Kentucky Derby Race Report

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Kentucky Derby Race Report

Down and Derby a Race Report from the Kentucky Derby Marathon

Oh boy this is going to be a long one!

First of all what an awesome weekend. I was fortunate to have tons of my running club members running and traveling with me this time. Quite a change from the week before traveling solo!
Total we had 4 cars caravanning to Louisville.
Let me take a minute to introduce the cast of characters so you won’t get confused reading.
My suburban:
Mike- My driver and fellow chaser of the 50 states was coming to run his 9th state.
Joe- Running the ½ and looking for a PR
Tim- Running his 3rd full marathon also looking for a PR
Matt K- Running his first full marathon! Believe me when I say I could wright a whole story just on his journey alone. Needless to say this was over a year in the making.
Michele- My drinking buddy, creator of the phrase “lady case” running her 3 state and full marathon.

Following us was Jen C. and her friend Deb who was also running her first ½ marathon.

I know, I know that’s a lot of names but there are more! I’ll get to those in a bit.

So my caravan had plans to leave my house at 5a in order to bet the worst of the downtown traffic. Well 5a sounded good but the reality was that by the time we moved cars, packed cars, did last minute potty stops (and woke my kids up) we didn’t make it on the road till about 5:40ish.

No worries. Mike drove like a champ, which was great because I would have pee’d  my pants riding in some spots with all the huge trucks.

Since I had just run a marathon the week before I wasn’t counting on running hard or putting any time goals in the mix. I say that to explain some of the less than stellar choices that I made. Let’s start with the bright idea of adding cotton candy flavored vodka to a huge can of Monster. Delicious but at 9a it probably wasn’t the best choice, but hey I wasn’t driving. Nor was it a good idea to drink a beer in the Arby’s parking lot at the lunch stop. Carbs are good right!

Speaking of carbs. I think I must have eaten the equivalent of a weeks worth of carbs snacking on the ride. It was almost embarrassing. Again I’m going to use the excuse of carb loading and leave it at that.

After many stops for coffee, potty, coffee, lunch, and potty we got to Louisville just a half hour or so before the second set to caravan runners.

Who you may ask was in the second caravan. Now we get to the second set of weekend characters.

Cary- running the full Going for her Marathon Maniac status (I should mention that Cary just ran a marathon 2 weeks before in 3:50!)
Brian- Cary’s hot boy friend (it’s okay if I say that cause, well he is as sweet as he is hot and way young that even a cougar would be ashamed) who came to spectate.
Cat- Cary’s friend who also came to spectate and be a bad influence on me, but we’ll get to that later.
Heidi- running the full and just like Cary going for he MM status since she ran with Cary 2 weeks prior.
Paula- My running goddess who was running her first ½ without intervals (if you don’t know what that means, it’s run/walking in timed intervals)
Kevin- Paula’s husband who decided at the last minute to run the half making him a running Maniac if I ever saw one.
Erin- running the ½ with PR goals and a stunning post run hat.

Okay I think that’s everyone. Now that you have the rest of the cast, let’s get back to Louisville.

The boys dropped me and Michele at the Galt House, a beautiful hotel right on the riverfront. After checking in it just seemed like a good idea to have a traveling beer to take on the walk to the expo.

The expo was, well after 17 marathons, just an expo. Mid sized with lots of stuff to look at. We got our packets, signed up to win every prize (so far no luck) picked up lots of useless crap (cause you just can’t resist free) and were even given a bottle of really really awesome BBQ sauce with the promise that we would have a BBQ and share it with the whole crew.

This was a 50 State Club member reunion marathon. What does that mean? Well there were about 150 member of the 50 State club in attendance. Wow it was so amazing to see these folks that not only were working on their 50 states but some that completed it 2 and 3 times! Yes I was a bit in awe. I stopped by the booth wearing, what else, my stunning Derby Hat. Everyone loved it. I got my official picture taken, updated my status and talked to some really great people. If I was ever unsure about trying to complete 50 states, talking to these folks fixed that. They were so encouraging. I told them about my awesome outfit for the next day and told them to look for me on the course.

After much thought I decided to skip the meeting they were holding to hang with my Running club peeps. Turns out to be the very best choice.

New Character!

Veronica had just flown in from a conference in Orlando. Also looking to complete 50 states, Ve would complete number 10 in Louisville earning her official spot in the National Club.

On to the pre-race dinner!

Okay, if you know anything about running what you do and eat the day before a marathon is very very important. You should eat light, drink plenty of water, no veggies and most important, if you have a drink you should have 2 full glasses of water with it (and no more than 2). Walk and little as possible and be in bed by 8p.

For the past 16 marathons I have run, I have held to all of these common sense rules, well until Louisville.

We went to an awesome brewery for dinner. That was the first time I really talked to Cat. Cat was such a riot! We sat next to each other and the first thing she said was “who want’s a shot”. No No No that’s against the rules but hey it was Jaeger so I figured that really didn’t count so Okay. Beer choices were incredible but they had this raspberry ale that was just to die for. Well to die for could have been quite true since it was 9% alcohol. They only would serve you half a pint at a time. I had mine in a wine glass so I could be fancy. Oh was I supposed to drink water? Whoops, guess I’ll just have another shot to make up for it. Dinner choices were pretty good but I really wanted to try the specialty of Louisville, a sandwich called a Hot Brown (more on why I’ll never eat another one later). The hot brown was an open-faced sandwich. Sourdough bread with sliced turkey, tomatoes, onions, mornay sauce, parmesan cheese and what else could make it more fattening, why bacon of course. Yes it was a dinner of champions! That of course called for one more raspberry beer and some to die cake for Erin’s birthday.

Luckily there were some of our group that had sense and I did make it to bed 9:30p, better late than my first idea, which was to hit the town with Brian and Cat.

Marathon morning couldn’t have been more perfect. The weather at the start couldn’t have been any better.

Now I know your dying to know the most important thing, what was I wearing? In the fine Derby tradition I donned a pink running skirt with huge flowers, white tank top, white hat with pink flowers, pink lace gloves, pearls and of course a matching straw purse. Isn’t that what all-serious Derby runners wear?
I was grateful to Cary who jumped on the dressing up bandwagon in her stunning flower printed skirt and big flower headband. Not only did she dress up with me, but decided to run the whole race too.
Sue’s Rule #1 If you can’t be fast look Cute. Rule complete!

We met up with some marathon maniacs got in a picture and made our way to the start.

And were off.
While this was not a race for the faint of heart I can honestly say it was one of my favorite. We ran through some really great places including the Louisville Slugger factory, museum row and incredible parks but nothing will compete with my thrill in running the infield of Churchill Downs. It was amazing to see the horses out on the track. You couldn’t help but feel in awe of such beautiful animals as well as the history and tradition of the track. Oh I almost forgot, you can’t be in Kentucky without adding a few hills and add them they did especially a monster at mile 23 that one spectator (an honest one) warned us would suck. Truth it did!

If you ever decided to run a race just for fun I highly recommend running in costume. I felt like a rock star the entire race. I couldn’t even count the number of folks that commented on our outfits. We were the Derby Ladies! And when I say everyone cheered for us, I really mean it. The spectators, the police working and other runners made us feel so special. I don’t think the winners had as much personal attention (well they did get money but that’s wasn’t going to happen for me any day).

Sue’s Rules #2 and #3 look good for the cameras and finish pretty. Rule complete!

We finished, called the crew, grabbed a brew and made our way to join those who came in, hear stories and cheer the rest in.

Way back when I ran my first marathon with Mike he started a tradition that he would always finish his marathon with a cigar in his mouth. I had bought Mike a cigar but forgot it in the rush to get to the start that morning. Nooooo! It wasn’t right! But Mike, being Mike ran off the course, went to a party store, bought a cigar and finished in style.

Mike’s Rule #1 Always finish with a Cigar and a smile. Rule Complete!

We had a ball cheering all the runners in. That is really one of the most rewarding things you can do post race. Nothing compares to seeing how one big shout out can energize your fellow runners when just one more step seems so huge. The temperature at my finish was 75 degrees so you can only image what it would have felt like finishing when the temperature got close to 80.

Kudos to all our friends. Most everyone was pleased with their time all while having a good time. We had a new marathon runner (soon to become a marathoner since you need to run at least 2 to be called that) in Matt. He totally rocked the race and in the next part of this story, you’ll see he totally rocked the after party. Deb crushed her first half. We had 2 new Marathon Maniacs, a new 50 State Member and soo very much more. I was honored to be in such great company. Last week I had so much fun in Kansas but being in Kentucky with my friends was the ultimate.

Let the after party begin.

After a quick shower and 2 beers Michele and I made our way to the Marriott where we met Mike, ate all his onion rings while he tried the famous Hot Brown.
After a well-deserved snack we continued our tradition of sharing a lady case while swapping stories in the Jacuzzi (well 2 lady cases since there were so many of us).
Matt was on cloud nine and his excitement was contagious. We stayed until, well, we ran out of beer. It was great to hear how everyone’s experience was different, what they saw that you missed, what they missed that you saw.

The plan was to met up with the whole crew for dinner and hit 4th Street which is the party district of Louisville. Best laid plans were interrupted by weather. Yes our good luck with weather came to an end. Tornado warnings, thunderstorms and 4 inch hail kept us indoors.

Now you would think that would put a damper on things but you would be terribly wrong.

Paula and Kevin had been upgraded to a suite and graciously hosted all of us. As Austin Powers might have said “they had it all Baby!” Paula and Kevin ordered pizza for the crew and Hot Browns (yes again) for me and Michele. Cases of beer were drank and Paula even ordered a Mint Julep (my only stipulation for staying in) for me. I don’t know how I can possibly thank them for being the best host and hostess in the world. We talked, played cards, ate, drank, talked, gave each other massages (strictly for health purposes and just one more idea of Cat’s that I fell in line with) and tried to convince the boys to do a naked run  or at least an underwear dash down the hall (another of Cat’s ideas, you see why we love her). Sorry to say there were no takers but Matt was ready if just one other person would join in.

After being up since 4:30a, running then drinking steady I was done. Michele and I made our way back to the room. Once I got there I received at text. Since the weather cleared Brian and the boys were off to 4th street. I am so sorry that I did not go because I understand I really missed out. There was dancing on the stage (Matt) , attempts to crash a senior prom, the MALE prom (Matt). Go Matt!

The next morning it was time to say goodbye to Louisville.

On the ride home I discovered that sometimes if you over look the obvious you are better off. Take the name of Louisville’s famous sandwich. The sandwich that I ate at both meals two days in a row.  The “HOT BROWN” or as Joe pointed out the Steaming Hot Brown. Well Crap! That just totally ruined a delicious sandwich for life. Good thing I have Kentucky done and that this bad choice of sandwich name was not pointed out earlier.

Now you know I had a good time but some always want to know, what was your marathon time. I ran a 4:16:11 (less than 8 minutes slower than the week before on a easier course) completed marathon #17 and state  #14.

Next stop the Key Bank Marathon Vermont May  27th where I will be running in honor of Always Brothers a non-profit ensuring the continued education and care of fallen Marines families. I pledged this past week to deliver at least $250 to them at the Back to the Beach ½ Marathon on May 20th.  If you would like to read their story you can look them up on Facebook “Always Brothers” or see their web page at  If you would like help you can give a check with  mine, let me know or just bring a check made out to Always Brothers to the Back to the Beach.