Monday, March 31, 2014
My friend Amber is nuts. She did 3 training runs a couple years ago (5.5, 8.5 and 12.5) then did a 50K trail race. She’s also taken a course in bull riding. So you now understand. But we’ve known each other for almost 30 years and she’s an amazing person. She’d gotten way more into running than I have as she’s planning her first marathon this fall. A couple months ago she pointed out to me how cool the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon finish medals were… and I ended up signing up for the race with her.
So the plan was to leave about noon on Friday. My dressage trainer was in for the weekend so I moved my lesson to 9am Friday. The weekend started out wonderfully as the lesson was fantastic! But… on to the half marathon stuff.
The drive down was uneventful. Lots of chatter. I was mildly panicking about the distance, but keeping it together. The race started/finished at Keeneland racetrack which is GORGEOUS!! Big old trees, fence lined paddocks, stone buildings. Their spring race meet doesn’t start until next week but it’s still a fantastic place. We got to the Expo at Keeneland about 2 and started wandering. Very nice expo. Bunch of different vendors – folks selling things (shoes, shirts, accessories, etc.), people advertising their upcoming 2014 races, sports medicine type folks, and of course those associated with RTB – most having something to do with Bourbon or Keeneland!
I did really well in not overspending. Of course I wanted souveniers, but needed to ensure I finished the race first. So my buying was limited to 1 RTB coffee mug with “Z” sticker and 2 RTB etched glass shot glasses.
We had 5:30 reservations for an RTB Farm-To-Table dinner at a lovely place called Wild Thyme in Lexington. OMG, it was fabulous!! Different local made cheese spreads with crackers for an appetizer, then a buffet dinner – antipasta, Italian veggies (cauliflower/zucchini/asparagus/mushrooms)
, Caesar salad, choice of veggie or meat lasagna, pasta with white sauce and pine nuts, pork tenderloin, and garlic bread. Dessert was bread pudding with a creamy bourbon sauce! SO worth the price!! We also got to talk to a table full of other runners which was fun. Though several had done the driven course tour, I decided it was better not to know based on the looks they were giving me when I told them I’d never been in a race longer than 5 miles.
After that we got a bit of our own driving course tour as we headed to Donamire Farm to visit my friend Suzie and my former horse Frankie. Donamire is right on the course at mile 7. Had fun talking to Suzie and a blast seeing Frankie, even if we were interrupting her dinner. After that… to the hotel to wind down and get some sleep.
Got up early on Saturday. The hotel offered a complimentary breakfast. Thankfully they had oatmeal as that’s what I’m used to right now. On the drive over to Keeneland, panic started setting in again. Honestly the only reason I didn’t wig out completely was because I kept telling myself that it would burn too much energy!! The day dawned a bit chilly from a decent breeze, but so far no rain.
Not that it lasted very long!! By the time we were lining up in our start gates at about 8:45 the light drizzle started. It wasn’t bad though in the 50 degree weather. Might keep us all from getting too hot! Amber and I were in Wave 5 so we started at 9:08. Amber had a Garmin on so she was able to track our GPS location and how far we’d gone from the start, and our current pace since start. I used my phone and a Stopwatch app to track our individual mile times. Mile 1 wasn’t well marked but we were SMOKING!! Didn’t intent on going out fast because 13.1 miles is quite a distance, but the rolling central Kentucky hills made it possible for us to hit sub 12:00 quite a bit in the first couple miles! We would jog the flats, stretch out and let gravity smoke us down the hills, then keep a good walking pace uphills. Miles 1, 2 and 3 were all sub 13 minute miles!
Slowed a bit in Mile 4 with one of the “killer” hills – clocked in at 13:49 and change but overall we were doing well. AND Mile 5 was our fastest at 12:05 so we made up for it!
Throughout the course they had about 7 hydration stations offering water, Gatorade, Nuun (yuck) and a locally made product called SWORD which was really good. I had purchased a 4 bottle hydration belt with extra zipper pocket and carried coconut water with me. With the cooler temps I probably would have been ok, with 2 bottles but glad I had the extra anyway. At several of the hydration locations they also had live music!! And a few of them had portapotties. The early portapotties had lines to wait but by the time we got to the one near mile 6, there wasn’t much of a wait so we opted to stop.
I should also note that by this time, the light drizzle had changed to definite rain, as the wind kept blowing and the temp kept dropping. Made for an interesting exercise – the whole getting in and out of really wet running tights when you can’t really feel your thighs or fingers very well. The potty stop dropped our Mile 6 time to 15:56. Miles 6 thru 8 were along Old Frankfort Pike which is where Donamire is. And of course in a 13.1 mile race, this is also where halfway is. Our halfway split time was 1:27:20 which is a 13:20 minute/mile pace!!
Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions, we didn’t get to see Frankie from the course or many of the area foals that I’m sure were out on Sunday when it was beautiful again. Oh well. The course really is VERY pretty, even in cold rainy conditions.
Mile 7 was back down to a 12:49 pace. Things steadily started slowing down after that though. Mile 8 and 9 were good at 13:13 and 13:09 (fastest of the 2nd half). By Mile 10 things started aching, specifically my left hip, right knee and left ankle. Our downhill runs got slower as did our flat jogs which by mile 12 stopped all together as it became faster to walk the flats. The balls of my feet were a problem as well but that was due to them being WET. Mile 10 was completed in 14:01. Mile 11 was finished in 14:39 and met with not only a final hydration station but a beer station too! Too bad I don’t drink beer… but it was tempting.
Mile 12 finished in 14:48. The final mile and a tenth was rough. I probably should have had a 3rd gel packet back at mile 11 but didn’t. And I was having a very hard time getting warm as my pace had slowed. Only running downhill and the final bit to the finish line. As someone said “Finish Strong!” my reply was “This IS Strong!”. Amber and I crossed the finished line at 17:34 for that last mile plus… ending the half at 1:31:44 which is a 14:00 pace. The whole 13.1 miles was completed in 2 hours 59 minutes and 4 seconds!! We finished under 3 hours!! Our average pace was 13:40. Even the gun time for me was under 3 hours (2:59:39). For someone who really wondered if I’d finish, I was ecstatic!! Freezing cold and hypothermic, but happy nonetheless.
Overall results put me in the Female 40-44 division. I finished 187 of 218 in my division. 2288 of 2535 overall…. 1294 of 1486 against all women.
Cannot wait to see the official race photos! Amber said geeking for the camera gets you more pics so I did… each time. And a couple times that was what helped me get out of the start of an inward funk and kept me going.
I don’t have anything to compare it to, but honestly, this race was well organized, wonderful about communication, and simply amazing with amenities. If only they could have worked something out with Mother Nature, it would never be beat.
Once we finished and grabbed our checked bags (mine had a fleece sweatshirt and a light jacket in it) we went inside where the party was and at least changed out of our soaking wet tops and tried to get a bit warm. Amber surprised me with a finish gift which included many of the items (or types of items) I was looking at buying the day before but wanted to ensure I finished – a 13.1 water bottle, magnet for my car, key chain, tote bag as well as a 13.1 Only Half Crazy magnet and a sticker that says “13.1 It’s not a miracle that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start.” That last one is currently hanging on my bathroom mirror.
The walk back to the car was awful. We were cold and shivering. It was still windy and rainy. Did I mention that the temp was now only 39? The walk was about ½ mile. We pulled out our dry change of clothes and did a very comical change in the front seat of her Chevy HHR (with leather HEATED seats it was funny but WARM!). Just a change of clothes made an amazing difference. Still sore – my hip, knees and feet were SCREAMING at me when we walked back in to collect our medals after they were engraved with our times on them – but being dry was a wonderful feeling.
So that’s the whole story. Stopped at Cracker Barrel on the way home for food and didn’t care what I had. In fact, I pretty much let myself eat whatever I wanted the rest of the weekend… and I don’t feel all that bad about it. Maybe I will at BLC weigh in on Wednesday, but I don’t right now. I’ve gotten back in my routine and it will all even out in the end.
I had a good time. A couple times, Amber said “only a Turkey Trot (5 mile) to go” or “now we just have a 5K left!”… but for me it was just to the next hill. I really enjoyed (most of) the hills on the course as they let me constantly meet a goal. I’m really glad that Amber stayed with me for the whole race even though her goal was to finish at 2:45. She kept telling me that finishing a few minute earlier wasn’t a good reason to not finish with me, especially given the weather. She kept me going those last couple miles for sure.
And yes, I’m SERIOUSLY contemplating doing it again next year. Maybe even going down Thursday night after work so I can do the Behind the Scenes tour and breakfast at Keeneland.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Ok, so those who know me already know that I definitely have crazy in me. But an.... opportunity?... to showcase the crazy has come up and it has me wondering.
I also have crazy friends. One in particular. We've been friends since we were working together at McDonald's. I started March 86. She started in July 86. We lost touch for about 8 years at one point, but she's still a very good friend. In the last couple years we've done several 5Ks and 5mile races together. SHE is crazy. A couple summers ago she was regularly going to the local nature preserve and running 3... 3.5 miles or so. Then she sets her mind to an upcoming trail race. She does a 5.5 mile run... an 8.5 mile run... and a 12.5 mile run as prep and then does the race. Did I mention the race was a 50K... yes FIFTY K... 31 MILES. She finished at about 9 hours 15 minutes.
So, that brings me to this "crazy opportunity". Run the Bluegrass... a March 29th run that starts/ends at Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington and runs NOT downtown but out around some of the most beautiful horse farms in the country. They're giving out really nice Nike wicking t-shirts or tanks (the tank is adorable) and these AMAZING finish medals featuring Zenyatta, 2010's horse of the year (despite being a MARE). I saw her when I was watching the reality show "Jockeys". What a horse.
The catch? The run is a Half Marathon! 13.1 miles with a 3:30 time limit.
Now, there is also a 7 mile run. Same shirts, same medal design though a bit smaller. And the course starts/ends the same but obviously doesn't cover the same ground.
I haven't run since November. I've never run more than the 5 mile turkey trot. I've never even WANTED to run more than maybe a 10K. I'm trying to get Shirley ready for the season. I don't like running in the cold and am simply not that motivated (thus no running since November). I'm also trying to sell my farm and move... a potential buyer is supposed to be talking to banks this week.
But I'm competitive. I know even if I sign up for the Half that I won't be running "with" Amber... she does a lot more than I do and is faster. I managed to hang with her for 1 of our triathlons and that was only because she was competing with a double ear and sinus infection!! What I don't understand is why I'm drawn to the Half and not so much the 7 mile. That's certainly NOTHING to sneeze at! I'm fairly confident that I could finish inside the time limit. It's a 16min/mile pace. Typical KY rolling hills so I could at least run half of it (flat and downhill places). BUT I've never tried anything that long.
I'm really not sure what to do. It's not cheap... $60 for the 7 mile, $90 for the Half... plus half the hotel room that Amber already has reserved, plus meals and gas of course.
So... completely crazy? Am I setting myself up for failure... or some great adventure?
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