Friday, May 3, 2013

Weekend in Louisville- Part II

After we'd recovered a bit from our race, we were ready to explore the city.  It was unfortunately a little rainy for the rest of the day and we weren't up for tons of walking, so we limited our fun to a few local breweries- Against the Grain, BBC, and Gordon Biersch (not local).

Around 5:30 we headed out to Churchill Downs for Opening Night of the Derby.

the twin spires
Walking in we walked right by the area where they bring the horses prior to each race to introduce them. 

We had purchased general admission tickets and had no idea what to expect.  Luckily, general admission means sit wherever you want, including front row by the finish! We claimed our awesome spot and loved every race.  I couldn't believe how into it and excited everyone gets.  We were yelling along with everyone else and having so much fun. 

walking the horses by before the race

coming into the finish

It was so awesome to watch the horses zooming right by!  We also enjoyed some of the fun classic derby drinks and attire.  I didn't realize opening night was such a big night for high fashion hats, headbands, and dresses.  Luckily, general admission didn't enforce dress code and I wasn't too out of place in my rain boots and jeans. 

M loved mint juleps!
We didn't end up betting for real but we each picked a horse for every race and kept track of who won the most.  Mike's obvious choice for one of the races (and she won):

Sunday morning we explored a little bit more of the area by driving through a giant old cemetery (it's listed as an attraction, I promise) and a big park.  Overall we had a great trip.  I loved seeing a new town by running through it and we are now both officially obsessed with horse racing.  Maybe one day we'll make it to the actual Derby!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon and Weekend in Louisville- Part I

Last Friday we snuck out of work a little early to travel to Louisville, Kentucky to run in the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon on Saturday morning.  The marathon and mini (aka half) marathon are part of the two-week-long Derby celebration in Louisville that ends with the Kentucky Derby the first weekend in May.  I've been wanting to run the race since first hearing about it but have always opted to run the local Country Music Half Marathon instead as they always fall on the same weekend.  Knowing this would be our last chance to be nearby, we decided to make a fun mini-vacation out of it. 

We arrived in Louisville around 5 and checked into our super fancy downtown historic hotel (thank you Hilton Honors points from M's work). 

We quickly hit up the expo to pick up our shirts and bibs for Saturday's race and then found our way to some yummy local pizza and liquid carbs.

Our next stop was to take part in another event associated with the Derby party: The Great Balloon Glow.  It's basically a big field full of tons of hot air balloons that stay just above the ground and light up in the dark night.  It was pretty cool!

before it got dark


Saturday morning we were up bright and early to run. 

start line

My training for this run sort of stunk- 3 months of early morning rotation at work combined with interview/house stress left me with little motivation to run (see also: lazy).  Going into the race I was sort of predicting/hoping for a time of around 2:05 but I tried to just ignore the numbers on my Garmin and run strong.  As each mile ticked by, I was surprised at how good I felt.  My usual wall at mile 8 was avoided because that was when we entered the track at Churchill Downs.  Running around the loop with 30+ horses out warming up was so amazing- definitely my favorite part of the race.  All of a sudden, I crossed mile ten and realized if I could pick it up a bit and finish the last three miles in 26 minutes, I would break 2 hours.  I ran hard for those last three miles and sprinted across the finish thinking I'd made it.  Later, I found out my official time was 2 hours and 10 seconds.  While a 1:59 would have been a bit nicer, I couldn't possibly be upset with my race and was just proud that I felt great for all 13 miles and had a ton of fun.  I found Mike who had finished in 1:45 and we hurried back to the hotel to get out of the rain and get ready for the rest of our fun day in Louisville.