Running On Empty

I arrived in Louisville at 11:50 p.m.on Friday. My flight was late. It was supposed to arrive at 11:15, which was already bad enough. All I could think was, "I have to get up in...a little over 5 hours." As I walked to the entrance of the airport, took the cab and then finally got to the hotel, I couldn't stop thinking, "5 hours of sleep"..."4.5 hours of sleep"...."4 hours of sleep". I finally got to bed around 12:50.

On Saturday I woke up at 4:30.

I got ready, ate a powerbar, drank a liter of water and then walked to the Louisville Convention Center, where I picked up my bib, stretched, ate another power bar and then boarded the bus to Iroquois Park, where the race would start. It was 6:30. It was freezing (it is all relative of course; it was probably about 50 degrees).

The race finally began at 7:30. I had decided that, in lieu of a partner (Mira, I miss you!), I would join a pace group this time. By joining a pace group, you maintain a steady pace of...say..10 minutes per mile... the whole time. I had two choices. There was a 4:30 pace group (these are measured by "marathon" time - a 4:30 would be a 2:15 half *which is what I ran at the Mardi Gras Marathon*) and a 4:15 pace group (2:08 half). I had planned on being in the 4:20 pace group, therefore striving for a 2:10 half. However, in the absence of a 4:20, I decided to join the 4:15. That would put me below my goal by 2 mins + and get me that much closer to my ultimate goal of 2 hours flat.

The pace leader explained to us that if you needed to go to the restroom or if you were tired, you could slow down/stop and then catch up to the group later. He suggested taking at least a mile to catch back up to the group, as you don't want to tire yourself out right by trying to hard to catch back up.

I ran with the pace group for the first mile. Then, oh horror of horrors, I felt the need to pee. So I ran a little faster (and actually at a more comfortable pace) than the group, thinking that the next porta-potti I saw I would stop at and then it would give me a chance to catch back up to the group. Around mile 2, I finally saw a bathroom so I stopped. There were about 8 people in line. I weighed my options. GO. Stay. Go. Stay? I stayed. Until the two bathrooms that were there never emptied. There were 8 people in line. We waited. Finally I could wait no more. I ran again. Into the bushes.

I ran up hills and down hills; My legs were burning; My ankles were sore...and I was only on mile 4. It took me 5 more miles to catch back up to my pace group. By this time we were at Churchill Downs. From there to the next mile seemed to take hours..then all of a sudden I saw mile 11 up ahead! Only 2 more miles to go! I sped up and raced to the finish as fast as I could go (which, by now, was not very fast at all!)

I made it to the end at 2:04...only 4 minutes slower than my goal, but 11 minutes faster than my last half marathon!
If only I hadn't had to stop and pee...

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