Finger Lickin’ Good
Kentucky Derby Marathon and Mini-Marathon runners needed nourishment for the miles that lay ahead.
When making lemonade from lemons, consider context. Never make lemonade for your diabetic aunt or for people with citrus allergies. You may inadvertently harm them. Similarly, if youâ€™re an injured athlete who wants to run â€œjust for kicks,â€ donâ€™t race a half marathon in a polyester suit jacket.
Not one to heed my own advice, thatâ€™s exactly what I did. I ran the Kentucky Derby half marathon dressed as the inimitable Colonel Sanders. The man has achieved legendary status in Louisville. The plentiful lamppost banners and colossally gigantic downtown mural convinced me. Heâ€™s a big deal in this neck of the woods. I just donâ€™t know how he handled the heat in that suit.
Polyester doesnâ€™t breathe in the best of circumstances, least of all in sizzling conditions. By 6 a.m. on race day, temperatures reached the upper 70s, perfect for sipping iced tea on your veranda, but punishing for a long distance race. I certainly didnâ€™t have to wait long to feel the effects of the heat. Perspiration began in earnest on the bus ride to the starting line. During the race, I needed to stop occasionally to avoid getting dizzy (let alone extra crispy). Thankfully, I opted for shorts instead of trousers.
The wig didnâ€™t help. Besides oven-roasting my head, it made me look more like Mark Twain or Albert Einstein than Sanders. The shocking eyebrows completed the Muppet-esque caricature.
Not content to simply look the part, I carried a bucket of the Colonelâ€™s secret formula, original recipe fried chicken with me at all times. I convinced as many runners as possible to enjoy the deep fried goodness. I carried the bucket for the entire race, but I did not partake. As a personal rule, I never consume corn syrup solids and saturated fat during rigorous exercise.
I also spoke in an aristocratic Southern accent. From the pre-dawn bus ride to the post race stretching routine, I embodied the Colonel. All older women were â€œyoung ladies,â€ fried chicken was the currency of champions, and gentlemanly Southern manners ruled the day.
I didnâ€™t race well, finishing with my slowest half-marathon ever (2:03:45). But it hardly seemed to matter. As the iconic Colonel, I enjoyed unceasing, vigorous crowd support, posed shamelessly for umpteen photos along the course, high-fived countless kids and had a lovely chat with Louisvilleâ€™s courier-journal at the finish.
For the record, I gave away all of the chicken by mile two, mostly to runners. This includes the thigh and leg I gave to the Elvis troupe.
I had a wonderful time. Just what the doctor ordered.
(Thanks to “Rick – The Other White Meat” for the costume inspiration.)
April 27th, 2009 at 4:50 pm
Your slowest half is faster than my PR. You officially suck. 🙂
But I LOVE the costume. I do love a good theatrical performance during a race!
April 27th, 2009 at 4:58 pm
Speed is relative. Determination is *everything*.
April 28th, 2009 at 6:52 am
Found your site because you linked to my mural picture of Col. Sanders on Flickr. Thanks! Now here’s the weird part: We were in Louisville Saturday when the marathon was going on. We were having a lovely day at Cave Hill Cemetery, feeding the waterfowl and taking pictures. We visited Col. Sanders grave while we were there. Lovely day in Derby City and I will be working the Derby this year, so I’m excited about that. Again, thanks for the link to my picture. -Cindy
April 28th, 2009 at 11:34 am
Dean your an original(recipe)!!! love the effort, costume, and the detailed race report. obviously impressed the news paperman enough to write half the article on you. pretty good for ‘winging’ it. with another race under your belt while I sit on my butt, you have a ‘leg’ up on me.
April 28th, 2009 at 1:46 pm
You have no idea what a coup (not chicken) you scored with getting your website mentioned in the newspaper article. Websites and emails are the VERY first thing they cut when editing. I cannot tell you how many times fiddy2.org was cut from article telling people to donate but not WHERE they could. That is awesome.
Great to see you again. Let’s not wait another 2 years.
April 28th, 2009 at 4:16 pm
It was a very hot day. After the full broke off from the half I wanted to cry. I knew I had more then half my race to go and I was not feeling so great mentally. I made it to the finish line and I was happy about that. Wish I had seen you the morning of…. I did see the Elvis troop… what a crack up.
April 28th, 2009 at 6:29 pm
I think I ran within a minute either way of you for the entire race.
Saturday was my first mini and only my second race of 10+ miles (the first being 2 weeks before the mini in the Papa John’s 10 Miler).
You cracked me up, man. Had I known there was chicken in that bucket, I would have grabbed a piece on the bus ride to the starting line.
April 28th, 2009 at 9:16 pm
Some folks who ran near me may have not enjoyed it so much. “The Colonel” probably robbed many folks of their due of crowd support. At one point, I caught up with this guy. When I did, the crowd shouted like mad, “Go colonel!” This guy waved back at them (he was an army Colonel). Only later did he notice that folks weren’t cheering for him.
May 1st, 2009 at 10:33 am
Not to nitpick, but OK yeah to nitpick, wouldn’t the proper garb be a white flannel suite? Not polyester?
Of course, that probably wouldn’t have improved the heat situation. Cheers!
May 9th, 2009 at 6:59 am
Dean, Hi, this is Rick & Kevin’s Mom. I was visiting the Kentucky area the week of derby and saw you on the news. Then when visiting Kevin he told me “That’s a friend of Rick’s”. We enjoyed seeing you and reading your story.
May 11th, 2009 at 5:09 pm
I apparently have a secret following of runner’s mothers.
I wonder what this means.
May 14th, 2009 at 10:18 am
That’s the spirit! Sounds like fun – good on ya.