March 11, 2017, my friends and I ventured out at o’dark thirty to drive across the state to Louisville, Kentucky. We decided to save money on a hotel and make a day trip to get some miles in together. Oh, and of course, getting some bling never hurts!
Around the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always start to look ahead to the next year’s race calendar. Many big races will have special pricing around January 1, so I have to be ready to map out which races I want to do, keeping in mind my quota for the year that my husband and I have agreed upon ahead of time.
This year, with ultra marathon training, my training partners, Cassie and Jennifer and I were looking to see how we could get a few new races in, with little cost and add some medals to our collections along the way. So, around the beginning of the year, one of us mentioned this little St. Patty’s Day race in Louisville. The price was right, the mileage fell nicely into the training plan, so we registered.
I had been playing around with fuel and how to set myself up for races during the training season, but this 2.5-hour drive pre-race was messing with my normal routine. I was hungry when I got up, so I made sure I had some coffee and Shakeology on hand. Both of these things would fill my stomach, but also keep me alert on the drive. But, as it turned out, the coffee would dehydrate me, and I learned a lesson on that one.
As we arrived, we found the grassy parking area and stayed in the nice warm car for a while. It was around 27 degrees, but felt even colder. We ventured out to get our packets picked up and then back to the car we went for another 20 minutes. The race was well-planned, with music blaring and easy packet pick-up stations. Plenty of porta-potties were lined up, and an inflatable backdrop for post-race pictures. The race director stayed on the microphone and entertained as much as he directed.
My previous half marathon was on December 3, 2016, where I finally hit my sub-2-hour personal record. (You can read about that race here.) With the way my training had been going, I was shooting to beat that 1:57:53 time at this St. Patty’s race...just to see if I could. Cassie had a PR goal of 1:53. The gun went off and there we went!
I was able to keep up with Jennifer and Cassie for about the first 3-4 miles, and then I knew they would pull ahead. I’m used to that, and it’s okay. Also, during those first 3 miles, I was a little concerned because I couldn’t feel my feet! It was so cold that I was worried I might roll a foot/ankle and get injured, but by Mile 4 I finally regained feeling again. The beginning miles had some rolling hills and one area that descended for a while. All I could think about was the fact that if this course was an out-and-back, we would have to go UP that incline closer to the end of the race! Turned out, it WAS an out-and-back, with the turnaround at mile 6. When I had reached Mile 5, I noticed the lead man was already heading back! He was SO FAST.
My pace was good and on target for a sub-2 half, so I was simply enjoying the beautiful paved trail through the park. The scenery is very nice and the race was well-organized all the way around. There were only a few water stops, but it was okay. By the turnaround, I still felt good about my run. By Mile 7-8, I started to get a few cramps in my sides and I knew it was the coffee from earlier. I just was not well-enough hydrated. Mile 9 was a water stop and I was very grateful to chug a little cup of orange Gatorade. I normally never drink that stuff, but it tasted amazing at that point! I was calculating at Mile 10, but I also knew that incline was about to come up. As it turned out, the uphill was not as steep as I thought and I was able to make it up in a pretty good time. I also knew there was a fairly steep downhill around Mile 11-11.5 to make up for the climb.
All along the course, I knew it was running long. That was frustrating. It was about .10 off from my Garmin, so I was wondering if the finish line would be as well. As I got to Mile 12, I knew it would be really close to my PR time. I would definitely sub-2 again, but as I got closer, I saw my PR slip away. I sprinted the last .30-.40, knowing the course was long. I came in at 1:58:13. Disappointed. The course was 13.23 miles, and I felt sure I could have PR-ed with a 13.1 course. I’m terribly hard on myself.
The fact is, as this was an inaugural race, the course was brand new to us all. The director did a great job with a small half marathon, and the path was beautiful, volunteers were great, and overall, we had a wonderful time. Cassie DID hit her 1:53 PR goal and Jennifer came in just before her.
I’m so grateful to have new race experiences, road trips, and fun with friends. St. Patty’s Day Half Marathon was a great event, with awesome long-sleeve zip-up tech shirts and decent medals. I would recommend this race to anyone who is in the Louisville area, or just wants a nice March race to start their spring season. Thank you for a great day!
Wife. Mother. Runner. Coach. Adoption Advocate. I strive to share HOPE through my journey and help others reach their goals.