Louisville is a great place to be an athlete. Several really good athletes call this place home. So it’s no wonder that the annual Triple Crown of Running brings in some talent from all over the nation/world. It starts with a 5K around the end of February, steps up to a 10K around the beginning of March, and finishes with the Papa John’s 10 miler around the end of March. The only Triple Crown race that appeals to me is the 10 miler. I don’t like having to fight thousands of people for parking and such for short races. This was the first time I’ve participated in the Papa Johns 10 miler because every other year I’ve been out of town that weekend. I decided to use it as a test set for me for running this week since my coach had me on a light training week and was doing test sets on each discipline.
I knew this course would be tough. Several false flats, 3.5 miles of running crazy hills in Iroquois Park, and then in the final mile running over a big bridge to burn the legs out one last time. In the 10.2 miles of the race, there is 510 feet of climbing, which nearly half of it comes while going through Iroquois park from miles 2.5 to 6.25. I knew I would need to back off the speed a little going through this section to save the legs for the return trip to the finish line.
The race started at 8, and I found myself at the front of the line with some elite runners. The gun went off, and I took off with a group of 3 other runners, with several other runners following just a few yards behind. I crossed the first mile marker in 5:18. A little faster than my goal pace, but after crossing the mile marker, I tried to settle into a pace and not burn my legs out.
Once we made the turn to the park (mile 2.5) I was sitting in 5th or 6th place. The hills through the park were brutal. I have to say that I really like running hills though. I hold my own going up them, but I think that I’m good at using the downhills to give me free speed and also recover. This was my strategy going through the park. Work the uphills, recover (but still run fast) on the downhills. I exited the park in 8th place. I had my fastest mile just after exiting the park… 5:10 pace. I felt great coming out the park. I had one guy about 20 meters behind me, but I figured I could hold him off.
The wind started to pick up and create a headwind at about mile 7. By mile 8, the guy behind me caught me. I stepped in right behind him and took advantage of the slight draft he was creating. I felt my legs starting to recover a little. I knew I could out kick him in the final stretch if I was patient and attacked at the right time.
Mile 9 starts at the base of an overpass of some railroad tracks. I let him take the lead, but made sure to keep him work hard by putting in a few surges and run side by side to make sure I burned his legs a little to have him try to hang on to the lead. Once we crested the hill, I tried to take advantage of my ability at dropping people after a hard climb and blasting down the hill. It worked. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, he was about 10 yards behind. Reaching the bottom, the course took a turn into the headwind. I knew I had to keep pushing it to prevent him from being able to use the draft.
We entered Papa John’s Stadium, and he was now about 15 yards behind. I picked up the pace just slightly to make sure he wouldn’t pass me at the end. I crossed about 15 yards ahead of him. I thought I finished 8th overall, but since he crossed the start line about 2 or 3 seconds after I did, he technically beat me by less than a second. I can’t see exactly, because the time sheet on line only went out to the seconds place. On paper I finished 9th, but I know that if he would have started the same exact time as me, I still would have beat him since I strategically drafted off of him, pushed him up the hill, and beat him down the hill and into the stadium. But, in all honesty, it wouldn’t have changed much. The race only paid out to 5th, so the end result was the same… no money.
I’m still thrilled with my race though. With the course being long about a 0.2 miles long, I actually beat my goal pace by 1.5 seconds per mile. I ran between a 5:28 to 5:29 on a hilly course. This is a great confidence booster going into NOLA 70.3 for my triathlon season opener in my second year with Maverick Multisport
- Newton MV3 running flats
- Swiftwick sock and arm warmers
- Champion System Trikit
- Infinit NAPALM highly caffeinated
Thanks for all those cheering on and off the race course during this event. It definitely helps.