It took me a couple of days to write this recap because I chose to spend the rest of the weekend reflecting on what an awesome race this was (you’ll see). Prior to Saturday, I hadn’t run more than 3 miles since the miniMarathon and lately had just been sticking to 2 miles.
So of course I thought going into this race, there was NO way I could run 5 miles. Especially 5 extremely hilly miles through Iroquois Park.
(Image Source – It obviously doesn’t look like this right now, ha ha)
But, putting self-doubt aside, I got out of bed, ate breakfast, got dressed and headed down there to meet Farrah. We are both so glad we have each other and took comfort in knowing that we are both crazy enough to PAY to get up early on a Saturday and run 5 miles in the rain through one of the toughest parks in Louisville.
The Tour de Olmstead is an all day event, starting with a 25-mile bike ride, then the 5 mile run, a family bike ride, a festival and then 6 hours of professional cycling races! The event is held by the Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Inc., which was formed in 1989 with a mission “to enrich the life of everyone in our community by restoring, enhancing and preserving the historic Olmsted-designed parks and parkways, Louisville’s great natural and recreational assets.”
Hopefully they had an awesome turn out!
The run crowd was pretty small. I think my bib number was 20, my lowest number ever! Such a breath of fresh air considering the races I am used to where you are so crowded, especially for that first mile or so.
When the race started, everyone took off pretty fast and I tried to keep up but knew right away that it wouldn’t be a good idea if I wanted to make it through the whole 5 miles. So I slowed down and found my steady pace for a while. We had been told just prior to race start that the path was all the way up to the top of the park (aka the overlook, for those of you familiar), around a 1.2 mile loop and then back down.
Photo from Wikipedia — That is downtown Louisville in the far off distance! We climbed to the top of this hill!!
Once we turned the corner to start going uphill (about 0.8 miles into the race), the rain began to pour down on us. At first I was frustrated, but then it became refreshing. It was in the 80’s and very humid by the time this race started.
It didn’t rain the whole time. In fact, when it had been stopped for a while, I started to get really hot and wished it would rain again! As we made our way up the windy hills, I hit the first water stop and walked for about 30 seconds to take a few sips.
Then, when I made my way to the very top (which ended with a bigger incline), I walked for a minute to catch my breath and start the loop around the top. The way back down wasn’t as downhill as I’d hoped it would be. But it was definitely better than continuing to climb up!
At this point, I knew I had surpassed 3 miles and to me that was already an accomplishment, since I hadn’t ran this much lately. There were a couple of songs that helped me get through the last two miles, thanks to borrowing my husband’s iPod. This was no coincidence.
After reaching the top of the hill, I was by myself for most of the rest of the race (Farrah had taken off and then took a wrong turn somewhere!) and it was kind of awesome. Iroquois is very wooded and there are trees completely lining the path we were on going up and coming back down the hill. Even though I was pushing myself and sweating profusely, there was something so serene about being in that moment.
Just when I was starting to think I needed to slow down or maybe even walk again, this song came on. Now, I’m not the hugest Kanye fan in the world. But the beat kept me going and these particular lyrics hit me right where I was:
God show me the way because the Devil’s trying to break me down
Jesus Walks with me
The only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now
I know that probably sounds cheesy, but this song came at the perfect time. The devil in this case was doubt. Even after all I have accomplished, I still sometimes doubt my abilities. But I also have this knack for proving myself wrong. 😉
During the song, I raised my hands in the air a few times to thank God for getting me through this run and for giving me the strong body that I have. It was an awesome experience.
Soon after this, I hit mile four (which had an encouraging note spray painted on the road–“You’re almost there!”) and totally rocked out to this song (including some head banging, ha ha) and then hit the final stretch with “Tunnel” by Third Day: There’s a light at the end of this tunnel…ha.
I finished the race strong and even had my name called out as I came across the finish line (gotta love smaller races). Here’s how I did!
Distance: 5 miles
Avg. Pace: 10:37/mile
I have ran faster races and I have ran longer distances. But I’m pretty sure that this was the hardest and most rewarding race of my running “career.” I have never been more proud of myself than I was on Saturday.
I am DEFINITELY signing up for this one next year! 🙂
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