My First Solo Half Marathon

The Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon was supposed to be the 12th Half Marathon Joyce and I had run together.  In fact, neither of us had run a solo half marathon.  Two weeks earlier, we had run the Big Hit Half Marathon, adding in a few miles to fit in 15 miles on our training for the Walt Disney World Marathon.  Our plan was to add in 4 miles before the LSC Half Marathon to get 17 miles in for our long run.  However, nothing went as planned.

The night before, our oldest started having serious stomach pains.  That ended with a trip to the ER later that evening.  We were hoping it was a quick fix.  Not so much.  He was up most of the night, and Joyce and (to a lesser extent) I got very little sleep.  Late into the night, we were both determined to make the race the next day.  We had arrangements for our sitter to arrive at around 6:30 so we could leave early to get in the extra 4 miles.  However, the oldest was still having spasms well into the early morning.  We couldn’t leave the sitter with him like that.  So Joyce decided she would stay home with him.  However, by the time we decided that, it was too late to call the sitter, and she was greeted at our door with $20 for her trouble, and she got to go back to bed.

Now, what to do about the race?  Well, I am a horrible father.  At almost the last minute, I decided I would still run the race.  I am still not sure exactly why. Regardless, I got dressed and headed over to Louisville for the start of the race outside the KFC Yum! Center.

Start Outside the YUM! Center

Start Outside the YUM! Center

I got there just in time to get in line near the very end of the runners.  There was no reason to be in the middle of all the folks, as I had no plan for this run at all.  There was a nice crowd for this race, and it was a perfect day for a run.

Before I knew it, we were off.  I settled into a comfortable pace, determined to keep it consistent.  The course heads out of downtown Louisville toward Cherokee Park.  The park portion of the course is gorgeous in the fall.  It is rather hilly, but is my favorite part of the course.  There was some pretty good crowd support and bands along the course as well.

Entering Cherokee Park

Entering Cherokee Park

The first of the hills

The first of the hills

The views in the park were gorgeous with the fall colors and vistas at the top of the hills.  The best part about the hilly park portion is that there is a nice long downhill section coming out of the park.  A highlight of the course was a new section that was added this year that took the runners through Cave Hill Cemetery just past the halfway point.  This part of the course was definitely a great addition, and added to the beauty of the run.

Entering Cave Hill Cemetery

1 Entering Cave Hill Cemetery

The colors were just past peak

The colors were just past peak

I exited the cemetery just before mile 8.  Just outside the cemetery exit, a group was dancing to “Thriller” in full character.

"Thriller" zombies

“Thriller” zombies

Baxter Ave is never traffic-free

Baxter Ave is never traffic-free

At this point, my pace was well ahead of my personal best, and I was feeling pretty good.  I was getting my hopes up that I could smash that PR.  However, since I was running a bit behind arriving for the start, I had neglected to use the restroom.  Holding it was no longer a comfortable option.  Luckily, by mile 8, the restroom lines are relatively non-existent.  Mile 8 was a bit slow as a result, but I knew I would be much more at ease heading to the finish.  At this point, the course heads back toward downtown Louisville for the finish.  Last year, it started to rain/sleet rather heavily at this part of the course. This year treated the runners with perfect weather.

4th Street Live! (Louisville likes exclamation points)

4th Street Live! (Louisville likes exclamation points)

They tweaked the course this year, adding an out-and-back portion between the 11.5 and 12.5 mile points.  I think that was the longest mile I have run in a long time.  As usual, I was still feeling pretty good at mile 10, and was well ahead of PR pace.  However, as usual, at about mile 11, that good feeling began to fade.  To top that off, an out-and-back at this point in a run is a bit depressing.  You get to see all those people ahead of you that are heading to the finish, and you keep wondering where the hell that turnaround is.

I hit the turnaround, still ahead of PR pace, but I was certainly beginning to struggle.  My legs were rebelling.  However, from that point, I could see the finish area,  and once you get past the turnaround, you are on the positive side of the out-and-back, seeing all the people behind you.  Being that I started shotgun on the field, it was nice to see all the people I was able to pass in the race.  That did not help my legs much though.  The last couple of miles were well off my pace for the rest of the run.  I had to take a couple of extra walk breaks between miles 12 and 13, which I never like to do.  Usually, we skip the break during that mile.

After one last short break, I powered toward the finish.  The time was not what I had been hoping for, but I was still able to beat my previous PR by over two minutes.

It was probably the most disappointing PR ever.  Not because I could have gone faster (I think I could have), but because it was MY PR.  Up to this point, it was OUR PR.  I was without my running partner for this one, and it was certainly not the same.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I enjoy my alone time like few others, but the PR Joyce and I achieved last fall felt better than this one.  Running is our thing.  It is that thing we get to do together.  I enjoyed this run, but I would have liked it a lot better if (1) our son wasn’t sick and (2) we had run it together.

In the end, it was nothing serious with our son, but  I suppose I am still a horrible father.  I told Joyce she should go with the girls to run the Princess Half in Disney World. Does that make it better?  Probably not, but it is worth a shot.

Next up, a possible 5 mile race on Thanksgiving morning, and the Santa Hustle Half Marathon in mid-December leading up to the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January.  I am looking forward to having my running partner back.

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