Kim Grieshaber might have made winning Monday's 35th annual Bluegrass 10,000 look easy.
Take it from the champ, though, it was not.
"That last 200 meters, really, I wanted to walk," she said. "I was hurting pretty bad. It hurt a lot more than last year. But I finished."
Grieshaber, a graduate of Woodford County High School and the University of Louisville, collapsed after crossing the finish line and had to be carried off the course to be checked out by medical personnel.
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Grieshaber ran her first mile in 5:35. She passed 3 miles in 17:20 but was concerned.
"I was having a lot of trouble breathing," she said. "I was wheezing a lot and just couldn't really catch my breath. Every downhill, I was like, 'Try to take a deep breath and relax.' And, at the same time, I'm like, in my head, 'Don't you slow down.' But I did. I think I died a little bit at the end."
Grieshaber, who suffers from asthma, said the weather — 70 degrees and 84 percent humidity, although no detectable wind — took a toll.
"I guess it's the humidity, and I haven't been training as much as last year," she said. "But I'm so competitive, I get into a race, and I'm like, 'No, don't stop!' I was just pushing it too hard, but I guess it's worth it.
"... I wasn't confident until, like, the last 800 meters because I was hurting that bad. At the turnaround, I had a pretty good gap, but I was like, 'Don't get too comfortable.' "
The 22-year-old completed 6.2 miles in 37 minutes, 13 seconds. That's six seconds slower than her winning time of last year, although the course was altered slightly this year due to construction. Monday's time ranks 24th among the race's all-time winners.
Grieshaber, who is about to enter graduate school at the University of Kentucky, is the eighth woman to win back-to-back Bluegrass titles and the first since Jamie King-O'Shea in 2006-07.
Runner-up Andrea Richardson of Lexington finished 1:04 behind Grieshaber in 38:17. That was 10 seconds faster than Lexington's Betsy Laski, who also placed third last year.