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Louisville Dream Factory Marathon Race Recap

Welcome friends to the blog of a two-time marathoner! SPOILER ALERT! I finished the Louisville Dream Factory Marathon with second in my (super tiny) age group!

I've said this about a billion times already to people not on the internet that it was truly the race you dream of! Leading up to race day the weather was sketchy at best and the day before was a miserable cold, drizzly day so I had my fingers crossed for Sunday. Luckily it was dry and calm when I woke up though very cold. I think it was in the low 40s so I was glad to have a throwaway shirt to wear for the first few miles. Otherwise it was sunny and pretty, a perfect day for marathoning!

I'd forgotten how different waking up before a marathon is than any other race. I put my timing chip in my shoe and planned to attach it in the morning since I always wake up super early for race days and I did but I didn't take into account how long it would actually take to put it on. It was one of the old school chips with the twist ties that affix to your shoelaces. Talk about tedious! I also had to remember to fill my bottles for my fuel belt, put in my applesauce (aka fuel) and sneak some pepto in there "just in case". For a normal race I feel like it's just get up and go but when it comes to carrying fuel it took me a little extra time to make sure I got it right. Finally I was ready and headed out the door with The Colonel who was going to drop me off and come back down to the finish 5-ish hours later. No use for him to stand in the cold on a spectator un-friendly (13 miles out and 13 miles back) course. We had just gotten on the highway when the uh oh lightbulb went on and I screamed "Oh my gosh!" The Colonel who was quite possibly more nervous about the race than me (I kept saying he was really nervous for his marathon...) almost wrecked the car. "I forgot to eat my breakfast!" What a rookie mistake, and one that I've never made before. I told him to keep driving and we'd stop at a gas station for...something. There was a gas station less than a mile from the start so we stopped there and I managed to find the snack bar with the least offensive list of ingredients and we were on our way. So much for nothing new on race day! Did I mention I was also wearing new pants?

Eventually we made it with plenty of time to spare and I met up with Autumn to walk to the start. The Colonel was pretty bummed he didn't get any start line pictures but I told him starting a race this long was nothing for me and that I needed him at the end so he finally agreed. We walked over to the start and met up with our speedy friend Ruth and saw our dailymile friend Melissa for the first time in real life!

Me, Melissa, Speedy Ruth and Autumn (I swear we're not actually this bulky! It's the layers!)

I should note that Speedy Ruth did a "fun" olympic tri that our local tri club put on in September and won. Like, finished first OVERALL. I'm pretty sure she was the 2nd or 3rd woman in the Dream Factory Half on Sunday too. We passed her at one point and she had her game face on. It was a great runner growl. Melissa is less speedy but that's no surprise considering she's an 100 mile races and such. What?! Why am I even allowed around these people?

Anyway, it was still cold at the start and we were all just trying to kill time. It was a really small race and it started literally with a kid saying "Ready, set, go..." But anyway, we were off. All 4 of us started near each other but Ruth quickly took off and Melissa pulled away within the first mile. Autumn and I were determined to keep it slow and steady especially until the half turnaround at mile 6-ish to feel things out. It used to take me maybe 5 minutes or a mile to determine how I'd feel during a run. Now it takes like...5-10 miles. I know, who am I? We both said Mile 10 would tell us how we were feeling and we'd check in with our pace at that  point. We were planning to hold 12-12:30 min/miles but kept 12 and under for a really long time. There are a couple of crucial points in a marathon, at least for me. Mile 10 is when the warm up ends, Mile 13.1 is important just because it's your halfway point, Mile 16 is the proverbial "wall" so it's important to check in with yourself at that point to see if you're still on your feet and how you need to handle the last 10 miles and then the Mile 23-ish point when you're 5k away and probably want to die (but not really because that would be a waste of 23 miles).

Shortly after the half turnaround we came up on an older group and I jokingly said "Were you guys too stupid to turn around back there too?" to which the man in the "Marathon Maniacs" shirt responded "THERE WAS A TURNAROUND???!" I love runners with a sense of humor. We hit Mile 10 still feeling amazing! Not long after mile 10 we started to see the leaders come back through and they were looking tough but almost all of them managed a "Good job" or "Doing Great" which I always find to be a nice gesture. At our turnaround point Autumn and I realized we actually weren't DFL which was a nice surprise. We had a great half split at 2:35 (or 2:33 according to my Garmin) and were still feeling surprisingly fresh. The course was relatively flat and the perfect weather made it a smooth ride. We hit mile 16 and I told Autumn I was starting to hurt a little bit but could definitely make 10 more. She said she was surprised I was only hurting a little. Haha, pain is relative right?

Around mile 18 or 19 we finally split up which is part of our pact. We always start races together and if we can run together the whole time, cool but if not (like someone is hurting or just not having a great day) we split and race our own race. She stayed about a half mile ahead of me for the next 5k or so and I did some heavy fueling. I wasn't feeling bad but I wasn't feeling good and was down to only water in my belt which worried me a little bit. I grabbed some sport beans (another race day first) and ate a few with some water and took a few sips of Heed (and yet another first) which I did NOT like the taste of and walked a little bit more than I planned to. I knew I still had some ground to cover and was willing to take a time hit if it meant I'd finish strong. By mile 20 I was feeling alright again and picked up the pace. I just wanted to stay under 15 minute miles at that point so broke into a slow trot. At 21.5 I caught Autumn again and she said if she could call someone to pick her up she would. I told her that would be a waste of 21.5 miles. We did a do-si-do for another mile or two and I pulled away right around the 5k mark. At that point they opened the roads since it had been just over 5 hours and moved us to the sidewalk. I wasn't loving that since the race was marketed as a "no time limit" course but what can you do. 3 of the people we were ahead of at the halfway point passed us back and were about a quarter mile ahead of me through the last few miles. I couldn't have caught them if I tried so I just continued my slow trot. I was feeling a lot of pain and it actually hurt more to stop and walk so I ran most of the last 8k. I knew I wouldn't hit my goal of 5:30 and I knew that would worry my mom and The Colonel but I calculated that if I continued my pace I wouldn't be too much off of it and they'd be ok. I stuck with under 15 minute miles and wanted a sub 45 last 5k. Those were long, lonely miles aside from the traffic but I knew I was on my way to 26.2 x2 and I was excited! Like any good race there is a turn you make for the final .1 or whatever to go straight into the finish and I was glad to finally turn that corner. I wasn't glad that the road was full of gravel and potholes but what can you do? I kicked in whatever was left (um...nothing) and finished strong and on my own feet and without tears.

The Colonel wasn't expecting me so soon (soon???!) and missed the photo op. I don't care nearly as much as he does but he took some good ones afterwards. Speedy Ruth stuck around to see us finish and our friend Jennifer showed up for the fun too. Our tri club's social was held at the finish line so it was nice to see a lot of those guys around. Autumn only finished about 3 minutes behind me so I didn't feel guilty for forging ahead (although our mom hates our pact). We headed straight for the Sprite. There's something about racing and soft drinks that feel like some deliciously sinful endeavor. It's the only time I even consider drinking carbonation but man, I love that sugar after 5 and a half hours!

Me, Autumn and Jennifer
Getting my timing chip taken off
26.2 times 2 No Meat Athlete!
All in all, this was a great run. I had way more highs than lows and my pain cave wasn't too terribly deep. Sunday night wasn't too pretty since I was sore and couldn't get comfortable no matter how I sat but I was a good little runner and moved around a lot so I could stay loose. Monday at work was torture and all I wanted was a nap! The soreness is pretty much gone today and I'm already chomping the bit to run again...but after another nap ;)


  1. YIPEE!!!!!! ... That bites they opened the roads back up. Oh well..
    I must have missed why Autumn has a line through it every time :)
    I've always wanted to meet Melissa IRL too - her ultra distances freak me out!
    Sounds like a great race though! I thought of you all when the beautiful sun came out on Sunday! Glad all the 'firsts' didn't cause any problems either. That could have been REALLY bad!
    & Thumbs up on the shirt - I want one of those. Love that guy's blog!


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