Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon - The Rest

After last year's mother-daughter trip to Nashville for the Rock 'n' Roll race, we decided to extend this year's trip to four days instead of three so that we would have more time for sightseeing.  Since we arrived on Thursday and the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon was Saturday, we had ample time before and after the race to tour the city.


Coming into race weekend, we knew that we would at least visit the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory which was one block from our hotel.  This museum was our first stop Friday morning and we were able to get tickets for the 10:20 a.m. tour.  Tour tickets were $16 for adults, which was well-worth it because we learned so much more about baseball AND you get a mini bat at the end of the tour.  You aren't allowed to take pictures during the tour, but I did take the photos below before the tour began.

The most surprising tour of the weekend was the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which was only a few blocks from the Louisville Slugger Museum.  We rarely drink so when I first read about this tour, I immediately thought that it wasn't for us.  But on Thursday evening, the woman working at a downtown Subway restaurant swore that this tour was still worth the time, even for non-drinkers.  

The one-hour Traditional Tour and Tasting is $14 per person BUT non-drinkers get a discount as long as they mention that they are non-drinkers at the time of purchase.  Since we were on a mid-day tour, we were the only two guests so we were able to ask a lot of questions.  The tour included a lot of information about the history of Louisville, which actually owes it's growth to the Falls of the Ohio nearby.  

Since we were non-drinkers, the guide gave us bourbon balls and water and still explained the difference between the four bourbons that we would have sampled.  The tour ends in the gift shop (of course) and to my surprise there were tons of bourbon sauces, seasonings, spreads, and desserts.  Even as non-drinkers, we both walked away with some delicious souvenirs. 

Bourbon in the making

As we walked around downtown Friday afternoon, we came across random street art.  The first piece was in front of the 21c Museum Hotel David Statue which was inspired by Michelangelo's 16th century marble statue of David.  This statue came to Louisville in 2012 from Istanbul, Turkey via New York City.

If you look at the roof of the 21c Museum Hotel, you will see random red penguins on the ledge.  Apparently the museum inside the hotel is free, but we didn't have time to check it out. We'll save this for our next visit. 

Also outside the hotel...

I have no idea who this statue represents, but I made mom pose with him anyway.

Murals, murals, and more murals:

Looking back, I think my mural obsession started at either Rock 'n' Roll DC or Nashville last year.  Months before our trip to Louisville, I was researching murals there and saving their locations to my Google map in order to see which murals would either be on the race course or a short drive from other places we planned to go.  Then at the race expo, I picked up the Louisville Official Visitor's Guide which included more than 10 additional murals that I had not come across in my initial search.  Even leaving town, I saw at least two more that I couldn't pull over to take photos of so I am sure that by the time I visit Louisville again, there will be even more!

Murals along the half marathon course:

Fund for the Arts Building
On Main Street, just past the overpass, near Caufield's Novelty Shop

Intersection of West Main and 12th

Intersection of West Main and 15th 

Intersection of Muhammad Ali Blvd. and South 16th Street
1800 Ali murals

More murals around Louisville:

Across from the Holiday Inn Express

1101 Central Avenue, near Churchill Downs

Nord's Bakery

Nord's Bakery

West Market, between 1st and 2nd Street

Red Tree Furniture

VIA Studio building
VIA Studio building

Royals Hot Chicken

Inside Hi-Five Doughnuts

Inside Hi-Five Doughnuts

Intersection of Buchanan and East Washington

Butchertown Market Building

Near the intersection of Story Avenue and Bickel Avenue

Story Avenue side

I couldn't see everything in one weekend, so I look forward to finding more reasons to visit Louisville in the future. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon - The Race

Last weekend I completed half marathon #52, the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon.  Kentucky is the 12th state that I have completed a half marathon in and I actually registered for this race back in September 2018 when registration was at it's lowest.  I was in a car accident at the beginning of April and have yet to really run, luckily the course time limit for the half marathon is four hours, so I knew that I could completely walk the course and still finish before the cut-off. 

There wasn't a shorter distance that I could downgrade to, so it was either walk the half marathon in 2019 or come back another year.  I loved this race so much that I probably will be back to run it again, but I REALLY wanted to check another state off my list in 2019 so I didn't give up despite knowing my finish time would be very, very slow.

The Expo:
The race expo was held at the Kentucky International Convention Center, which is in downtown Louisville.  I picked up my packet at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, which was 30 minutes after the expo opened.  Honestly, there wasn't anything new that caught my attention so we were in and out in 20 minutes or less. 

Why you should run this race:
  • Distances include the half marathon, marathon, and marathon relay.
  • Walker-friendly, really!  A lot of races state this but then you find yourself being one of only a few walkers and the finish line is already packed up when you cross the timing mat, if the timing mat isn't packed up yet.  I was never alone on this course and I was surrounded by talkative, friendly runners.  It was the confidence boost I needed after having my training completely derailed!
  • Pre-race communication was timely and not repetitive.  Any question I had leading up to the race was answered with one of their emails, but I also never felt inundated with emails either. 
  • If you stay downtown close to the start/finish, there will be so much to do within walking distance. The expo is easily walkable.  A wide-variety of restaurants, museums, and shops are all nearby.  It was so nice to just leave the car parked after the four hour drive from St. Louis!  With so many options so close together, you could also just fly in to Louisville and cab/Uber/shuttle to your downtown hotel and not even need a car! 
  • The race starts and ends near Louisville Slugger Field and ends up taking you through a wide-variety of neighborhoods.  You pass through the campus of Spalding Unviersity as well as the University of Louisville. You run into Churchill Downs, under the track, and around the infield.  Then you cross the finish line as spectators cheer, inspiring music plays, and volunteers greet you with a smile and your medal.

  • There were corrals, but we all just merged into one wave of runners once the race started. 

  • Pacers were available for both distances. 
  • LOTS of parking garages available downtown for race day.
  • Post race snacks include chocolate milk, Powerade, bananas, bagels, chips, peanut butter crackers, and squeezable apple sauce.
  • Plenty of porta-potties at the start and finish line and the pre-race instructions gives you the exact location of all of them.
  • Plenty of water, Powerade, and porta potties on the course too!
  • Plenty of volunteers and a large police presence. 
  • Music throughout the course.
  • Louisville is a beautiful city and we found that the locals were friendly and very helpful.
  • Any time you finish a race and then immediately wonder when you can come back, that's a good sign!
  • The half marathon medal features the Louisville Slugger Museum, which you run by in the first mile.  We were able to tour this museum the day before the race, but more on that in another post. 

Last year in Nashville my obsession with murals started.  I ran/walked past several murals on the course in Louisville but then we went on a bit of a journey to see how many more we could find during our stay. Stay tuned for my next blog post coming later this week: The Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon - The Rest.