Kentucky Stories and Tips

Week 30 & 31 - Always Leave Enough for a Sprint Finish (USA)

Derby Festival Marathon Photo, Louisville, Kentucky

Well after a nice 2 weeks back in England I have now been in America for 2 weeks and it's like I have never been away! Everything is just the same as before!!

For a few minutes I was worried that I wouldn't even be going to America as I had my passport taken away and was questioned at length at the airport in England. Apparently it's seen as a little suspicious when you don't have a 'valid' return ticket out of America but instead you have a multiple stop ticket to South America including a stop over in Bogota, Columbia. Luckily I was able to explain everything sufficiently for them to let me go on my way!

I haven't had the best luck recently with airports. I got taken away for questioning by the Polish Police when I was leaving Poland as well. Fortunately it was just a case of mistaken identity, as they were looking for someone else to talk to about the contents of their bag.

When I finally arrived in America the immigrations computers weren't working, which meant waiting for 90 minutes in a queue until they came back online! When I finally got my turn at immigration and they asked what my purpose of visiting America was for they seemed pretty excited when I told them I was running in the Kentucky Derby Marathon. Unfortunately for some crazy reason they took this as meaning that I was a jockey riding one of the horses in the Kentucky Derby. Another two immigration officers on hearing this conversation came over to join in the conversation who even asked, "Who are you riding?" I soon put them straight. I really don't know how on earth they could mistake me for a world class horse jockey. I mean, I know I'm small, but I'm not exactly slim. If they could mistake me for a jockey, I'd be interested to know what other people are mistaken for when entering the country!!!!!

I haven't been able to do that much the past 2 weeks, as I have had to put in some serious training as I ran the Kentucky Derby Festival Half Marathon on Saturday (April 29). It was supposed to be the full marathon I was running, but as I only trained for 10 days that was never going to happen. I managed to complete it in a record slow time of 2 hours 8 minutess, but I suppose I really can't grumble considering the amount of training I did and the fact that I have put on 15 pounds since my last marathon (and an extra 4 inches on the waist!!).

One of the things I have learnt from running is that you should always leave enough for a sprint finish, especially when you are as slow as I am as there is nothing like living the dream!! I think I lived the dream more than normal though in this marathon. The reason for this was that people running the full marathon were given different color numbers to those running the half marathon. As I had paid to run the full marathon, I was given that color, so when I came sprinting into the finishing straight, passing everyone with ease, I think the crowd actually thought that I was about to win the full marathon. Everyone started to go crazy. Even the commentator at the finish line got in on the act. I'm sure it soon dawned on everyone though that in fact that I was just a short guy with man breasts trying to get a bit of attention!! I managed to even make an appearance on the TV news that evening for the marathon, albeit only my legs running past, but it was probably better than looking at my red, sweaty face!

Unfortunately it wasn't all enjoyment as half way around the course, I ran past a young girl runner lying dead at the side of the road, probably no older than me. It kind of puts everything into perspective when seeing sites like that, that it’s just a race and not getting a good time isn't the end of the world.

This extra poundage I'm carrying is something that I'm definitely going to focus on while I'm over here and I hope to try and get into some kind of good shape before I go down to South America. So far, so good. I have managed to run 70 miles in 2 weeks and play tennis almost every day, so I'm sure if I carry on like this then I'll make some progress!!

The weather over here on the whole has been gorgeous, averaging around 25ºC each day, and it's as though I have missed out completely on spring this year. With the weather so warm, it has meant that there have been one or two horrendous thunderstorms. There was one the first night I arrived, with hail the size of golf balls. I have never seen anything like it before in my life!!

As like my last time here in America, the English accent has brought a bit of attention. When eating out with Candace and a couple of her friends, my accent allowed us to jump a 20-minute waiting time and a queue of 50 people, which I don't think went down too well, as there were a few evil stares aimed in my direction. I wasn't complaining though. I also got told by one man that me and the rest of the English are a strange and weird bunch of people. I was tempted to make a sarcastic comment back to him, but he had the look of a psychopath in his eyes, and he had already boasted that he was an ex-marine who had fought in the first Iraq War, so I decided not to! Instead I decided to end the conversation with a "cheerio old chap" and made a swift exit.

Other than this, I accompanied Candace to her cousins wedding, which was a very nice occasion but quite different to English weddings. Some of the guests didn't even bother getting dressed up. I felt a little out of place dressed up in a suit but I was happy to have made the effort!! There was also a drunken guy on the other side of the wedding that decided to stand up half way through the bride and groom saying their vows and started cheering and clapping. It was quite an experience!! I also caught the brides garter as well (this is thrown to the unmarried men, similar to the bouquet being thrown to the unmarried women), which following tradition means that I will be next to get married!! Who knows!!!!

Well that's all for now! The highlight of the next week will be the Kentucky Derby next Saturday. I'm hoping not to lose too much money on that!

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