This story was submitted by Terry Henderson, who runs in Kentucky.
Ever since a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go for a run with her last year, the running bug has stayed with me. I made running a part of my weekly workout routine, being able to lose a pants size, lose body fat, gain tone and muscle. I ran my first races, being the 5K and 10K of the Triple Crown of Running in Louisville in 2010. I missed out on the 10-miler, because of a knee injury. Click here to read how I dealt with that issue. In 2011 I ran all three races in the Louisville Triple Crown of Running. I ran the 5K , 10K, and the10-miler, which I completed in 1:41. I was very happy with that.
My running friends, who are encouraging, supportive, and run full marathons themselves, asked if I was going to run the mini-marathon in Louisville following the 10-miler. Honestly, I hadn’t really considered running the mini-marathon, but thought about what my friends had said about “it’s only three more miles – you can do that.” A few days later I came to a decision: I would run the mini-marathon.
The next couple of weeks I ran outside as much as possible, tackling hills and trying to build up distance. I never ran 13 miles during training and before I knew it race day eve had arrived. Would that impact my race, I wondered?
The morning of the mini-marathon arrived and I arose at 5:30 a.m. to prepare myself for my longest run ever. It is chilly on spring mornings before the sun comes up (around 50 degrees) so I looked through three different running outfits because later in the day it was going to be 80 degrees and sunny. Nerves and excitement also followed me through the morning. Breakfast, running bib, my iPod,GU packets, and cell phone were all taken care of as I made my way to Louisville with friends.
As we walked to the start line of the mini-marathon, which is also the start for the marathon at the same time, the energy in downtown Louisville was amazing. Thousands of runners were congregating, along with family and friends to support and cheer them on. My friends were in corral B, which meant they were close to the start line and I was in corral G, which meant I had to walk further back in the sea of people. I found a pacer holding a sign for 10:34 miles and I got in that crowd.
After having a surreal hush come over a crowd of 15,000+ people standing in complete silence as the National Anthem was played, the race gun went off, and so began the mini and full marathons. It took me 10 minutes to get herded across the start line and begin the mini-marathon.
It was a perfect day for running, being a cool morning with the sun coming up over the horizon and not a cloud in the sky. My iPod was playing my favorite tunes as I navigated my way through the course, around runners slowing, and walkers. About half-way through, my iPod battery died and I was not happy. I tucked my earphones in my pocket while running and was pleasantly surprised. I saw lots of people with constant cheering for runners for the entire 7 miles of the race I still had to go. There were people cheering on runners with enthusiasm and encouragement the whole time, which is amazing, and I am thankful to all of them.
The route took runners into Churchhill Downs behind the horse race track, which was a neat experience. Race horses were being ridden on the track in the cool morning air, with trainers and owners dotting the fence line. I have been to Churchhill Downs for the Oaks and for general race days, so it was neat to see it from a different perspective.
Upon reaching mile 11, my body started to feel tired and I wanted to walk so badly. I had taken advantage of the water being handed out by countless volunteers along the route, taken my GU packets every 3 or so miles. I then realized my allergies I had been suffering from the week prior were starting to kick my butt. Then I did it – I slowed to a walk at around mile 11.5. And it did not feel good for my entire body. So after about 10 steps I kicked back into running again. To my surprise getting and staying in a running motion was easier than I though. I would be alright.
The crowds in downtown Louisville in the last mile of the course were bigger and their cheers pushed racers on. I hit mile 12 and I had renewed energy, knowing the finish line was so close. I easily ran the last part of 13.1 miles to cross the finish line and receive my first medal for completing my first mini-marathon! What a great feeling! My time was 2:22:41, which I am completely happy with.
My family was there to greet me and my kids were in awe of my medal, thinking I won the race (grin). I told them, no, a lady much faster than I won the race and we should be happy for her. I told them I still won because I accomplished a goal I had set for myself. I also told them I needed some ibuprofen and a nap. We went home soon thereafter and that’s exactly what I had. After resting the whole afternoon, we went out to dinner because I had the most amazing hunger.
So check that off my list of things to do during my lifetime: run a mini-marathon. Do I feel the quest to train for a full marathon? I can say this confidently (as of right now anyway) — no. I am happy with conquering 13.1 miles of the great city of Louisville, Kentucky.