I don't even know how to describe how inadequate I felt with this group! I would love to know the combined total of marathons completed by this assembly of people. Marathon Maniacs were everywhere. It was crazy!!
The first portion of the race was on the grass cross country trails. I've never been a fan of the grass, but I didn't really mind it Sunday. I heard one person say "I heard this was hilly but I think even the grass was uphill."! HA! Several people took off like rocketships with their dogs, I'm not sure how many dogs ran the marathon, too! One older lady ran the whole race with her large poodle. Seriously. At the start the poodle was pulling her and I was thinking 'I've got to get one of those', but we saw her later on a hill and she was dragging the poodle. And yes, the poodle beat us, which is a bit embarrassing. Is it really healthy to run a poodle 26.2 miles?? Do you give them gu's??? I dunno. All I know is Pippin will probably never finish anything longer than a 5K, and 1 mile is really more of his specialty.
Mile 1 took us through some grass and into the main park. We clicked it off in 10:20, right on target. During the
next mile we started talking with L. He was in his 60's and from Louisville, KY. He's never been to the park before but this was his 160-something-th marathon, so obviously he's done a few hard ones. We told him a little bit about what we consider the toughest portions of the course are and got to know him a little better. When we approached "Golf Course Hill" we stopped for our first walk break and he decided to keep chugging. Two girls who looked about our age said "We're just going to run the whole thing even if it looks like we're walking." One of them died a slow, slow miserable death well before the half-way point and we ended up beating her by about 30+ minutes. Walk breaks helped us SO much with this one. While walking up this hill we ended up talking to another guy who was taking the exact same approach we were in regard to walking the hills. In talking to him we found out he had done an 18 hour adventure race two weeks earlier and was now starting to train for Ironman Louisville. Wow!! Mile 2 was in 10:09 and Mile 3 was 9:48.
The first few miles were great becaus
e there were lots of people to talk to so time seemed to fly by. We caught back up with L so for a little while Brent and I ran with L and IMLO guy. We talked about work, about running, about the loads of marathons he has done. I wasn't really noticing the chilly air or anything, just enjoying the day. Mile 4 was 9:48. Now we started approaching Lunsford Hill, one of my 3 least favorite. We walked various portions of it with L and IMLO guy while we talked about Dean Karnazes and his run home. Mile 5 was 10:33 and Mile 6 was 10:45. We were also walking through the water stops. The water stops were spaced perfectly. I knew they would be ample before hand, so I really only wore my Fuel Belt for "emergency water" and so I would have a pocket for a couple of Kleenex, Band Aids, my emergency cab money, cell phone and anti-inflamms! It was really nice only have 1 water and 1 Gatorade on my person!! The water stop people were great. They were all so friendly and it was great to see all 3 local running stores out sponsoring the race.
We were now coming back down the hill and headed back towards the main entrance of the park. Mile 7 was 10:02. As we started heading back up into the hills L decided to press on during one of our walk breaks and it was just the two of us again. I really don
't like the first part of the course from the Stone Gates, I don't know why - I just never have! It's a long, slow hill. We ran part of it and walked part of it. Mile 8 was 12:07. Mile 9 was a little faster with some downhills - yeah! Mile 9 : 9:31. We both really had to make a pit-stop so we waited in line and lost 4 minutes in a port potty line. All of the people we had chatted off and on with kept on going, so we were with a new group now. And a lot of people can pass you in 4 minutes!! But the bathroom break was really worth it. Mile 10: 14:01. Around this point we also saw the first of the fast runners coming back the other way. Talk about exciting!! In a small race with few spectators it's great to have any sort of excitement. They were around 15-something when we were at 10-something. And they were BOOKING it. Deep in concentration. Brent yelled out 'Yeah! This means we get to turn around soon!!" but I think his humor was lost on #1 guy. We saw several more top guys and then the top girl who looked like she wanted to kill me with her bare hands. I guess she was not in a happy place. #2 girl looked much happier so I was really rooting for her. Mile 11: 10:42. We had more downhills and flats in Mile 12: 9:12.
I was so glad to be approaching halfway!! We were now out in no-man's land near the Steeplechase and it's just boring out there. I was ready to turn and do the first part in reverse! Finally we were seeing the backside of mile markers we had seen earlier and it was our turn to be at the halfway mark for real. Mile 13: 10:48. Of course we stopped at the halfway marker for a pic!! It was nice to start seeing the backside of the signs and know that thankfully you weren't back at mile 1 or 2, and before we knew it we were back on the main course. Mile 14: 11:24. Somewhere around in here we started running with a guy who had come out to run the loop in support of the runners. How nice! We chatted with him for a while about his running and just random things. Every conversation was a nice break from thinking about how many miles we had run and how much further we had to go. I'm so glad he came out to give support. There were several other runners out there cheering for the marathoners, which was greatly appreciated. Mile 15: 12:23 Mile 16: 9:51. (You can tell which miles are mostly up and which have a lot of downs/flats.)
A lot of the miles really blend together for me! We were nearly back to the stone gates at this point, which was something I was really excited about. We chatted with an older guy around here. He's probably in his late 60's and runs a marathon every 2 weeks or so. Amazing!! Mile 17: 11:34. Mile 18 took us back down to the stone gates. Yeah!! Brent's knee started bothering him a bit through here, so he'd have to stop and stretch. My left foot had been bothering me since early in the race and we had both taken some anti-inflamms at Mile 12. I think the hilliness and the curviness of the road was really throwing my pronation and
making me overcompensate. Mile 18: 10:25. Now we were headed back into what I think is the worst part of the course. It's up, up and more up. Personally, I think it's harder doing the course in reverse, and when that's the second half it's even tougher. Mile 19: 14:21. Also in this portion you do a short loop out to an overlook (view pictured at the left). It's very short (maybe .25-.5 total rountrip) so we got to see the people right in front of us and right behind us. Our IMLO guy and friend L were still together right in front of us! We yelled out for them, and then yelled out for a couple of girls who were now behind us. It was so nice to see some other runners, we'd been pretty lonely for a bit.
And finally....we were now at Mile 20! 13:10, more up and up. I was so glad to see the 20 mile marker!! Only 6 more miles, totally the home stretch. Somewhere around here was a very enthusiastic volunteer in a cowboy hat. She was GREAT. Mile 21 had THE BEST waterstop EVER! They had hula outfits on, a guy on a bike dressed as a flying monkey (which NEITHER of us got at the moment - only after! We were delirious!!) Of course we stopped and had our picture taken. They gave us so much energy. Mile 21: 11:04. (We could hear them before we ever saw them, and could hear them cheering for other runners after we left. That helped SO much!)
Now we were starting to make our way closer and closer to the finish line. The worst of the hills were behind us with just Golf Course Hill left. Mile 22: 12:39. About this time a truck carrying a couple of volunteers came through. The guy driving had his window down and yelled out the window "BRENT! RAE! I READ YOUR BLOG! GOOD LUCK!" HAAA! I have no idea who you are, but THANK YOU! That helped so much!! We had totally run out of stuff to talk about and were pretty lonely on the back stretch. (So who are you???) Mile 23: 10:59
At this point we knew we could beat 5 hours. And at this point I started lying to Brent about what our time was. He had forgotten to turn off auto-pause so his watch wa
s way off, and his GPS doesn't work well out there (he has the 201 and I have the 205). His knee was also bothering him a bit so we'd have to take short, but sometimes frequent, walk breaks to stretch it out. When I'm that close to the finish I just want to GO, so I was pushing him hard, in a loving way, of course. We could almost see the finish line below and I really wanted to be there asap. We'd fallen into the pattern where I was running just a little ahead and then I'd slow down and let him catch up. Mile 24: 13:13. At mile 24 we stopped to eat a few more beans (I was getting really hungry!) and then we trudged on. We made a sharp curve back and were headed towards the finish line. YEAH! Mile 25: 12:44. When we hit the grass I told Brent to give me everything he had. He stopped to stretch one more time and then we ran from the 26 mile marker on. Mile 26: 10:57, the .2 was at a 8:51 pace. Overall: 4:54:16, an 11:14 pace. Not bad!!!
Part C will be the finish line festivities!!