The title of my post says it all: yesterday, I ran a freakin’ half marathon…13.1 freakin’ miles… Who does that!? I did that!
After an evening of covering a reining event, I drove the hour to Louisville to crash at a hotel with friends and tried my darndest to go to sleep at a decent hour.
Race morning arrived and we all got ready to head to downtown Louisville. I was pumped–ready to tackle this beast I’ve been training so hard to conquer. The drive was short and the walk to the start line was chilly and breezy. It was easier navigating our way through downtown and to the parking garage than it was to navigate our way to the opening of the corrals. It was crazy packed–18,000 runners were registered for the marathon and mini-marathon. So it took us a while to get to where we could line up. I wasn’t able to really warm-up with a jog, so I did some jumping jacks and butt kicks with high knees and some light stretching. My hamstring and heel felt great, but it still was in the back of my mind throughout the race.They brought in the bugler from Churchill Downs to blow the “Call to Post” for the runners, which was pretty awesome (it was the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/Mini-Marathon, after all). The starting gun fired and…we waited. Finally, 15 minutes after the race started, we finally crossed the start line and I waved bye to my friends and told them I’d meet them at the reuniting area. I set out on my own and knew I wanted to keep my pace at a 10 minute mile, and I was doing my best to stay as consistent with that as possible.
The first part of the race was effortless. I ran the first 10K straight through, enjoying the scene and sounds from around Louisville–everyone had come out to cheer on the runners, play music, show signs, etc. Some of my favorite signs were: “You’ve trained longer than Kim Kardashian’s wedding” “If you’re still running, I’m still drinking, so keep running!” “Toenails are overrated”
After around mile 4, I started to feel a twinge from my old friend–my IT band. It really concerned me that I was already feeling it because usually I don’t feel it until towards the end of my long training runs, not four miles into a run. So I told myself I would not walk until after 6 miles. I pushed it until about mile 7, when I finally gave in and stopped to stretch out my legs and hips. Then I continued on because the part of the race was looking forward to the most was coming up–running through Churchill Downs–and I didn’t want to walk in there!
Running into the tunnel to go under the famed Thoroughbred racetrack was awesome–I’ve been to Churchill many times for work and play, but this feeling was different for some reason. I loved running into the tunnel as a pair of horses streaked passed on the track–way cool feeling!
After Churchill, I had to stop again to stretch my leg. By this time I was getting frustrated–I felt great everywhere (mentally, cardio-wise, etc.) except for my darned IT band! I would end up having to stop every 1.5 miles the rest of the race to stretch and walk it out. I was so frustrated with my body–if it wasn’t my heel or my hamstring, it was my IT band.
I didn’t pop any music in until about mile 10 or 11 (I can’t remember now) because I wanted to take in all the sights and sounds of the mini marathon, and I wanted to be aware of my surroundings with other runners. However, at that point I was so frustrated and needed more motivation, I needed my music.
As we got closer, I was telling myself this was what I had been working so hard for the past few months. I deserved to finish proudly, to run strong and be proud of my race. I wasn’t going to finish in 2:10 like I wanted earlier this year, but I could finish before 2:30. We hit the 12 mile marker, and I started clapping. After 12.1, I told myself I could do this–you can do anything for 10 minutes, and it was just 10 minutes until I cross the finish line and got that medal.
Mile 13 came and went, and we rounded a corner to where I saw the Finish Line. A wave of emotions went through my body and I almost started to cry, but I stopped myself because I wanted to push it. Somehow my body just took over and started sprinting to the finish–at one point I looked down at my Garmin and I was doing a 7 minute mile pace!
I crossed the finish line and felt a wave of emotions again, this time pride was the main emotion. I continued on to receive my medal, which felt great, then walked on to find some water. The ending wasn’t the most organized–the lines were long, there was no water to be found, just blue Powerade (not a fan, too sweet for me), but plenty of bananas, bagels, and SunChips. I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t necessarily thirsty, I just wanted to stretch out my entire body. My IT band was killing me and I was having muscle spasms between my shoulder blades.
I found a quiet spot, after collecting food and a bag to stow it all away, and stretched my body in the sunlight. After a while, my friends started showing up and we were reunited, sharing stories from our runs, all while still wearing our awesome medals and just feeling ultimate pride in our accomplishments.Here’s the breakdown of my half marathon:
Mile 1: 10:09
Mile 2: 10:12
Mile 3: 10:07
Mile 4: 10:15
Mile 5: 9:59
Mile 6: 10:09
Mile 7: 10:31 (first stop to stretch)
Mile 8: 10:29
Mile 9: 10:48 (more stretching)
Mile 10: 11:17 (slower pace and more stretching)
Mile 11: 11:17
Mile 12: 11:01 (slow pace, but still ran)
Mile 13: 9:51 (I just wanted to get to the end)
0.20 Nubbin: 1:50
Total: 2:18:00 for 13.2 miles
(Official race time: 2:17:58 for 13.1 miles)
We took some time to chill before heading back to Lexington, where I immersed myself in a nice long, hot shower and then rellaxed the rest of the day on the couch with “Mad Men” on Netflix and Powerade Zero. All while still wearing my medal (though I did take it off to go to dinner with M).