Category Archives: Awesome

Fun Run – KY Derby Festival Mini Marathon Recap

Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon

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.

Ladies love the abs. . .

Ladies love the abs. . .

Dynamic Duo!

Dynamic Duo!

Folks immediately asked for pictures with Wonder Woman and Bat Girl.  Superman was the photographer of course.

Pre Race Fun

Great Pre-Race Atmosphere!  And plenty of port-a-pots!

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:

Yup - it is all there. . .

Yup – it is all there. . .

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. . .

I think lots of folks were jealous of Super Man.

I think lots of folks were jealous of Super Man.

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.

Famous Twin Spires

Famous Twin Spires, and abs of steel. . .

More Great Athletes @ Work

More Great Athletes @ Work

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.

Tree-lined streets

Tree-lined streets

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:

Spanx, thong, and a dollar. . .

Spanx, thong, and a dollar. . .Bay To Breakers, here we come! Love the looks of the passersby!

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.

Just like daddy!

Just like daddy!

Flying to the finish!

Flying to the finish!

More Bling!!

More Bling!!

Proud To Be A Runner


I have said on here many times that I am not a fast runner.  I am not an experienced runner.  On my best day, I am an average runner.  But, in the aftermath of the horrific events in Boston, I am proud to be able to say I am a runner.

The immediate, passionate outpouring of support the running community has shown for the victims in Boston has been inspiring.  From running 4.09 miles in support of those in Boston, to wearing race shirts and Boston Marathon colors, to organizing runs in honor and memory of the victims, the running community had stepped forward in inspiring ways.  I am proud to be a part of such a close knit community.  Most never knew any of the victims at the Boston marathon, and yet, they treat them as one of thier own:  members of the running family.  I am proud to be a runner. 

Now, I know it is easy to show support like this.  It is easy to do something you do 3 or more times a week anyway, and say it is in honor of someone else.  It is easy to step up in times like this.  Yet, the earnest expressions of support seem to be more than that.   What I have seen does not appear to be borne out of convenience.  It seems to be coming from the heart.   I am proud to be a runner.

The running community was attacked.  Not just the runners, but the entire community, including the spectators (an integral part of the running community), friends, and families.  Rather than shrinking away, the reaction I have seen is one of defiance.  I have seen a re-dedication to run more races to show that we cannot be deterred.  There are countless efforts to raise money and awareness for the victims.  I am proud to be a runner.

All the races

I plan to keep running.  But as it was with my short training run today, running from now on will be filled with thoughts of those who can no longer run due to the cowardly acts in Boston.  Rather than thinking of the pain I am going through, I hope my thoughts continue to turn to being thankful for the blessing to keep doing this.  Thankful for the ability to get out and run, to feel that pain.  I hope I can keep remembering that I am part of a larger community:  One that seems filled with respect and admiration for other members of that community, no matter their role.

I am slow.  I am average.  But I am a runner.  I am proud to be a runner.

Holy Hills! Run The Bluegrass Race Recap.


I happened upon this race in looking for something to keep me going between the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon.  I am glad I did.  It was our sixth half marathon, and by far the most challenging.  Set in Kentucky Horse Country near Lexington, in my mind, it was the most beautiful as well, although my wife may still argue running up Main Street USA is the best.


The communication from the race organizers, via Twitter, email, and Facebook was outstanding.  They were responsive to requests, gave great tips and reminders, and did a good job of building excitement for the event.  Nothing was sugar-coated needlessly.  Their last-minute traffic tip on Facebook helped in determining how to get there, and how early to get there.

The two-day expo was also excellent, especially for a race this size.   Registration ran smoothly.   The legendary Hal Higdon appeared both days, and even ran the 7 mile race. The expo featured speakers, race gear, and various local activities.  It didn’t hurt that it took place on the grounds of Keeneland on a bright sunny day.  The location at Keeneland, as opposed to an off site location, certainly helped in building excitement for the race.


Traffic was horrible, but I don’t blame the organizers.  Poorly-timed major construction on the main route to the race was the culprit.  We arrived with about 40 minutes to spare and had to hustle a bit to get to the starting line (we like to get there early).  The waves/corrals were well-marked, and the lines for the porta-potties were as you would expect.  At these times, it’s good to be a guy.  We lined up in Wave R.  The waves were labeled G-E-N-R-I-S-K, in honor of the famous horse Genuine Risk.  The bibs and medal lanyards were also inspired by Genuine Risk’s silks.  Luckily for those stuck in traffic, the race was delayed 15 minutes to give those stuck in traffic a bit more time to get there (and to let the morning fog burn off).


This was an especially good start, as we got to give our boys a high five as we passed the start line.  From that point, as the old Irish Blessing goes, the road rose to meet us, almost immediately.  In fact, it kept rising, over and over again.  The blessing is that it also had its share of downhills, though seemingly much fewer than those of the up variety.  The first hill was within the 1st half mile. This race certainly showed me that I need to work more on my leg strength.  Running the flat races is one thing, this was quite another.

The first few miles went as planned.  I stopped to take pictures of the scenery, and our time was relatively close to how we usually start.  It is always difficult to start as slowly as we need to with all the excitement at the start and the rushing crowd, but we were doing pretty well.  Little did we know, there would be no negative splits on this one.  

100_2438    100_2437

They bill this race as one of America’s prettiest half marathons, and that was not over-selling it.  As the miles went by, and our legs kept begging us to give up, the beauty of the landscape surrounded us.  

Bands were spaced along the course, usually coinciding with water stops.  Each one added to the excitement, in spite of our aching legs.  The volunteers were great as well.  There were also a few friendly four-legged spectators.

This guy was loving the attention.

This guy was loving the attention.

We rolled with the punches through about mile 7 or 8.  About that time our legs really started to rebel.  Mile 8 is one of the most beautiful of the race, with a nice downhill run to the mile 9 marker.  Then, we hit the switchback.  Some call it the S-curve.  A roughly 100ft vertical rise within a little more than a quarter mile.  You know a big one is coming at that mile marker.  You can see it.  The real surprise for us first-timers is rounding the first right turn.  That is when you see the next left turn, still rising with no end in sight.  The legs were screaming after this one.

6.5% (or so) slope S-curve

The bottom of the 6.5% (or so) S-curve

From this point, it was survival to the end.  The hills kept coming, but we kept running – slowly.  We switched to a 1:1 walk run to make it to the end.  Beauty still abounded.  I had long since given up on a time even within sight of a PR.  I now just wanted to avoid this being our slowest.  The 1:1 saved the day on that.  We made sure to run in the downhills, no matter where they fell within our pattern, of course.  We finally crossed the finish line, and were about a minute per mile slower than our PR.


Run The Bluegrass was as advertised.  Beautiful, challenging, and fun.  There was an air of excitement, even when people were hurting at the finish.  Smiles were everywhere.

Kids’ Race!

The Run The Bluegrass Kids’ Race took place three hours after the half started.  Slightly less than one mile, the race used the same finish line as the “big race.”  The kids got their own fancy starting line, complete with a police escort, and they got the great opportunity to finish in the same chute as the adults.   This was really a great touch.

Thankfully, they delayed the kid’s race for 15 minutes as well, giving us parents a chance to recover a bit and watch our children race.  Our oldest loved it and finished the .9 mile race strong.  The three year-old picked out a special batman shirt (with cape) to run in, but all the kids + nap time meant that he got a bit nervous.  My wife was a trooper and carried him for his race.  He is already asking to run another – he wants more medals!  He has more at age three than I had at 38.  I am proud of both of my boys.

Taken as I was flat on my back after my run...

Taken as I was flat on my back after my run…

Final Thoughts

It would be easy to say “never again” due to the tough hills.  But I expect there is a really good chance we will be back to take this on again.  It was too beautiful.  It was Easter weekend, and I found myself thanking God several times throughout the race for the opportunity to be in that place, with the ability to run, even through the pain.  That’s the thing about running.  In spite of the pain you go through, you feel blessed to have been given the opportunity.  These races give you plenty of time to reflect on the blessings of life.

Race Bling

Nice Bling!

Just Be Awesome. . .

AwesomeI saw this quote recently, and for some reason it turned out to be my motivation for the day.  In fact, I told my son this today when he was nervous about his presentation at school.  It seems so simple – just be awesome.

When I first saw this quote, I thought of the Nike slogan – “Just Do It.”   That slogan was very successful, and served as motivation for countless people.  However, I think it could use some improvement.  Just doing it is a start.  Getting out the door is a start.   Getting moving is a start.  That first mile, 5k, 10k, or half marathon is a start.  However, I have found that once you “do it,” you want to do it better.  That’s where “Just Be Awesome” comes in.

To me, “Just Be Awesome” doesn’t mean I have to be the best or the fastest.  If it did, I might as well find another hobby.  I am never going to be mistaken for a top flight, or even a very good runner.  It means doing it right.  It means having fun while doing it.  It means not taking shortcuts.  It means enjoying it.   “Awesome” has many meanings:  magnificent, fun, surprising, inspiring, beautiful, wonderful. . .(Really, it does. I looked in the Thesaurus).

So, my goal is to make that next run Awesome, no matter when it is or where it is.  It may not be a PR, but it will be awesome.  If I can meet this goal, I cannot imagine how great I might feel.  Luckily, this year looks to have a lot of potential for Awesome in it:  WDW Marathon, Run The Bluegrass, Derby Festival Mini Marathon, Bay To Breakers, Dumbo Double Dare – and whatever other cool runs we can find.  And from the way our boys are talking about wanting to run a bit themselves, they are in for some Awesome as well.  Can’t wait. . .