Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon Race Recap

Saturday morning, we got up wayyy too early.

Unlike other races we've done this year that have started at 8 or even 8:30, the mini started at 7:30am, meaning our alarm went off at the un-Godly hour of 5:15.

Even though they were calling for rain from Friday night until literally just after the race Saturday morning, the race gods must have been smiling upon us as we woke up to perfect race weather -- partly cloudy with temperatures in the 50s and not much wind.

So after getting some breakfast and coffee, we made our way downtown.

We left the house just a little later than we were hoping, but we made it downtown and were parked by 6:45, giving us 45 minutes to walk the half-mile to the start and find our corrals.

Here's the (heavily guarded) start line. The racers were lined up on the other side.

I didn't hear it go off, but I'm assuming this is the starting gun cannon.

Notice the guy in the red jacket in the middle of the pic up there? I'm not sure if he was involved with the cannon firing or not, but he looks like the bugler that does the Call to Post for the Derby.

And here's a cool pic of the finish I snapped while we were walking around looking for a porta-potty. This is the last stretch after turning off Main street onto Preston street. It's only .1 miles from the turn to the finish, and it's LINED with spectators, so it's a really awesome way to finish!

The wife and I, just before we parted ways to head to our corrals.

Although I hated not starting with her, I decided to start as close to the start line as I could to hopefully avoid having to swerve around a bunch of people the first couple of miles.

I hate saying that 'cause I don't want to come across as a jerk, but it really does throw you off when you have to dodge slower people; it makes it harder to get into a good groove, which can have a huge impact on the race.

Just look at how choppy my pace was for the first half of the Anthem 5K this year, and how it really smoothed out for the second half...

I wasn't quite able to make it up as far as I would have liked, but I ended up pretty close to the start.

It. was. CROWDED!

I ended up starting near the 9:09/mile pacer, which would be a two hour half-marathon.

About to cross...

I didn't get very many pictures while running because I really wanted to focus on my goal, but here's one right after the start as we made our way down Main street.

Did I mention how great the weather was?

My goal for the race was to start off comfortably -- not too hard, but not too easy, either. I knew if I held an 8:30/mile pace, I'd come in around 1:51:30, so I really wanted to keep my pace between 8:30 and 8:45 for the first half if possible (that way I wouldn't have to make up too much on the second half).

Things started off great! I got into my groove early and held it.

And it seemed like I was around people who were the same pace as me, so that definitely helped.

My pace was ROCKING -- after 5 miles, I was averaging an 8:11/mile!

I managed to hold that average as I passed the 10K mark.

Although I won't officially count it, I totally PR'd my 10K time! According to the results, my 10K time was 51:01 (up from 51:53 from just a little over a month ago).

It was around this time that I saw a girl laying on the side of the road. I'm not sure what happened to her, but it seemed as though she had passed out. There were some people helping her -- one guy was moving her arms back and forth, probably trying to get the blood flowing.

That really scared me for some reason. She was fit, had most likely trained, and yet there she was -- limp on the ground. I guess it just shows how quickly things can go wrong.

Between miles 8 and 9 we ran through the infield at Churchill Downs.

It's always cool to get to run through such a historic place right before one of the most famous horse races in the world.

After Churchill, we took 3rd street all the way back into downtown.

Last year, this stretch killed me.

According to Google Maps, that stretch is 4.3 miles, and would take someone almost an hour and a half to walk it (assuming, of course, they didn't get hit by a car).

Here's what I had to say about it last year:
Probably the hardest part of the new course was running up 3rd street all the way from Churchill Downs to Slugger Field.  It just seemed to go on forever.  It was there that my quads started to shut down on me, to the point where I could barely pull my legs forward.  So with a mixture of running and walking, and dashed hopes that I might actually finish the thing in under 2 hours, I pressed on. 
Yeah, I was in a bad place over that stretch of the course last year.

This year, it was a completely different story.

Amazingly, with only about 1.5 miles left, I was still holding my 8:11/mile pace!

And while I was pushing, I wasn't really hurting!

After turning onto Main street we had about 5 blocks before turning onto Preston for the big finish.

I really tried to step it up even more, but I felt like I was at my limit, and I wanted to make sure I saved enough energy to power all the way through the finish line.

Turning onto Main street was one of the best feelings. The road is slightly downhill, and the street was completely lined with people... I felt like I was flying, and yet time felt like it was standing still.

As I approached the finish line, they called out my name. I don't think they've done that before.

I liked it.

After finishing and getting my medal, I found a spot in the grass and stretched for a few minutes.

According to my watch, I had finished in 1:45:58!

I seriously didn't think I was going to finish in under 1:50:00.

After getting some food, water, and beer, I made my way back to the final corner to cheer Jennifer on.

She looked great as she passed by.

After turning the corner, she took off!

I heard the announcer call her name, too. Very cool!

Officially, she had PR'd her time by almost 7 minutes, coming in at 2:29:44!

What's amazing to me is that she wasn't even really focused on this race. Her attention was on the half-Ironman she'll be doing in 6 weeks.

So yeah, imagine running the same 13.1 miles, but first you have to swim 1.2 and bike 56...

As for me, my official time was 1:47:42!

That's a 32 minute, 36 second improvement from my 2:20:18 time from last year!!

My Garmin lost the signal a few times on the course, so it only registered 13.04 miles while Jennifer's came in at 13.2 (yeah, .1 miles longer than it should be...). Even though the satellite signal dropped, I thought the timer would keep going, so I need to try to see why my watch time was so much less than my actual time.

But look at how consistent my pace was!

Notice the slight increase in my pace from mile 9 to 10? Oh yeah, I was running mid-7's there!

Something we've heard is that you should try to negative split every race -- that is, run the second half faster than the first half. I'm not exactly sure if I did, since they didn't give us that split, but it definitely felt like it.

Since my Garmin didn't start losing the signal until after mile 7, I'm assuming the data from the first half of the race is correct.

If that's true, my time at 6.55 miles was 53:37. Since it took me 1:47:42 total, that means I did the 2nd half in 54:04 -- aka, sans negative split.

But if Jennifer's watch is correct, and the course was really 13.2 miles, my time at 6.6 miles was 54:03, meaning I did negative split with a 2nd half of 53:39!

Okay, I think I'm getting a little too deep into my Mathy/geek side...

Either way, I'm pumped that I ran so consistently for so long!

The only time I stopped to walk was through each water station, after I nearly choked while trying to drink from the little cups while running through the first one.

To celebrate such a perfect race, later that night I cracked open one of the special bourbon-spiked stouts I made earlier this year.

The verdict?

The bourbon flavor was pretty faint. I didn't have any scientific way of measuring the amount of bourbon I put in each bottle, so some of the others might come across a little stronger, but in this case the bourbon wasn't bringing anything to the party. This beer is seriously amazing just by itself (although next time I think I'm going to up some of the grains to make the flavors just a tad stronger).

So there you have it -- the culmination of a few months of training, all for one amazing race.

I think I've finally learned my lesson on how important sticking to the training plan is, and how beneficial cross-training can be.

Next up on my radar are the Waggin' Trails 5K (which is a fun race we can do with our pups) and the Tap 'N' Run 4K, both of which are on Saturday, June 2nd.

The Tap 'N' Run combines drinking beer with running, so who knows, I might have some interesting training reports in the near future...

Thanks for reading!


  1. I loved your success story on HTP. I had to read it to my husand because he totally started because of me, and he's lost quite a bit of weight too. I just have to get him into racing a little bit more. Great race! It's so impressive that you pared off over a half an hour!!! Awesome!!

    1. Thanks! Racing is definitely what drew me in -- I think I'm addicted to analyzing the data and trying to improve my times (and let's be honest, it's fun to beat other people, too)! Good luck to both of you!

  2. Congratulations on shattering your PR by that much! That gives me hope that I might be able to run that fast one day!


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