Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Bourbon Chase 2011 - Part One

The idea of doing this race and planning actually started by a group of my fellow MITers October 21, 2010.   Almost one year ago exactly.   I was not a part of this group initially, so I really have no idea of what went on at that time.   I actually got invited to join the group in April 2011 when they were still looking for a few more people to complete the 3 teams that they had submitted to the Chase.   You see this race is quite popular and it has a cap of 250 teams, which it reached.   Once I officially paid the deposit, I was in and added to the list of 36 runners that would be needed to complete this race.   From this point I had to give someone my best 10k and 1/2 marathon times.   I later learned it would be to help them divide up the teams evenly and also help to plan for an estimated finish time.    It also became a number that loomed over my head for a few months.     We then had parties, umm, planning meetings, every month or so to try and figure out things like housing, team name, t-shirts, etc.    I learned pretty quickly that someone was doing alot of planning.   It wasn't me.   I just showed up when told to, paid money when told to, and voted when told to...For me the process was pretty easy, I know this is not the case for Barbara Grant who did most of the planning an delegating.   I am forever grateful for this, because all of the organization helped to make it a great experience for me!    This was easily one of the most fun races I have ever done and in large part to Barb and all the amazing people that were down there with me.

Maybe I should back up a bit and actually explain what the Bourbon Chase is.    It is a team relay.    You can have teams of 6 or 12 people and you have to complete 200 miles.   Of running.   Across Kentucky.  And you have 36 hours (or less to complete it). 
The race actually starts at the Jim Beam Distillery and follows the Bourbon Trail.  It consists of 36 legs that have to be run by you and your team members.   We actually had 3 teams of 12 people, which we named Hills, Stills, and Thrills (teams 1, 2, and 3).   Each team member had to run 3 legs which totaled anywhere from 11.5 to 20.4 miles total.   All this was figured out for us by some fancy spread sheet that someone came up with to help us figure out who was to be on what team, what legs we should do, and what time we would actually start.   The start times were staggered, with the slower teams running first, with the thought that most teams would then finish around the same time.    I believe the first waves went off at 8am on Friday, Oct. 7th.    All three of our teams were slated to start at 4:15pm on Friday.  

So, after a full year of planning, on someone else's part, the day finally arrived for us to head down.   It had been decided ahead of time that we would head down on Thursday, as we didn't know our official start time until a few weeks before the race.   We met at a church parking lot and headed down in groups.    Each team was actually divided into 2 vans, each van would house 6 runners and a driver for the actual race.   We rented these in Columbus and drove them down.   We had rented 4 different houses and actually were split up into groups based on when we were to leave town.   A 3pm group and 6pm group.    So, the people we left town with, was not necessarily who was on our team.     

Jim and Dave, two of my van mates, getting ready for the weekend to come...

Dan, Kirk, Julie, Bryan, and Dave Z.  also getting ready for the weekend.

So, after some initial confusion and direction, we loaded up our van and were on our way down to Louisville, which was only about 35 minutes away from the race start.

A few of my van and house mates, Jim M. and Julie M. in the back, Bryan, I and Dave B. in the middle.   Not pictured are Julie A., John, Mike B., and Dan Huston, one of two driver's for my team.

Hit alot of traffic and construction on the way down, stopped for food, and eventually made it to Louisville.   We had a cool 3 story house by one of the college campuses.   After unloading the vans, claiming our rooms for the night, and exploring the house, a few of us decided to head out on the town.   This consisted of walking to a local bar for some draft beer, karoake, and dancing.

Bryan, John, Jim M., Julie M., Mike B., and myself

All I will say about this night was that it was a lot of  fun and what happens in Louisville, stays in Louisville...

After a night of restless sleep, I awoke fairly early the next morning.   We all ate, reloaded the van, took some pictures, ate again, and then headed to Jim Beam Distillery for the race start.  

Our house in Louisville

Ready to go in our team uniforms! 

Our shirt logo, designed by our friend Rocco who wasn't there for the race but was with us in spirit!  It was decided that we would all have the same shirt, but each team would be a different color.

 Once we got to the distillery we had some time to explore, we took a self guided tour that included the gift shop, storing barn for the barrels, educational barns, the house and the grounds in general. 

Hanging with Mr. Beam

 We also had some free samples...

Once everyone was there, we headed back to the parking lots to divide into teams and load up the vans.

Organized Chaos

more organized chaos

Our van, packed and ready to go!

Hills, Stills, and Thrills Team #2

Hills, Stills, and Thrills Team #3

Hills, Stills, and Thrills, Team #1

Hills, Stills, and Thrills - all of us, including the van drivers!

Eventually it was our turn to start!   Julie (in red), Elizabeth (in white) and Barb (in yellow) got to start the race for each of our teams - leg 1 of 36...

And they're off!

At this point we all loaded into our vans and headed to our next destination.   For some of the vans that meant to the relay exchange point for leg #2.   For us it meant supper, as we had  legs 7-12 in our van.   This meant we had at least 4-5 hours to kill until our segments of the race would start.   We eneded up going to  Chile's and meeting up with the other 2 vans that had the same legs as us.   After this we decided to head on over to Maker's Mark Distillery, which was were we would start leg #7

My team for the next 24 hours: Ben, Maggie, Mike Z.

Me, Dave Z. and Dave B.

Maker's Mark Distillery

We also got here a few hours early, so had more time to kill.   Once again we took a self guided tour and got our runner's ready for the race...

Dave, Maggie, Ben, Mike, and Julie A. learning about making bourbon...

Kim, me, Sandy, and Greg, sampling some bourbon...

Ben getting ready to start his leg of the race.   At this point it is dark out.   My concept of time was lost the whole weekend, but I think it was probably about 8:30 or 9pm by  this time.  From 7pm to 8am (dusk to dawn), it is required  that we wear a head lamp, reflective vest, and rear blinking red light for safety. 

Some  of Team 2 (aka red team) members - Dave, Maggie, Rubesh, Julie W., and Mike
Waiting for Michelle to finish her leg so Ben can start his. 

Here comes Michelle, she was running so fast I almost missed her!

Michelle, finishing leg #6.  Ben is right behind me ready to start leg #7!

After Ben starts, the rest of us hop into the van so we can go to the relay exchange point.   Maggie is to do leg #8 and I have leg #9.

So, this is my first leg.   And now that number/pace I have been thinking about it really making me anxious.  The avg. pace that I am listed at is 9:48 per mile.   I have 16 miles to complete in total.  Legs can be classified as "E" for easy, "M" for medium, and "D" for difficult.   All three of my legs are medium, meaning rolling hills.   And Kentucky rolling hills are much different than Ohio ones, which I found out during the bike course of IMKY.   And I realized earlier in the day that I forgot my maintanence inhaler for my asthma.   So I have been almost 2 days without it at this point (I do have my rescue inhaler though, and plan on using it prior to starting my legs).   I am really starting to get nervous.   I am by far (almost 2 minutes per mile) slower than everyone else.  This includes all 3 teams.   Did I also mention that we have a friendly competition going with the yellow team to see who can finish first.   And the two most competitive people are on my team?  And one of them is in my van, with a clipboard, that has all of our expected times and paces on it?  And, did I also mention that 9:48 is only a little slower than my 10k race pace.  And that is on flat ground?   I also am only barely recovered from IMKY and haven't done much speedwork this full year.   I also will give it my all when it comes to a team event.   So, yeah, at this point I am nervous.  Glad I don't have my HR monitor on, because I am pretty sure that sitting in that van, on my way to my first exchange zone, my HR was probably already in zone 4...