Graham and I ran our first half-marathon together last weekend at the 2019 Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon in Louisville. In the nearly eight years we’ve been together he’s been my cheerleader as I finished half-marathons, marathons and Ragnar Relays, but this year we set a goal to train for a race together, and we did it!
The Mini Marathon is usually held the weekend before the Kentucky Derby and a weekend after Thunder Over Louisville. We signed up for this race a few months ago just after joining our gym, and we did well training together at first. But then life happened. In the past few weeks, we have had so much going on that we neglected our training schedule, but we decided to run the race anyway. Besides, my plan for the race was to finish; I didn’t have a time goal. I wasn’t sure if he would want to start together and then run ahead of me because his pace is a lot faster than mine, but on race day he decided he wanted to stick together. I am proud of us for finishing the race despite the many setbacks we had on race day and during training. We both had fun and stopped to take photos, high-five strangers and check on each other throughout the 13.1 mile course. He even stopped to help a woman struggling to push a cart full of belongings across the street so that she wouldn’t slow down runners. What a gentleman!
I am proud of us for commiting to this race together, and I think it brought us closer together after a transitional year. It was nice to be alone, just the two of us, while our girls were well taken care of at his parents’ house.
The Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon has such a fun course that takes you through Old Louisville and through Churchill Downs, among other areas. I especially loved taking photos inside Churchill Downs.
We overcame some hurdles to finishing, and I’m sharing our mistakes in hopes of helping any first-timers on race day.
Race-day mistakes to avoid:
Give yourself plenty of rest time after traveling to the race if you are coming from out of town: We didn’t get to Louisville until late and we had to be up at 5 a.m. If possible it’s best to arrive in the city during the afternoon so you can go to sleep as early as possible.
Make sure your alarm is set correctly (and for the correct time zone). Chicago and Louisville are an hour apart, and I thought my phone was set to update the time zone automatically. We set only my alarm, instead of both of our phones and the hotel alarm, and awoke at what we thought was 5 a.m. But when Graham searched on Google for the local time, he realized our mistake. It was actually an hour before we had to be at the race. We still had to get dressed, drop the girls and our dog off at his parents’ house, and make it all the way downtown, not to mention find parking. For a few minutes we thought we should just not run it because there was no way we would make it. But I was not going to quit after driving all the way to Louisville. We had to at least try, and we made it to the start line just as the race was beginning. It was chaos, but we got there. We ended up running without having a proper breakfast, which is not ideal at all, but we survived. It never feels good to be rushed, though it did feel really good to have people cheering for us and to finish!
Set out your clothing and bib ahead of time. This is Running 101. When you have to wake up early, it’s easy to forget something. Having your clothes out and ready makes preparing so much easier. I normally do this, but this time I didn’t because we arrived in Louisville so late and I was exhausted.
Figure out parking ahead of time. Road closures can make traveling to a race tricky. We had some good luck finding parking near the race, but I normally would have liked to arrive at least 45 minutes before the race.
Have your pre-race meal figured out the night before. Again, this will save you if you wake up late.
These little mishaps were not deal breakers and we still have an amazing time, but I wanted to share these tips to help others avoid having a stressful race day. The point is to have fun!
Do you have any upcoming races or fitness goals?