A Kentucky Memoir

Susan Siderman

There is something to be said for getting up real early...and I did just that 3 days in a row...To begin---

Day 1---Up at 3:30 A.M., Fri. 4/23/04 to get ready to go to Newark Airport for a 2 hours flight to Louisville, KY to run in the Meijer (pronounced Meier) Derby Marathon/mini Marathon with my friend Martha who was flying east from Las Vegas.

Day 2---Up at 4:30 A.M., Sat. 4/24/04 to run in the race which began at 7:30--a short bus ride to the start, porta-sans, Vaseline coating of inner arms, etc., the usual stuff but oh-so-relaxed---7000 runners readying themselves for a race of which 6400 were running the mini ( a 1/2 to us) and 600 runners getting into their own zone for the marathon.  Every time someone said, "I'm running the mini" my reference was to the 10K mini marathon in June.

Day 3---Up at 3:30 A.M., Sun. 4/25/04 to return to the airport for the flight home.

A major PLUS to all this early rising---NO TRAFFIC!!!

Everything in Louisville, KY from April 15-May 1 literally revolves around racing, ending, of course, with the Kentucky Derby.  All the city events combined are known as the Kentucky Derby Festival.  Many of the events are racing events---hot air balloons, boat races on the Ohio River (Louisville is right on the water across from Indiana) steamboats, foot races, waiters/waitresses carrying wine glasses, rowing, beds (on wheels), fillies---in addition to golf tournaments, basketball games, and volleyball contests.  Luncheons, dinner galas and a Pegasus Parade are also part of the Festival.  Of course, all those beautiful hats worn by the ladies of Louisville are advertised.  I imagined the MERMS being southern belles at the racetrack with purple being the color of the day.

My goal for the marathon was, quite simply, not to be green at the end.  As many of you know, I was that hue at the finish of my last 4 marathons.  This time I wasn't.  I followed my own and other's advice.  Here it is:

       On long runs use gu/gel and water, and a sports drink to acclimate your stomach to them
       Drink/consume about 60 oz. of water and increase carb intake for 3 days prior to the marathon
       Take Advil 1/2 hour before the start (don't know if that's recommended but I did it anyway)
       Take gu/gel 20-30 minutes before the start and then about every 6 miles---always followed by at least 1/2 cup of       water ---takes about 20 mins. for the carb intake to kick in
       When drinking a sports drink dilute it with 1:1 ratio of water and then drink plain water as a chaser
       Take fluids at all water stops
       Pace yourself evenly throughout the marathon...start and stay really, really comfortable---don't "bank" minutes at the beginning; you always lose on your investment
       This one is thanks to Coach Neil---do butt kicks on the downhills.  It helps to stretch out the quads.  (They still were sore after I finished but, hey, everything is relative.)

It wasn't rainy, cold or humid and I didn't get whacked as in Laurie's and Karen's London, and I didn't see anyone wearing diamonds or "going potty" behind a car as in Debbie's and Cindy's Boston.  The weather was perfect: 50 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze.  Seven thousand runners, almost all in shorts and singlets/short sleeves with one runner in a purple MERCURY MASTERS long-sleeve shirt (sleeveless one underneath with the long-sleeve soon to be around her waist) waiting for the gun.

This is a foot race that has a 30-year history.  The race was always just the mini and this was the 3rd year for the full marathon.  All the runners start together and at mile 12 the split comes, 6400 going to the left to complete the 13.1 miles and the 600 marathoners going right.  Miles 12-23 are very quiet with spectators but the few out there were very supportive.  Miles 3-6 course through a park with pretty steep and long hills.  That's when I decided to do the butt kicks.  At about Miles 15-18 some more hills through another park and I did downhill butt kicks again although they weren't as high as at the beginning.  Butt kicks were actually done throughout the course even if the downhill was slight.  It reminded me of the Merm workouts.!!!

Right after the finish line there was a Starbucks.  After having a banana and yogurt I treated myself to the tallest Cafe Latte.  As I was eating/drinking I looked at my finisher's medal and said to myself, "Tell Pat to increase the total number of marathons run by the MERMS."

So, congratulations to all the marathoners, half-marathoners, 4-milers and marshalers who participated these past two weeks in so many events.  We are an awesome group of 50+ women.  We set goals, we train, we participate and we succeed.  We are the MERMS.