The race weekend started when we headed to Louisville on Friday afternoon. Our friend Amberly came with us to Louisville to provide race support and moral support - I was so glad she was able to come with us!
Our first stop in Louisville was at Bucca di Beppo. We had a great dinner of bruschetta, ceaser salad, gnocchi, and spaghetti with meatballs. I really put some food away. Next we went to the expo to pick up our race packets. The Derby festival expo is usually pretty small, but well organized. We got out packets, our t-shirts, and our posters. I also found some inexpensive cycling sunglasses at one of the vendor booths, which was a bonus.
Then we went to the hotel, where we got our timing tags (they didn't use chips this year, which was really nice at the finish area) and arranged our race day stuff. Baby Mama was on HBO, so we watched that for about an hour before calling it a night.
We were up and going at 5:00am, aiming to head to the shuttle area at 5:45am. We were all suprisingly chipper. excited about the day ahead. I took a shower, ate my breakfast, and was ready to go.
We made our way to the Kentucky International Convention Center to catch a shuttle out to the starting line, as it is a point to point course. We parted ways with Amberly, who was headed into Einstein Brothers bagel shop to pass the morning before assuming her post at mile 12.
The weather was perfect - it was warm and breezy and I was perfectly comfortable in just shorts and t-shirt. We made it out to the starting area, waited in the porta-potty line for 30 minutes and then headed to the starting line. The gun went off and the crowd of 12,000 began moving, but it took us about 10 minutes to cross the line.
I started off strong and powered through the hills of Iroquis Park. Miles 2-6 provide a very hilly climb through Iroquis Park, but this is always my favorite part of the race. The area that I train in is extremely hilly, which always proves helpful in this race. The other good part about being in the park is that we were shaded by a canopy of trees for four miles. When I came out of the park I felt good because I knew I was half-way to the finish, but it was also kind of daunting to know that I had 6.5 more miles to go, basking in the rays from the cloudless sky. I kept telling myself "at least I'll get a good tan from this."
I noticed that a lot of people were walking - the heat was really starting to take its toll on the field. My feet were bothering me, so I tried walking a little. It was just as uncomfortable to walk as it was to run, so I started running again. I think the problem with my feet was that my shoes were tied too tightly.
I continued on through the course, made my way up, down and all around Churchhill Downs and then back out onto the road towards downtown Louisville. I walked for 1 minute through the water stops at miles 8 and 10 so that I could take in as much of the water and Powerade as possible. This helped with my hydration, and also gave me something to look forward to. All in all, I saw four people collapse on the course. The EMS support was really great and it looked like everyone was getting the help that they needed. I even saw one guy do an Ironman finish-like wobble and collapse, which was kind of interesting.
At mile 12, I saw Amberly and got some water, so that was the last boost I needed to finish the final mile. I crossed the finish line in 2:17:40 and was pretty exhausted. My quadriceps were extremely sore, but I was just really happy to be finished. I got my finisher's medal and then grabbed two small bottles of Powerade, a small cup of water (this was new this year...they've always had bottles of water available), and a bagel. I took one bite of the bagel and spit it out - there was no way I was going to be able to eat that thing. I sat down on a curb and loosened up my shoe laces. My feet immediatley felt 100% better, so that was good.
I drank some of the Powerade and then doubled back to mile 12, where I met up with our friends Jason and Hannah and their two little girls, and Alan (Sarah's husband) and their little girl Lucy. Amberly was still holding down the fort at mile 12, on the lookout for Sarah. Hannah and I walked down to get some water and meet up with Amberly at mile 12, and we were just in time to see Sarah go running by. Sarah finished her first half-marathon in a great time - you can read her race report on her blog: here.
We all met up at the finish area and headed home. We stopped at McAlister's Deli for lunch, where I had a glorious reunion with two of my old friends: a turkey melt and a large sweet tea.
Here are some pictures from the weekend:
Me and Sarah, ready to race! I decided to wear a homeade World Wide Festival of Races t-shirt.A very supportive bunch! From left to right: Jason, Hannah, Eloise (in baby carrier), Alan, Margot, Amberly, and Lucy
I want to say a special thank you to all who made the weekend so special: Sarah, Amberly, Jason, Hannah, Eloise, Margot, Alan, and Lucy.
And a big thank you to Chad - who wasn't able to come to Louisville, but was with me in spirit. He has always been so supportive of my running and my races and crazy training schedule and I really appreciate him for that. He also mentioned to me this weekend that he is thinking about doing a 5k in July and possibly getting into trail running...that would be awesome! Hopefully one day soon I will be posting links here to his race reports!