April 29, 2012

Race Recap: Kentucky Derby Half-Marathon

Or, I take back running after a year of IT band woes and finish with a PR!

So in the past ten days I turned 25, accepted a new job teaching my dream age group, took a great road trip with one of my bestest friends whom I hadn't seen for almost two years, and finished--and PRed in!--my second half-marathon!!  Life is good. :)

Michelle has always been my race inspiration, but when we met at the end of high school, I couldn't have been FURTHER from a runner and never would have dreamed we'd run a race together one day!  This weekend, though, we ran the Kentucky Derby Marathon & Half-Marathon!  Thursday night Michelle flew in from the east coast, and Friday morning we packed our (incredibly large for a two night trip) suit cases and and hit the road to Louisville.  (I took the day off school believe it or not!!  *gasp*)

We spent Friday afternoon checking into our hotel, checking out Louisville, and wandering around the race expo (don't worry, I managed to come out with ANOTHER headband...you know, because the hundred or so I already have at home aren't enough!).

All week I'd pretty much been torn between excitement for a fun girls weekend with Michelle and absolute dread for the upcoming race.  My training kind of fell apart towards the end between the stressful job hunt and a week or so sick with a sinus infection, and after a couple short taper runs last week that were basically a tired mess of tight IT bands, I was completely terrified about what I believed would be 13.1 miles of pain! Michelle and I walked down to check out where the finish line was going to be Friday, and I kept thinking, "I hope I see you again at some point tomorrow!"  So much for a positive pre-race attitude!

Anyways, after picking up our packets and settling into the hotel, we enjoyed an AMAZING dinner of pasta and garlic cheese bread...
Then checked out a hot air balloon show...which I was super excited about since we are reading about balloon flight in our literacy series starting tomorrow! (#geekyteachermoment)
We got back to our hotel and started laying out our gear...when I realized I had brought not one single hair tie on this trip.  Seriously??  I always have them around my wrist, in my purse, in my pockets...but nope, I hadn't brought even one.  My goodness.  This led to about an hour of wandering around Louisville at night trying to find a drug store...Finally, we managed to find a CVS that was open, buy the hair ties, and make it home in time to snag a few hours of sleep before our alarms went off at 5:15.  YIKES!!! 
 Since Michelle is a speedy runner, she lined up in my corral with me so that we could run the first part of the race together (she was running the full marathon, but the courses didn't splint until after mile 8).  Michelle got her first taste of back of the pack corrals and couldn't stop laughing at the funny things you see in corral F!  Bibs pinned on the back, people running in sketchers, bibs duct taped on...love the back of the pack! :)  I was still super worried during the first few miles when I felt some totally weird and random aches and pains in my feet--hello anxiety runner!  When my left IT band/knee started twinging a little bit at mile 3 or 4, I seriously tried not to freak out, but got even more nervous about the 10 or so miles still ahead.  I took a few deep breaths, told myself it was going to be FINE, and stretched by the side of the road.  I stopped and stretched it out again after the next mile and...it was fine the rest of the race!!!

I ran without music up until mile 8 when the course split (in Churchill Downs!!), and when I turned on my ipod it gave me just the burst of energy I needed.  After Michelle and I said good bye and good luck, I concentrated on my music and pace, setting little goals of reducing my average pace by a second after every running interval.  When I got to mile 10 and still felt strong, I almost cried, like I was realizing for the first time that I was going to finish the race (without crawling) and with a time to be proud of.  I started getting more tired after mile 12 and needing longer walking breaks, but I kept my running intervals strong and managed to pull out negative splits, tired legs or not.  I literally almost wept with joy when I made it across the finish line, and almost wept again when I saw that my time was 2:37:24, 13 minutes faster than my first half!
 Of course, I did then have to trek around for about 20 minutes looking for the gear check...sorry, legs!, before completely collapsing in the grass and eating a bagel.  At a certain point I talked myself into getting up, stretching, and hobbling back to the hotel to ice my legs while Michelle pounded the roads for another 13.1 miles.  She's a rock star.

 After awhile I hobbled back to the finish line and had a blast cheering on the marathon finishers.  I have no shame in admitting to all of you that I actually choked back tears at least 5 times as I watched complete strangers dig deep to finish.  You heard it here first folks: I will finish a marathon in the next two years.  (But let's loosen up those ITs first... ;)  The sun decided to come out and cook the marathoners during the second half of the course (we had nice cool, cloudy weather for the first half!), and the second half of the marathon was way hillier, but Michelle dug deep and powered through!
When we got back to our hotel, Michelle immediately face planted on her bed, shoes, spi belt, and all, and fell into a comatose sleep.  I managed to shower and throw ice packs on my legs before passing out into equally deep coma, waking up only long enough to scarf down two granola bars and turn on the TV before napping again. :)  Perfection.
We did manage to rally enough to make it out of the hotel for dinner, drinks, and a 4th meal of dessert around midnight...

All in all, a perfect race weekend (minus the damn hair ties...)!  We said goodbye to Louisville this morning before reluctantly getting back into the car for looong six hour drive home...
I;m not gonna lie, there were a few parts of the drive that were a little painful, and we definitely took a couple of stretch/food breaks.  Actually, though, my legs are feeling way better tonight then I expected they would!  I attribute this to my immediate icing and foam rolling, but also to my trusty recovery socks which I've been wearing nonstop since yesterday, and my new Aspaeris compression shorts which I threw on after the race, slept in last night, and wore in the car all day today under my yoga pants.  My hips are totally fine, and those are usually sore after a hard run!  My quads and hammys feel surprisingly good too!  We'll see how the IT bands do when I attempt a run this week...time to get ready for my next race, the Soldier Field 10 mile Memorial Day weekend!
Hysterically tiny shorts?  Yes.  Amazing compression? YES!!

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend, and I'm elated that I got to share it with one of my favorite people!  I am so relieved and overjoyed that this race went so well, and my mind is already running away thinking about running another half and trying to break 2:30.  (I'll admit it, I actually started planning my next half goals DURING this race!)  Maybe this fall.... ;)

(PS: I got a super deal on these shorts!  Aspaeris is having a 50% off sale on their shorts with the code APS4me, but it ends tomorrow, April 30th, so hurry up and treat your legs to a pair!)


  1. Congrats on a PR and an amazing race! Love those compression shorts - they look so tiny but somehow they fit!

  2. CONGRATS on the amazing PR :) :) i am so glad you 2 had awesome races and enjoyed the trip to Louisville!!!

  3. Hey! I changed the name of my blog piece-of-cupcake-life! Here's my brand spankin new URL!


    Check it out!

    -Melissa :)

  4. Congrats, Amy!
    Your posts are always SO inspiring.
    I would probably WALK away even if the house was on fire, but you make running sound possible... almost fun (which seems IMpossible for me to imagine, but somehow you are changing my thinking...)

    Sending you a Sunday hug!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  5. ahhh...my hometown!! I miss it dearly and I relished in your pics of the beautiful blue grass!!! I am so glad you enjoyed yourself and I hope you cherish it forever...one day I will be back in the game and hope to run that race as well!

    congrats on your PR...and I am going to have to check out those compression shorts!


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