Revenge is a race best run in the cold: The Louisville Half-Marathon Story

So after running the worst race of my life during the Derby Festival mini-marathon back in April of this year, I knew that I had to redeem myself…that’s why I signed up for the Louisville Half-Marathon as soon as registration opened. I needed revenge on 13.1 miles! After my embarrassing time of 2:09, I tired to figure out why I didn’t have legs after mile 6. Was it the unseasonably warm weather, was it the training? Who knows, but I knew that I would need to train properly for this race to avoid another let-down.

Got up this morning at 5:15 and ate a beagle with some almond butter. Started sipping water while I was getting dressed. Checked the weather…34 degrees…perfect. Put on my cold-weather running gear and was on the way to the race start by 6:15. Got to the site and had no problems getting my race packet and emptying some excess fluids. Met up with a friend and walked form the race headquarters over to the race start around 7:20. Tried to warm-up with some stretching and easy jogging, but it was cold! I knew that I wouldn’t get warm until I started running. Race started a few minutes after 8:00am…here’s my mile times with comments:

Mile 1: 7:45
First mile was very crowded – spent a lot of time running on the grass to get around slower runners. I was expecting it to be slow mile, and was surprised by the time.
Mile 2: 7:56 (Total time of 15:42)
Still trying to get room to run. By this point, we had moved from the road to a sidewalk, so space was at a premium. Still didn’t feel like I was in a rhythm.
Mile 3: 7:34 (23:16)
We were back on the road and I was finally able to get some room. I guess I was a little too excited about not having to run around people – pace this mile was too fast.
Mile 4: 8:07 (31:23)
After seeing my split for mile 3, I knew that I needed to slow down…and I did. I wanted to keep my miles around 8 minutes, but I wasn’t worried about being I few minutes over on this one, I knew that I had some time to spare from my fast split on mile 3.
Mile 5: 7:59 (39:23)
Finally found a group of runners that were running the same pace and stuck with them for this mile. We were making our way towards downtown Louisville on River Road – great view! On my long runs, I usually know by mile 4 or 5 how the run is going to go. I still felt great at this point in the race, so I knew that I had a chance to finish well.
Mile 6: 8:24 (47:48)
This mile was my slowest. Not really sure why. I was still hanging with the same group. This was the mile that had the only real hill of the course, so maybe that explains the time. I also ate a gel on this mile, which slowed me down a little bit.
Mile 7: 7:32 (55:20)
This faster split was obviously due to my slow time on mile 6; I wanted to make up some time. We were back on the sidewalk, but the crowd had really thinned out by this time. About 3/4 of the way through mile 7, we turned around and headed back towards the start…this is always an encouraging moment!
Mile 8: 8:12 (1:03:33)
Once during just about every mile, I would check my cadence. I was always in the 29-31 range except for the time I checked it during mile 8. I had dropped down to 28. Not sure if I just zoned out, or if my legs were starting to get tired. Either way, I’m sure this is why my time for this mile was slower than I wanted.
Mile 9: 7:53 (1:11:26)
I was passed by two guys during mile 8. I made an effort not to let them out of my sight. I maintained the same speed as them during mile 9. This mile and mile 7 were both literally right along the Ohio River. Beautiful view of the sun coming up on the river…great day for a run!
Miles 10 & 11: 16:25 (1:27:52)
The mile marker for mile 10 was missing, so the time was combined for miles 10 and 11. It was a little slow, but since I didn’t get my split until after running two miles, I didn’t know that I was running slower. I still had both of those guys in sight. One about 25 yards ahead of me, the other about a 100 yards.
Mile 12: 7:44 (1:35:36)
Still felt strong, so I picked up the pace a little during mile 12. Runners were very thinned out, so I could only see about 4 or 5 in front of me. I caught up with the first guy that had passed me and were were running stride for stride heading into the last mile.
Mile 13: 7:13 (1:42:49)
Legs were a little tired, but I knew that I had a kick left…so I shifted gears once I passed the sign for mile 12. The first guy that had passed me at mile 8 wasn’t able to keep up and I left him behind. I was closing in on the other guy. Breathing was up a bit, but I knew that I could push it to the end. As we turned off of River Road onto the Water Tower road, he was about 50 yards ahead. I moved into and all-out sprint for the last 1/4 mile, but I couldn’t catch him…beat me by literally 5 feet.

TOTAL TIME = 1:43:40 (7:54 minutes/mile pace)

To say I’m happy with my race is an understatement. I trained hard for this race and it paid off. I completely obliterated my previous PR and goal for this race. Almost more encouraging than anything is that I still had enough left after 12 miles to run a very fast final mile. This is the race that I needed to finish off the season and head into winter. Already looking forward to my first triathlon in the spring!

I’ll work on my training/race calendar this week and probably start training again next week…stay tuned!

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