My 8th marathon is done, and I couldn’t be happier with the result! I trained smart and ran a very consistent race. This was the second time I ran the Kentucky Derby Marathon, and I really enjoyed it so much more than the first! The weather was predicted to be cold and very rainy, however, we woke up the morning of the race and the storm system had headed south instead of hitting us in Louisville. Cool weather and cloud filled skies – I was unbelievably excited!
I stayed with my cousin Dave who lives 10 minutes from the start line, so it was a very easy race-morning commute. His friend Jason met up with us, and the three of us headed over to the race! We parked about a half a mile or so from the start, and made it with just a couple of minutes to spare. It was absolutely jam-packed by the time I got there, so I ended up in Corral D, instead of the A Corral I was originally seeded in.
Love the photo bomb in this one!
The crowd was already moving up to begin the race by the time that I hopped in, so there was zero wait for me. I was quickly off and running! If I have learned anything in the past few races that I have run, it is that I have to start off slowly. Coming out of the gates with completely tapered, fresh legs can be pretty deceiving. You feel like you can run like the wind, but it is not something you want to start off with. I hit the first 5k averaging around 8:10 miles, which is a bit faster than usual, but I felt ok about it. I didn’t want to hold back too much, since I knew I had some hills ahead of me and I knew I would be slowing down a bit later on.
One of the cool unique parts about the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon is the runners get to run through Churchill Downs, where the actual Kentucky Derby is held each year. We came up on Churchill Downs right at mile 8. We headed on into the venue, and were directed onto the infield, through the tunnel. It was pretty fun to be able to look around the downs and check everything out.
We did a quick lap on the infield, and then we headed out back to the streets. At this point, the half and full marathon split, so the crowd got significantly more spread out. It was pretty congested until the split, so I was pretty happy to get to this point in the race. It was also the first time I saw my family – always the best part!
The next big hurdle of the race was the first set of hills in Iroquois Park. I had been mentally preparing myself for this mark throughout the beginning of the race, and I am so glad I did! The hills were pretty intense from about miles 11.5 to 15. Luckily, for every uphill, there was a pretty gracious downhill. I was quite surprised how well I did with the hills, considering I completed zero hills training throughout my workouts. My splits only slowed to about 8:25/mile, and I was very happy with that. It definitely didn’t hurt that the park was beautiful!
I came out of the park flying! Miles 15-16 showed a 7:45 split on my awesome new Garmin – I am guessing because I hit a downhill at this point, so I pulled up on the reins a bit. There was no way I could sustain this pace for the whole race – no way, no how! I slowed to a more comfortable 8:10-8:15 pace, and just churned out the next 8 miles.
The next set of hills were coming up at mile 22, so I started to mentally prep myself, again, for the challenge. I hit the first couple of hills pretty strong, but then they really got to me. Hello lack of hill training! Up until mile 23, I was on track to run a 3:34 and change. I slowly started to lose some of that speed, and really fought for the last 3 miles. I was hurting like mad, but I knew if I even had a shot at a pr, these last few miles were going to hurt, and hurt pretty bad. I rounded a few more corners, and headed for the finish. Once I saw the line, I gave it absolutely everything I had. Every last ounce of energy I had was dedicated to that stretch. I crossed the finish line, and immediately looked down at my watch.
It was my second fastest marathon finishing time ever, and was, by far, my most physical and mentally challenge race I have ever run. During the last 3 miles, I held on so tight. I fought for every last second I ran. My legs were telling me one thing, and my mind, another. Luckily, I was literally talking to myself out loud, saying, “you are stronger than you think you are”. And guess what? I truly believed it.
No, I didn’t reach that PR or a Boston Qualifying time, but I ran a damn good race. I crossed the finish line and was incredibly proud of what I just accomplished. I pushed myself through a much hillier course than I am used to, and honestly, I had a lot of fun. I wasn’t pressuring myself for a certain time or pace. I was in it to simply run it. And run it I did!
A huge congrats to both Dave and Jason who ran a great race! It was Jason’s very first marathon, and he did awesome! Such a huge accomplishment!
Has anyone else ran the Kentucky Derby Marathon? Did you race this past weekend as well? How did it go?