Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kentucky Derby Half Marathon Recap

Linking up for Tuesdays on the Run!!

I have no idea where to even start with this race. I went into it not expecting much. I mean, I knew it would be a fun race but I had no expectations of PR-ing after running way too many miles last week.  

Spoiler alert: It was by far one of the BEST runs of my entire life. 

So, let's start from the beginning. 

I feel like I did everything you're NOT supposed to do before a big race. I played it light on the carbs leading up to the race, I bought brand new compression socks that I've never worn before at the race expo, I taped up my achilles tendon the night before (never done that before), I only got 4 hours of sleep--it was one of those "do as I say, not as a I do" kind of races.

But oddly enough, it all worked in my favor. 

I arrived in Louisville Friday night to major, MAJOR traffic. Derby activities + rush hour + construction = not fun. It took me about an hour to go 5 miles but I eventually made it to Chili's to have dinner with my family. I went with the soup and salad combo and maybe snuck a nacho and fried pickle or two. Carb loading, duh! ;) Packet pick-up was downtown and lasted until 9pm so we waited a bit and then headed down. We ended up getting there around 8:30 so most of the vendors had left but I did get a chance to pick up new compression socks (I usually go for sleeves but finally decided to just go for it) and a couple of t-shirts. Waiting until the last minute was totally the way to go because there were absolutely no crowds and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It looked like it was well organized though so that's a major plus. 

My cousin and I drove back to my aunt's house and hung out until about 10:30 talking with everyone and then I finally decided it was time to head to bed. 

I slept TERRIBLY. I wasn't really sleepy when I went to bed (odd) and the combo of new bed + nerves and I was tossing and turning all night long. When I woke up at 5:15am, I was seriously dragging. I figured that was a bad sign but splashed some water on my face, chugged some Spark, and kept going. As far as what I ate/drank/did before the race, I've come up with my perfect pre-race "happy hour". ha. Around 5:30am, I went with Advocare Catalyst, 6am I had chugged some rehydrate (similar to gatorade), on the way to the race, I drank my Advocare Meal Real replacement shake (equal parts protein + carbs), and then at 6:30, I took Advocare O2 gold. This combo really works for me and gives me the boost/sustained energy that I need to run longer distances. 

My aunt dropped me off in downtown Louisville (thank goodness!) so I didn't have to worry about parking--something I was MAJORLY stressing about. There was no traffic which was nice so she was able to drop me off about a block from the start line. Once I got downtown, I never felt stressed once. There were plenty of portapotties, everything was very well organized, the corrals were well marked--no issues whatsoever. I got put in corral A which was kind of neat. I wasn't sure if I was feeling a corral A time before the race but I went with it. ;)

The race was slated to start exactly at 7:30am and that it certainly did. They played the famous Call to Post (super cool!), the National Anthem, my Old Kentucky Home, and boom, the gun when off and we were running!

Like I said earlier, I wasn't expecting much from this race based on the way I was feeling pre-race. But as soon as that gun when off, it was on. My legs felt great, I had a good play list, I didn't have to spend much time weaving in and out, and it was an interesting course. It was seriously like a like just switched on in my head and it was just go time. 

I'm not one of those people who remembers every single thing about every mile--I always wonder how others are able to do that? ha. But I'll say this--the first 7 miles flew by. When we hit mile 7, I took a look at my watch and saw that I was running at a pretty decent clip. I started calculating in my head what it would take to PR and it was then that I decided I had enough juice to really push the pace. It was a flat course so I figured it was time to go big or go home. 

I got a little bored between mile 7 & 8 but then my favorite part of the course came up--we got to run INSIDE Churchill Downs. How freakin' cool is that? It broke up the monotony enough to get me excited again. 

We hit mile 9 shortly after getting out of Churchill Downs and the rest of the race was so much fun. We ran through some cool neighborhoods, had lots of crowd support, and I really, REALLY enjoyed myself. 

Side note: I briefly mentioned on Friday that the weather was supposed to be terrible for the race. I'm happy to report that DURING the race, it never did much more than sprinkle/drizzle. Major win!

Once I hit mile 10, I saw that I had a pretty decent shot at destroying my previous PR. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd be able to get a sub 1:40 half marathon but from mile 10 on, that was my goal. And I ran my BUTT off. In fact, the last 3.1 miles were pretty much a blur but I remember smiling a LOT, grabbing some orange slices from a random stranger (thanks!), and running my tail off. 

I'm happy to report that I hit the finish line at 1:36:39 (!!!!!!!!!)--completely demolishing my previous PR of 1:42:38! There are absolutely no words to describe how I felt after seeing that number pop up. It completely validated all of the hard work I've put in over the winter. It was the best runner's high of my entire life. And the best part? I felt like I could keep running--a good sign for my marathon in November. 

Oh and that rain? Yeah, as soon as I crossed the finish line, it started POURING. But I didn't care. I PR'd my butt off and that was all that mattered. :) 

The Kentucky Derby Marathon/ Mini Marathon was a wonderful race and I totally give it my two thumbs up if you ever get a chance to run it. It was a flat course (perfect for PR-ing), it was well organized, fun, and the course itself was interesting. I will TOTALLY be back again next year. 

I feel like I've left out so many aspects of this race but I'm definitely still working on my race recap method. Ha. When I'm racing, I really zone out and enjoy the "process" so it's hard for me to write detail after detail. We'll get there though. ;)

And now? It's time to head to FLORIDA! I'll try and pop in a few times and give some updates on how the week is going... but no guarantees. :) 

See you on the flip side! :)



  1. I don't know how you rocked that race on little sleep, but YAY!! Congrats!!

  2. What a race! Congratulations on a new PR you speedy gal! I sometimes do this out of the ordinary than you are supposed to do the night before a race too and luckily it doesn't seem to affect me. Glad to hear it didn't affect you either. -L