I am happy to report that I finished my 2nd Derby Festival Mini Marathon in 2:03:03 - my fastest half-marathon time ever. The last time I ran this course, I completed it in 2:22. I was very pleased to beat my time by 19 minutes, and improve my average pace from 10:5/mile to 9:20/mile. I feel strong, ready, and poised for a marathon PR next weekend.
The girls that ran with me did an absolutely amazing job. There is no way I could have maintained that pace without them. From the moment we left Wilmore on Friday afternoon, I felt so encouraged and ready for the race. We had a great, and very large, pasta dinner at Bucca di Beppo in Louisville. Then we went to the expo, picked up our packets, got lost and then stuck in traffic in downtown Louisville - but we finally were able to make it to the hotel. We got to bed by about 10:00, and I think we all slept pretty well, but I could tell that we were all anxious about the race in the morning.
The alarm went off at 5:00, and we all began getting ready and eating our various bars and fruits for breakfast. My nemesis has struck again, and unfortunatley I've found that one of the best pre-race early morning beverages is the loathsome Starbucks Doubleshot. I hate to give in to this beast again, but it puts that extra pep in my step and helps to clear my head. We headed to the Kentucky International Convention Center, where the buses were loading to take the runners to the starting line. We waited in line for the bus for what seemed to be forever, each of us ducking out periodically to go to the restroom just one more time. Once we got the starting area, we jumped in line for another porta potty stop. When we all got out of our respective porta potties and to the starting line, we realized that the race had started 15 minutes earlier! We started our watches as we crossed the starting line, and we were off.
Amber, Kelly and I were all hoping for a near 2 hour finish, so we crossed the line and got to work - trying to pass the walkers and joggers at the back of the pack. We were careful not to exert too much energy bobbing and weaving through the crowd, and we settled into a nice 9:20 pace. Within the first few miles - I believe starting at mile 3 or so - you enter Iroquis Park in Louisville. This park is know for it's brutal hills - but it really wasn't much compared to the hills we had trained on in Wilmore. We powered through this section, and came out feeling strong. We kept a pretty good clip until about mile 8 when Amber started pulling ahead. We tried to catch up, but Kelly and I knew that we were going along at our max pace, and we didn't want to over do it early on in the race. We told Amber to cut us loose - we knew that she could maintain a faster pace on her own. She zoomed ahead (finishing in an amazing 1:59:30!), and Kelly and I focused on maintaining our pace and staying strong. I was amazed at how different I felt this year compared to last year - I could remember certain points along the course where I was dying and walking during the 2007 race, but this year I was able to move along and keep going. I'm not saying that I wasn't hurting - I was definitley hurting starting about mile 9 - but I was able to mentally push past the pain and not give into the desire to slow down. We saw our husbands at mile 12 cheering us on - this really, really made a big difference for all of us. Thank you guys for coming out to support us! We finished out mile 13, and turned the corner off of 7th Street onto Market Street to cross the finish line. We gave it our all, pushing at a dead sprint, for the last .01 mile - crossing the finish line in 2:03:03. Sarah and Kat were not far behind us - finishing in fantastic times.
I know that I trained harder for this race this year, but I think the absolute biggest difference was that I was training with a great group of friends. They all had a blast and finished in amazing times - I can't wait for our next training season and big race to complete together! I am so so proud of them, and I am so grateful for our time together over the past four months. My secret ploy is to convince some of them to do a full marathon in the Fall, and to get more people training for a half-marathon next Spring. (Sarah M- this means you!!)