We just got back from the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and Mini-Marathon Running Wild Expo.  (Mouthful, eh?)

For those of you wondering why the Kentucky Derby has a marathon, it’s all part of the month long Kentucky Derby Festival including a golf tournament, a basketball classic, the largest fireworks display in the world, a balloon show, charity events out the wazoo, waterfront concerts, and all manor of other festivities that lead up to the Derby itself.  We found out about it (and got a free T shirt) at the Philadelphia Marathon Expo.  Once they said that the race includes a portion on Churchill Downs (the home of the Kentucky Derby) we were hooked.  I’m a sucker for racing on out-of-the-ordinary routes.

Incidentally, the Derby Festival has had their Mini-Marathon (a half) for quite a while – this Saturday will be the 37th Mini but only the 9th Marathon.

But anyway, the expo.  These things are so frustrating, but something about this one was a little extra frustrating.  We got the essentials no problem;

Bib and Shirt

"897A, why aren't you at your post?"

I was kind of surprised that with custom printed bibs they didn’t slap our first names on to it, but that’s okay.  “Oh, hey, you, go!” is just as good as “Oh, hey, Keath, go!”  Usually when I hear my name on a course I can’t figure out who it came from anyway, so if someone shouts my name on a non-nametag race, I know it’s someone I actually know (or at least who knows me).

The packets came in big ol’ plastic bags to use as gear check.  Yup.  Plastic bags.  On Earth Day.  With the primary sponsor, Wal*Mart, handing out reusable grocery bags right around the corner.  Literally.  Wal*Mart of all companies.  Maybe thirty paces away.  C’mon folks!

Not to nag, though, expos are always environmental tragedies.  Let’s break it down quickly:

  • Good things:  not too crowded, easy to park near and get to, a very well organized BASDC1, and set up in a one-way-through corral so that no vendors get skipped and no attendee gets lost.
  • Bad things: the usual overabundance of paper ads that go straight in to recycling bin, the vendors in the aforementioned corrals feeling like they need to hand crap out to every single person who passes2, and the worst promo of all; a “single use” water bottle that doesn’t even have water in it.
Environmental rape in action

Exhibit A, on the left; a relatively reasonable promo. Exhibit B, on the right; stupidity in a bottle.

So yeah, local dentists’ conglomerate handed out pretty nice reusable water bottles that look like they’re sure to get a lot of use.  The city of Louisville, on the other hand, handed out the cheap plastic bottles that “local filtered water” comes in at your local convenience store.  With no water in it.  The label promotes the fact that Louisville is already filtered and has been voted the best tap water in America.  A lovely fact if it weren’t for the stupidity of a “disposable” bottle.  It was in my hands before the word “Refuse” even entered my mind.  Argh.  Gotta work on that.  It does have a nice sport spout, so I’ll try to use it as much as I can and hopefully rescue the tip for future use.

Post-expo we headed out to Waterfront Park and walked the multi-use path until construction wouldn’t let us go any further; probably about 4.8 miles round trip.  We didn’t mean to speed walk, but apparently we were hustling through at just under a 13:00 minute pace.  More importantly, it was awesome to be active for a while at the end of taper week.

This race has seemed like it’s in the far distance for quite some time now.  Then, all of a sudden, I got back from a friend’s wedding in LA and realized it was three weeks away.  I’m not nervous, per se, but my training pace hasn’t been where it was in the month leading up to my prior race, the Museum of Aviation Marathon in Warner-Robbins, GA.  That was an awesome race, I felt really strong for it, and I managed to PR by over 10 minutes to break the 3:30 mark.  My hope was to pick it up a bit and try to make the next 20 minutes to a Boston Qualifying time before Boston 2011 registration opens3, but that’s a stretch.  An even better stretch, of course, is to pick up 25 minutes and qualify for Exeter.  Given the reality of the recent training, I’ll be happy just to come close to my prior PR.  Hopefully I’ll feel up to pushing harder, at least reaching 3:20 if not faster.

All in all, I’m looking forward to running on Churchill Downs most.  The forecast calls for warm rainy weather, so we might not get to watch hot air balloons float overhead, but there’s a party at the finish line and I haven’t seen much between Brooks and Louisville other than the highway.  So off we go…

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Bib And Swag Distribution Center
  2. I kid you not; one woman actually leaned out on one foot around her colleague who was talking to a runner so she could yelp out to us something along the lines of “can I give you this critical information on a medical breakthrough…” as we walked by!
  3. More accurately, before it fills up.  In 2012 I’ll be 35 and they’ll make it easier for me, so I wanted to push to try to qualify in the open division before that happens.