I was really looking forward to the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon. It would be our 7th Half-Marathon, it was our first repeat half, and we had some cool costumes to run in. Also, it was our first time to get together with a lot of other runners since the tragedy in Boston. I was not sure how it would go, since I had not trained very well since the Run The Bluegrass half at the end of March, and my wife’s sporadic hip issue reared its ugly head in our last long run.
To add to the uncertainty, the morning of the race started off on a bad note. I had returned from a business trip to Chicago the night before, and was not as organized as I would have liked. As a result, I forgot my Garmin. I felt like I was flying blind. We use the run/walk method by distance, not time. Luckily I had my Ipod, so I decided to just wing it and use the time on that to estimate our walk breaks. It turned out OK though, we ran nearly identical splits each mile. I still felt a little naked though.
We made it to the start line a few minutes before the start. My wife and her friend went whole hog on their outfits, while I was not nearly as put together for this one. We were taking our Bay To Breakers outfits for a trial run. We had decided a couple of months ago to go with the super hero theme. I, of course, was Super Man, my wife was Wonder Woman (naturally), and her friend was Bat Girl.
Folks immediately asked for pictures with Wonder Woman and Bat Girl. Superman was the photographer of course.
The race started right on time, with great weather and an awesome, boisterous crowd cheering the runners. The first six miles flew by as we took in the sights. The first couple of miles runs through downtown Louisville with lots of interesting sights, incuding the world’s largest Louisville Slugger bat, and this:
After leaving downtown, we headed out towards Churchill Downs, following tree-lined streets filled with cheering fans. Some offered high fives, others offered their rears for runners to smack. Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. We got a lot of great comments on our outfits, though I realize most of them were for the ladies. . .
At mile 8, we entered Churchill Downs. We hit the infield as some Derby hopefuls were getting their final works in on the track. I remember last year at this point, I was really feeling it. This year I felt much better. Wonder Woman took her turn at the camera, and I also got a blurry picture of one of the horses on the track. It was really a treat to get to run through the track while the horses were working and Derby preparations were underway.
At mile 9 we exited Churchill Downs, and headed back down the tree-lines streets toward the finish. The last 4 mile stretch is mostly a straight shot to the finish, slightly downhill. Once again, these last few miles felt better than they seemed last year. Wonder Woman’s hip twinged a bit, but we powered on toward the finish. Baseball picture day and a soccer game later in the morning wouldn’t wait for a little hip issue.
Keeping our steady pace, we rounded the corner by the Yum! Center and headed to the finish line at Slugger Field. The crowd lining the street was great, and you could hear the roar at the finish. At about mile 12 we saw some folks from the Reeve Foundation taking on the last mile of the race. They were truly inspiring. Also, thoughts of Boston came to mind at this point and gave that extra boost to the finish. We powered to the finish, and completed #7. 6 minutes faster than last year, but not a PR. But hey, we got to meet Elvis at the finish.
Once again, the folks at the Derby Festival put on a great race. It was fun, well organized, and had awesome crowd support. Oh, and there was this to finish off our race day:
The next day, the organizers put on their first Kids’ Races, with distances from 50-800 meters. The little guy grumpily completed the 50m, while big brother flew through the 400m. They got their own finisher medals, and were proud little guys. It was a good way to finish off the race weekend. I look forward to the 2014 version. Hopefully it will be #12 or so.