Derby Festival Marathon Race Report

One week before the Kentucky Derby, a lesser known race with less bets (if any) is run.  This race attracts about 17,000 athletes between the mini and full marathon.  The mini is more popular than the full, but the full marathon still had about 3,000 athletes.  This was my first stand alone marathon since 2011.  My time for that race was about 2:56 2 years ago.  I knew that I could run faster than that and had a goal of getting below 2:40 for this race.  That being said, I had a hard training week leading up to saturday with only a two day taper.  I had a 4 hour bike ride on wednesday and a 1 hour swim as my last hard day of training, so that weighed on my mind on  race morning.  The other thing that weighed on my leading up to the race was the fact that Derby Marathon is a big local race.  Racing in my hometown is bittersweet.  I love it for the energy that I draw can draw upon from people on the race course or lining the streets that cheer specifically for me as I go by (I must say the Louisville Landsharks is a great club to be involved with) during the race.  I also get more nervous for local races because  I know lots of people will be there that I know.  When I go somewhere far away for a race, I can blend in and be just another athlete.  I tried not to let the nervous energy about racing at home get to me, and just focus on completing the race and hitting my goal.

Race day started with a 5:30 wake up call.  I threw on my race kit provided my TYR and Maverick Multisport, some Swiftwick socks, my Newton MV2’s provided by Ken Combs Running Store in Louisville, and some racing glasses to illuminate the cloudy day provided by Smith Optics.  I also made sure to grab the all important race day nutrition:  Inifinit‘s NAPALM and some salt tabs.  I grabbed a throw away bottle to use before the race to sip on some water to get hydrated after sleeping all night.  I couldn’t find an old water bottle or a bottled water in the house, so I found an empty peanut container and used that for my water bottle.

I wasn’t able to get into the elite start corral since I hadn’t run a marathon recently enough to qualify for that start corral, but I did find my way to the front of the next corral.  At the start of the race, I was about the 5th row back of people (if there is such thing as a row of people when lining up for a race), and quickly found myself in the mix at the front after the gun went off.

This was the first time I ran the new course since they changed it to a loop course in 2011.  Instead of starting out in Iroquois Park with a ton of hills, marathoners would tackle the hills in Iroquois miles 11.5 through 14.5.  During that 3 mile loop around the park, we had about 525 feet of climbing.  I purposely back off down the effort going through the section so I wouldn’t burn out my legs with still having over 10 miles to go once getting out.

I exited the park and hit the 16th mile marker still feeling really good, averaging about 5:50-ish per mile and decided to try to hold on to the pace or even pick it up a little bit since we had a gradual down hill as we headed back towards downtown for about another 5 miles.  I averaged 6 minute miles for the next 5 miles, took a right hand turn to hit some more hills before the last three miles that were mostly down hill or flat to the finish line.  Those hills really took a toll on me.  My pace dropped significantly to 7 minute’s per mile (ouch)!  However, I was able to hang on to that pace as my thighs started rejecting any more forward motion.  I crossed the finish line in 8th place with a 2:39.

I’m very pleased that I was able to hit my goals during this race.  However, I would have liked to been able to hold something closer to a 6:30 for the final 4 miles.  I knew I would slow down at the end of the race, but if I could have knocked off :30/mile for the last 4 miles, I could have ran a 2:37.  Two minutes wouldn’t have changed my overall place in the race, but in my mind is significantly more impressive.  Maybe next year!

After the race, one my local sponsors, Q’doba Mexican Grill, invited me to a soft opening of their new Fern Creek location.  It was a perfect post race treat.  I was able to bring my parents and my girlfriend (who ran the mini-marathon) there and enjoy some good mexican food before heading to the Louisville Science Museum for some entertainment in the afternoon.

Thanks to all my sponsors for making this possible.  And to my family and friends for all the encouragement. And of course I couldn’t do it without the health and ability graciously given to me by God.  Next up, Ironman Texas.

Cya at the starting line…