Sunday, April 27, 2008

Kentucky Derby Marathon

What a surprisingly fun race!

There were only about 1500 signed up to run the full marathon but 10,000+ others doing the Mini (aka half marathon) so the event had the excitement and feel of a big race without the high cost and hassles. With a seeded runner position (for those who'd run a 3:45 marathon or faster since Jan 2005), I was able to line up less than 5 minutes before the start and hit my desired 9 minute pace right out of the gate -- YAY!

The first few miles took us in a big loop and through Iroquois Park, which was very pretty and pretty hilly. I hadn't done any hill training but had no problems getting up them, to my surprise -- perhaps all the bike riding helped? Whatever, we really lucked out with the weather. It was pouring rain when I got up, drizzling on the bus ride to the start but clearing by race start and a pleasant 55 degs -- Whee! (Sorry this photo is blurry. Except for the start photo, all were taken while running.)

At mile 6, we ran right back under the start sign again and then headed towards Churchill Downs, home of the famous Kentucky Derby. Though I'm not much of a horse race fan, I've always liked horses (used to draw them a lot as a kid!) and enjoy seeing famous sights that I would probably never see otherwise unless I was doing a race. We ran through a tunnel to get to a path on the infield and caught glimpses of some horses on the track warming up (see upper left photo inset). Very cool!

On my way out of the Churchill Downs concourse, I spotted a restroom sign to my left. Unfortunately, I was on the right side of a big group of runners and had to make my way over to the left slowly and then backtrack to it. So I lost a couple minutes there but I didn't care. It was a real restroom with sinks and toilet paper!

After Churchill Downs (mile 9), we headed towards downtown. There were still lots of runners around me and a good number of spectators cheering, too, but I could hear my feet and quads talking to me. You know, you really should have trained on some hills. We are not happy with the pounding we took on the earlier downhills and if you don't take it easy on us, we will make you pay. Uh-oh ...

Just before mile 12, the Mini and Full Marathon courses split and the race took on a very different look & feel. Where did everyone go? To pass the time, I ran alongside a couple guys until around mile 14 where the course began to get hilly again. There were both from the Louisville area but one guy had attended University of Central FL, which is very close to where I live, and knew the flatness of where I was from. The other guy was running his first marathon but had trained on the course and was giving us a history lesson ... Many of the rich folks had relocated here on the high ground here to avoid the big floods back in 1937. Some of these old homes are worth over a million dollars, blah-blah-blah ...

I fully expected to be left eating their dust on the hills but they actually slowed even more than I did and so I ran on alone. We went through Cherokee Park, which looked very similar to Iroquois Park, and here I am going up a good hill. Notice how few there are in front of me now compared to the photo before!

By mile 19, the course had finally flattened out and we were heading back towards downtown Louisville again. Since my feet and quads were still noticeably complaining, I didn't pick up my pace by much at mile 20. There were actually still two more blips on the elevation map coming up, the bridge over the Ohio River into Indiana briefly and then back over it (miles 22-24.5). And, I knew I had the Gulf Coast Tri (GCT), a half iron distance tri, coming up in just two weeks and didn't want to overdo things.

But the big crowd at the foot of the bridge really pumped me up so I attacked the first bridge crossing more aggressively than I probably should have. At the top, I eased up and decided to pull out my camera one last time. The clouds had gone away for the most part leaving blue skies and a very nice view of the river.

Less than 10 minutes in Indiana and we were back on the bridge to Louisville with only a couple flat miles left. The last half mile we were rejoined by walkers from the Mini Marathon and had great crowd support and I was back running in a big race again. I was on track for another sub-4 race time and was not actually bothered much when a woman passed me on the final stretch (she was not in my age group anyway ;-). She was the only woman who passed me the last 6+ miles and I congratulated her on her strong kick after we'd both finished.

Net time 3:56:59, 5/41 4/40 F45-49 (updated 4/28). 15 more states left in my 50-states marathon quest!!

Race splits (pace computed for each segment):
10K 0:55:29 8:56 pace
15K 1:26:16 9:55 pace (including 2 min bathroom break)
25K 2:21:57 8:58 pace
30K 2:50:14 9:07 pace
42K 3:56:59 8:57 pace
Average pace: 9:03 min/mile

After an ice bath, my quads and feet felt much better but I won't probably won't be ready to race the next bike time trial on Tuesday. By the end of the week, however, all should be forgiven :-)


Tri to Be Funny said...

Steady as she goes!! Great splits on another successful marathon :-) I never thought I'd want to do the whole 50 states thing, but you're starting to inspire me!

Calyx Meredith said...

Fifteen to go means you've already done 35? Holy cow! Congrats on the race. Sounds like you were strong and having fun (which may not be everyone's goals - but they're my tip top ideals.) I love that you can take pictures while running. Amazing. Thanks for posting such a fun race report!

Nancy Toby said...

Wow, that's very cool the course goes into the Churchill Downs infield now! When I did it we just went past the outside gate, nothing special at all....

Well run!!! Congratulations on racking up another one!

Jim said...

Your description brought back many memories from last year. I think when I briefed you I forgot Cherokee Park, my bad. You had much better weather, last year 84 degrees! I'm glad you enjoyed the race, the city is very nice too. Congratulations on another great run!

MarathonChris said...

Great job on the race!!! I can't believe you took those pics while running. Way to go!

Road Warrior said...

Fantastic, Shirley. I can't wait to meet you when you come to the Keene Marathon in September!

Marathon Maritza said...

Whoo-hoo! Great job!!

I can't believe you have accomplished 35 states already - you are a rock star!

Susan said...


You make a marathon seem like an afternoon stroll! I love it.

15 to go -- good news!

Ice bath -- of course it worked -- it worked for me, thanks to YOU! :)

akshaye said...

Under 4 and your were saving yourself :)

That was a great report. I actually really liked the blurry picture! Amazing how the course clears out after the half turn around.

Glad you had a great race and congrats on number 35!

Steve Stenzel said...

NICE RUN!! That's a great post! Good luck getting all 50!!

jen said...

Congrats!! Way to go on another impressive marathon time. That looks like a beautiful course. Great job! :)

CewTwo said...

As for 50 in 50 states, I doubt that I would even try it. BUT you have inspired me to try one marathon.

It is great race reports like yours that inspire the rest of us to succeed!

Congratulations, Shirley!

Maddy said...

Way to go Shirley!

Great race report. It sounds like it might have been a bit lonely after the half break away, but still a great experience!


Rural Girl said...

Shirley, you are awesome. You really make it sound so easy! How can you take pictures? I have all I can do to focus on the next mile marker in the marathons I've done.
Great job, once again!

peter said...

Way to go Shirley. You are an inspiration to me for Sunday (can pigs fly?).

Wendy said...

Fine work Shirley! (And a good race report as well.)

skoshi said...

I love being able to see places and sites I wouldn't otherwise see, except by racing.
Seeing the Churchill Downs, wow, that place has a lot of history.
You must have a special connection to 35 states now!
Thanks for the photos-on-the-run.
Really nice race report.
ps-Thanks for your comment. You were heard loud and clear, and I agree with you.

Jade Lady said...

Great times! Looked like a beautiful course. So, where are u putting that camera any how? It's nice that u're able to take pics of your race course along the way!

Smithposts said...

Congrats on completing 35 states, nice finish! You seem to have a steady hand (or smooth stride) cause only one pic was blurry-the action shot.

Two weeks until your next effort, take care and good luck!

ShirleyPerly said...

Thanks everyone for your kind words!

Just to be clear, there were many more fuzzy photos than just the one I posted. That one just happened to be the best of a couple I took in Iroquois Park.

As for how I carry my camera during a race, I just put it in my right front Fuel Belt holster (there's a water bottle in the left holster to balance things out and to provide supplemental water in case I need it). With a little practice, pulling the camera out and taking photos is not much more difficult than drinking from one of the Fuel Belt bottles. I always take a few shots of the same thing just in case some don't come out well and some definitely don't.

Brent Buckner said...

Another one down - and in fine form! Good stuff.

Sunshine said...

Appreciated reading your "Kentucy Derby Marathon" report!! Thanks.

Hoping your plan to chalk up Minnesota works out. .. a unique experience!!
Hope we can stop in and cheer you.

PLANET3RRY said...

How cool.

The Kentucky Derby Marathon has always been penciled in my calendar since Louisville is only 4hrs away, it's a driveable race. I am very anxious to run it now. We love Louisville and what a great race and atmosphere to run.


IrishBlue said...

Awesome job on the race Shirley!! Looks like you had a blast too. Love the pics.

Another state in the history books!!

SimplyStu said...

Awesome race report. I love as people describe a run. I can always learn something.... Way to go!

Petraruns said...

Awesome! Well done! I especially love the photos taken along the way - the movement really conveys the race for me.. You never fail to impress and I love your enthousiasm for the restrooms - I can share your excitement - such facilities are rare so I'm happy to hear you enjoyed!

Now let's go for that triathlon and you fight off those sharks! Just kidding hon - stay safe first...