Weather: Mary Poppins. Practically perfect in every way. It might have been a touch warm, but it was manageable.
PAX that crossed the finish line: Harry Caray, Big Bird, Kitty Litter, Meter Maid, Motor Boat, Glowsticks, Dauber, Wide Right, Huggies, Nino, Nice N Slow, Abacus, Air Raid, DeVitto, Little Jerry, Virginia Slims, Newman and Captain Crunchberry
THANG #1 – The Training.
Training started back in February for most of us. For me, training consisted of 3 days of running per week. It was a short, stretch your legs run early in the week, typically Mondays. Mid-week had a tempo style run. Hills repeats, fast/slow intervals, fartlek, or something that would push your heart rate, then allow for short recovery, then push it again. The weekend had long distance runs. Other PAX had different training schedules and routines. But towards the end we tried to make sure no one had to make the long runs solo.
THANG #2 – THE MAIN THANG – 13.1 or 26.2 miles
This was my second half marathon. The days leading up to the race were filled with emotions. Mostly anxiety and excitement. Was I ready? Would I be able to achieve my goal? With so many people participating would I get separated from my running group and run this thing solo?
The night before I set 3 alarms, just in case. Well, of course an alarm isn’t needed. I woke up 20 minutes before the alarms. Gathered my gear. A granola bar, water bottle, watch, and my glorified fanny pack. We were scheduled to meet to clown car downtown. I arrived at about 0520 to find Virginia Slims in the parking lot waiting. Next to arrive was Kitty Litter, then Glowstick, and Big Bird coming in hot just before 0530. We loaded up into Glowstick’s van, and off we went. We hadn’t made it a tenth of a mile when we saw Air Raid coming in, so we went back so he could jump in. He was hesitant to get in. I don’t know if it was the amount of enthusiasm in the car, the motivational soundtrack Glowsticks had playing, or just the thought of leaving his car at The County, but he reluctantly got in.
Glowsticks was our Uber. But I did a pretty good job of being a backseat driver too. As we rolled up LaGrange Road toward the Gene Snyder I asked him how he planned to get downtown. You see, we were in the right lane, and needed to be in the left lane. With some NASCAR style driving, we easily managed the two lane merge to make it on 265. We cruised up the interstate swapping pleasantries, discussing how everyone slept, or if everyone was ready. Kitty Litter let us know he basically brought a first aid kit if needed. Big Bird was packing a hydration backpack, Air Raid was still wrapping his head around the fact that he left his car, and Virginia Slims was rather quiet. Or maybe I just didn’t listen to what he was saying.
When we exited I-71 at Zorn Avenue Glowstick questioned which way to go. I again interjected my back seat driving, that maybe Kitty Litter should have been our Uber. This is when Glowstick called my bluff, he put it in park and swapped seats with Kitty Litter.
We parked, and started walking. It was just just under a one mile walk to the starting line. As posted on Slack, we met up at the Pee Wee Reese statue with some more F3 PAX. Joining us there were Abacus, Little Jerry, Harry Caray, Motorboat, and DeVitto. We did some stretching, took in the scenery, and then made our way to the official starting line. We were weaving in between people moving closer to the front, eventually finding the pacer holding the 1:55 sign. This would be the starting point for me, Harry Caray, Motor Boat, Virginia Slims, Big Bird, and Air Raid (I think.) After just a few blocks, I would have no clue where Virginia Slims, Air Raid or Big Bird were. But I managed to stay close to Harry Caray and Motor Boat.
Somewhere along that first mile a lady ran up alongside me and started asking questions about F3. Like a true HIM, I passed along all the important details, and who knows, if you have an FNG at your AO this week, ask if his wife ran in the Derby Festival Half Marathon.
Things were moving along just fine, the crowd started to thin out to the point that I felt comfortable around mile 2. Prior to that I was concerned about being “stuck” behind someone, or someone being “stuck” behind me.
I think it was mile 3 that Harry Caray pointed out the first victim. A lady who I would describe as having a “runners appearance” was splashing Merlot. It kind of got me worried that I might join her at some point.
All was quiet for the next few miles, except for when we saw Honey Do. It is pretty cool that he made the trip out, just to cheer us on. He had trained with us off and on, but family commitments prevented him from registering.
We made the loop around Central Park and started to make our way toward Churchill Downs. This is when we found our first hill. The course is relatively flat. The only exception being a couple of viaducts, and going under the track at Churchill. They were manageable, and only lasted a minute or so. Nothing like my previous experience at The Parklands.
I regret to inform you that when we made our way into Churchill Downs I didn’t get a magical feeling. I wasn’t able to channel my inner thoroughbred. Hell, I didn’t even think to look up to see the Twin Spires. With the setup for The Kentucky Derby, it was just a big construction zone to me. Other than the jumbotron. I did see Little Jerry on it, but I have no clue where he was in relation to me and Harry Caray.
We exited Churchill, and started our way down 4th Street. Entering the last viaduct I was struggling. We started up the hill and I told Harry Caray to run his race, but I had to pull up. This was about mile 9. Leading up to this point I thought I was going to be the one motivating him. But the roles were reversed. It was like he had a repeated playlist going that just said “One foot in front of the other.”, “You got this.”, “Keep going.” I managed to keep him in eye sight for about another half mile. My internal check engine light came on at that point.
Around mile 10 I had to walk. Which was about a 1/10 of a mile too soon. My wife and kids didn’t witness the walking, but I saw them just a short moment or two later. It was a great feeling to see them, and I wish I had accepted my fate then. I knew my goal of a sub 2 hour time was likely gone when I started walking. I should have stopped and made it a moment for the kids to remember. Rather than the 3 seconds that they got a fist bump.
Approaching mile 11 I recognized a familiar face. Jolly Rancher was there. Got a really good photo of me trying to recover from the Mack truck that hit me back at mile 10. He ran alongside me for a few blocks. It was a role reversal, me asking for a walk break. I’m sure he ate it up.
After Jolly peeled off to get back to his car, I hooked up with a random runner next to me. I heard him mumble that he was falling apart. I felt the same. I continued with my run/walk pace for a while, running for a bit, and then walking until he caught back up and encouraged me to run again. We did this all the way to the finish line, which I finally crossed 2 hours, 9 minutes, and 59 seconds after starting.
After crossing the finish line I met up with some of the earlier finishers. This is when I learned that Nice and Slow, and Nino ran the race. I had seen Huggies and Wide Right a handful of times during the training, but the Nino and Nice and Slow were a surprise. I’m not sure if they just woke up Saturday morning and were looking for something to do, or if they trained. They both seem capable of completing the race without too much effort.
RECOVERY: “The Chute” at the finish line had Powerade and water, along with some salty snacks which really hit the spot. It was a madhouse once you made it through the chute. Runners on top of runners, on top of dogs, on top of strollers, etc. In November when I completed the Louisville Half Marathon, we had the entire Egg Lawn to spread out. It was so relaxing. This seemed so congested that I called my wife to ask if she had made it there, and if not, to abort. I would never be able to find her, and enjoy the time there.
NAKED MAN MOLESKIN: 13.1 miles. One year ago I would have laughed at you if you said I would run that distance. Now I have accomplished the distance twice. A friend said that the race itself is just the celebration that the training was over. I’m still trying to let that sink in. I had a goal of completing this run in under 2 hours. I missed that goal, and for that, it is hard to accept this as an achievement. But it is just that, an achievement. From my research there were 2.1 million people that completed a half marathon in 2018. That puts me and my friends in a pretty elite group.
The nights leading up to the run, we were sharing motivational videos. One really stuck with the group. It was a podcast by Jocko Willink titled #GOOD. At it’s basic, it is telling you to find the good in the adversity of trying times. So, I’m choosing to find the good. I didn’t achieve my goal, good. I know I need to train harder next time. So that is what I will do.