registered for the race on Saturday. We were thrilled that it was a 9 a.m. start time…meaning the morning wouldn’t be too early. Remember, she flew in from California…so her clock was a bit off. We were both stupid excited about the race and I was glad that she was going to get to race while here in Kentucky.
Time got away from us on Friday…so we didn’t make it to packet pick-up on Friday over at Swags. That was okay, though…because it was fine to pick it up on race morning. We had a late evening though…with a delicious food and wine pairing at the chef’s counter at Rye so we didn’t get in until late. After unwinding…we finally went to bed.
And I was supposed to run 8 miles this Saturday. Since the race was offering 3.1 miles, I got up earlier than both Cathy and Indy and knocked out five easy miles before breakfast and heading to the race. The drive out to the park was easy…no traffic issues at all. We parked at Iroquois Park and got out of the car, making our way over to the table that had packet pick-up. We got our numbers and our t-shirts. Cathy pinned me up while Indy went ahead and did up her number herself. I ate my banana and then went to use the bathroom really quick. After I returned, I noticed Wesley Korir walking toward the table. I let him take care of his stuff and pick up his race number (he was Bib #1) before I asked if I could get a picture with him. He was very kind and totally was more than happy to fulfill my request. He thanked me for coming out to the race and I thanked him for arranging it and setting it up for people to run for a great cause. He noticed the donkey sign that Cathy has at all races and asked if I ran Chicago. I told him I did and had such a great race. He congratulated me and then I let him move on to the other stuff he needed to do for the race.
We went to put the t-shirts in the car and get some stretching in. Indy had some stretches I hadn’t seen before. I remembered to do some dynamic stretching, which was good because I hadn’t been doing well with my PT stretches with Indy in town. Just ran out of time and was busy enjoying time with my friend. I had a few twinges on the 5 miles I did that morning, so I wanted to be sure to be good about stretching before the run. I kept it dynamic instead of static. I think that was smart.
We saw crowds were beginning to form up near the finish line chute. The owner of Swags began to speak into a bullhorn. He was hard to hear, but he thanked us for coming out and then turned it over to Wesley. Wesley asked how the bullhorn worked and then very graciously filled us in on his reasons for hosting this race and mentioned that the first two males and females would receive awards in the form of bracelets created by the kids in Kenya. Too cool. But I was aiming more on rebuilding my strength rather than finishing near the front.
We were told to move up toward the start line, just a short distance up the way. I lined up near the front It was a small race…as it wasn’t really advertised much…but it did have a bigger turn out than I anticipated. Dennis found me at the start line and I knew he would bust this race out of the park. He did, by the way, after asking what pace I was running and I had to (regretfully) inform him that I wasn’t focusing on pace as I’m still recovering from my ankle injury.
The owner of Swags announced that we would hear a two announcement start. Runners set…then the horn. No runners set was given. Just the horn. So, we sort of faltered at the front…but we took off.
Dennis was gone. He’s so fast. As for me…I just fought my way up the path heading for the first hill to climb in Iroquois Park. I feel so weak these days when it comes to running. My speed is totally gone. So, I was just trying to push just beyond my comfort zone without doing too much to hurt myself. So, I kept it challenging, but comfortable. I had some runners pass me…but I did my best to block out that feeling of total worthlessness…and just focus on breathing and constant forward motion.
As I was coming into around the mile and a half mark, Wesley Korir jogged (no…seriously…jogged) past me and shouted encouragement at me, saying that I looked good out there. And then…he moved on. Apparently, he started at the pack and would say something to the runners he would pass along the way, offering uplifting encouragement and the like. I think that’s amazing.
He was gone, despite just this easy run he was carrying on with as he passed. Amazing!
I moved into Mile 2 and was hitting up more of the hills on the loop that wraps Iroquois Park. I focused on just doing my best to get up them without feeling like I was dying. It was working. Yes…I wasn’t moving as fast as last year. Yes…I feel out of shape and like I’ve lost fitness…and I have…but I’m a fighter and this was part of me proving to myself that I am fighting to get back to where I want to be. It was the perfect race to do that.
I battled up the final hill I was to face and Mile 3 beeped on my watch as the parking lot at the amphitheater came into view. I could just make out the clock at the finish line. I didn’t care about the numbers…or the fact that I was passed by 4 other females. I surprisingly didn’t care about any of that. All I cared about was the fact that I crossed that finish line feeling like I left it all out on that course and performed to the best of my ability. Even after knocking out 5 miles prior to even showing up at the start line.
Wesley Korir greeted me in the chute and handed me a cup of water. He looked right at me and said, “Nice job, Karen!” That was so awesome to hear coming from this amazing runner and man. I thanked him and moved out of the way, finding Cathy. Dennis came over to ask how I did. I said I felt good about the finishing. And he said he was happy with his run. And then he had to get going due to an appointment he had at 10 a.m.
Cathy and I went to go stand at the finish to wait for Indy and cheer people on to the finish line. I love this part. And, not soon after, around the bend came Indy, looking so strong and amazing. She was all smiles as she crossed that finish line, setting a new 5K PR for herself. I went to give her a hug and congratulate her on her run.
We were making some plans to grab some breakfast before heading out for the day for some caving and other adventures. So, she said she’d go ahead and change at the park while I was going to wait until we got to Annie May’s for breakfast to change. It worked out well. While she and Cathy went to the car to get her stuff and Cathy stood sentinel outside the bathroom door that wouldn’t lock, I wandered around the finish line. Wesley Korir had gone out on a shakeout run with some of his friends and returned after making a second loop of the park. He was gracious enough to take pictures with people at the finish line, so I asked if I could get another one. He was so gracious once again. And as he looped his arm around me as a stranger, and very kind runner, took my phone to snap a picture, he said, “You looked strong out there!” What an ego boost. Just what I needed.
I admire and love this man so much. He is such a champion…both in races and in life. Such a kind, generous man.
After that, I wandered back over to the bathrooms just as Indy was coming out. And it was off to breakfast we went, before spending the rest of the day going through Marengo Cave and then hiking around for a little while.
So, my official results of the Taper For A Cause 5K are that I finished in 23:52. I was 20/77 finishers overall. I was 5/42 women finishers. Not bad at all. I’m actually quite okay with this. This is still not the run I know I can bust out…and that will eventually return (I HOPE!), but I am trusting my training and my physical therapists. I’m healing. I keep telling myself that. I…AM…HEALING. It was so awesome to run a local race with my friend visiting from California. We had such a great time. And I am glad the opportunity arose to make this happen while she was in town.
I totally intend to run this one again next year.