For those of you who don’t already know, I am originally from Louisville, KY. Home of the Derby baby!! 😉 Despite having been up north for a large portion of my life, I still consider Louisville home. I typically return at least once a year to visit family friends and to soak up that Southern hospitality to get me through my time in the cold north. 😉
A couple weekends ago, I returned to Louisville to enjoy the Kentucky Derby Festival and run the Mini-Marathon. Originally, this was to be my mom’s first half-marathon and we were going to run it together. Unfortunately, she broke her leg in December and still has not been given the ok by her doctor to start running again. To call it a disappointment is an understatement. My mother was super looking forward to this race and to be able to train and to prove something to herself. Despite the disappointment, Mom still traveled down to Louisville with me and was my designated cheer squad. As the days drew nearer to our trip, I realized that I would be running the half on my own, but with my upcoming Ultra Marathon, I needed to get 33 miles in that weekend. Instead of attempting to squeeze all kinds of miles in, I opted to switch over to the Full Marathon. 🙂
We arrived Thursday evening, which gave us all day Friday to tour the city, check out the expo and catch up with friends all before Saturday’s race. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect! The sun was out, it was warm but not too hot and honestly, it felt great to soak up some vitamin D! We really enjoyed all the aspects of the expo. Everyone was wonderfully charming, sweet and southern! 🙂 One of my favorite things about packet pick up and the expo, was discovering now that I was registered for the full, I got a super cool KY Derby Marathon hat! Woot! It had the Louisville skyline and under the brim is 502 (Louisville area code baby)! Represent! 😉 lol We naturally had to stop by the Fleet Feet Sports Louisville booth and pick up a few goodies there too! 😉
Race morning came bright and early, as always! 😉 My mother dropped me off within a half mile of the start and was planning on meeting me out on the second half of the course. I found my way to the starting corral and watched as it began to fill. Running in races as large as this is, at times, surreal. There were so many people ahead of me that I couldn’t even see the start line from my tip-toes.
Soon, the race began and we were running down Whiskey Row, an area of downtown Louisville known for its distilleries and whiskey bars. Next up was the Muhammad Ali Museum and of course, the Louisville Slugger Museum with the giant slugger out front! Not long after that, we were running through the outer edges of the University of Louisville campus. But the icing on the cake, and my most favorite part of the race, was running through the inner circle of Churchill Downs. Yep, you got it, home of the Kentucky Derby baby!! For a Louisville born, Kentucky girl, that is something pretty sweet and something very special to me. It sure is something else, watching the race horses train on the outside track while you are running your race at the same time.
This section of the race, of course, got me thinking of my mom….so I decided to call her. lol Ahhhh, the joys of modern technology! 😉 Using my cell phone and bluetooth wireless headphones, I called her to tell her I was thinking about her and to let her know where I was in the race. The Downs is about mile 8/9. She told me she hoped to be at the turn around point at mile 12/13. I gave her my list of things I would need (including more Body Glide!).
The course is mostly flat. The only elevation is during the middle 2 1/2 miles which wind through Iroquois Park. I was expecting to have some trouble with the rolling hills in the park, but much to my surprise, they weren’t as difficult as I had expected. With all the road closures and traffic, my mom wasn’t able to make it to the Park in time, so she waited for me just outside the Downs. The course came back through that way and she would be able to catch me.
It’s always comforting to see a familiar face, especially when your legs start getting tired and your determination falters slightly. Mom was there around mile 18 to give me a quick pat on the back and send me on my way. While I stood with her, I told her I was doing well but starting to feel tired and knew I would need some extra ooomph from her in a couple of miles. She promised to meet me around 21/22 miles.
As I kept going and my legs became more obviously tired, my brain began to go in all directions. One thought that kept popping up in my mind was, you are feeling tired now, what about doing hours and hours of this in just a few weeks?! What were you thinking? You’re crazy, you can’t do that! Obviously, those are not the best thoughts to be having during any kind of race, let alone one that you still had many miles to go! Lol 🙂 Just as I was struggling to get my mind back in the right place, mom was there. 🙂 YAY for moms!! 🙂 lol I told her I was feeling tired and it was getting hard now and her response was just what I needed. She looked at me and matter of factly said, “Well, you ARE almost done, you’ve only got like, 4 miles to go, you can do this!” Lol, I have to giggle when I think about MY mom saying only 4 miles, that is definitely not something I ever thought I would hear my mom say, ha ha ha. But, ever since she started running and thinking like a runner…….she gets it!! She gets the way I think and what needs said when a runner needs a boost and I LOVE IT! 🙂
And….she was right, there were only 4 more miles to go and I was done. 😉 It was by no means, my fastest marathon, but I got it done and in the books. That’s what counts. It was a great day and a wonderful weekend. I am super glad I got the opportunity to be out there running the streets of Louisville again and I can’t wait to go back! 🙂