Thursday, April 03, 2014

Race #4: Run the Bluegrass half marathon

Run the Bluegrass half marathon is advertised as America's Prettiest Half Marathon and even with the rainy weather we had last weekend, it was definitely some beautiful countryside, though it was definitely not a flat race! 

My goal for this race was to use it as a training run, so I stuck with my 2 minutes running, 1 minute walking throughout the entire race, though I did adjust a little at the very end. The race started at 9:00, so I got to the parking lot around 7:00 to make sure I had enough time to get my mileage in before heading back to the start line. When I was planning my route, I figured I would just run the beginning part of the race course and then double-back to the start line. Unfortunately, it was a little confusing with all of the minor side-roads and horse barns, so I made a short loop of a little less than 2 miles before heading back out and finally finding the race course (and thus the roads out of the compound). I found the 1 mile marker and decided to head off-course a little on a side road to avoid the giant hill in front of me. Little did I know that was just a taste of what was to come! The weather was beautiful until about 8:30, so I had a great first few miles and even got to make friends with a horse who was enjoying her breakfast before the rain started. 









Mile 1 - 12:31 
Mile 2 - 12:57 
Mile 3 - 11:45 
Mile 4 - 12:07 
Mile 5 - 12:48 
Mile 6 - 11:35 
Mile 7 - 12:27 

Average pace: 12:19 

It started to get misty and lightly starting to rain around 8:30 or 8:45, just as everyone was gathering for the start of the race. I was able to find someone to take a picture of me in my race outfit and then I got into my corral. There were a few minutes between each wave and as we got closer to the front, we could see a woman dressed in a beautiful gown cheering everyone on as they approached the start line - she must have been freezing! There was great energy at the start line and the corrals moved quickly through the start line and then we were off! 

Mile 8 - 12:01
Mile 9 - 11:21 
Mile 10 - 12:27 
Mile 11 - 11:56 
Mile 12 - 12:07 
Mile 13 - 14:07 <-- bathroom break 

Average pace - 12:18 

I was feeling really good through the first half of the race and while there were definitely some tough hills, I just tried to coordinate my walk breaks to coincide with at least a little bit of the uphill portion. Because there were so many rolling hills, I definitely had to adjust my ratio so that I wouldn't just run all of the uphills and walk all of the downhills. 

Mile 14 - 12:04 
Mile 15 - 11:10 
Mile 16 - 12:06 
Mile 17 - 11:08 
Mile 18 - 12:17 
Mile 19 - 11:03 
Mile 20 - 10:44 

Average pace - 11:30 

Official time - 2:35:58 

The last picture is of Manchester Farm which is apparently the most photographed barn in all of Kentucky - and now I've got my own picture of it! I felt really good throughout the race and ran by feel most of the race, not paying too much attention to my watch. I started off my race in between the 2:30 and 2:45 pace groups. While I was on my bathroom break I got passed by the 2:45 pace leader, but I kept her in view and pretty quickly passed that group. I finished only 2 seconds slower than my very first half marathon 1.5 years ago and this one was miles 7-20 of my training run! 

There were only a couple of negatives about this race, some of which are unavoidable:

  • Not many spectators on the course - I didn't mind this too much and I wasn't really expecting any given that we were running through Kentucky farmland. However, there were quite a few bands playing near the water stops and there was even one water stop which included beer probably close to mile 11.
  • Race Expo was a little confusing - you picked up your bib at the beginning and they told us to pick up our shirts at the end… but you had to walk past the booth selling the exact same shirts before you got to the booth that was giving away the free race shirts - definitely confusing. 
  • Fellow runner's etiquette - there were a lot of times in this race when I'd get behind 3 or 4 people walking side-by-side in the middle of a two-lane country road. I'm always surprised at how oblivious other people are to those around them and don't seem to care how their actions may be affecting others (in races and in everyday life). It's definitely frustrating to be running your own pace and come up behind a group that isn't paying attention to anything but themselves. I definitely wasn't expecting this with barely over 2500 people running the half marathon. In a race with 20,000 people, I know I'm always going to be in a crowd, but this was a little disappointing. 
Overall, the race was good and I'd definitely consider doing it again (if it was closer to home!) - the medal is a very nice and heavy design that features Zenyatta, Keeneland's iconic Rolex Clock and the Manchester Farm I mentioned earlier. My understanding is that each year they feature a different famous horse, so you could run it every year and get a different medal. 

Did you race in the rainy weather last weekend? 

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