Now that I have that off my chest, here is the recap of this race that was at times totally frustrating, a lot of fun, hot, humid, rainy, thunderstormy, delayed and a whole host of other things.
Several weeks ago one of the running girls asked if anyone would be interested in going on a running trip. We settled on the Kentucky Derby Festival half marathon and 12 of us signed up for the race - we did have one late drop out due to life circumstances - so 11 ended up in an airbnb in a cute little neighborhood.
Leading up to this weekend, we all knew the race was going to be a hot one. Each day the temperature seemed to go one degree higher with the average being in the mid-80s. Since it's still in the 50s in Chicago, I wasn't planning on having a stellar run. I had wanted to try and PR but I gave up on that when it looked like the temperature was going to be 88 degrees. Added to that, the forecast was calling for thunderstorms - so we weren't really sure what to expect come race day.
In fact, the morning of the race sometime around 4 or 5 am the race director emailed letting us know that the race start has been delayed from 7:30 to 8 am due to threatening thunderstorms. None of us were too sad about the prospect of getting another half an hour sleep - but soon enough we all piled into the cars and headed downtown.
This is where we ran into our first snag of the day. With roads being closed and the GPS being wacky, we all ended up going the wrong way down a one way street. But a nice (or slightly annoyed) police officer helped us out and we found parking. We made our way over to the start line and took up residence on steps in front of a bank. The clouds looked pretty ominous and we weren't surprised when they delayed the start another half hour. The bank's awning was getting pretty crowded with people trying to get out of the drizzle, and we were starting to wonder if they would just cancel the race all together.
We finally started a little bit after 9 am in a mild drizzle.
Originally my plan was to try to stay with the fastest in our group, Aliza. But since I was no longer set on getting a PR, I let her go and stayed with Staci and Suzanne for the first couple of miles. But in an effort to get past all the people going slower than me and the crazy amount of walkers I seemed to be running into, I lost them. Even still, the first couple of miles were a bit slow because the course was so crowded. Miles three-six I picked up the pace and ended mile six with an overall pace of 9:51. I knew maintaining this pace actually would get me a PR, and under my coveted 10 min mile 1/2 marathon pace.
But it was not to be...because by mile seven I could no longer ignore the fact that I had to pee.
I had to go before we started, but I had already made a trip to the portapotties, and I figured it was just nervousness and would likely go away. But with the humidity, I certainly didn't want to skip any water stops and soon I was pretty sure I couldn't get through another five miles without going. So between miles seven and eight I stopped losing about three minutes.
While I felt better after visiting the portapotty, the heat and humidity was starting to take its toll. After we rounded Churchill Downs (which was way cool) around mile eight, we split from the marathoners and headed back. I was pretty much running from water stop to water stop. I took my last Gu around mile nine, which helped, but overall I slowed down to just above a 10 min pace for miles 8-10.
The last three miles I did manage to speed up a little bit, and even for a minute forgot that my watch was about three minutes behind my chip time (I have my watch on autostop for when I train, but forgot to switch it - so it automatically stopped when I went to the portapotty) and thought I still had a chance to get under 2:10. Even still, I did hold about a 10 min pace for the last three miles. Finish time 2:13:49, 106/523 in my age group, 1288/5010 women, 3145/8737 overall. Of course, my watch says I finished in 2:10:55 which is a 9:57 pace. If only I hadn't stopped for the bathroom I'd have written an entirely different post.
In the end, I did a lot better than I thought I would. I dealt with the humidity and delays and ran a good race. I'm still on the hunt for that elusive 2:04 half marathon that my speed in other distances seems to indicate I can run...but it seems that mother nature might be against me.
Support on the race was pretty good. Some of the water stops could have been better staffed, but they had plenty of stops and added a couple because of the projected heat. There were a lot more spectators on the course that I figured they would be since we were delayed so long. Afterwards they had lots of food, other vendors and of course a free beer. So now I can check Kentucky off of my list of states I have run at least a half marathon in. Not that I'm going for a 50 states thing, but you know, it is pretty cool to say I've run in Michigan, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky.
And in a couple of weeks I'll be able to add Ohio to that list. I am running the Cleveland Marathon on May 21. It'll be the first spring marathon I've run. I'm not really sure what to expect and so I waver between having a plan and just going out and running to finish.