“Train hard, race hard” is a mantra I’ve adopted as I’ve gotten more into running. If it’s snowing, you run. If it’s raining, you run. If it’s 0 degrees, you run. If it’s 90 degrees, you run.
You do this because you never know what will happen on race day and training in all elements makes you more mentally prepared. If you only train in “perfect” weather, you will only be prepared for “perfect” race day weather, which is super rare and means something different to every runner.
This weekend I ran my fifth half marathon, the Kentucky Derby Festival MiniMarathon, and the race day conditions were far from perfect. The forecast called for 53 and rainy. I was excited for cooler temps since I tend to run hot but wasn’t sure how heavy the rain would be. I wore a hat and mesh tank top and brought a poncho for the start line corrals.
It ended up being a light rain for the majority of the race, which I actually didn’t mind. But in the last few miles it turned into a downpour. It was honestly some of the toughest conditions I’ve ever ran in but I kept my head down and grinded out to the end for a 2:13:56 finish.
It wasn’t a PR but it was my second fastest time, which I’m pretty proud of given the rain. The course was also hillier than I’m used to (aka super flat Indy) and the field was bigger than I’m used to, forcing me to weave in and out of runners almost the whole race. I also had a slow first two miles after realizing I had to pee pretty much as soon as I got in the corrals. I’ve never stopped in a race before but I knew it would weigh me down (literally and mentally) so I dipped in and out at the first water station. My gut reaction was to sprint out of there to make up for lost time but I had a lot of course left so I calmed down and settled into a steady pace.
My Garmin was a little off from my chip time because of my early pit stop but based on how my splits were the rest of the race, I think I might have had a shot at a PR had the first two miles gone differently. But you can’t think that way. I ran the race I ran and left it all on the road, which is all you can do!
One of my other slower miles was when we ran through Churchill Downs. The tunnels going in and out had a steeper incline than I expected and of course I had to get my phone out for a few pics. There were a couple horses on the track, which was cool but you could definitely smell them…
While the water stations were a giant cluster (I had to stop and wait for them to fill up cups…), the City of Louisville came out and represented in some ridiculous spectator conditions. They were some of the best I’ve had in any race. My favorites were the church near mile two, the high school drumline not far down from there and a girl’s cross country club whose cheers could rival the Wellesley College section of the Boston Marathon.
My goal is to maintain my base in May then in June start training for my first full, the Monumental Marathon. SHIT JUST GOT REAL.
I stayed at the Galt House the night before the race, which was a little pricey but worth it for the convenience factor. This was my first out of town race and it was really nice not to have to worry about race day logistics (the start line was half a mile down the street).
After the race, I met up with my friends who also did the half (Efe’s first!) and stayed at their house in the Clifton area. I’ve driven through Louisville so many times but never really visited and I have to say I was really impressed. So much good food, beer and bourbon (of course).
This post is already super long so I’ll spare you the details and just give you the highlights with some pics in the gallery below.
- El Mundo (post-race dilla and cerveza)
- The Silver Dollar (the cutest patio you’ll ever see and the best mac ‘n cheese)
- Hilltop Tavern (popped in for a beer and fries while waiting for Silver Dollar reservation)
- Voltage Strength and Performance (dropped in for some post-race mobility and yo!ga)
- Against the Grain Brewery (#brunchsohard)
- Big Four pedestrian bridge (great views of the Ohio River and city skyline)
Have you raced in the rain before? What are your strategies for tough conditions? Where else should I visit in Louisville when I go back? Drop a note in the comments below!