Kentucky Derby Marathon Write-Up

So surprisingly, I slept through the night, Friday night. When the alarm went off, Saturday morning, I felt very rested and ready….Ready because I was on the verge of fulfilling a dream, and had put in the training.

I grabbed my Superman shirt which I had the girls put there handprints in paint on, my Mile Dedication List that a dear friend of mine had made for me, my Power Balance Band, my Garmin, and put those one, and finished getting dressed.

Damary and I knew that her and the girls weren’t going to be able to see me start, it was easier if they dropped me off, then she would go home with the girls (Lord knows they would have MORE than enough time to have a normal day before coming back to see me finish). As we pulled up and Damary was pinning my number on, one of my Daily Mile and Facebook friends, Wendy Bell, yells, “Hey Superman!” and introduced herself to me and Damary, which was nice to immediately see a friendly face. I then made my way, with all of the other runners to the Start Line, stopped took a couple of pictures, of course. Then I hear “Hey Superman” again (LOVED wearing the shirt!!) and there were two women dressed as Wonder Woman who wanted to give me a hug and wish me luck (Runners are the NICEST people!!).

I then made my way to my Corral, and heard someone yell, “Hey Corey”, and it was another Daily Mile friend, David, who is from here, but lives in St. Louis. This cat was running the half, and as soon as he was done, was getting in his car, driving to Cincy to go to the Flying Pig Expo, and then on Sunday, run the half at the Flying Pig. WOW! So we talked and waited in our group until it was time to start….our group started to move and we wished each other well and off we went.

I had told anyone that would listen I wanted to start out slow…I was aiming for an average pace/mile of 12:30 to start out until I got through Iroquois Park, which was the halfway point of the marathon. Well, for the first mile, I just relaxed, and when I hit the first mile marker, I looked down at my Garmin and told myself “SLOW DOWN”…so I tried to slow down, but found myself at the Avg pace/mile of 11:00. So I just got relaxed in it, instead of trying to fight my pace and stride, and felt GREAT!!

I made sure to stop at every water stop, on top of having my fuel belt, because I knew without paying attention, I could get dehydrated in a snap! I really enjoyed the volunteers and the people who came out to cheer us runners on. This helps motivate you, when you’re running, more than I thought it would,

Then we got to Churchill Downs and got to run through it. I stopped and took a pic of the Twin Spires (I was FAR from alone lol) and enjoyed running through Churchill Downs. It was as EPIC…I mean whenever will you get to run through a huge landmark. Then we left Churchill Downs and then it was time for the split of Half Marathoners and Marathoners….now, out of 15,000 Runners, only 1500 were Marathoners, so you can imagine how lonely it got quickly! When we turned up Southern Parkway, opposite direction of the Half Marathoners, we quickly left the crowd and cheering sounds. Now at this exact moment, I was SO GRATEFUL for every 3:30AM morning run by myself. Running completely alone was as familiar to me as putting on my running shoes. So I got comfortable in my own headspace and went to it. This saw my pace pick up, because, in a year’s time, my comfort pace is gotten faster, and I got in that zone….then we came to Iroquois Park and the HILLS went on forever :) I switched to a Run/Walk pace to conserve energy for when I was leaving the park, and what would mark the halfway point….Well, I was doing fine, and as I was leaving the park, I went back to my normal run stride…I was feeling good. Then IT happened…a twinge in my left calf. I walked until it went to a bearable level and started running again, and then it happened again. The crap was happening so bad a runner behind me asked if I was okay, because they could actually SEE my calf cramping. So now this was going to be my “Wall”. I thought it was going to be a mental breakdown, or physical exhaustion, but no, my Wall was going to be two calf cramps and a hamstring cramp. The thing is, I made sure I stayed hydrated, my urine was clear, and I had gels, bananas and orange slices. And it didn’t matter, the cramps came every time I tried to run.

I texted Damary I was in pain, and then the mental breakdown happened, I spent Miles 16-20 crying…as pace groups ran past, as well as almost everyone else, I was reduced to walking. I didn’t walk when I fractured my ankle from my fall. I didn’t walk the Papa John’s 10 Miler with that same fractured ankle. I didn’t walk a single step in any of my races. I hadn’t walked on a training run since I came back from my Plantar Faciitis/Fractured Heel injury. And NOW I was reduced to walking in what I had worked so hard to achieve! I was heartbroken and felt like I had failed.

As I kept trying to run, only to have my calf muscles stop me. I haven’t had a cramp in this year of training. Not one. Not ever. I haven’t had a leg cramp since the track team in high school, and I wasn’t dehydrated, nor lacking vitamins and minerals, and I was baffled by this breakdown now.

Well, the last pace group was coming, and I told myself this was it, I would finish ahead of them or with them. They were so encouraging, and turns out along the way, there were 3 of us who were doing our first marathons: myself, Joe and Elizabeth…all very nice people.

As we were coming down Baxter Ave, I saw an old high school friend of mine, Roy (he was volunteering), and he shook my hand offered some HUGE words of encouragement, and considering how low I was feeling about myself, I don’t think he’ll ever know how much he saved me.

So I was back to light running/walking combo with the pacers who kept my mind off of my cramps. As we reached Mile 25, Elizabeth dropped off and one of the Pacers said they had seen this too many times (they had each run over 60 marathons a piece), and that you know when people are not wanting to be pushed and when they are really done. So it was me, Joe, and both of the Pacers. As we hit the last water stop, Joe and I decided we, if nothing else, were going to finish this race they way we started…running. We thanked the pacers and they shouted encouragement to us to finish strong, and Joe and I went….we talked about our training and how we both has our wives waiting for us at the finish. We hit the Mile 26 Marker and knew we had 385 feet to go, but at that point it could have been 385 miles to go. I will say this, when you reach that point, you are just tired, flat out tired. Movement is more instinctive than form, it is more a result of whatever training you have done and how well you’ve adapted to it, than fairytale “Chariots of Fire”.

Joe and I were on Main Street, where the race had started, and were passing Slugger Field, on our right, we knew were had to turn this corner. We knew the finish had to be close. Well, we turned the corner, and Saw it right there!! IT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL! We both let out this scream of pure joy because our journey was actually going to come to fruition.

I was on the left, and Joe was on the right, and as we closed in, we saw our spouses on our perspective sides (how perfectly placed). I looked over and saw a group of people in pink shirts holding signs, and it was Damary, the girls, my mom and another Facebook and Daily Mile friend, Roberta who came out to see me finish (talk about friendship and support!). Joe and I crossed the finish line with our arms raised up, victorious. No matter the time, we had won.

I crossed the line different than I started. I can’t explain it, I just did. I felt especially like a conquistador because I accomplished this, but under a worst-case scenario type situation. I was proud of myself and felt pretty good….for about 2.5 minutes. Then I found out that the Kentucky Derby Marathon people had run out of medals!! Then on top of that…as of Sunday morning, my results aren’t up on….I do know I am not the only one who is having either problem, but I feel incomplete. I have to wait until Monday to contact them regarding both my medal and time being posted.

I am grateful for EVERY single Facebook, Twitter, Daily Mile and Text Message I received. I read each and every one of them last night. Speaking of last night, I couldn’t sleep!! Yes, the night before my first marathon, I slept fine, but last night I couldn’t sleep. Part of me felt like if I did, this whole thing was a dream and I would wake up and none of it had happened.

I am so grateful for every person who shouted, “Hey Superman” or “Nice Job, Corey” (because of my bib that had my name on it, and “My First Marathon”). The high fives from the people who came out, and lastly, my wife. She made posters, organized my Finish Line welcoming party, and got my all time favorite beer, Sam Adams, waiting for me, in the fridge (I haven’t drank alcohol since marathon training started).

And for those that wonder, for all of the leg cramp pain, and how much it slowed me down, I NEVER thought/said “I will never do this again”. I know I will do it again, and already have eyed a couple of Half Marathons for this year, and mapped out my racing schedule for 2012. I changed my Twitter and Daily Mile name from MarathonManBy40 (because I accomplished it a year and a half ahead of time) to Marathon_Icon72.

Whatever any of you dream of, do it. Take the proper steps to set yourself up for success. Don’t let minor setbacks change the direction of your sails. 1% of the US Population attempts a Marathon…1/10 of that 1% complete a marathon. I am in great company. April, 2010 I became a Runner….April, 2011, I became a Marathoner :)

-Until the Wheels Fall Off
-Corey, The Illuminati Marathoner :)


  1. Awesome, Corey. Simply awesome. :)

  2. Woo Hoo Corey!!!!! I am sooooo proud of you!!!!!

  3. you ARE superman,corey! i always LOVE reading your posts!
    although you had rough spots during your journey and even destination,you have prevailed! you are a true warrior,you are a marathoner now!!!!!
    SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!!!!!!

  4. That was pretty powerful! LOVED it!!!! :-)

  5. Corey, I got chills reading your recap. Well done, brother. You attained a major goal. I hope you float on that for a long long time.

  6. Corey - I have tears in my eyes from reading this. I am SOOOO PROUD OF YOU!!! Congrats! Looking forward to hopefully running the Goofy Challenge with you in 2013!!!

  7. Amazing post Corey and once again an AMAZING journey! Can't wait to see what mountains you will conquer next! The sky is the limit for you!!!

  8. You have accomplished so much in just a year's time! Can't wait to see what you do next :)

  9. So proud of you Corey:) You started this journey as a winner with the incredible mind set that you have day in and day out. You are truly an inspiration and are a constant motivation for me as I continue down my fitness path. You did an amazing job!!!


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