I had to be at the shuttle pick-up by 6:00am to be at the starting line by 7:15am. That meant a 5:00am alarm. I was up well before then. I checked the weather outside....light rain and 55 degrees. I had about 3 different outfit scenarios all laid out, not knowing what the day's weather would bring. I had heard everything from torrential rains and tornadoes to no rain after 8:00am. I decided on a tank top, skirt and a cheapie rain poncho. Turned out to be the perfect outfit. The poncho kept me warm and dry and I was able to pitch it. I made my way to the shuttle pick up area only to find a huge line, wrapping all the way around the block. The line moved quickly though and we were on the buses and at the starting line around 6:30am. I had one hour to wait and try to stay dry. Runners huddled under the overhangs at all the local businesses, under trees, wherever they could find shelter. Time went quickly and at about 7:00am I decided to hit the port-o-potty. Yeah....40 minutes later I had relieved myself of the need to pee, but had missed the start of the race. That meant lining up behind the last corral of mostly walkers. Made for an interesting first few miles, but at least I wouldn't have to stop the rest of the race! Even missing the official start of the race, I still got teary-eyed as I neared the starting line. That's why I run!
Miles 1-4 went through a really pretty, wooded, hilly, park. Everyone kept talking about "the hills" in the first part of the race. I had looked at the elevation profile quickly at the start of my training back in January and decided it didn't look too bad. Luckily I was right, because I had run very few hills in preparation for this race. You haven't run hills in the Ohio area until you've run the Flying Pig in Cincinnati! I spent a lot of time weaving around people, trying to ease into a groove. Running was easy and effortless at this point and the rain was tapering off.
Miles 4-7 were really boring. We were on a long, flat road the entire time. Crowd support was pretty decent throughout, thank goodness! I was still feeling good!
Mile7-8 lead you into the Churchill Downs area and eventually into the actual stadium. They had old horse races being broadcast over a loud speaker, adding to the excitement of running through such a cool venue. As you ran along one side of the track, you could see the horses practicing. Talk about effortless running! Those horses are amazing! Then you went down into the tunnels, beneath the famed race track. The sound of pounding feet and hoots and hollars was exhilarating!
Miles 8-11 lead you out of the Churchill downs area, through the University of Louisville campus and to the mini-Marathon and "maxi-Marathon" (as the sign so cleaverly said) split. There were over 11,000 runners in the race, but only 1,100 or so actually did the whole marathon. I was starting to feel tired at this point and I was pretty glad today wasn't my day to run the full! I'd be lying if I didn't think that I was a slacker though. I was so ashamed I couldn't even look at the marathoners turning off. Between miles 8-9 I decided to take my only GU. I was hoping it would give me a much needed energy boost. Instead, around mile 9, I developed a cramp in my lower, left abdomen. I rarely get cramps when running, so this was pretty unusual. I tried to do some deep breathing, all while keeping running. My pace had significantly slowed down, but I was determined not to walk! The cramp lessened enough that I could pick up the pace a tad. I was feeling pretty good at the split off when a wave of nausea came over me and I knew I needed to walk. I walked for about a minute, the nausea passed and I started running again.
Miles 12-13.1 were pretty much all downhill through the downtown and riverfront areas. Runners who had already finished were walking back to their cars/hotels, so I knew the end was near! Unfortunately around mile 12 the nausea returned and this time it wasn't just nausea.....I vomited 4 times on the side of the road/sidewalk/trashcan/etc. I may never take another chocolate GU again! This was a first for me. Luckily the runners had thinned out quite a bit and we weren't to the final straightway where there were a ton of spectators! After my last episode I walked for another minute and then started running again. I really did feel fine, I was just ready to be done! The final straightway and finish line came into view and I knew I was going to make it. I crossed the finish line at 2:18:51. The recovery area lasted forever and was really picked over. I felt bad for the marathoners who hadn't even got there yet! I slurped down a bottle of water and found a plain bagel. I got both of those down no problem and went on to find my family.
Walking back to the hotel proved to be another feat. The kids were tired and worn out and we had a one mile uphill walk. Guess who got to carry a tired 28 pound 2 year old? I considered it my weight training for the day! Finally back at the hotel, I took a quick shower, we packed up the room and hit the road. The kids were asleep before we could get the Garmin programmed for home!
All in all, it was a great race. The course was good, the crowd support was good, and it was well-organized. Louisville is a delightful city and really had a lot to offer (if we had the time and/or energy to do it). The expo wasn't all that great, and the shirt was a bummer, but that's not what's important. The weather ended up being pretty good too.
As far as my running, I was a bit disappointed. My Garmin is officially annoying and way off calibration (despite multiple attempts to calibrate it right). I really thought I could pull off a 2:15 or less. And heck, maybe I could of, if I didn't puke 4 times! I felt good and strong for most of the race. It felt even better to have that confidence running by myself. Weaving through all those people in the beginning would have been hard with a partner/group, although it would have been nice to have someone to chat with during that long, boring strip between miles 4-7.
So a post-race question: Why do I lose toenails and get sore after races, but not during training? This has happened after every race. I ran well over 13 miles in training and only was sore after one of those runs. It's not like I run that much harder during a race. In fact, my motto during this race was "if I'm not having fun, I need to slow down!" I'll never be fast, so why torture myself more than necessary? Yes, I'm a real competitor...lol! I expect to have 2 less toenails in about 3 weeks.
My next race is in 2 weeks. I'm pretty tight/sore today (including the spot in my abdomen where my cramp was??), so I took the day off from any exercise. I'll get back on track tomorrow though! This next race will be even slower. I'm running with my friends on this one, and one of them is almost 24 weeks pregnant. I'm sure there will be some planned walking involved, but it's going to be fun. And that's all that matters in my book!
Pictures from our weekend in Louisville: