Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bourbon Chase 2011: Part Two

So, it is finally time for me to run.   This is my first leg, and the above map is the visual I have in my head.   I also have the printed directions in my pocket, just in case the course isn't well marked.    It is now about 10pm.  It is pitch black outside.   I put on my vest, blinking red light, head lamp, get out of the van and wait.   And before long I hear my group yelling, "here comes Maggie!"   and sure enough there she is!   I grab the snap wrist bracelet from her (which is what we have to pass between each leg at the relay points) and I go!   And two blocks later, I don't know where to go.   The street on my map isn't on any of the street signs.   And then a guy comes up behind me asking the same thing I am thinking "now where do we go?"  Fortunately less than 30 seconds later, some lady comes  up behind us and shows us the right direction, she has done this before.    Once through town it is a straight shot and I lose both of them, they are faster than me.   But, I can still see their lights in the distance, which gives me comfort, and gives me something to follow.   So my first leg is just over 5 miles.   I do not have a garmin, all I have on is a stopwatch.   And the miles aren't labeled.   So as I am running I have absolutely no idea where I am or how far I have run.   All I know is that my breathing is really labored.   And Kirk (from the yellow team) is somewhere behind me.   So, I focus on just trying to keep a pace that I can breath and hopefully stay ahead of Kirk for a little while.   I also have that map in my head with the elevation chart which gives me some idea of where I am.   After about 25 minutes of running, Kirk catches up with me, says hello and I ask him how far we have gone.   About 2.6 miles.   Cool, over half way.   And he is then quickly out of my sights, but I can still see his light for awhile.   Finally, I see the one mile left sign (they have all of these marked on course).  Awesome, I pick up my speed and head to the finish.   So happy to see the relay area, hear someone yelling my name and Dave Bush waiting there to take the slap bracelet!   So after 47 minutes of running (9:15ish pace) I am done and finally realize I have been so short of breath - that is 5k pace for me!! 

I catch my breath, drink some water and then quickly hop in the van, we have to go to the next relay point and Dave B. is much quicker than I am.   Sitting in the back of that van I am happy, exhilerated and can't believe I just ran that fast! Yesss!!!  One leg down, 2 more to go...

Once we pick up Dave and drop off our 5th runner, Mike, I realize how tired I am and lay down in the back seat.   That is the last thing I remember for a little while.   All of the sudden I realize the van is stopped, the doors are slamming and we have picked up Dave Z. our 6th and final runner.   We are done for the first part of our legs and now on our way to the hotel we have rented for the night, to hopefully get a few more hours of shut eye before our next leg starts.   I look around the van and Dave B. has also just woken up, he is as confused as I am, LOL!  It doesn't take too long and we are at the hotel, up to the rooms.   It has been decided that Ben and Kristen will stay in the van and try to sleep before Ben has to run again (approx 3.5 hours away), the rest of us head up to the room for showers, sleep, whatever.   Maggie and I decide to hit the bed instead of showers, we don't think we smell too bad and would rather sleep.   The rest of the boys take showers, reorganize their bags, and try to sleep.   With all the rustling around I have a hard time sleeping.  Kristen texts and says things are a little slow and that Maggie won't have to be ready to go until about 6:30am.  At this point it is about 3am, so we decide to set the alarm for 6am, still time to get up, get changed and reorganize our stuff.   I will have to be ready the same time as Maggie, as her leg is only 3.5 miles long.   So, we will need to leave the hotel right away so I can get to the relay exchange point right away.  

Finally fall asleep for a little bit and all of the sudden their is a knock on the door. It is about 5:45am and it is the rest of the red team.   They are done and Ben just started.   Shit!   That means we have about 15-20 minutes to get Maggie to the next relay point.   We are both declothed and half awake.   Maggie quickly gets her stuff on and heads out the door.   I am standing there in a t-shirt and not much else, someone is already in the bathroom showering.   I have to completely change, so I yell at all the boys to get out of the room and get clothes on while also eating a honey stinger waffle.   Not sure how I do it, but ready in 10 minutes and out the door, to the van.   Dave B, Dave Z, and Kristen are there.   No sign of Mike.   No answer to his phone and nobody knows where he is.   As both Dave's run off to get him, we make the executive decision for Kristen to take me to the relay point and then go back and get the boys.    So we hope in the van and half way there get a call from a very frantic Ben wondering where the hell we are.  Ooops, should have told them all first.   Kristen calmly explains things and refocuses on getting us to the next stop.    It is getting closer to 6:30am but still dark, so I still have to wear the reflective vest, headlamp, etc.   This is my longest leg.
It is also all rolling hills.   Not really looking forward to this, but it must be done.   We get to the relay point with plenty of time to spare.   Maggie arrives right on time, then it is my turn again.    This time it is really simple to get out of town.   I get in a groove and go.   After what seems like a really long time, I hear a garmin beep as some guy passes me.   "What mile are we at?"  1 mile is his answer.   That's it?  Oh boy, this is gonna be a long one.   I don't have any music on b/c I didn't feel it would be safe.   Being dark and night time I want to hear everything that is coming my way and be more alert.   I am more short of breath this time, but the hills are also more steep and rolling.   I keep looking back expecting to see Kirk, but nothing.  After about 30 minutes of running I start humming "Lose Yourself" by Eminem.  I know this has a beat close to 180 cadence and I just try to keep on track with that for the next few miles.   Pretty cool too because everytime I get to the top of a hill I can look out ahead of me and see all the lights of the runners strung out in front.   Finally, I see the 1 mile to go sign and still no Kirk.   Very cool.   1/2 mile left and I can see the relay exchange off in the distance.   Then Kirk catches me.  D'oh!!   But that is the kick I need for that last 1/2 mile and I finish only a few hundred feet behind him, with the sun coming up.  It is a beautiful site and leg #2 for me is complete!

Me finishing leg #21!

The cool thing about me finishing so close to Kirk, besides another good time (58 minutes for 6 miles), is that it allowed Dave B. and Larry (from the yellow team) to play cat and mouse for a bit.   They said eventually they decided to just run together and then they would pick off people in front of them to pass.   So, when we passed them on course they were running together and stayed together until they finished their second leg!

Dave Bush and Larry

Mike and Mary waiting at the relay point for the exchange. 

We actually stayed at this point for a little bit because the yellow van was also there so we got to chat and compare stories for awhile.   But, once again we had to get in the van and get going.   This next leg was really pretty and I wish we would have gotten some pictures.   As we were driving through we all were talking about how nice of run it would be for a normal training run.   But it was hilly and curvy, so I am sure Mary and Mike, who were running it, probably had different thoughts!  LOL!   We also had the yellow van in front of us and we swear they were blocking us.   They slowed way down and took up the whole road while they chatted with their runner, Mary, as she was going up one of the hills.   By this point Mike was already ahead of Mary and we were worried we weren't going to get there in time for the exchange.

But, not to worry, before too long we dropped off Dave Z. and picked up Mike to head to our next location.   Shortly after we take off we come to a river that is across the road.   Now what? Do we back up and turn around and try to find a different way or drive through?   As we are sitting there a car comes from the other direction and goes right across.   After watching that, Kristen decides just to go for it.   And we get half way, and get stuck...But, Kristen doesn't panic, floors the accelerator and we become unstuck and up the hill back onto the road.  Whew!   Nothing like an offroad adventure in the middle of Kentucky!   

Next major exchange is at the Four Roses Distillery.   We get Dave Z. and now have several hours to kill before any of us have to run again.   We decide to do a quick drive through Jim Beam Distillery, where we do a few more samples of bourbon, buy some trinkets, and stretch our legs.   From there we head out to our next exchange point, which is the Woodford Reserve Distillery.   The place is rocking.   There are people and vans everywhere.   We park in a relatively remote field and then get out to explore a bit.   Definately a very cool place with great bourbon (which Maggie and I also sampled).   After hitting the bathroom, watching the crowds, we head back to the van.   We have a couple more hours to kill, so several of us sleep in the van or pulled blankets out and sleep on the ground for a bit.   I also snack a little and finally it is time for Ben to start running.   As we hope in the van and start driving, we come across a ton of hills.   Not an easy run and all of us in the van are glad we aren't the ones doing it.   It is also now the middle of the afternoon and it is hot!   So we start to stop halfway and give the runners water.    All or our legs this last time are hilly.   Ben finishes his, job well done and you can tell he is so happy!   Maggie on her way and it is getting closer for my last leg.   I am dog tired.  Been awake nearly 24 hours.   I still have 4.9 miles to run and it is another hilly one.   This time though, I have memorized the map in my head, so I know approximately where the mile markers are on course...

Eventually it is time.   I am waiting for Maggie and so excited when I finally see her.   Not sure what happened exactly but I nearly take her out in the process of trying to get the bracelet from her.   Fortunately we are able to steady each other and then I am off running.   And it is hot.   And my legs are tired.   But, I figure everyone else is in the same boat.  And I realize we have started catching up with alot of the slower teams.   So I now have people to pick off.   That is what keeps me occupied this last leg.  I would pick out someone ahead of me, make the decision to pass them, and go for it.   Pretty sure I passed 3-4 people this leg!   So awesome and then I finally make it to the next relay exchange point and I am done!!!  And no Kirk, he never caught me on this leg.    And our team  only has 3 legs left and we will be finished with the full race!   

The last 3 legs passed quickly and next thing I knew, we were parked and at the finish line.   So much fun and finally, we see Dave Z. coming down the final stretch!   And we all jump out with him.   He is still running full force and yelling at us to run faster, half of us are in flip flops and already had a few beers!  LOL!  But we did cross that line as a team!    So much fun!    25:40 total time.  26th place out of 250 teams.   11th place in over 150 teams in our division.   We rocked it!    We did go back out and waited with the yellow team and got to see them all finish.   After this we decided to go back in and get our picture taken at the finish.   And then enjoy some of the free bourbon tasting at the finish line party...

Hills, Thrills, and Stills Team #2