The Derby Festival Marathon was an awesome event!

It was a pretty fun, wet mess!

Derby Festival Marathon run hike jumpWe met one of my best friends, James, in Lexington, then traveled to Louisville. The first part of the Derby Festival Marathon always includes a trip to downtown Louisville since the packet pick-up is at the Kentucky Convention Center there.  As mentioned in the Weekly Training Recap April 24 to 30 , we ran into Dr. Shawn (next to me in the photo) from SWORD! We didn’t know he was going to be there, so it was pretty cool to see him at the expo! He’s been doing great things over there.

Friday night, James and I stretched, hydrated, and everyone went to bed at a reasonable hour which was great since we decided to wake up Saturday morning around 5:15 to eat a good, healthy breakfast and then head to the start downtown around 6:00AM.  For breakfast I had an egg, cheese and sunflower butter sandwich, It was delicious. I also had a bottle of SWORD (mix of Berry and Ginger Citrus) and a banana about 30 minutes prior to the start. Downtown Louisville was flooded with construction, so James’ dad dropped us off while he went to find parking. We ran into a few friends before the start, great to see them! When the gun went off for the start, James and I decided to run together. He wanted to get as close to a Boston Qualifying time as possible, which meant he needed to run a 3:04:59 or better, which is a 7:03 average pace per mile. He caught a cold that took him out for a full week about 2 weeks before the marathon, so he was questioning his abilities. I felt confident about my abilities and knew that despite the anticipated rain, it’d be a great run.

Derby Festival Marathon run hike jumpBANG! The gun went off and we started the race. It hadn’t started raining yet but you could tell it was going to sooner or later. We were cruising the first mile. Both of us feeling strong. I knew that a BQ was totally possible. About a mile and a half into the Derby Festival Marathon, I had to pee! I had been staying so hydrated. I told James to continue cruising along and I’d catch back up. About 45 seconds or so after I veered off to a port-o-potty I was back in the race and it was a matter of time before I caught back up to James. It maybe took a minute or two to catch him. Playing catch-up gave me a chance to open up my legs and get them really warmed up.

A few miles went on and we were steadily cruising around 3 hour marathon pace. Around mile 7 or so, my tummy started to rumble… another bathroom trip?! Yup. It happened. I ran ahead of James a bit when I saw the next port-o-potty and did my business. Maybe a minute or two later I was back on the road, much lighter than before! (insert laughs here)

Another minute or so later, after getting another chance to open up my leg speed and play catch-up to James, we were running together again. We were heading towards Churchill Downs and it started to sprinkle just before we entered the entrance there. When we came out of Churchill Downs, it began to rain. The marathon and half marathon splits right after running through Churchill Downs. There were a handful people that we could see ahead of us. At that point we were running maybe 3:03 marathon pace. James was slowing a bit, but that was fine. There was still plenty of the Derby Festival Marathon to be run.

We hit the hill up to the Iroquois Park loop and the rain was coming down pretty hard. It felt really, really good though. The uphills didn’t really hurt that bad to me, which was a great thing and meant that my training had paid off with all the hills around us. James and I kept asking each other “How you doing?” and replied with “Real Good!” It was apparent he was hurting a bit more due to the hills.

After rolling through the hills of Iroquois Park, we hit mile 15 and then it was relatively flat from there out, with a few minor exceptions of some small rollers toward mile 23 and 25.5 or so. I tried to encourage James to keep it up and pick up the pace if he could. Once we exited Iroquois Park, the pace slowed down to about 7:30 per mile for the next few miles. Around mile 18, it was creeping to 8:00 pace. I had a feeling BQ wasn’t going to happen for the two of us. I started doing some rough calculations in my head to figure out how I could get to the finish and still get a BQ. It was looking like if I left around mile 20 or so I would need to cut off about 90+ seconds per mile from what we had been running for the next 10k (6.2 miles) to maybe make the cut off of 3:05.. I held on with James until about mile 20 and then I asked him if he minded if I booked it… I asked if wanted my Garmin or gel I had in my hand. He declined and said “GO!” I took off. I passed probably 30 people within the final miles. Many of which were extremely suffering. I had been in that suffer-fest before in my prior Derby Festival Marathon experiences in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Previously about mile 23, it just sucked. Not much crowd support in those late miles and some of the rolling hills feel like they’re killing you. This year was different. My Garmin 310XT kept losing satellite, probably due to the clouds and rain, but when it would connect, it was telling me that my pace was averaging right around 6:15 for those last 10k. Some points I was running faster (sub 6:00 mile) on the flat sections and some points I was running around 6:30 pace (the rolling hills). But my educated guess is that I did that last 10k at a 6:15 pace.

I could see downtown and was still holding strong. I felt like I was on fire, in a good way, because I felt so strong! On the long stretch back to downtown, I knew the clock was ticking. I had 3 more turns to make. A right, a right, and the final turn was a left. I made the right and it seemed like such a long stretch of road. I stayed the course and pushed on. I passed a few more folks and then made the second to last turn. There wasn’t anyone for me to pass at that point. Just like the road before, this one felt like it was going on forever. Then, after what felt like hours, I saw the final left hand turn. As I got closer to it, I tried to increase my speed to give it all for the finish. I saw the clock said 3:04:xx I couldn’t make out the last two digits until I was literally right under them. It said something like 44, 45, 46… and then I ran a few more feet and JUMPED across the finish line!

Derby Festival Marathon run hike jumpWoohoo! It seemed that I unofficially Boston Qualified when I crossed the line! Upon looking at the results later, they have me at 3:04:50 which is technically a BQ! NICE! I ran that last 10k like I had nothing to lose and it paid off. I ended up 43rd overall, 13th in my age group. A few minutes after I finished, I found my beautiful wife and she took this awesome picture of me.

I drank some water and SWORD, talked about the race with my wife, and then she pointed out that she saw James. He crossed the line around 3:20! Nice work! He said that was a PR by over an hour since the first Derby Festival Marathon he ran in 2011! Cool! His muscles were super tense and tight, you could tell. He was limping and was so stiff. I was pretty tight, too, but felt awesome!

We met up with the whole crew and headed to the car after we collected ourselves and stretched a little more. On the way back, James and his wife passed out in the car. I looked up the results and saw the winning time was 2:24! Going into the race, I felt that I could have probably run around a 2:45 on the course had I run all out. That would have set me in the top 5 overall. That’s cool to know for next year. Although next year I should be in even better shape and should be able to contest for a top 3.

Overall, the Derby Festival Marathon was a great experience, yet again. As of right now, I’m anticipating coming back to the race in 2017. The race organizers have already opened the pre-registration sale for 2017 at $65 until May 14th. I definitely am considering registering for it before then to snag that awesome race deal. $65 for a high-quality marathon (in my opinion) is an amazing deal. I’m going to try to convince my wife to let me… I think she’ll let me go for it. Either that, or the Rock N Roll Nashville Marathon which is the same day next year and also has an early bird sign up special. Decisions, decisions. To be continued on that topic… but anyways, the Derby Festival Marathon ROCKED! Writing this race recap the day after (Sunday) and my legs feel pretty good. A little tight, but I’m moving around just fine. I even went for a short recovery run and felt great! Horse Capital Marathon is coming up next in less than 3 weeks!

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