Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bourbon Chase Relay - Report

One thing about relay weekends is that it goes by very fast! Many things happen and in your sleep and real food deprived state, events run together and get forgotten. That said, the Bourbon Chase was a fantastic relay and I'm going to do my best to recap my most recent experience with Girls Heart Rockets.

Our journey (Tim and I) began on Thursday with a flight to Dayton, OH via Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. We had plenty of time to kill in DFW so we had lunch at TGIF's. We arrived in Dayton early evening and was greeted by Eric, the GHR team-captain's boyfriend, who happens to live outside of Dayton. Hungry again, we went to dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse and was met by Serena, team captain. I had a salad. That TGIF meal was plenty and I didn't want to have too much in in my system for the relay. If you've done a relay before you know what I'm talking about.

After dinner we head to Eric's house and go through the supplies. Tim and Eric make a run for a few more things and Serena and I get some of the items split out for each van.
Then it's bed time. Serena and Eric will have to go back to the airport for Jordan, and Kate and Rose will be arriving late. I must have slept pretty well, as I didn't hear anyone come in and our room was right by the door. It did get a little chilly early in the morning so I didn't sleep quite as well after that, but still felt reasonable.
Friday: We got up around 7am and got ready to pack up the vans once they arrived. Tim, Eric and Serena went and got the vans as soon as the Enterprise opened. Good thing it was only a mile or so from the house! When they returned we loaded and decorated.
Girls Heart Rockets ride in Space Shuttles
Once we were good to go, we headed to Louisville to pick up Jenn. We had a little mishap with the fin on the way there (even with a guide wire rope for support, it didn't like 60mph speeds) but it was resurrected later! The other van went to where the rest of the team was parking - at the race director's house! Very nice of him to let us leave a couple vehicles in front of his house.
After the whole team was assembled, we headed to the starting line at Jim Beam for check-in. There was some time to kill before our 3pm start, so of course we take advantage of the distillery tour and tasting!

The 2010 Bourbon Chase Girls Heart Rockets (a speedy bunch!)
At 3pm our lead runner, Niki, was ready to go and we cheered her on. Van 1 was on their way and Van 2 went to go find some food, as it would still be several hours before we started to run. We found a Taco Bell and a Subway and also had some sandwich fixings that we'd brought along. Our next stop would be major exchange 6 where the last runner in van 1 hands off to the first runner in van 2, but we swung by Heaven Hill distillery first to get our Bourbon Trail passports stamped. Then off we were to Maker's Mark, exchange 6. We checked in our van and had a couple hours to check things out.

Once Kate (runner #6) comes in and hands off to Serena (#7) we're now the active van and get down to our running business. I'm runner #9 so I start prepping myself mentally. I navigate, Tim is driving and we make it to the exchanges without any issue. It's dark so we're all wearing blinky lights, headlamps, and reflective vests. There is a decent gap between our team and the other teams (we only started with 3 other teams at 3pm and the next teams didn't start until 3:45pm). Stephanie handed off to me and off I went from the city (town?) of Lebanon. It was a lonely run, but a nice one. Net elevation loss and only 125ft of gain. Which means FLAT! Here's the garmin data. I rocked out sub-8 pace.The hardest part was trying to run on the non-canted part of the road - off the rumble strips but not on the steep canted part and end up in the ditch. I also wanted to be careful not to go too fast on my first leg, as the legs are always fresh. Because in a relay you have lots of hours in a van and two more legs to run - I had 11 more miles waiting for me when this was done, I didn't want to burn myself out. I reach the exchange and hand the wrist band off to Kelly (#10). Off we went to the next exchange...

Once our van is done (Rose, runner #12 hands off to Niki, runner #1) we head to the next major exchange, #18. This is in the town of Danville. Once there, we realize we should probably find the sleeping area to catch some Z's. We find the park and set our alarms. Temps were dropping into the mid-40s. Not too cold, but cold enough! A couple GHRs have sleeping bags and head into the grassy field. I stay in the van and recline. I actually got a couple hours of sleep, which is more than I've ever gotten in any prior relay! A little before 4am everyone climbs back into the van and we find a gas station in Danville near the exchange to prep for our next set of legs. Thank goodness for indoor plumbing (get tired of port-o-potties) and a warm place to change, and Serena was certainly glad they had hot coffee.

Now it is Saturday morningTime for our second set of legs. The sun won't rise until after 7am so we're still in our reflective gear. Again, Serena and Stephanie cruise and hand off to me around 5:30am in the town of Harrodsburg. Garmin data for  my 2nd leg. This one is a little "hillier" with just over 200 feet of gain, but more rolling. At this point we have caught up to other teams so I had some "blinky lights" to chase down. I passed about 5 people on this leg...6 miles long. This one I ran just under and 8 minute pace. My legs were getting a bit tight at the end of this one. Would really need to stretch. Plus I was hungry! It was time for breakfast. I was craving my recovery drink and some beef jerky for protein! Another challenge of a relay - eat so you are fueled for your runs but not so your stomach gets upset. On the road for over 24 hours your system goes through it's motions, and I've had some issues with this in previous races. This one was better - I think I consumed more protein which helps. Anyway, I won't go into any more detail.

We finish our set of legs just after sunrise. We hit the next major exchange to transition to van #1 at Four Roses. They had a great set-up for us. We all got rose tattoos (fake, but still sweet), ate a few too many bourbon balls and wandered around. They even had a stand selling breakfast sandwiches so we were able to eat some hot food. Tim appreciated this for sure!
Four Roses Distillery (with Kate - runner 6) hopping in the photo.
Fitting that Rose (in the vest) hands off to Niki at the Four Roses.
Once everyone had eaten, shopped, gotten their tattoo, we headed to the next distillery on the Bourbon Trail. This was Wild Turkey. Not a major exchange, but we all wanted to get our passports stamped and check it out.

Nothing wrong with a little bourbon sample to put in your coffee on a cool fall morning!
Next stop - the next major exchange at Woodford Reserve. This one was a bit challenging to find. I think the van directions said turn right on Elm when it should have read turn left, so we missed the turn. But no fear, the space shuttle Discovery has a GPS navigation system! So we made it too Woodford Reserve with plenty of time to relax one more time before our final set of legs. The sun was up and it was warming up. Some slight cloud cover, but temps were climbing into the upper 70s. A bit warmer than the 45 degrees from pre-dawn. It actually went down to 39 degrees at the exchange right before sunrise. Since we are at a major exchange, there are a lot of vans, plus we've caught up to a lot of teams! We all gather at the exchange for Kate to come in and hand off to Serena, and off we go!
More people hanging out at Woodford Reserve
Now we're running in daylight and heat. It's easy to get dehydrated so I tried to make sure I was drinking my water. We're now deeper in Horse Country and it is gorgeous. Lots of old stone fences and large properties. My final leg was on some of these country roads. I start at about 1:45pm and have just under 5 miles to run. Here's the Leg #33 Garmin data. I start out this leg running sub-8 again. Wasn't sure how long I'd keep that up (not long). I got passed by one runner, but within a mile and a half or so she had slowed down and had to walk some. I slowed down to about 8:30s but didn't walk. Legs were tired, but it was a pretty short leg and my last one so I powered through it. I caught up to another guy who was walking, then near the end I caught up to another guy, although he was running. I think he didn't want to get "chicked" or was curious about our team since he asked if we work for NASA. So I explained the history of Girls Heart Rockets and we pretty much ran into the exchange together in the town of Midway.
Kelley now had 8.2 miles to run and since it was warm, we stopped for her a couple times along the course to give her water. After Kelley was Grace and then Rose. And then we'd be done!
Grace handed off to Rose in a big park outside of Lexington, and then Rose had 6.2 miles to run into Lexington. The van found a parking spot near the finish (we were lucky we found parking - one way streets in cities aren't fun!) and we found the rest of the team. Rose must have been feeling good since I think she ran a sub-50min 10k! It was 5pm almost on the dot when we crossed the line. 

We finished in 26:00:47. We won the Women's Open division and set a new course record for that division. (granted, the relay is only in its 2nd year, but a record is a record nonetheless!). And, it happened to be my birthday so there was a little party waiting for me (with CAKE!).
we're gonna party like it's my birthday!
triathlon cake!!!!
Apparently Serena conspired with my sister and got some photos of me and other such goodies and had a cake (yum-may!) ordered and ready to go! Great way to end the relay! We chowed on some real food, ate cake and went through the bourbon tasting (all 6 distilleries had samples for us to try). Sweeeeeeeet!

Oh, and our prize was a basket full of bourbon - six bottles, one from each distillery and each signed by the master distiller. Tim and I took the Jim Beam black label home.

General comments on the relay: Quite well organized. Weather was great. Some of the roads were really narrow so was a little tough when vehicles going both directions were passing runners. Some roads had quite a bit of traffic and it was up to the runner to make a safe crossing, although others were well supported. But we had a fantastic time and I can't imagine that the relay won't get anything but better year by year.
For more pictures check out our photo album.
To learn more about Girls Heart Rockets check out our website.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Series #2 - Race Report

I can't believe I haven't posted since the Mt. Evans epic ride! But I haven't been sitting on my rear (unless you count cycling!) Before I go into my race report, here's what I've been up to:
1) I went to Nation's Tri as a TNT coach and had a blast supporting the gang.
2) I went to Moab, UT with TNT as a participant and rode the Moab Century Tour.
3) I rode another almost century to test a product called Generation UCAN
4) I ran the Fall Series #1 race at Monument Valley Park....beat my time from 2007 by over 5 min!!
5) My husband and I came in 2nd at a gimmick rally with his car club.

Phew! Today I ran the Fall Series #2 at Bear Creek Park.
Link to Garmin data

And here's the report....
A gorgeous fall day and a little warm, actually! I didn't pre-register so I got to the park about 45min before the race start. Ample time to get my race bib and warm up a little. Then I saw them setting up the massage tables! I made a mental note to head there as soon as I finished in order to get my name on the list and avoid too long of a wait. I ran into some friends and some of my husbands colleagues who do this sort of crazy stuff and chatted with them. I also met John and Shannon who were in town from Ohio and thought to give this race a try. You got to love trails and climbing for this one! The voice on the loudspeaker finally comes on and we all position ourselves at the start line, which is on a big grassy field.
Grassy field (behind porto-potties) ...those are for you Ron aka @PunkRockRunner)
Go! The first part of the race is a loop of the field, a smart way to start so that the group has some time to spread out a little before we hit the trails. Once we are on the trail we climb. Up. Oh yeah - now I remember...the last time I did this race series was in 2007 and it was then I professed my utmost respect to those who did Colorado trail running and the Pikes Peak Ascent. Here is where your heart wants to pop out of your chest as you just plod along, debating whether a fast walk would actually be faster than trying to "run." Ever grateful for the downhill around 1.5 miles and the water station. We've been having warm and very dry weather so even though I didn't need much to drink, being able to wet my whistle was welcome. Here I caught up to Kelly, who is just a little bit (maybe more than a little) faster than I am. She passed me again shortly after the aid station, but I kept her in my sights. About half way through I caught up to her again and hoping my heart stays in my chest and that my gasping for air is really bringing oxygen into my system. I stayed in front of her for a while...

We descend down into the shaded trees and come to a creek.  The course then crosses the creek only because we'd have to cross it again in 30 seconds to get back on the main trail. Of course. But that's what this series is all about - a little fun in the run! I managed to only get one shoe soaked in the crossings. Not too bad since it was warm and dry I wasn't soggy for too long. After the creek we had a really steeeeeeeeep climb. Complete with stairs - the wood 4x4 kind. I walked this. Back up to the top of the hills. Then at 2.75miles into the run we reached the peak at 6500+ feet. Ahhhhh! Now I had three quarters of a mile to fly as fast as my legs would let me and hope that they would stay rubber side down. I did not forget to take in the FANTASTIC views of the whole city and all the fall colors that spread for miles. We're probably at the peak of color right now and it was stunning! If I find a picture that someone took I'll post it.

One must remember, that even though we must descend back to where we started, the race director will always find the one hill to climb back up. At least this one was a little shorter. After the last peak at about 3.75 miles, it was just under a mile to the finish line. All downhill, a lot of single track. Then as it flattened out as we had to cross the creek (again!) and this time right next to a convenient bridge. *Whatever* I soaked my other shoe in this crossing, and then there it was. Right in front of me. Kelly. Oh yeah, she caught up to me about here. Then I saw the real deal. The small ravine we descend down into and then cross one more small creek (of course!) and then use one of three ropes if we so desire to scramble up the embankment.
Ropes were pretty slick by the time I got here.

Once up we're probably 100 yards or so from the finish line. But at this point my heart rate was pushing the upper 180s (I'm either racing hard or about to die) so it was a painful journey and definitely not what I would call a sprint finish. But I finished reasonably well...44:28...22nd female overall and 1st in my age group. So after 2 races I actually lead the W30-34 group in the series. Two more races to go, and they get longer and more challenging. 

I cleaned some of the muck off of me, got my recovery drink from the car, relaxed during the massage and congratulated everyone for a fun race. For a mid-October day, it really was a great day to be outside! I'm glad my heart stayed inside my chest, my oxygen delivery system seemed to work and that I bought myself some compression socks! Ahhhhh!

Next up: Bourbon Chase Relay, 10/22-23