My Write up of the 2012 Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, a.k.a. I’M A TWO-TIME MARATHONER!

    Well, I am about 36 hours removed from crossing the Starting Line, and I am still sore, but I have so much flowing through my head about this race. I am still emotional about yesterday for soon-to-be explained reasons.

    Let’s start with beginning of race week. I was an emotional wreck. Race Week is normally up and down for me, but with this being my 2nd Anniversary as a runner, and running my 2nd Kentucky Derby Marathon, every positive and negative thought ran through my head. Plus it seemed like 98% of all of my friends, whether on DailyMile, Facebook or Twitter were lining up to run the Half, for some reason, I felt very much alone like I had no business attempting a marathon. Luckily, a dear friend of mine (Hi, Melodie!!) talked me down off the proverbial ledge.    
   Now, I am not one to believe in signs, or be superstitious, but Friday, packet pickup day, the only mail we received was my copy of Runner’s World…no bills, or junk mail. Then I received a job related phone call which gave GREAT news. So Damary even had to say (and she’s less superstitious than me) how the stars were lining up for me. Another nice thing about Runner’s Expo/Packet Pickup was this year Damary was able to join me. She got bit by the Expo bug and picked up a couple of things including an AWESOME Bondiband. She also said being around the vendors for the other races made her decide she will do her first Half Marathon...the Big Hit Half Marathon, this September!! I am BEYOND THE MOON happy for her!!


        So going to sleep that night was pretty easy. It is the first race since Warrior Dash (July ’11) that I wasn’t coming straight off working 12 hours, and shortly going back to work 12 hours after the race. So the alarm went off and I showered and got dressed. Weather had been a looming fear all week, as forecast kept changing, but it was nice and cool, no wind, no rain. So I had my St. Jude Hero singlet (I raised money for them for this race) and then my Superman Shirt with the girls’ handprints on the back, and my bib already pinned to it.

    So Damary and the Super Princesses dropped me off and I walked to the start. An ex co-worker of mine…who says I inspired him to start running about 5 months ago, had signed up for the half. Had been training all of this time and I met up with him. I told him numerous times about my Superman race shirts, so, since he has his favorite hero, came dressed in his Green Lantern outfit.

      So it was awesome to see him and help calm his pre-first-race jitters. I have him the best advice I could and wished him well and headed to my corral. So as I was looking for the guys with the flag for the finish time corral I wanted, I noticed that the one for before and afterward were there, but of course, the one I wanted wasn’t. I just kept telling myself, “Do not let anything mess with your mojo…you put your Funderwear on, now let’s go get it!” Then I a gentleman walked up to me and asked if I my name was Corey and it was a Twitter fellow running friend of mine. We talked until it was time to start the race. He is a class act, and it is always nice to find a friendly face before a race. Also, in a fly-by scene, my friend Dana said Hi as she went to get in her corral. She set out AND ACCOMPLISHED her sub 2 hour half-marathon goal, and I am so happy for her!

   So I found the 5:30 pace group and decided I would hang with them until at least I came out of Iroquois Park (the middle and biggest elevations of the entire course), then I would see how I felt and then go from there. So I made introductions along the way, and they were all very nice people. I even carried the pace flag for a while, and later found out I came out on the TV coverage when I was carrying it (Damary texted me to tell me). I had last year’s calf problems ringing LOUDLY in my head as we got closer to Iroquois, because that is where the breakdown happened.

    So around the exact same place I saw her last year, I saw Rebecca Jo…she is a true angel! Now, while I am not superstitious, ritually speaking, Rebecca Jo and I ALWAYS see each other during, before, or after races. We pretty much run the same races. So it was nice to see her on the course. We wished each other well, and I kept going with the pace group. Then we came to Churchill Downs and let me tell you, that is the COOLEST part of this Half and Full Marathon. You get to do a lap, and they even had a few of next week’s Derby horses out. I mean this was absolutely AWE INSPIRING! Well, after Churchill downs, the split happens with Half Marathoners and Full. And then just like that, you go from dodging people to having the entire road to yourself. So the pace group and I headed down Southern Parkway (PICTURE OF ME AND MAP) towards Iroquois. Now I must admit I was feeling pretty good! I was as shocked as anyone. Then I had to take a potty break, so when I came out, I spent A LOT of energy catching up to the pace group. I realize now, I should have just kept my pace behind them and had that energy later on, oh well, lesson learned. SO we went through Iroquois and as we came out, I told them to go on; I wanted to try something I had in mind all week. I switched to a run/walk cadence. Mainly because I wanted to have something left to finish, and while my calves felt strong, didn’t want the breakdown that happened last year.

     So I kept that up, and to be honest, it was a pretty good plan. Did I have leg pains? I was running 26.2 miles at one time, of course I had pains. My Starburst Jellybeans, making sure to stop at every water stop, and the jells they had, kept my energy, fuel and hydration at a pretty optimal level for me.

      I kept checking my watch just calculating in my head if I would beat last years’ time. While it wasn’t a goal of mine, it was just nice knowing I could. See, I have plenty of Running friends who time is what their focus is when doing 5K’s to Ultra marathons. The victory, for me, is the Finish Line. Knowing I successfully put in the hard work, dedication, and determination to see a goal through. Especially in the last 8 months, having Adrianna born, and switching to 3rd shift, which makes me blessed enough to be a Stay At Home Dad with her, has made this training a true test of what I am made of. Most people would have said, this is too much, add to that I just started online school; my victory was in finishing the way I started…RUNNING.

      So I hit Mile 20 and did something that I don’t normally do, but I took a picture of me at the Mile Marker. Mile 20, for me, means I am ACTUALLY going to make it! I am the type of runner who, in any race, knows that one mile mark where I look at myself and go, “WOW, we’re REALLY going to do it!” SO I took a picture and posted it on my Facebook page. Then I kept going.   



          Now shortly after this, I was wondering how my longtime, dear friend Beth was doing. I knew this was her first marathon and she was battling an injury, so my thoughts went out to her. Then, seconds later, I hear, “COREY!” There was Beth and her brother Carl!! So we knocked out a couple of miles together, and I wished her well and gave her a hug, telling her how happy I am for her. Then I was off. Also, along the way, speaking of injuries, another runner friend of mine who is battling one was there cheering runners on. Lesli is a VERY positive person, so whenever I see her at races, I am reminded to quit complaining and consider myself blessed to be out on the course. She told me I would kick butt, and I thanked her and kept going.

     Now a lot of what I am leaving out is somewhat personal stuff. Like the countless people I know from Twitter, Facebook, or DailyMile who I saw along the course. Also, the hundreds of people who cheered for “Superman” and kept me smiling along the course also. Those moments are engraved in my heart and always will be. Thank You to each and every one of you for that.

       So I knew Mile 23 was going to bring some last hills…I took those as smart as I could. I walked the incline and ran the rest. Then I went back to my run/walk cadence. During my runs, I took mental checks on my body to see how I felt, was anything hurting, and what did I have left in the tank. Everything was reading GO, but I also know warning lights were starting to come up. This race had to be over, and it needed to be over soon.

       Funny thing is as I was talking to myself, I hadn’t noticed I had gone to strictly running. My body was telling all of me, that we would “die on this hill”; in other words, I would make a stand here: Run until I had nothing left, and hope that I would be past the finish line when that happened.

      Last part of the race is both funny and sweet. As I saw the Mile 26 marker coming up, two women were cheering from an office building up high and shouted down, “Go Superman, you LOOK GREAT!” As always, I said Thank You. Then one of the ladies shouted, “My name is Lois!” Not missing the point, I said, “Stay up there, I’ll come save you in a minute”. She then yelled, “Come on up, we have beer!” I laughed and kept charging.

       Well then I got to Mile 36 Marker and I had this text waiting to be sent to Damary since Mile 25, and I sent it. It simply said, “Mile 26….I’M COMING HOME”. I went with all that I had left, knowing that the turn on Main Street, onto Preston, meant I had done it. Well, as I turned I recognized one of the greatest people I know. I saw Jeri (she was there cheering on a few people she knew) and said Hi, and I waived to her. She caught a pic of me, and I was shocked when I saw the pic. I looked strong and MILE 26.1?? I know I didn’t feel that way, but it was nice to see that.


        My legs were done, and I had the slight downhill straight-a-way to the Finish Line. I had one last run though; look in the crowd and Find Damary and our Super Princesses. I don’t have anything to finish, but if I find, hear, see them, that last spark is what I would need. Never in my wildest imagination could I imagine what would happen next.

       I waived to them and noticed our middle Super Princess was inside the railing, standing in front of Damary. Well, as I got closer, she ran out to me, and in her most sweet voice, asked me if she could run with me. Of course I said yes and she took my hand and thanks to her, I finished the race running. I even squeezed her hand a little too hard during that last stretch, because I REALLY had nothing left. I got my “Space Blanket” (the Mylar blanket) and my medal and walked over to Damary. Well, out of the corner of my eye, when I was finishing, I thought I saw a familiar person, but just thought it was exhaustion. No, turns out, my best friend and Damary had talked and he came out to cheer welcome me across the finish line. He is Ayanna’s Godfather and we’ve been friends since we were 13 year old freshmen in high school! We hadn’t seen each other in a while and it was AWESOME to see him. He told me how proud he was of me about a dozen times, and each one was very welcomed.

       Then it all hit me. 2 years ago, I couldn’t run a quarter of a mile without stopping during it. I entered my first 5K and ran it in 45 minutes. Now 2 years later, I not only am knocking on a sub 30 5K, but I have completed my 2nd Marathon. 1% of the U.S. population attempts to run a marathon each year (train, line up to start, etc.)…1% of THAT 1% actually crosses the finish line. What I would love to know, what percent of that last 1% do it TWICE!


         Another wonderful part was when we all got home, my wonderful wife and Daughters had a surprise for me waiting.l I truly felt like I was Superman :)


          I also want to say THANK YOU to all of you who texted, Tweeted, Facebook Commented me during and after the race. Those made my heart feel so loved. And for anyone thinking of becoming a runner, or even a marathoner (a few people have mentioned it to me since yesterday), the best overall advice I can give you is this: Strength, Perseverance, and Success are NOT measured by medals, race shirts, PR’s, PB’s, or even Finish Lines (yes, they are nice). Strength, Perseverance and Success are, in fact, measured by Showing Up.

-Until the Wheels Fall Off (have I mentioned I AM SORE?)
-Corey “The Illuminati Runner”


  1. Way to go Corey!!! What a great finish and report of the whole race

    You and I had the same potty-break problems! I trashed my legs trying to get back to my group. Wish I'd been smart like you :) way to go!!

  2. awesome recap! i loved every word!!
    so proud of you and of how far youve come over the past 2 years!!
    you really ARE superman in my book,and i know your beautiful wife and super princesses think the same!
    oh and iLOVE the video!!! i am hoping my children will do the same for me when i run my first full marathon in november!!

  3. Great write up Corey. I miss talking to you since you are on the other shift. My favorite part was the Super Princess running out to you. That really touched me. Great work Corey. You are a true Superman.


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