Sunday, April 29, 2007

Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon

At 6:00 am Saturday morning, Nate and I boarded our bus from the Galt House Hotel to the race starting line. The race wasn't to start until 7:30, but the bus ride was some 30 minutes (we were sitting in front of "Dr. Jerry Graham, the world's most scientific wrestler" - or maybe a know it all who was running the 1/2 marathon).

We hung around the starting area until race time, having done our time in the port-o-let line, and then headed down the hill toward the starting line. Both of us had chosen to wear long sleeves, but it was warm enough that we didn't need them (Tara was right). At least they were technical t's that wick away the sweat.

The excitement mounted as 7:30 approached. We found our way to the area between the 9 and 10 minute milers and hung around there. We each downed some PowerBar Gel with some water and munched on some Jelly Belly energy beans. Then it was (finally) time to run.

It took us about 3 minutes to get to the start line (no problem, since we were wearing chips on our shoes that tracked our times individually). And we were off! Nate had a neat-o watch that kept track of all sorts of stats, including (his) heart rate as well as our pace, overall time, and the price of tea in China. We aimed to keep our pace in the mid 9 minute range. That was pretty easy to start, even as we ran through Iroquois Park and its "famous" hills. Yes, it was hilly, but I couldn't believe the huffing and puffing I heard from some of the runners, as we only spent 2 miles in the park.

From there, we headed north to Churchill Downs. Now, I've never been much of a horse racing fan, but it was extremely cool to be there in the infield of such a famous place. The horses were practicing on the track as we ran through.

Then we continued north on 4th street, past the 10 and 11 mile markers. Shortly before the 12 mile marker, the half marathoners (most of the crowd) turned left, while the full marathoners went right. There we saw Tara and the boys! I was really excited to see them. Tara didn't quite have the camera ready (and Andrew was fussing), so we stopped for a picture. We were feeling really good at this point. Good enough that I picked Jonathan up to let him be in the picture.

We'd run a couple of our miles a little too fast (one was under 9 minutes), but we felt really good. So it would be for a while...

We headed east through some neighborhoods and took the "scenic loop" through Cherokee Park. I vaguely remember this park. Kind of hilly, but not bad. There was a golf course and a couple of golfers were yelling "encouragement" to the runners. I told them to quiet down while their friend was putting. The park was pretty quiet as much as I can remember.

After Cherokee Park, it was back through neighborhoods, some rather sketchy. Funny how we were in a not-very-nice neighborhood and then went up a hill into a rather nice one. All that separated them was the hill.

We saw Tara and the boys again at mile marker 19. We were still feeling good. In fact, the second 8 miles felt fantastic, as did the next four. I felt great until mile 20 or so. As we passed Tara, I remembered that I didn't want to be wearing my long sleeves anymore, so I tossed my (extremely nasty, sweat-soaked) shirt to her. From here out, I would go without. Good choice. Except that I had been wearing my shirt tucked into my shorts, which were slightly too big, and without the extra material to hold them up, they kept falling down!

It was about this point that I couldn't eat another energy bean. There were a couple of stops where they gave them out, and I'd already had two packets. I had also had two gels. I had a third in reserve, but I couldn't stand the thought of consuming it. In fact, over 30 hours later, my stomach is heaving just thinking of it. So that's all I'll say about that right now.

Soon we saw the bridge. The day before, I had been thinking how cool it would be to get to run across the bridge over the Ohio River, but by the time we got there, I didn't think it was cool at all. In fact, it just seemed like a horribly endless hill. But before we got to the bridge, we had to go through downtown a little bit, and it seemed like forever before we actually started up the bridge. I had to take a walk break or two, and Nate was kind enough to walk with me. As we approached the 22 mile mark, there was a DJ in a booth, and he was playing "Chariots of Fire." I said to Nate, "I've got goosebumps." He did too. As we rounded the corner, the DJ said, "These guys know this song!"

We crossed the bridge into Indiana and made a loop around, under, and back up onto the bridge to return to Kentucky. There was nobody on the Indiana side cheering us on, so it was good to be back in Kentucky. Except that once we passed the corner where Tara took the above picture, the crowd thinned out considerably (except for the police officers, who were at every corner blocking traffic). We thanked each one of them. Once I said, "Thank you, sir," and Nate said, "Thanks, man," to which the (male) officer asked, "Did you just call me ma'am?!"

After the bridge, we "only" had about 1 1/2 miles left. From the 16 mile mark, we started telling ourselves that we only had two fives left, and then we counted it down. A five and a four. Two fours. Soon it was four miles: that's less than a workout. By now it was "only a warm up." But it didn't feel like only a warm-up. By this distance in the Columbus Marathon, I couldn't lift my foot high enough to step on a cup, but I proved that I could still do it here.

Even though that was the case, I was spent. I felt mentally and physically done. If it wasn't for Nate, I probably would have walked the last four miles. He kept on encouraging me to keep going, and he humored me in my (several) walk breaks. We took fewer walk breaks than I did in the 19-23 mile period in Columbus, but we still walked some.

Finally we hit the 26 mile point. We were looking for the finish line, but then we realized that we had to make a turn first. As we did, we started picking up speed, as you might be able to see in the picture. Yes, we're actually running. We're both competitive guys, and though we had decided to run together, I think it crossed both of our minds to "beat" the other. So we picked up even more speed toward the finish line, still in stride together. As we finished, Nate did what runners are taught to do: he leaned his head forward so he would cross the finish line first.

I, however, took my dad's long-ago-given advice. He used to race bikes, and at that time, in some races (as I recall from his stories), the winner was the one whose front tire first hit the finish line. Thus racers were basically throwing their bikes forward across the line (falling off the back in the process). What did this have to do with anything?

Our scoring chips were affixed to our shoes. I should have thought of this earlier; had I done so, I would have clipped mine to the front lace instead of up by my ankle. But as it was, I kicked my left foot forward, and even as Nate "beat" me on the lean, by the official scoring, I beat him.

Here are the official results. Note our exact times...

Name: Brian V Nathan H
10K 0:58:06 0:58:06
15K 1:26:26 1:26:26
25K 2:23:20 2:23:20
30K 2:53:14 2:53:14
Final 4:17:59 4:18:00
Place 470 ....... 471

Did I feel bad for beating him by a shoelace? Nah. :-) After the race was done, all I wanted to do was get off my feet. I didn't want to go to the post race party. I didn't want the free drink I was entitled to (if you zoom in on the post race picture of the two of us, the guy in the orange top behind us is a marathon finisher drinking a beer). I didn't want to eat or drink. All I wanted to do was to get off my feet. I was just glad to be finished.

If you have a weak stomach, you can stop reading now. If you want to know how I really felt after the race, use your mouse and highlight the black area under this text.
I felt horrible. I was crusty with salt. I was thirsty, but I couldn't stand the thought of drinking another sip of purple powerade. In fact, the thought of the gel almost made me puke earlier today. My head was spinning; I was dizzy and had a really hard time focusing my eyes. I couldn't take my own socks off to get in the shower, and every time I moved, I got horrible cramps in my legs and feet. In the car on the ride home, I just felt sick. We stopped for gas and Tara bought me a Coke, and I couldn't drink it. It tasted nasty - the syrup was so thick that it made me want to gag.

We made it all the way to Dayton, where we stopped at the mall to give the boys some exercise, and as we were looking for somewhere to park, I lost it. I had to work really hard to get the door open, and then the floodgates opened. I puked almost pure liquid (with little blue chunks - the energy beans) violently out my mouth and nose. I headed for a fire hydrant, where I knew I could prop myself up, but before I'd gotten there, I'd puked twice more. Once I reached the hydrant, I probably puked 6 more times. I was still wiping the residue out of my nose this morning.

The other difficulty that I experienced was that my nipples ended up bloody. At least they weren't dripping blood, but they're awfully sore. I escaped with only minor chafing - the baby powder "bath" I took before the race helped - even despite my soaking, falling-down shorts (which were the same size as the shorts I've been running in all through my training).

After puking, I felt a lot better, and I was able to drink a little water at the mall. And I feel a lot better today.


The Sister said...

Whew! Once again, my heart rate rose and I'm breathing heavy, and now that it's over, I have a bit of a headache. This marathon thing is wearing me out. And I'm just reading it... :)

Big Mama said...

As usual, my Shift Down keys did nothing but I can only imagine how you must have felt!! But I'll bet you are proud as punch that you finished!! Congratulations. I'm with the Sister!!

nathan said...

What an incredible experience! I'm so glad you did it with me. Not sure I would have faired so well with out having you there. Glad it was my idea!

Wow! I fared much better and you can check the blog eventually. Guess it's because you are so old!

We had many sub 9 miles in the middle... and we paid for it later. Oh well.

Dunce said...

I didn't need to run a marathon for the thought of PowerBar Gel and Energy Beans to make me queasy.

Il Dunce

Heath said...

BV You rock! I am so proud to be your friend. Your story makes my 3 1/2 miles yesterday seems pretty short :)

Zono (Nate's mom) said...

I am very proud of you and Nathan. I really enjoyed your play-by-play, and Mike enjoyed getting to see you guys cross the finish line.