Oak Barrel 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

Half Marathon #19
State #14
12 in 2012 Race #6

Pre-Race Friday
P and I knew that we would tour the Jack Daniels Distillery on Friday.  To be honest, there isn’t much else to do in Lynchburg, TN. Note: to any interested-the tasting tours are at 11:45 and 2:30 only.  We waited till 2:30 and really enjoyed the tour-but just so you know, a taste is 1 ounce or less. It’s the law-Lynchburg is actually a dry county and the only place to buy booze is at the JD Visitors Center and they had to pass a special law for the tasting and for JD to sell their bottles.  Anyway-point to all of that rambling is the tour is cool, but don’t necessarily have to taste. They offer many tours throughout the day-just tastings at those two times.

me and the tallest bottle of jack
packet pickup at the JD welcome center
me, JD, and P. Did you know JD was only 5’2? You can’t see it but he’s on a platform. I’m 5’4.

We picked up a bottle of the Single Barrel and had it engraved with the race logo, picked up our race packets (no expo-just packet pickup), and headed to our cabin that we rented.  We were about 10 miles away from Lynchburg but because it’s an all back roads drive it took closer to 20-25 minutes to get back and forth.  After spending the afternoon in downtown Lynchburg and at the distillery we were pretty tired.

the view from our cabin by the lake.  very peaceful!

Our plan was to head to dinner at an italian restaurant at another small town nearby, but when we arrived the place was closed.  So we headed to the grocery store instead and ending up cooking spaghetti at our cabin-which ended up working out quite nicely!

As I said in yesterdays post-I changed my plan-again and didn’t end up running 20 miles.  There was no way to run on back road highways in the dark.  So the big bonus was “sleeping in” on race day.

We set our alarm for 6am and headed to bed.

P and I got up, ate breakfast and headed to the start area.  We had to sit in a little traffic waiting to park the car, but since we left plenty early, we were okay.

I was excited to meet up with Jill and Ashley right before the start.  I also got to meet Scott, a Run it Fast member.  I saw several of those shirts along the course.  🙂 I said my goodbyes to P and wished him luck!

Ashley, Me, Jill

Miles 1-8
Since the race was small, there were no corrals.  This always frustrates me because way too many people start ahead of where they should.  Jill and I did some bobbing and weaving while catching up.  Jill had been sick and by mile 2 she told me to go on.  She insisted and I pulled ahead.  I told myself not to go too crazy-this still needed to be a training run.

Mile 2-3 we hit a cow pasture of some sort.  It definitely smelled and you had to watch your feet to avoid poop.  No, seriously.  You did.

the cows were eating in troughs behind the hay

Around mile 3 we started gradually going up.  I noticed a guy maintaining a 9 minute pace so I followed him till we got to Whiskey Hill, the infamous hill that can make or break you in this race.  I knew it was steep and he said he usually walked a bit of it (his 3rd time running this race).  I heard music starting at the bottom of the hill and knew it was beginning.  I’m pretty sure I cursed as I climbed up.  I swear the hill seemed harder than any hill at Big Sur.  I will admit, I walked a few steps to be safe and heard more music at the top and kept running.

Glad that thing was over!   After catching my breath, the course seemed to even out.  I chatted with a few runners on and off and seemed to be passing people left and right.  Even though we were running through the extreme rural parts of TN, we had spectators out on their front porches and even their tractors.  They were all very friendly! Everything about the race felt great-it was beautiful out, my legs weren’t tired, I could breathe, and the course had some nice rolling hills.  I ate my GU around mile 7 and climbed the last “big” hill around 8.5.  I knew it was pretty much all downhill from here.
Miles 9-13.1
The time seemed to fly by.  I spent much of my time chasing this lady and a man that was apparently pacing her on his bike.  It was quite annoying and even as I passed her he kept telling her to keep up with him.  I think he should’ve paid a race fee.  He was even carrying her water.  Ridiculous.  If you can’t run 13.1 without your husband telling you what to do, don’t do it.  Rant over.  Positive note-The scenery was great-it pretty much looked like this the entire race.

in and out of shade and nothing but green all around

I loved it.  Sadly, around mile 10, there was a runner down.  The race organizers were already with him and an ambulance came by not long after I passed him.  Of course, seeing as it is in a tiny little town, a lady came out in her night gown asking what the ambulance was doing as I ran by.  I guess that was her excitement for the day.  I do hope the runner is okay.

The last few miles I picked up some speed.  I figured, why not.  I knew I could handle it for a few miles and wouldn’t hurt too bad.  Lots of cheers towards the finish line and I sprinted towards my medal.

Official Results
So, after looking at my results online, I realized that my ranking was wrong.  I emailed the race director and she said that there was an issue organizing the times by chip time, so they are all ranked by gun time.  That sucks.  I know my numbers are a little off, but I can tell that I should be 19 in my age group.

287/953 overall 
93/501 females
19/104 females 30-34     

coolest medal.            

Garmin Results

I wonder where whisky hill was?? 🙂

Post Race
The post race was sooo good!  There was a band and more food than a race of 1000 could ask for.  They had someone making pancakes, they had soup, water, gatorade, chocolate milk, cookies, fresh scones, pizza and I think I am forgetting something.  I grabbed a chocolate milk and water and scone and headed to move the car closer while I waited on P.  We had lunch reservations and knew we would pressed for time.  
downtown Lynchburg, many different tents of food
the band is at the back of the truck 🙂
As I was coming back towards the finish with hopes of getting pics of P crossing, I see him flash by.  Much faster than expected! New PR for P!!  I am so proud of him.  He had a great race too.  
Me and P post race
We grabbed a few snacks for him and as we were heading out I heard my name.  It was Suzanne.  She PR’d by 3 minutes!  So good to see her and catch up, if only for a minute.  And side note, check out her recap-she actually has pics of whiskey hill-I didn’t want to use any energy to take my camera out at that point 🙂
Me and Suzanne
We headed back to the cabin to shower and then turned around and drove back to downtown Lynchburg to quickly grab an autograph from the master distiller (he signed our medals and our bottle of whiskey) and for lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s.  I made these reservations in January.  This place is really well known and serves food 2-3 times a day family style.  We sat at a table with 13 or so “strangers” and the food was ready when we sat down.  Hello end of lenten season.  
The table is already set-you just sit and eat family style. No ordering.
oh heavenly, southern goodness. 
I definitely ate my calories back in fried okra and mac and cheese.  My weaknesses.
After lunch, we drove to Huntsville, AL for Easter.
the course
the medal
the volunteers
the hat/bag/shirt
the cost (only $50)
the town
jack daniels
post race
Not So Much:
if I had to say anything it would be inaccurate results-but no big deal. 
The Bling
Um, they say it’s a piece of a jack daniels barrel.  This thing is so freaking cool.  Top 5 bling for sure. 
The shirt is women’s cut long sleeve tech-tee, tech running hat, and Nike reusable drawstring bag.  All awesome.
front of the medal. the words are burned/imprinted I think.  it actually smells good too 🙂
the back reminds you to “drink responsibly.” We had the Master Distiller, Jeff, sign our medals.
awesome shirt, hat, and bag!
Final Thoughts
I was ready to sign up again at the finish line.  Not kidding.  Forget the big races.  The small races do so much more for runners and really take time into planning and taking care of everyone.  I enjoyed getting away from Atlanta to a one traffic light town.  The square is tiny and quaint and hotels and restaurants aren’t this town’s thing, but hospitality and Southern charm are.  I highly, highly recommend this race to anyone in the South or anyone looking to race the states and needs to check off Tennessee.  Coolest medal, course, and race I’ve seen for the state so far (judging from other race reviews on blogs). 
If my schedule allows it, I’d love to be back.  

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  • I'm not a huge bling person, but have to say that one is really cool!! Looks like my kind of race and I think where you made reservations for lunch is pretty much the best kind of meal after a race!

  • excellent recap. I've heard nothing but great things about this race. Went to Jack Daniel's distillery when I first moved to tennessee and even though I don't like whiskey, thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Glad you enjoyed yourself so much!

  • Ok, this one is on my list. The food! The bling! Everything. The food! Ok, maybe not next year but the year after?
    How is it that you always take such good action photos? Tips to share?

  • Another great recap. Wow, that looks like a killer hill. Chocolate milk and fresh scones at the finish line sound awesome, and I love the unique medal.

  • Congrats again on a great race! Lunch looks like it was delicious. I'll be sure we make plans to eat there next year. I think I've convinced Allan he needs to run this one with me next year.

  • I just found your Oak Barrel recap and am seriously contemplating it for spring and for my Tennessee race! Living in north Georgia makes it CRAZY close and from your post, seemingly worth it! Thanks for such a great write up, you’ve just about convinced me! 🙂


  • Family lives in TN, so I’ve had lunch at Miss Bobo’s before – definitely worth the hype. Looks like a very fun course.

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