I did four practice runs at Iroquois Park to develop muscle memory of what my legs needed to complete the rolling hills of miles 3-5. My trial runs consisted of becoming familiar with the landscape, length of the loop and running tangents. An added bonus was having my Mother try the hills to practice her walking and light jogging. Ms. A.J. Fine was the best dressed patron in the park with her trendy, neon athletic gear with matching shoes and socks for each “hook-up” as she calls them.
Night before the race was normal with Grandma’s Tuna Surprise and cup of green tea. I had to handle a couple issues that popped up as I neared my bedtime but everything was settled. Sleep was not that good and I must have looked at the clock every hour to see if it was time to get up. This is why it is important to rest up the two nights before the night before the race.
My morning routine was the same with oatmeal and green tea. I really wasn’t hungry but knew I needed fuel to make this ten mile journey. One thing I did differently was take a tablespoon of coconut oil. My friend Brooke out in Oklahoma hipped me to the healthy practice of oil pulling. She’s always giving me great advice on health, fashion and beauty. Awwwwww (inside joke). I did the oil pulling because I figured I would be mouth breathing and I didn’t want my mouth to dry out leading me to stop for water breaks.
Parking was hassle free, but I had a problem finding the Sweats Shuttle. Temperature was 48 degrees so I layered a GAP jogging suit over my ASICS gear. I held onto my bag until I reached the starting line. The race started at 8:05 and it took three minutes for me to reach the timing mat. Finally, I was able to spot a Thrifty rental truck with bags. I flung my bag to the side and took off!
The first three miles down Southern Parkway were a breeze. I settled into a pace which felt comfortable and allowed my breathing to remain calm. I left my watch at home because this race would be a laid back distance test. Thankfully, the race organizers placed mile markers with digital clocks on the even miles. Besides running my longest distance to date, I made a goal to finish under 1:30. My practice runs of two loops around Iroquois were coming in around 55 minutes. I figured I could pull off the extra 3.5 miles in 30 minutes.
One benefit to looping Iroquois two times was the physical strength I gained. The first hill is the steepest and I made a comment to a fellow runner about what goes up must come down. I ran that hill eight times over a period of 5 days. The remainder of the park flowed easily. I was able to run more tangents because the road was closed to vehicles which would normally have the right of way. I turned those S curves into straight lines and that was an excellent strategy.
The runners who stood out the most were a couple with a connecting wrist band. I noticed the younger gentleman was visually impaired. I gave him words of encouragement and he replied back with a “Thank You.” If that is not motivation to finish the second half of this race, I don’t know what is.
A big smile plastered my face as I came out the last hill. All I needed was 4 miles to take me into Cardinal Stadium. I felt a surge on mile 6-7. Runner’s high was maxed out with endorphins reaching every cell in my body. The D.J. Stations along the way lifted my mood even higher with their upbeat song selections. “Thank You” to all the spectators holding signs and cheering for the runners. My favorite comment was “Looking good like you just started the race!”
At mile 8, I got a little fatigued and felt a burning sensation on the outer edge of my left foot. I was glancing at the time and saw I had a few minutes of wiggle room to beat 1:30. Seeing Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was like Dorothy seeing Emerald City. We covered one last incline over the Denny Crum Overpass on Central Avenue. The yellow brick road took us around the perimeter of the stadium where barricades narrowed the path. Once I hit the FieldTurf, I took off like I was returning a 100 yard pass interception. Flashbacks to winning 3rd place in the Southfield Parks and Recreation Punt, Pass and Kick competition at age 9. I was the only girl and upset a lot of little leaguers. At this moment the training, restless night and choosing healthy over fatty foods was all worth it!
XACT Race Tracking:
5 mile split: 44:10 pace 8:50
Estimated completion 1:28:20
Final Time: 1:24:04 pace 8:24
29/553 age division
The shaved time came from mile 6-7 and my infamous finishing kick. This race provides the reassurance I need for the KY Derby Mini Marathon. The additional 3.1 miles shouldn’t be a huge deal. Physically, I am capable and spiritually I know “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). I saw this verse on the back of a runner’s shirt and loved it!