Kelly the Culinarian: Race Report: Big Hit Half Marathon

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Race Report: Big Hit Half Marathon

I really only have nice things to say about the Big Hit Half Marathon. It's incredible for me to think that a year ago, I thought I would die when I ran. Two years ago, I would have told people to call the cops if they saw me running. Now, I am a runner. I am a half marathon finisher.

Rachael and I got up very early Saturday and hit the road by 7:30 a.m. It was a pretty easy drive to Louisville, but of course, with all the hydrating we were doing, we had to stop quite often. We snacked on protein muffins with peanut butter and had a picnic lunch at a rest stop. When we got to Louisville, we went right to the expo to get our loot. Rachael signed up for the quarter marathon, but they also offered a half marathon relay.

Parking was plentiful and we got our bibs in no time. The shirts ran small and we both had to size up, but they're nice fitting performance T-shirts that are ladies cut and pretty cute. I'll wear it again.

The expo was small with less than 10 booths. We did hit up the BondiBand booth, where Rachael treated me to a new one with a shark on it that said "Om Nom Nom," which is exactly what I did after the race.

We headed to bed early Saturday, then got up at 6 a.m. to get ready. We drove over to Louisville Slugger Field and paid $5 for close parking. Worth it.

The ample bathrooms were not so ample and we hit those up before waiting inside as it was literally freezing. We
started walking to the start line at 7:35 for a 7:45 start. I never found the two-hour pacer, just a 1:50 and 2:10 pacer. So we lined up and froze our asses off before we got moving at close to 8 a.m.

The first three miles were rough. I couldn't quite feel my legs because I was so cold and my first mile was close to 10 minutes. I made it up by the third mile and took my first gel at the fourth mile. By then, I was feeling good and started to settle in. Timing clocks were at almost mile and I was keeping a good pace. There were plenty of water and Gatorade stations that we were well-staffed and tons of portable toilets. An interesting feature they offered at this race was women only port-a-potties. I didn't need to visit it,
but it was interesting.

This was an out and back course through some scenic neighborhoods and the University of Louisville. There was a bridge that you had to go over twice around the 7/8 mile mark, which sucked. This was also the point at which they distributed peppermint-flavored gels. I took one but stuck to my mocha shot around mile 8. Nothing new is my mantra. Around this time, I chatted up a local runner who was running at an 8:40 pace, and I ran with her until almost the 12-mile mark. I didn't catch her name, but she was a lifesaver. Runners are the best!

When I saw I was at 10 miles with 1:29 on the clock, I knew I was going to finish the damn thing. The last clock at the 12-mile mark read 1:47, so I knew I could finish in under two hours, but I was in major pain. It was a huge push to get it done. I repeated every motivational cliche I'd ever heard in the last few minutes.

Runners finished by crossing home plate. The race director announced your name as you crossed the finish line and flashed your name and image on the big screen. I felt a huge rush crossing the finish line, but I was in enough pain that I cried because it hurt. Volunteers immediately distributed medals and water. There was a short wait to get your instant timing print out and remove your reusable chip.

The instant timing was fascinating: I finished in 1:57:02, which was 22/77 in my age and gender division. My pace was 8:57 (faster than I thought possible) and my pace was pretty even too, with my first half being 58:30 and my second half at 58:33. I've never had such detailed timing, which I get geeked out on.

The only downer about finishing on home plate was you had to climb a set of stairs up to the stadium concourse. It might as well have been Mt. Everest. Once I scaled the stairs, there was a great backdrop to take photos in front of along with an ample food table
stocked with oranges, bagels, bananas, peanut butter crackers, granola bars and some kind of hot soup. There was also an engraving company, but it was not complimentary and I had no cash. There were free sports massages, but only two people doing it, so I wasn't willing to wait that long. We drove back to the hotel, showered and went for our victory breakfast. After our delicious meal, we headed back home for a boring drive.

I'm so very proud of my race performance and will certainly do a half marathon again. I'll most likely stay close to home, though, because I'm a bad driver and this was tough.

Cost: $65 for the half in advance

Time: 1:57:02 for a half marathon (Faster than my two-hour goal!)

Pros: Mostly flat and scenic course, nice race shirt, decent finisher's medal, easy parking situation, entertainment along the way

Cons: Could have used more bathrooms at the start and more sports massage people at the end

Would I race it again: Absolutely


Maggie W said...

Great job!!!!!!

Kim said...

Congrats again! The stairs at the end sound like the Illinois Half - they do that to you there too!

Women's only bathrooms! Hmm. I wonder how those were!

What was so bad about the bridge at 7/8? Slippery? Hilly?

KellytheCulinarian said...

It was just unexpected. I hadn't prepared for any hills and when I saw the bridge and realized I'd have to scale it twice because of the turn around, it was a bit defeating. A little like that giant hill on mile nine of the Fort2Base race.