Run the Bluegrass 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

Half Marathon #30
State #21

After spending time in Lexington, Kentucky last fall, I knew that Run the Bluegrass was the race of choice for Kentucky. A renuunion and girls weekend was in order.

Pre-Race

I flew into Lexington Friday afternoon and Molly picked me up from the airport which was conveniently right across the street from packet pickup at Keeneland.  IMG_6318I was impressed with the expo for a fairly small race. Local vendors, larger vendors, free bourbon candy samples and plenty of Run the Bluegrass souvenirs. We are both suckers for good coffee mugs, so we each picked up one.

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We decided to head to our hotel to relax for a bit and catch up before dinner. We stayed at the Springhill Suites not far from UK’s campus. Part for convenience downtown, partly because I had free nights to use from Marriott. It was the perfect location. Less than 1o minutes from the race, less than 10 minutes to downtown.

We went to dinner at the Village Idiot, the same place we finished out Bourbon Chase because we both loved their food so much. Back to the hotel and outfit planning for what was going to be awful running weather. We were in bed early and up around 6am to get ready for the race.

The race start wasn’t until 9am on Saturday. This is usually a great thing…and it kinda was. We got up, ate breakfast, and decided to drive to Keeneland at 7:00am in case there was traffic parking and so Molly could get her warm up miles in (she had 18 on her schedule). We had almost an hour of extra of time and hung out in the car for a bit.

As we waited, we could quickly see the weather changing. Wind was picking up, clouds rolling in. Molly ran 2 and I joined her on the last 1 to warmup. One last stop at the port-o-potties (there were plenty) and we headed to the start line.IMG_6325

We were both in Corral 1, but Molly headed towards the front of it and myself towards the back. The rain was starting and the wind was blowing. It was chilly! My goal was to run the race at an easy pace and have fun.IMG_6324

Miles 1-8

The race course started in Keeneland, and the first hill was within the first mile. A few turns later and the course hit even more rolling hills and beautiful horse farms. The race spread out quickly and I never had a problem with crowding. I did my best to slow and stay within my easy run range.

Even though the weather absolutely sucked, the views were stunning. I chatted with the runners around me and admired the properties. I told myself eventually the headwind (weather app said 18mph) would change when we turned and to try and not think about it. There were only a few turns in the first few miles, plenty of aid stations (with several fuel options), volunteers and even lots of race photographers. I was impressed.RunTheBluegrass 2014RunTheBluegrass 2014

Somewhere along the way, the rain let up a bit, and I didn’t really notice wind or rain. It wasn’t too bad. I was truly having a good time and it felt easy (even with the hills). The weather seemed to keep a lot of the horses from coming out to play though, and I only saw a few.IMG_6327

I took my Huma Gel around mile 6 or 7.

Miles 8-13.1

I started to realize the course wasn’t going to get easier. I saw a sign that described the road as the scenic bluegrass highway (scenic=hill). Every time I got to the top of a hill, I could see the top of the next one. Rolling hills doesn’t even begin to describe it. It was definitely challenging.IMG_6326

Around mile 10 or so, the wind and rain picked back up. We had merged with the 7 mile racers (walkers) but they were staying to the right so it wasn’t bad. I just can’t imagine walking a race in that weather. I was very ready to be done. Hills, hills, downhill, hills, wind, rain. That is all that ran through my head.

On the final stretch, Molly was waiting to run me in. I was quite shocked at my time, considering it was easy for me and she just encouraged me along the way. We both had great races (even though my face may say otherwise below).Cam1_C2_ 00758 Cam1_C2_ 00759

Race Results

This race was truly a turning point in my running. At the beginning, a girl at the start line told me her goal was 1:45. In my head I thought, wow, that’s really fast for such a hilly course. Maybe I shouldn’t be next to her. Even though Molly and I had talked about my new paces, it hadn’t really stuck with me what those paces meant. Somewhere along the way, a 1:45 has become my easy. VERY happy with how this race went for me (and negative splits). Screen shot 2014-04-06 at 10.11.09 PM Screen shot 2014-04-06 at 10.11.18 PMRunTheBluegrass 2014

Garmin Results

My garmin measured short…not sure if other runners had the same issue or not.

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Post Race

It was a downpour when I finished and we were thankful that the post race party was inside where the expo was setup. There was a ton of post race food, just nothing I could eat other than a banana. Molly and I checked our times…she finished 1st in our AG (I finished 9th)!! We had to stick around for the awards.RunTheBluegrass 2014

We found the post race picture setup, snapped a few pics, and decided to run to the car for our dry clothes (THANK GOODNESS we packed dry clothes) and umbrella. We were freezing!! We changed clothes and trekked it back up to the post race to watch J.D. Shelburne and stopped at the food trucks to buy food that was “clean” that we could both eat. We grabbed noodle bowls and waited for Molly to get her award.IMG_6333IMG_6335

By the time we got back to the hotel and showered, it was almost 3pm. We had a goal to make it to 3 different breweries, grab dinner and then hit the post race party. Yes, we did it all. First stop, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Brewery/Distillery. It ended up being a tour (free with race entry), so we stayed for the beer part and snuck out when they were headed to the bourbon.IMG_6336Next stop, West 6th Street Brewery. GREAT local beer and they happened to be celebrating their 2nd anniversary (free pint glass). We tried two beers and were hungry again so we grabbed dinner and headed to Country Boy Brewery. Back story…we walked around for what felt like hours trying to find this place with our Nuun peeps back in the fall. This was by far our favorite stop of the night. Probably some of my favorite beer I’ve ever had. IMG_6343 IMG_6348

Post race party was fun…more music by J.D. Shelburne and some dancing for me and Molly. By 10pm we were exhausted. Back to hotel to sleep!

The next morning, we grabbed brunch at Alfalfa and decided to stop back at Keeneland and look around. We drove some of the course to see a completely different view. Sunshine and horses! And, we relived the hills. IMG_6351 IMG_6353IMG_6356

Overall:

Easily one of my top 3 favorite half marathons. Yes, it was probably one of the hardest…but I swear, they thought of everything and put in lots of great detail to make it a great race.

Favs:

  • The company- honestly, hanging out with Molly was the best part
  • The Race Director (he seriously did/does it all)
  • Social Media- probably the best communication from any race I’ve done
  • The Bling
  • The Volunteers- especially for standing in the rain
  • The race shirt- soft, women’s cut (even let me exchange my size)
  • Pictures included for $10 fee upfront (why doesn’t every race do this!?!)
  • Free entertainment/post race party
  • Optional pre-race events/tours throughout Lexington
  • Later start time

Not so much:

  • Absolutely nothing to do with race, but the weather

The Bling:

Um, pretty amazing. It has so much detail. It was only $10 to get the medal engraved…and I feel like the race was a turning point for me so I did it. IMG_6328 IMG_6363IMG_6364

 Final Thoughts:

I left with a very happy heart. My running is good, the company was great and so was the race. I had SO much fun with Molly. I love this girl and I’m so thankful for our friendship and we are already planning our next race. As far as the race goes…I would HIGHLY recommend this race as a racecation, there is plenty to do in Kentucky (especially if you like bourbon and/or beer). The event is so well done, I’m not sure I can even put it all into words.

Yes, the course is hard. The scenery and the extras make up for it. If you are racing the states, this is a MUST for your Kentucky race. If I wasn’t trying to do all 50, I would go back year after year…and can guarantee I will be back at some point in time to do it again.

 Have you done Run the Bluegrass? Ever been to Lexington? What’s your hilliest half marathon? Beer, bourbon, neither, or both? 

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Elizabeth

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14 Comments

  • I LOVED reading this and more about your trip. It makes me so happy to be able to feel the happiness jumping out of your words. But it also made me a little sad because I know I missed an AMAZING weekend with two of my very favorite people. I am so proud of you and your running. I know there are very BIG things in store for you this year!! xo

  • I would TOTALLY pick a scenic course over an easy course, any day. Congratulations, speedy!!!

    Hilliest half, was probably Holiday Half in December (somehow my PR race?!).

    BEER. ALWAYS.

  • YAY!!!!!! Love this and reliving our KY adventure vicariously through y’all. So glad you are running so well and enjoying it after a challenging year. Can’t wait to see you when we come to ATL…if not before. 🙂 xoxo

  • I live in KY, and did this race last year. It was amazing. I had planned on doing it again this year, but I had bronchitis and a sinus infection, and couldn’t even get out of bed. I was SO disappointed. I hate that I missed out on that gorgeous medal too! Congrats to you and Molly!

  • As a native to the Lexington area, I truly appreciate that you took the time to compliment this race and our local areas. Too often Kentucky is painted in a negative light, yet I think we have much to offer. I love this area, and love doing this race. As you pointed out, Eric & crew ( Rachel rocks! ) run a great race. So happy you enjoyed it, and jealous of your finishing time…. GREAT run on a tough course! Thanks again for the kind words, you are a classy lady!

  • This was my second year running the race and I loved reading your recap. It’s always so interesting to me to hear about the different experiences that people have in the same race. You have so many great pictures too!

    I’m heading back to Keeneland this weekend for the races and I’m definitely looking forward to better weather!

  • I did this race too and it was beautiful if not a tough race. I had a 20 mile run on my training plan, so I also got there pretty early, but I headed out to try to get 6-7 miles in before the race started, so I got to see some of the farms and a few horses before the weather got crappy. I definitely agree that this was an awesome race all around! You can check out my experience on my blog: http://meanderingechoes.blogspot.com/2014/04/race-4-run-bluegrass-half-marathon.html

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