Okay. So I had been warned. I’d heard the term “brutal” tossed around. I knew it was going to be hilly.
But I wasn’t ready. I just wasn’t ready.
This race was no joke. And I kinda loved it.
First things first: before the race. Parking was easy peasy. We parked maybe 1/4 mile from the start line. In a garage. For free. There was quite the portapotty farm by the start line. Slightly frightening because it was dark, but I didn’t even have to wait in a line.
The start was very clearly marked with anticipated finish times for lining up. And, from where I was, they were very well utilized. I didn’t have to weave at all.
The first mile or so was awesome. Ashley and I just trucked through downtown. A downhill start was very nice. We ran around Pack Square. We ran by restaurants I wanted to try. We were cruising a smidge fast for the first mile, but I’d seen the elevation profile, so I figured a little time in the bank wouldn’t hurt.
That didn’t last long. Miles 2-8 were steady uphills followed by steady downhills. Both were stressful. Here in Lexington, we do a lot of complaining about the S-Curve on the half course at Keeneland. By the end of mile 8, I had walked up several hills that would laugh at the S-Curve. I knew it was bad when I got a sidestitch from walking up a hill. I felt great, though. I was running smart. I was running up the hills as much as I could, and then quickly walking the rest of them. I was letting myself fly downhill. It felt really good. I was fueling well. I was drinking well. I was more tired than I usually am at those distances, but running through the neighborhoods of the city I will someday call home was distracting.
I was doing a really good job at pushing uphill and recovering downhill. I was feeling really solid. Until mile 10. That’s when the
hill started. From 9.5 to 10.3, we climbed 225 feet. Straight up. No relief. No leveling out. No slight downhill. Just climb. Turn a corner. Curse. Climb some more. Turn a corner. Curse. Climb some more. It wasn’t fun.
I may have tweeted an obscenity. It was that bad.
I finally turned the corner to go downhill…and it didn’t get any better. The downhill was so steep that I felt really out of control to
run. I had earned such a huge downhill and it was over so stinking fast.
And then the next climb started at 10.9. It was much more gradual, but it was still a climb. We repeated the climb. And I was done.
I looked at my Garmin around mile 11.5 and I seriously wanted to walk off that course. I know this sounds dramatic, but I felt worse physically at that moment than I did in on the Highway to Hell at mile 22 at the marathon. And I know I am better trained now than I was at the marathon. I was completely defeated. It has been a very long time since I have had that “I just don’t ever want to do this ever ever again” feeling about running, but I was just done.
But then downtown came into view. And I knew I was almost done. And I started to cry.
The last climb was short but brutal, up Walnut at the corner where Malaprop’s sits. I had been dreading that climb since we walked up it that morning. Ashley’s Dustin was there cheering for me. I made a few turns and next thing I knew, I was running into the chute.
And immediately everything changed. I went from hating my body, hating my time, and hating that city to looking forward to next year. Looking forward to training differently. Looking forward to being prepared. Looking forward to being triumphant next year. (Kinda like I approach the Keeneland course here.)
The medal was placed around my neck. Someone spilled her beer on my shoes. I ate a baggie of plain and chocolate covered pretzels. And Nathan and I cheered and cheered and cheered. We were so excited to see Ashley come through. Even though we got a double-bird and “I hate you both!”
It was epic. She was epic. We were epic.
Of course, Nathan loved it. He is already talking about the full next fall. I’ll probably stick with the half. Although the full course will skip the monster hill…who knows.
Expo: Nice enough. They had everything I needed. Good expo for the size of the race. Parking easy. Logistics easy. Well done.
Race logistics: Well done. I had all the info I needed before the race. Parking was easy. Portajohns were plentiful and close to the
start line. Water, electrolyte drink, gu-type stuff, and pretzels were available at great intervals across the course. Volunteers were very friendly. Well done.
Course: I think I’ve covered the difficulty. It was challenging sometimes because it wasn’t closed to traffic in all areas. Intersections were very well manned, but some of the curvy roads were challenging. I never felt threatened or unsafe, but I could tell the drivers were angry. Coming up into downtown at the end, the right lane went from being closed for us to run in to wide open. The cones just disappeared. I was running in a pack, so I continued running in the lane, but I was really unsure if I was supposed to be there or not. The final stretch, though, was on sidewalk and that made me frustrated. As did the volunteers not paying attention and not telling us about the final turn. (The lady in front of me asked in a very aggressive way if we were supposed to turn, so she relayed the frustration for our little pack.)
Swag: The shirt and the medal are AWESOME. I also really like the sweatshirt I picked up. “Hills smills” makes me laugh. I liked that our bags weren’t full of flyers and papers that we’d just throw away.
Would I do this race again? Absolutely. But would I understand why someone would say they wouldn’t? Absolutely. It was brutal. But wonderfully brutal.
So you’re coming with me next year, right?