20 miles around Louisville

For three months, one day stood out on my calendar.

October 6, 2012.

This was the day I was scheduled to run 20 miles. I’d mapped out a course that was basically made up of every route I’ve ever run in the city combined into one massive trek (with a few exceptions). If there was one thing I was certain to get out of this day, it was a tour of the city I’ve called home for seven years.

Here’s what 20 miles around the Derby City looks like.

Like most Saturdays, I awoke at the crack of dawn and met up with the NQRFPTR group in the Highlands. It’s been fun starting in this particular neighborhood of the city, seeing the college kids recovering from their raucous nights as I’m just beginning my peaceful morning.

Our group of ten took off down Eastern Parkway toward the University of Louisville, and we passed the time by chatting about our lives and random subjects. Since it’s October, the conversation naturally took a turn to the topic of Halloween. I dropped back a little as one of the group’s leaders, Terry, recanted a tale about a phenomenon he’d heard on the radio. Something about a demon woman who tries to hold you down in your bed. I’m not one for these kinds of stories, so I didn’t pay attention. Ghosts can and WILL get inside you.

We made our way through the southern part of campus and up Third Street toward Central Park, where the 56th annual St. James Court Art Show was being held. It was still early, so most of the artists were still setting up their booths. There was no time for shopping, anyway. Miles and miles of the city still lay before us.

The course took us downtown, where our group fractured. Some headed back toward the Highlands and coffee and bagels and to leisurely enjoy at least part of their mornings.

The remaining four of us ran toward the Hoosier State.

We crossed the Second Street Bridge into Indiana, made a pit stop at a friendly hotel, and promptly ran right back over the bridge. I have a theory that if you spend too much time in Indiana, you’ll become a bad driver. Self-conducted empirical evidence conducted on my morning commute suggests my theory is correct.

We made our way down Market, turned left past Slugger Field, and loped along River Road. Along the way, we encountered a massive elementary school cross-country meet at the River Road Country Club, so we paused long enough to smile and cheer them on.

We bid adieu to the river, turning down an un-sidewalked road into one of Louisville’s nicer neighborhoods – Mockingbird Valley.

Our friend, Howard, poses with the infamous Dancing Bears of Mockingbird Valley.

Mockingbird provided us with one of the tougher hills on our course, but we grunted up it, made our way down a small trail and wandered through a neighborhood I’d never been in until a few weeks ago. A neighborhood where maybe I’d like to live someday.

We paused at the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center long enough to refill our water bottles, and then we set out again down Frankfort Avenue. After 17 miles, I was feeling fantastic. The crisp fall air invigorated my lungs. I smiled at every person on the sidewalk. The coffee from Heine Brothers reminded me that the sooner I finished, the sooner I could have a cup.

We cut through a neighborhood and made our way via Grinstead back toward the Highlands, passing briefly by Olmsted’s Cherokee Park. Plodding down Grinstead, we ran along Cave Hill Cemetery, and I was having such a great run I didn’t think twice about zombies.

It was at mile 19 that I began to think that I could actually finish the upcoming marathon. If I felt great at the end of this run, I could crawl and/or drag myself through to the finish line.

Our run ended about a half-mile from where we started, and we took the time to walk back  through Willow Park at a leisurely pace, releasing the tension in our quads and hamstrings and soaking in the glory of having just run 20 miles for the first time.

The taper has begun, and there’s less than three weeks until the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon.

Until then, keep running, friends.

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15 responses to “20 miles around Louisville

    • Thanks, Matt! I hope you’re right. I’ve been getting these little aches and pains all week – which everyone assures me is normal. It’s still a little nerve-wracking, though.

  1. Awesome job double-G. That first 20 miler is a definite rite of passage and it looks like yours went much better than mine. I was delirious towards the end and my face had started tingling. Your next challenge is to not lose your mind during the taper.

    Here’s also to hoping that you get similarly crisp conditions in DC. Best of luck, buddy.

    • Thanks, man! I’m finding myself totally preoccupied with little bumps and bruises. I’m sure it’s part of my obsessive charm, but still, this taper isn’t as fun as I thought it’d be.

  2. Nice work on the 20-miler Glenn. Just to let you know, we’ve had some really nice running weather here in Arlington. Chilly, but crisp, clear, and sunny. Good luck at MCM!

  3. You guys are to be congratulated for completing your first 20 miler-A great job! Now enjoy the taper and keep having fun on race day as well. Be prepared for some awesome hardware at the race!

  4. Attaboy, G-Squared! I actually spared a thought for you mid-race while I was running Chicago on Sunday; I wasn’t sure if you had scheduled your 20 for Saturday or Sunday, but I was running behind a guy wearing a Marine Corps singlet and it dawned on me that anyone running The People’s Marathon would be doing their 20 that weekend. Glad to hear that your 20 went so well! Just as you wouldn’t want to get too down on yourself if it didn’t go great, it will be hard not to get a little *too* cocky when it goes really well. Still, there’s a lot of confidence to be taken from following a plan and seeing it come to fruition.

    Enjoy DC! I ran that race last year, and it’s awesome. The only advice I can give you that you don’t already know is to try and run the whole way up that final short hill at the finish….you don’t want the marines to think you’re a pussy.

    • Thanks, Otter! I keep hearing about this hill at the end, but no one will give me the straight talk. Is it terrible? Or is it that any hill at mile 26 is terrible? Whatever it is, I will drag myself up that hill if I have to.

      • Well then please allow me to give you the straight talk — whether you realized it or not, you hit the nail on the head with your last sentence about the final hill. The hill LOOKS a bit daunting from far away, but it is short enough that you can drag yourself up it if you have to.

        The incline of the final hill is fairly comparable to what you’ll experience between Mile 6.5–7.5 of the course, so keep that thought in the back of your mind as you’re running that section. One reason the final hill *feels* tougher (aside from the fact that it comes after you’ve already run 26 miles) is because the course goes on a slight downhill after Mile 25, so the final incline feels more abrupt when you’re transitioning from a downhill to an uphill.

        The GOOD news, though, is that the crowd support is bananas at the finish, so you’ll definitely get an adrenaline boost at the end. I started taking walk breaks around Mile 22 at MCM last year (I just didn’t have the legs), but the emphatic crowd support was able to carry me through the final 1/2-mile and up the hill without stopping.

        You’ll do great!

  5. Pingback: Taper madness « See Glenn Run·

  6. Congrats on your first 20 miler! I ran my first 20 that weekend as well and it was a blast. There’s something really special about finishing that distance for the first time. I’m running my first marathon in November…can’t wait! Best of luck to you next weekend! The Marine Corps Marathon sounds like a blast!

  7. Thanks, Chelsea! I have a runner friend in Boston if you ever need a buddy. Good luck on your marathon next month!

  8. Pingback: 2012: What I learned in a year of running | See Glenn Run·

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