Kentucky Derby Marathon Recap … 3rd Marathon in 14 days

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Saturday was the ever popular Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and “mini-marathon” (AKA – Half Marathon).    I chose this race for the 3rd in my “4 For 40” series because it was a mere 5 hour drive from Chicago and I was somewhat familiar with the area.  I had also heard positive things about this race from other “serial racers”.  Plus, I was hoping spring had sprung and I’d get some much needed sunshine!  I was not disappointed in any aspect.  It was warm, upper 70s, and the area was beautiful.  Louisville was clean, charming and small enough to leave my car parked and walk everywhere safely with my kids in tow.  

We rolled into town Friday afternoon to get the race packet and hit the expo.  The expo was a decent size with good vendors but certainly not what I’m used to as far as the big city race expos that Chitown offers.  Smile   We zipped thru pretty quickly, then walked around Louisville getting our bearings and finding our way to the race finish area.  I’d like to add that as we were walking toward the finish, a race official in a golf cart saw us and asked if we needed help.  He was kind enough to take a minute to not only tell us where to go but to also tell us which side of the street to walk on come race day.  Super nice!!  Great day and we turned in early to prep for the race! Just before we turned drifted off to sleep, we heard fireworks and looked out the window to see the display going off over the stadium.  Nice!

fireworks

The race started at 7:30 am eastern time and it was mid 50s at the start.  Perfect running weather with a promise of rising temps and lots of sunshine to come.  The start was on Main Street and it was flooded with runners and spectators alike making it hard to move very quickly and it “might” have been a bit of a cluster getting to bag check and funneling into the corrals.  The atmosphere was charged with nervous chatter and many around me were not necessarily excited but more so nervous about the impending start.   The majority of runners were planning to tackle the “mini” and it was apparent that many were also first time half marathoners.  The mini ended up with 11,599 finishers, while  2,030 people finished the full and an additional 68 teams completed the marathon relay.   Big race for Louisville, Kentucky!!

Once the gun went off, the corrals started moving slowly toward the start.  There didn’t appear to be any separation between corrals but rather a rolling start.  Once we started running it was definitely busy but not so busy that I felt confined, just enough that I had to pay attention.  Smile  The course started by passing all the  Main Street businesses, bars, restaurants, a large concert venue and several museums.  But I personally was just bidding my time, and chatting with Greg S who I had befriended in the start corral.  I was trying to be patient because that’s a necessity for me in the marathon.  I also reminded myself that this was my 3rd marathon in 14 days and I knew I would start feeling that sooner or later.  However, I was feeling good at the start and thankfully Greg was SUPER entertaining and kept me moving right along without time to think about the 26.2 miles in front of me.  I was grateful for his company.  And his stories.  He wasn’t concerned about pace so didn’t get upset or run off without me when I hit the brakes a couple times to slow our pace.  Then we were thru University of Louisville and on toward Churchill Downs.  The excitement grew as we reached the horse track and I was thrilled that we were able to run thru the tunnels to hit the infield.  We were even able to spot several horses running the track.  Yay!!  So exciting!!

churchill downs  churchill downs_inner track

Then we were soon out of Churchill Downs and ready for the half/full split, which I was not at all expecting.  I was still on the high from Churchill Downs and just followed the crowd {and my new buddy Greg}, the majority of which was running the half.  It took me a minute to process that  1)  I was on the wrong side of the split and 2)  My new buddy Greg was running the half.  BOOOO on both accounts!  I quickly corrected the situation and fortunately didn’t trip up too many people the race coordinators anticipated a “few” people messing up the split because they left open sections in the fence for those of us who ended up on the wrong side.  Thank you!!    Now onto the real challenge, Iroquois Park, which encompassed miles 11-15. 

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I’d been previously warned that it was going to be bad so I thought I was mentally prepared.  But it was tough.  Super Tough.  Yet super beautiful at the same time.   I walked/jogged thru the park and just tried to enjoy the day.  I didn’t want to push on the hills too much and then trash myself for the remainder of the race.  After I was out of the park, I still needed to cover an additional 11 miles so I took it easy.

Iriquois Park  Iriquois Park2

The majority of the runners turned off at the half and things were much more relaxed.   However, I was never alone.  Not even in the park where there were fewer spectators.   I was always surrounded by friendly runners who where happy to chat.  There were also aid stations & potties every 1.5-2 miles.  Medical stops every other aid station or so.  And there were spectators.  A lot of spectators who were cheering, playing music, clapping, holding signs, and handing out water or snacks from there own homes.  Great crowd support, Louisville!!  The course was also marked at each mile with a large mile marker sign and then again on the ground.  Couldn’t miss those mile markers!  Super cool!

mile markers 

I felt good thru the entire race and I was super thankful for all the work Dr. Alexis did last week to help speed my recovery and to help get rid of a few “niggles” that showed up at the Carmel Marathon the week previous.  I never hurt but my legs did start to get heavy around mile 18.  I didn’t do much walking, just kept moving forward slowily, inching my way to the finish.  About the time, that I really needed to be done, we hit 3rd street and all the beautiful dogwood trees started showering me with little pedals.  Very magical.  I absolutely loved it and was so thankful that I had picked the Derby Festival for #3 this month.  Great day.  Great race.  Great course that rained flowers when I needed a little extra energy!

flowering trees on 3rd St

And as always, the finish will eventually show up if we are persistent enough to keep moving forward.  It was a welcome site and it was also super cool that the kiddos were out to cheer me on at the end.  Special thanks to Miss Katie who was kind enough to hang out with the kiddos all day long and get them to the finish to see me.  Normally Katie would be running too but she is in taper mode to prepare for her 100 miler on April 26th!!  Go, Katie!!  You are an amazing friend and a strong runner.   Can’t wait to hear how you crush 100 miles next weekend!

Katie took  a few photos of me heading toward the finish  & then with the kiddos afterward.  Michael says it’s too sunny and he doesn’t like the sun in his eyes!  Temps were in the upper 70s by the time we finished running so it was warm and very sunny.  LOL!

me_running toward finish1  me_running toward finish  me & kids_finish

Swag:

swag  Medal

I really loved this race.  It had a lot of little ups and downs but was mostly flat except for Iroquois Park.   There was plenty to see to keep things interesting.  The race is well ran and well supported by both volunteers and locals.  I’d put this on my top 3 list for marathons.  As for the stats, this was marathon #13 for me and the 7th state in which I’ve ran a marathon.  Next up, the Illinois Marathon on Saturday (4/26/14).

** Keep Moving Toward the Finish, Regardless of Pace ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

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10 thoughts on “Kentucky Derby Marathon Recap … 3rd Marathon in 14 days

  1. AWESOME!!!!! So sorry I wasn’t able to join you….. 😦 Looks beautiful!! You are killing it, keep up the great running and only one more to go, you’ve got this!!!!! 😉

  2. Hooray!! I’m glad it ended up being a pick-me-up for your spirits too. 75% of the way there… 🙂 Good luck this weekend!

  3. “And as always, the finish will eventually show up if we are persistent enough to keep moving forward.”

    Beautiful – would love to see it on a shirt!

    I’m running the Half I-Challenge on Friday/Saturday at IL. Congrats on your 4 in 40!

  4. Aww, I loved hearing about this race since I was in Louisville for work quite a bit in 2011 and ran there (including Iroquois Park – another Olmsted park – he seems to like loops with never ending hills). Good luck on your last marathon!

  5. Pingback: Kentucky Derby Marathon – 2016 | TooTallFritz

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