So here it is… My first double marathon weekend. I am pretty sure I remember saying on more than one occasion that I did NOT want to ever do a double and yet I find myself heading out on a plane to our first race, the Kentucky Derby Marathon. The weather forecast was NOT good at all, storms and torrential rain, but it was hard to believe as we arrived in Louisville in beautiful weather. The expo was fairly small. We ran in to a friend of a friend, Ken who was there selling his URBAN HALLO headbands. We signed up with the 3:15 Pace Group but Denise said she would probably not start with them but rather go to a little slower. I was happy to go all out the first day on the basis that I would be hurting day #2 no matter what, and I would much rather get a PR and walk it than get 2 slower times. I realized I would most likely regret that decision at some point this weekend but…
KENTUCKY DERBY MARATHON
We were in our assigned CORAL A, but after some searching we could not find our pacer, or ANY pacers for that matter anywhere. We asked around along with other people and in the end Denise and I had to go with plan B and just go out at our pace. It had POURED in the night but was not actually raining yet. Forecast now suggested that would not happen till about 9:30AM which meant we would be a good way in being as the race started at 7:30. The first few files we tried to settle in to our pace. I felt pretty good. It started to sprinkle but actually felt OK as it was not hard rain. Around mile 10 I think, the 3:15 pace group found us. They had apparently started in CORAL B. It was perfect, as we were just getting ready to head in to Iroquois park, which was the hilliest part of the course. The pacers were all locals and shouted out helpful info about the upcoming hills and some of the derby landmarks etc. I was definitely pushing to keep up on the up hills but overall I was still feeling pretty good. The race was very well organized and I liked that they kept us separate from the half marathoners even when we shared the same course. It is hard to run thru crowds of walkers. I was also blown away with the sheer number of specters, especially in that rain. It was not too bad to run in but I could imagine it was no fun to hang out in cheering for a couple of hours but people were out all the way along the course.
I can't remember exactly what point it became not so easy.. It felt like the pacers picked it up, we had lost maybe a minute thru the hills.. But I started to feel the pace and a couple of us fell behind. I was not hurting too bad and felt positive I could hang on to this pace and get a PR! All of a sudden at mile 23 I was really struggling to hold the pace. I knew I was so close and told myself as long as I could stay under 8 min miles I could still get my PR but it was not to be so. As I came down the finish chute I realized I was going to be just over. I finished in 3:21:05, just 1 min 13 secs slower than my PR which overall I was pretty proud of on that course.
Once I finished I was teeth-chattering cold. The rain was starting to get harder and I was soaked thru. Denise came in right behind me in 3:26 and we decided to hobble back to our hotel and get warm and dry! We also had limited time to check out and make our way over to Ohio for race #2!!
The drive to Cincinnati was just under 2 hours. We checked in to our new hotel and walked (slowly!) down to the expo. The Flying Pig is a much bigger race. We wore our KDM medals to the expo and met several other Marathon Maniacs with theirs on too! reassuring to know we are not the only crazy people attemping this! There was a lot more to see at this expo and it was good for us to walk around and keep our legs moving. I made full use of The Stick booth! We then walked over to YardHouse where we met some fellow floridians Heather and Sara for dinner. We had learned right before the event that they would be there too and being that we are all 4 vegetarian/vegan we decided it would be fun to try to meet up. As we walked back to the hotel I pondered how on earth I was going to run ANOTHER 26.2 tomorrow. Who's idea was this?!
THE FLYING PIG
We woke up bright and early. This race started earlier at 6:30 so we were pushing it to get down there on time as moving slowly! I was struggling to keep up with Denise as we walked, and I was going down any steps one at a time.. I felt like sitting down and crying. As we got closer to the start area I did a little 50ft jog to see if I even could run. I could, but it hurt! We literally jumped in to our coral as the National Anthem was playing, probably good as there was not too much time to think about what we were about to attempt!. In our tardiness we had not had time to start my garmin, or hit the porta-potties so we stopped before the first mile and I waited for Denise, and sorted out my watch. I have not stopped during a marathon since my very first one but I honestly had no agenda today other than to finish! I was struggling to get my breathing under control and felt like I was pushing way too hard to keep up with Denise. Within a couple of miles I decided it was best to let her go and just go my own pace. Shortly after that the 3:45 pace group found us. Again super nice guys and a fun group so I hopped on in and decided 3:45 sounded like an excellent goal! On the up hills I was REALLY struggling but then I could catch them again on the down hills. This course seemed MUCH hillier to me as even the down hills was tough on my poor beat up quads. The weather was also MUCH warmer and humid than forecast. So much for the thunderstorms! Around mile 18 the old White Snake song came on my iPod. I cranked it up and for that entire song I picked up and pushed away from the pace group. I felt great.. For about 3.5 minutes and then the song ended and I was back to 9 min miles! The pace group caught me again and now I was really hurting. I decided to slow my pace and suddenly anything under 4 hours seemed pretty reasonable! I wondered how Denise was doing up ahead. I had originally figured I would catch her at some point but there was to be no more picking it up for me. I am guessing the heat played a part but the last few miles I helped 2 people who collapsed close by me. Other runners caught them and helped them to the ground. I stopped briefly and then said I would run on to the next aid station and ask them to call for help. It was clear both these runners were done for the day. Somewhere around mile 24 I suddenly stopped and walked! Again this is something I had only done once before in a marathon, my first one back post-kids. But without much planning I just suddenly walked. Unfortunately it really didn't feel much easier to walk and that voice in my head just kept doing calculations on how much longer it would take to get to the finish if I walked! I started running again which was hard. About mile 24.75 I stopped and walked again. This time I really did not want to run again. I told myself I would walk to 25 and then that's it ... Run till the finish. The incline up to the finish line was really the last insult on that course.. I could not believe but once I made it up probably the smallest hill, it felt like a mountain, I looked left and could finally see the finish line and it has NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD! I broke in to what felt like a sprint but was probably a 12 min mile at that point. Some guy, not sure who, (see pic) high fived me as I came up and FINALLY it was over. I can say without doubt the longest marathon of my life! I thought I had finished in 3:51 but then remembered I had not started my watch right at that start line as not turned it on in our rush so my actual finish time was 3:54.
Being able to say I ran 2 marathons in 1 weekend is great but not sure that I will be in any hurry to sign up for another double weekend any time soon! We finished our weekend with a fun evening of margaritas and veggie tacos!