Sunday, April 20, 2014

KY Derby Half Marathon

Let me start by saying that this was the hardest and most rewarding thing I've done.   The experience was like none other.  I get teary eyed just thinking about it. 

Friday morning I drove to the airport in St Louis to pick up my friend Mary Kate.  She had to get up at like 2am in Colorado to catch her flight.  We headed straight to Louisville from the airport - about a 5 hour drive.  We arrived at a good time (4pm) at our hotel.  One of the reasons she flew in so early is so that we weren't arriving so late and feeling so tired and rushed getting to the expo. The line for check in was long.  We were staying at the official race hotel, so that may have been why.  The hotel was crowded, the elevators were hot and crowded and took a lot of time.  

This is the view from our room.  Too bad I didn't see much of it!

We went to the Expo and it was kind of smaller than I expected.   Of course my shirt was too small and they didn't have a bigger size to swap.  But I went back after we ate dinner and managed to get one. :)  I do think the shirts are kind of strange, in color and design, but at least it fits.  The *one* thing I wanted at the Expo was a 13.1 sticker for my car.  There wasn't a single sticker to be found. :( 

I bought some headbands at the Expo.  There was this one booth - Ponya Bands that had these bamboo lined headbands.  They were on sale for $18, but they were handing out coupons for online use that made the price cheaper.  I was going to wait to order one online, but the lady gave me the coupon price.  This band is suppose to really absorb the sweat so I'm excited to try it this summer.  I didn't wear it during the race cause I didn't want to lose it.  I like to wear a band that I know will be secure for events. 

The Ponya band in on the left.  If you feel like ordering, use coupon code DERBY419 through the end of May for 25% off ;)  I wore the new band on the right since it's the same style/cut I normally wear and I knew it would stay.  Gotta love some bling!

The morning of the race we woke up shortly after 5 to eat breakfast.  I don't normally eat much before runs, but I also couldn't just walk out the door and start on my run. My friend talked me into breakfast.  We left the hotel at 6:45 (7:30 race start) and the elevators were soooo slow and crowded we walked down 14 flights of stairs.  Nice warm up huh?!  The start was just a few blocks away.  It was already crowded and so were the porta-potties.  But we heard about a set in the reunite area that wasn't crowded so we walked there. As we were walking we heard the bugle player at the start line playing the "Call to the Post" that they play for the riders up call at races.  YAY!  Starting this race KY style.  It sent shivers down my spine. :)  Getting to our corral was so crowded we got there with a minute to spare.  In hindsight we should have just waited for the people from our corral to get up to us, closer to the start.  They didn't stagger the starts - just let us go like a herd of cattle and that was disappointing.  It took us several mins to get to the start, but the race route was crowded the whole time.  Too crowded for my comfort, but what can you do?  This was our quick selfie before the the race started. 

I was very energetic at the start of the race. I was waving to spectators and cheering at them to get them to hoot and holler for us. Mary Kate said "how are you so energetic?!".  Ha. We weren't sure if we were going to stay together or not.  We have the same pace, but I had trained a bit more as she had been sick quite a bit in the past month.  Her parents happened to be in Louisville last week and stayed an extra week to see us.  So they were hanging out near Churchill Downs which was at mile 8.  We hoped to be together at that point.  I felt like I could have went a bit faster at the beginning but I knew not to.  The first 5 miles flew by.  My knee was bugging me at 2.5 miles and worse at 6.  The water stations started to suck and be unorganized.  The last station before we went into Churchill Downs just didn't have enough cups full.  We didn't get any water.  :(  We saw her parents just before we entered the track.  That was motivating.  I took a photo while running:

 Once we got inside we stopped for some photos.   Here's my selfie with the famous twin spires in the background. 

We probably shouldn't have stopped.  It felt so good cause of the lack of water. . . we continued walking.  There were horses being exercised.  We both own horses and so we were distracted. lol.   We walked more than we should have.  We started running once we got out of the tunnel that takes you under the track (the tunnels in and out were probably the most hills of the race. They seemed steep and certainly our knees felt it.  

Coming out of the track, we finally found a water station.  We literally stopped to drink.  I drank a water and a powerade.  Mary Kate drank 2 of each. We felt better.  I don't remember much about miles 9-11.  But 11-13 sucked.  We were slower.  I was anyways.  Mary Kate seemed to get her energy then.  She was like "2 more miles! Let's go!"  My calves were on fire.  It's funny cause in my long training runs I had knee and glute issues.  At this point in the race neither of those hurt but my calves felt like they were going to explode!  I wanted to walk soooo bad.  I really was thinking at this point "I'm never ever doing this again!"   We walked through the remaining water stops and at one point when they gave us oranges.  We had run past so many oranges on the ground, but we didn't get any till much later.  Mary Kate kept pulling me along even though I told her she could go ahead.  Again the course was just too crowded for me.  We had only half the road once the marathoners joined back up with us.  It squished us together.  The crowds got more and more as we got closer to the finish and that helped.  Yet so many people were walking. I had the energy to run a straight line, not to weave in and out of people!  We finally made it and it was a tad slower over all than I would have liked. I wanted a sub-12:00 pace and closer to 2:30 as the finish time. 

Here is the offical race result:

We found water. . . bananas. . . chocolate milk (fantastic!). . . I felt like my stomach was going to explode. lol   We met up with Mary Kate's parents.  We did see them just before we crossed the finish.   We took our medals to be engraved.  It was $10, but it was so worth it.   We got our free beer.  That was the best beer I'd ever had.  Thank you Michelob Ultra!  At this point the endorphins were high and I thought "I could totally do this again!".  Ha!  I'm whacked.  It's ok.  You can say it. '

When I saw this photo of myself I got tears in my eyes.  I thought I might cry when I crossed the finish line, but it was seeing this photo. . . realizing that was me and I did this. . . I held back the tears though. 

I love the medal.  This is my first medal of any race I've done.  I didn't get one at my 15K which was really kind of a let down.  I didn't think it mattered before hand, but it totally does. 

We hung out for just a bit but then had to get back to our hotel cause we had a noon check out.  That was after asking for a late checkout.   We wanted to shower and change before we hit the road.  The 4 hour drive home was tiring.  We stopped a lot to move about.  Last night once I finally laid down my body started screaming.  I will say I took Aleve and Tylenol the night before and the morning of the run to try to help in advance.  I took some last night before bed as well.  I tossed and turned. . . I was so uncomfortably sore . . . I didn't fall asleep till 1 am or after.  I stopped looking at the clock.  I was so mad I couldn't sleep.  I felt like a zombie today.  I'm not sore, but I'm soo tired. 

Overall I'm really happy with the run.  I'm so thankful Mary Kate was there to run it with me.  I'm thrilled her parents were there to cheer us on!  That was so helpful and motivating.  I kind of wish we hadn't walked through Churchill Downs, but we picked this race for the feature of running there.  And honestly I don't think I would have absorbed it as much if I was running. . . and thirsty as heck at that point!  I'm really not sure if I will do this again. Part of me wants to and part of me doesn't.  Mary Kate and I talked about looking for a race in Kansas City MO as it would be kind of in the middle.   I need to have a break and figure out how to lose more weight, cause running does not do that for me.  

Here are the official splits from my Garmin.  You can see where Churchill was. . . I estimate we walked maybe about 1/2 a mile, but it impacted the time and we were slower after. Though if we hadn't walked, we can't assume we would have been any faster.  

My brother in law makes stickers.  What a convenience!  So I looked online at designs and kind of meshed some things together and I ended up with this sticker today.  Totally made my day!  

I leave Wednesday morning to head back to KY.  Lexington this time.   It's a crazy week and I hope I can keep up!  

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