On the eve of Mother's Day, nearly 1,000 runners will lace up their shoes and run to honor the sacrifices and gifts of mothers everywhere.
The fourth annual Lourdes Iron Mom Half-Marathon will begin at 6:30 a.m. Saturday for individual and relay team runners. Interest and the number of participants continues to grow each year with 910 participants and 88 teams in 14 states currently signed up, according to Amy Peal, race committee member and administrative assistant at Rehab Associates Foundation.
"It began locally as a community event tailored to moms and has grown from word of mouth throughout the region," she said.
The concept began when Cindy Medford,
Paducah human rights director, approached Rehab Associates Foundation with a logo. The event with the tagline "I Ran Like a Mother" was then born, Peal said. Overall, the race has raised about $75,000 for the Family Service Society, with the total steadily increasing over the years. This year's target is $30,000.
The route will start and finish at floodwall murals on the Ohio River and run along Jefferson Street, the Greenway Trail, Noble Park and the Downtown Arts District. Peal said the course is fast and flat and the relay option allows runners who cannot complete the entire 13.1 miles to join together and run shorter spurts.
"The route is great because it shows off all the different parts of Paducah. When people run it the first time, they always want to come back and run it again," she said.
Although registration is open to women and men, Peal pointed to the special touches the race provides to honor mothers including lady-style fitted T-shirts in two colors, Sweaty Bands and personalized jewelry awards for top finishers.
"We want the unique experience of the Iron Mom to be an entire weekend experience," she said. "It's a time to honor mothers."
Lourdes dietitian Sandra Farthing emphasized the importance of several simple but critical nutrition tips steps for the race.
"Not only do you need to train to run, but you also need to nutrition train," she said.
Farthing said runners should begin extra hydration three to four days prior to the run, specifically when the weather is warmer. Adequate but not excess fluid intake is important and runners should also avoid high fiber foods before the race.
The night before the run, individuals should load up on carbohydrates and good fats. Good carbohydrates include those high in fiber such as fruits, starchy vegetables, regular or sweet potatoes, beans, pasta and whole grain breads, and not items high in sugar, according to Farthing.
After completing the course, individuals should replenishing glycogen stores with simple sugars, such as juice, and other fluids including water and Gatorade. Peanut butter, graham crackers and good quality protein bars are also good choices, she said.
"Runners will also need to rebuild muscle that they have torn with carbohydrates and proteins," Farthing said. "The after-race meal or snack needs to take place 30 minutes to an hour after the run or it won't do any good."
Peal advised runners to check the weather and wear light layers according to the temperature and to get a good night's rest Thursday and Friday nights.
Participants should arrive downtown by 5:45 a.m. Saturday. The award ceremony will be at 9:30 a.m. and the course will be open until 10:30 a.m.
Runners can pick up their race packets from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday inside the Paducah Regional Sport Plex on U.S. 60 or beginning at 5 a.m. on race day. There will be a race extravaganza from noon to 7 p.m. Friday with booths for shopping and other family friendly activities, she said.
Registration is open until Thursday at Rehab Associates locations or online at http://paducahironmom.com/registration/.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.