Another Successful Half

So after I completed my first official half marathon last year, Adam, a buddy of mine from high school, asked if I’d run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in 2019 with him. Apparently he was supposed to run it with some co-workers a few years back and they “chickened out on him,” so he didn’t do it. So yeah, I agreed to do it, knowing I’d have months to work on it again, and it was conveniently also falling on my Fall Break again, giving me a Thursday and Friday off work so I could get to Louisville, KY.

Relative to last summer, my weekly running stats weren’t as impressive. I was running 40-something miles a week for a stretch there, but this summer, I struggled to hit 30 or 35 some weeks. As recently as a month ago, my left ankle started feeling less-than-stellar, prompting me to seriously investigate a new road bike so I could diversify my cardio training.

That said, I did run 13 mi lengths three times before running in Louisville, so I felt pretty confident I could pull it off, though I expected that my time may not be as good as last year (1:44:06 in Kansas City).

Adam and I left St. Louis and got to Louisville late afternoon on Friday, giving us plenty of time to meet up with a few of this co-workers, get to Louisville Slugger stadium to pick up our race information, and grab a bite to eat before trying to get some sleep.

Thankfully, this year’s race started at 8:00 am….though that was EDT, so it was really like 7:00 am CDT…which is the same time last year’s race started…figures…

There were 3065 runners, and by the time we got to the starting area, it was packed enough that we couldn’t work our way up to the correct pace group. I wanted to get up to the 1:50 pace runner, but got stuck back at 2:30, meaning I’d have to work my way around some folks. The temperature was 43 F, which was pretty solid, but I still wore light long-sleeves and pants, as well as light gloves.

Once the race started, I did my best to work around the folks in front of me. The road was relatively wide, so it wasn’t too hard to move through, but it still meant I had to sprint a bit more than I wanted to so early in the race. At points, I was running at 7:21/mi to get around people.

I felt pretty good throughout! The race route was pretty flat compared with Kansas City, with three somewhat large hills in the park that make up a third of the run. The hills were very gradual: up, then down…up, then down….up, then down… It made for a challenge, yet still better than the really large elevation change at the end of the KC route that ended with a large downhill to the finish line.

Again, though, I could feel that I was doing pretty well. I didn’t even look at my watch until I got to the end because I didn’t want to psych myself out. I’d passed the 1:50 pace runner a long time before and hadn’t seen them since, so I knew I was at least in the range of my time last year: I just wasn’t sure exactly how fast I was going.

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:41:01. I had shaved off 3 minutes and 5 seconds from my race last year. My final placement was 178 out of 3065 runners; I was 144 out of 1312 males; and I was 28 out of 208 males ages 35 to 39. Ultimately, it was way better than I expected going into the weekend! I was going to be happy if I was anywhere around last year’s time, but getting a new personal record was a pleasant surprise!

And my ankle didn’t feel like trash, either! 🙂

After the race was over, Louisville saw fit to grace us with bourbon tastings! Yay! They’ve got a pretty sweet venue downtown in Louisville that’s kinda indoor/outdoor in its setting, some bars and restaurants, and they had a stage set up for some live music. It got pretty tight for 3000+ people, but there weren’t crazy-long lines for the bourbon tasting. Each participant got to taste 4 bourbons, got a can of not-so-great beer, a slice of pizza, and some kinda soup called “burgoo.”

It ended up being a great weekend! It was awesome catching up with Adam, as it’s been quite a few years since we’d had a chance to talk at length. We’ve seen him a few times in recent years, but never for long enough that it felt like “old times.” It was good getting to walk around Louisville, get some awesome food (Turns out Brazilian steakhouses are awesome! Who know?!), and take a break from work for a bit.

I’m thinking I’m ready to attempt a full marathon next. If the opportunity to run another half comes up, I’d still do it, but I’m to the point now where I’m not going to blow through my 13.1 mi times much more than I already have without tearing something in my leg, so going “slower” and “steadier” may be the next step. I’m not sure I’ll do the 26.2 mi stretch next year or not: still need to work in all that training while having two young-ish kids around the house. I’ll probably stick to running more reasonable distances and start putting in long-distance bike riding to supplement. It’ll take awhile to work out good biking routes around here, so 2020 may just involve developing another skill set.

We’ll see! Until then, I’ll keep it up as long as I can.

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