First things first. I finished the Derby Marathon in 4 hours 22 minutes! I’m very happy with this time and I definitely consider the marathon to be a success! In fact, this is a 1 hour 35 minute PR over the Disney Marathon in 2010. Sure can’t complain about that!
Remember when I mentioned that I had a fear about falling down the stairs or tripping over the dog and getting hurt? Turns out I didn’t even need an accident to throw a wrench in my marathon plan…I just needed to go to sleep. Yeah, apparently, I’m now old enough that I can hurt myself in my sleep. I woke up last Wednesday with kind of a sore/stiff neck and shoulders and it only got worse throughout the day. By Thursday I could hardly turn my head to the left and even had a pretty bad headache from the muscle tension.
Thursday night we got everyone packed and then headed to Louisville Friday morning. My neck was still not feeling great but it did feel just a bit better than the day before. We drove the course after we got to Louisville and then grabbed lunch at Lynn’s Paradise Café. Great food and fun place if you ever get the chance to visit!
After lunch our next stop was the Expo to get my race packet. For some reason I never feel great at a race expo. It’s always so hot and all I want to do is get in and get out. I completely forgot to look for pace groups and even forgot to get safety pins at first.
|The kids left good luck messages for me!|
On race morning, Christina and I met in the hotel lobby at 6:30 and started walking to the start line a little before 7:00. As per usual with us, we were waiting in line at the port-a-potty right up to the last minute. I did appreciate that they sounded the traditional Kentucky Derby ‘Call to the Post’ bugle fanfare right before the start! At about 7:29 we jumped into the corral about half way up and waited to start moving. Then we looked up and noticed we were behind the 4:45 pace group. Since we hadn’t yet moved we hopped out of the corral and jogged up the sidewalk a bit before ducking back in a little bit behind the 4:30 pace group.
We finally got started and headed through downtown. The first 4 miles were flat and pretty crowded. There weren’t too many spectators out in this area but we did have the drum line from a local high school at one corner. My neck and shoulders were really taking a toll on me and I could tell I was working much harder than I should have been for so early in the race.
Miles 4–7 took us through a neat older neighborhood. There really was a lot of great crowd support through the entire race. I loved the spectator signs of “Run, Random Stranger, Run!” During this stretch we saw some residents of a senior citizens home sitting out front cheering and handing out oranges, some women in traditional Derby hats enjoying Bloody Mary’s at their makeshift sidewalk café and one group of four that was yelling about how they “walk these streets every day” and “this was their neighborhood.” OK, those guys were a little creepy but other than that everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun. Finally by about mile 7 my neck started to loosen up a bit and I hit a comfortable stride. The storms that had been predicted earlier amounted to nothing more than a brief rain shower for about 3 minutes.
Although my neck and shoulders were feeling better it was around this time I began to feel a bit of stiffness in both my IT bands.
We headed into Churchill Downs around mile 8 and took a lap around the infield. Sorry, no running on the dirt! The runners were all feeling pretty festive through Churchill Downs and we even saw some horses being exercised along a straightaway. Totally cool! We also got a surprise visit from some Bloomington friends who were running the half!
The half and full courses split right outside of Churchill Downs. I have to admit it was kind of daunting to see the sea of people heading back to town to finish the half-marathon. The field was capped at 18,000 participants and only about 2,000 of them finished the full marathon. Despite the much thinner crowd (which was actually kind of nice) there was a lot of crowd support along the way including our own families for the first time! We saw them right after the split at the 9 mile mark. Always such a good feeling to see them cheering!
The next three miles were on a long straight flat stretch leading to Iroquois Park. We saw some more Bloomington folks along this stretch which was another nice surprise! Our husbands and kids were waiting for us again at the park entrance to wish us luck as we tackled the hills. The next three miles were up and down and around and up and down and around. At first the hills were a bit of a welcome change from the flat we had been running and my IT bands felt better after the hills. It was quite pretty through the park but I will say that by the time we left the park my legs had taken a beating.
We saw our families again as we left the park at mile 15 and then headed back to town along the same straight flat stretch. This time the flat felt pretty good after the hills. As we approached the merge with the half-marathoners again around 18 miles we saw our families for the last time until the finish. Happily, the race directors had designated the left side of the road for the half and the right side for the full. Reviews from last year told frustrating tales of marathoners dodging the half-marathon walkers during this stretch. Near 18 – 20 miles is when things started to get harder and we started walking a few steps through some of the water stations.
We split back away from the half-marathoners around mile 21 to a chorus of “You can do it, ya’ll” and “Almost done, ya’ll.” That made both of us laugh. I would swear that the next stretch along Breckenridge Street was at least 2-3 miles long but looking at the course map now I can see that it was only one mile… The longest mile ever.
I was not feeling too great between miles 22 and 23 and I even thought I might get sick a couple of times. I really did not want that to happen so we just pushed on. We were faced with the last couple of hills and that hill at mile 23 was a beast. Good crowd support here though and it really did help. One girl at the top of the hill must be a fitness instructor or something because she never stopped talking to the runners the entire time we were in earshot. “That hill was tough but you did it. Keep it up. You’re almost there. Lookin’ strong!” The last three miles were just one foot in front of the other and my legs were feeling dead at this point. We began to see a lot of runners with their finisher medals on who had come back out to watch along the course. Knowing that they were already done just reminded me how badly I wanted to be done too and to see my family. My body actually kind of wanted to cry (and I remember this happening at this point in the Disney marathon) but I kept reminding myself that if I started crying I wouldn’t be able to breathe so just suck it up and keep going.
As we rounded the final turn I saw Jason leaning over the barrier to cheer. It was so good to cross the finish line and I was definitely spent. We collected our medals and then I randomly noticed my brother and his family standing right next to me. That was quite a fun surprise! I staggered through the water station (tiny cups half full with water WTF?), grabbed a couple of bananas and sat down in the first shady spot I could find. My brother called Jason and told him where we were and they were there within just a few minutes.
To be honest, I felt terrible at the end of the race. I was quite nauseous and obviously physically tired. After about 10 or 15 minutes we started back to the car. We had kind of planned on visiting the Louisville Slugger museum after the race but I definitely didn’t have that in me. So, we headed to the car, got some Gatorade and started driving home. I was actually concerned I would be sick in the car so I rode with a trash bag in arms reach! I sipped on water and Gatorade and ate some crackers on the ride home. When we got home I had some chocolate milk which actually made my stomach feel a lot better. After showering and another glass of chocolate milk I was ready to eat something. By the end of the night my stomach was getting better but not totally back to normal until the next morning.
I slept like a log that night until my achy legs woke me sometime in the early morning. The next day my legs were still sore going up and down stairs and a little slow getting started moving but now, three days out I’m feeling pretty normal. I feel like my neck and shoulder pain has hung around longer than any leg pain. Right now it looks like the only lingering evidence of the marathon will be the two black toenails I’ll be sporting on my summer vacation!
So, will I run another marathon? I was asked this question on Saturday during the drive home and basically said there was no way. By Sunday I was feeling like there was maybe 5% chance I would do another. Now, I’m kind of considering it but making no plans to commit to something for at least another month! And, even though running tends to be an individual sport there is absolutely no way I could have done this marathon or any future marathons without the support of a whole bunch of people. I was so grateful to have Christina there for the entire race. I absolutely couldn’t have pushed through without her! My husband and kids gave a tremendous amount of support running all over Louisville so I could see them FIVE TIMES during the race!! Not to mention all of the hours spent training over the past 4 months.
My name is Melissa Myers, I’m 34 years old, and I run to…see what I can accomplish.
MELISSA MYERS is a mother, wife, runner, and higher ed administrator. She wasted her 20’s watching movies, going to concerts, and riding roller coasters and only started running in earnest in 2009 after her second child was almost 2 years old. What was she thinking!? Since then, she has run numerous 5Ks, 2 half marathons and 2 full marathons. Her main motivations for running are to stay healthy, to set a good example for her kids, and to attempt to keep up with her husband (who she has beaten in one race…while he pushed both kids in the stroller…and stopped once to get them snacks).