KY Derby Festival Mini Marathon 2017 Recap

Half Marathon #13

April 29, 2017

The 2017 Derby Mini Marathon was my 4th time participating in a KDF race.  In 2013, it was my longest distance, and my inspiration to run a full marathon.  In 2014, I returned to walk a majority of the race with my foster daughter at the time.  In 2015, I ran a Boston qualifying time of 3:39:51 on the full marathon course in 18 miles of steady rain.

Kentucky derby festival medal 2017, 2015, 2014

The KDF mini marathon medal grew in size for 2017.  It is larger than my full marathon medal of 2015 and shows the Pegasus as the focus compared to the horseshoe in 2014.


This year, I signed up because one of the Race Ambassadors, Karen Brady encouraged me to use the throwback promo code to secure a very reasonable race fee.  It sounded good at the time, but this was the most underprepared race I have run due to a lack of training caused by a painful health condition.


I went for a 5 mile run about 3 weeks prior to the race.  I felt a cramp in my chest, and I waived it off as gas or indigestion because I had eaten spaghetti a few hours earlier.  I went to sleep with the same cramp in my chest.

The next day, the pain worsened to the point it felt like a knife was stabbing me every time I took a deep breath.  I went straight to the doctor.  After EKG testing and x-rays I was diagnosed with pleurisy.

Pleurisy is an inflammation in the lining around the lungs.   They prescribed me 800mg Ibuprofen to take 3 times a day for 2 weeks.  I only took the meds for about a week and sometimes only 1 or 2 pills a day.

After my symptoms subsided, my pace was slower because resuming routine workouts after any set back can be intimidating with fear of reoccurrence.

Race Expo: 

I linked up with Karen who was performing her Ambassador duties. She gifted me with a goodie bag of items any runner chick would like to add to the collection.

The Humana booth had a display of treadmills for people to run a mile and have Humana donate $20 to a local charity.  I was the first person to take the challenge which led to more people coming over to help the cause.

kelsie smoot louisville kentucky derby mini expo

1 Mile Humana run for charity at the KDF Expo


Weather Delays:

Due to not being on the popular social media platforms, I was probably the last to know via email about the first of three race delays.  I did not have a problem with an 8:00 a.m. start for the sake of more sleep.

When I entered the downtown area, the weather radar was not improving.  The sky remained dark and lightening was within a 15 mile radius of the course, although it was not raining.

weather for ky Derby mini marathon 2017

KY Derby Festival Mini Marathon Weather


I was almost at the start line when I realized I left my salted caramel GU in the car.  I was so bummed because I needed that boost if nothing else.

The next thing I know, there was another 30 minute delay.  I needed this break to power walk to my car for the GU.  I continued to check the radar and wondered if the race would be cancelled.  I thought about all of the training runners had endured and travel expenses for out of town guests.

Starting line ky derby festival mini marathon

A bare starting line at 8:09 a.m.


Once again, I walked back down Main Street to the starting line. I saw Karen and other familiar faces as we followed the directives of seeking shelter.  I bunkered down under a tree by one of the buildings.  Everyone displayed patience as we awaited the next update.

Race delay kdf mini marathon 2017

8:35 a.m. Seeking shelter from the rain and lightening


The bottom line is we all wanted to run our race.  Yes, our morning meals, and those 30 minutes before the race bananas had worn off.  Yes, some half marathoners would have been finished by time the race finally started a little after 9:00.

Kdf mini marathon gear check

8:48 a.m.  View of Gear Check area.  The race is almost 1.5 hours delayed and we’re all hungry.


Corral A:

The KDF festival assigned me to Corral A based off my prior results.  I knew good and well that I would not be running a fast pace.  I had worry in the back of my mind that the pleurisy would come back.  My goal was to run a smart pace as long as I finished.

My corral assignment was earned, so therefore it never crossed my mind to fall back and let other runners go ahead of me.  I was passed a lot the first half mile, but I stayed in my happy pace with a goal to complete under two hours based solely on pride.


It rained for the first 4 miles.  I felt comfortable about taking my hat off to avoid overheating.  As always, the crowd support was very encouraging.  Water and PowerAde stations were well organized.  I ran without carrying fluids or wearing a gps watch, so the fluid stations were critical.

God Bless the unofficial aid stops that provided orange slices.  In total, I know I ate an entire orange by the time I reached mile 6.

Feeling the energy as the route goes down Central Avenue into Churchill Downs is always motivating.  What I missed were the T.V. cameras with live updates.  The jumbo screen showed the Churchill Downs logo and not the “Go Baby, Go” greeting I saw at the last KDF race.

After the infield loop, we were back on Central and the full marathon split.  I recalled that long, lonely path, and was glad I was diverting left with the smart people this time.

At mile 9 one of my toes had the nerve to give me a little pain.  It also happens that I was only able to peak at 9 miles instead of 12 for proper half marathon training.

The larger the downtown skyline came into view, the happier I became.  The 2:00 pace group rolled up at mile 11 and I kicked it in high gear.  I was not about to let them pass me.


Time- 1:59:54

Age Group- 63/658

Female- 531/5,009

Overall- 1683/8736

Not bad for top 10% in age group and gender.  Factor in the males and my overall performance fell to top 20% which is decent for the long road it took to get me there.  I am thankful for all the support from my Smootents and colleagues.

Kelsie Smoot Stuart Academy

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you” – Fred DeVito

Kelsie Lou

About Kelsie Lou

Teacher on the move.
This entry was posted in fitness, half marathon, health, Louisville, running and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to KY Derby Festival Mini Marathon 2017 Recap

  1. The new race director really wanted big medals and gorgeous designs. She did good. I loved this recap. You did awesome. Seriously. I intend to run a few races just by feel this summer. Sometimes I wonder how I would deal racing without a watch, but it is sort of like all the pressure is off. You’re an inspiration.

    BTW…Race Ambassador applications open August 1. PLEASE…apply!


    • KelsieLou says:

      I want to do the Bluegrass Half next year for the bonus bling.

      Thank you for the Race Ambassador reference! A small piece of me wants to run another full marathon. Time will tell.


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