Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bourbon Chase, a second time around- recap

Bourbon Chase.

For the last several years I've always been drawn to this relay:

  • 6 years ago the CEO and leadership team from my company ran it, loved it so much, they decided to see how they could bring a relay to Nashville. After reaching out to Ragnar Relay and helping form a sponsorship,  Ragnar TN came to  life!  
  • 3 years ago one of my best friends joined a team and was trying to find a spot for me on his team, 1 month before the race there was finally an opening, but I had given up and scheduled another race that weekend. 
  • 2 years ago I captained a team and a few days before race day 2 of our runners (they were married) had to bow out due to a family emergency. I agreed to pick up an entire runner and treat it as an ultra, but no one else was willing to run extra so we had to cancel- major bummer. 
  • Last year I joined a team one week out and I can honestly say it was the worst relay experience I've ever had.

Needless to say when a mutual friend reached out to me in July to join her team, I was more than ready for a redemption. Considering the lack of mileage leading up to the race + tending a knee injury, I had mixed expectations of what my body and endurance could deliver.

Similar to last year the  weather was cloudy, rainy, and temps were continually dropping. The big difference this year, was instead of being in the 2nd van and runner 12 where I missed out on seeing the other van at major exchanges, I upgraded to van 1, runner 4.

Van 1 kicked things off at Jim Beam Distillery

For this relay we had 1 runner in our van and another runner in van 2 download this app, relay tracker to help keep tabs on when runners were anticipated to come in. 

It was pretty awesome because you put in everyone's name, each of their distances, and what they're average time was going to be (I said 8:15 for mine)  and then it did all the work. Below are just screen shots from google 

While a current runner is out on their leg it will tell you how many miles, what they're predicted pace is, how long they've currently been running, and when to anticipate them coming in. As you get 5 min in the window of when you're coming in, the "due in" time turns yellow. Once you pass your window it turns red. And as you can guess, when you pass off the baton you hit the exchange made button and it starts the countdown for next person. 
This was neat because our vans were synched on the app so it was easy to coordinate (despite them showing up late to one of the exchanges since it changed from last year). There were a few instances where it froze (bad cell connection), so make sure you're still looking at the time when your runner leaves. What made it slightly stressful was that your teammates knew if you were slower or faster than what you said, so it was more pressure to be accountable to hit your times (for me) 

Run 1: 5.2 miles / 8:25 pace 
By the time I was ready to run we were at our 2nd distillery stop, Heaven Hill Distilleries (not as grand as some of the others, and instead more of a distribution building) 

This was the run I was most nervous for due to the fact it was the hardest leg of all 36 legs. Bourbon Chase is unique in that each runner is rated from easy to difficult, along with each individual leg. The majority of the run looked manageable according to the elevation map, however it was the last 3/4 mile that was straight up hill that had me worried and told my team I'd for sure be walking. To take the edge off I took one of the volunteers up on their shots of bourbon they were giving out (and I do not like Bourbon) 

Going into the run I thought my mileage was 4.1 (it was originally when I first was assigned this leg), so I just went out a little quicker then what I normally run to make up for the time I planned on walking. 

Surprisingly my legs felt good and because it was so cold my breathing was in check. We weren't supposed to have headphones, but given this was my first 'race' since May I needed the extra motivation so I was going to chance it. The first several miles were spent constantly switching my 1 headphone into the ear not facing traffic (there were a lot of turns) as to not get caught #rebel. 

I was feeling great but was continually looking ahead for when this climb was supposed to start. I kept looking down at watch and even when it said 4 miles and no climb yet I started to get worried that I took a wrong turn since the run was just over 4 miles. I see a sign and start picking up the pace so I could read it--- immediate deflation when I see the "One mile left" sign. How was this run over 1 mile longer than I thought, and I still have the major hill to hit?

Since I was getting tired, I decided to just pick up the pace so I could take my time on the uphill--- so glad I did.  My calves were burning just walking up the darn thing. There was 1 runner ahead of me and I told myself that when he started running, I would start--- I did this off and on for a few minutes and decided to screw it and just walk until my watch read 5 miles.

Once it beeped 5 miles I started a shuffle until I could see the peak, then picked it up for a "strong finish" into the exchange (and my team was none the wiser!) 

Night Run - 5.5 miles; 8:04 avg pace 
Due to the continuous rain all day, the field that was supposed to be for vans parking was blocked off, thus the exchange officials were making vans drive through in a single file line which caused a huge standstill of vans 1/2 mile from the exchange point. One of my teammates agreed to hop out with me and we jogged to the exchange to make sure we would be there in time (good thing we did bc my van still hadn't made it to exchange for when I took off) 

As with all night runs, I felt GREAT. I opted to put my phone on speaker and hold in my bra - stillness of the night made it easy to hear, and probably  even more entertaining for people as I approached them (lot of kills on this run) I did manage to accidentally step in cow / horse poo (hard to tell), so I pulled to the side and used corn stalk leaves to wipe everything off.  One of the perks of night running is it makes hills more bearable to run since you can't see them ahead of time. As long as I don't psych myself out, I'm decent at hills since they are everywhere in Nashville--- this run didn't disappoint and its where I passed most of my kills. 

I knew I would be coming in sooner than 8:15 pace, so I texted my team just in case they were relying on the app. Thankfully I did because they were barely ready in time before I handed off. So happy and grateful the run went well and was painfree--- starting to feel like my mojo is coming back!!!

Last run 3.8 miles; 8:07 avg pace 
I couldn't have asked for a better lineup this race--- hardest first, longest at night, shortest for last--- the ultimate strategy for being pain free at end of relay!! I always like to save a "fun" outfit for my last run to keep me energized. Since I've only worn my stars skirt once, 50th state 1/2, I figured it was time to break it out again. 
My TN tank + pro compression USA socks completed my 'Merica outfit and definitely got a lot of cheers from other runners, spectators, and vans driving by. 
I'm not sure what happened on this run, but I had a hard time catching my breath. I did have to stop quite a bit, however I only allowed myself 10 sec walk breaks at a time. My legs were heavy, but still turning over and pain free, so it was just a matter of stopping occasionally, regulating breathing, then carrying on. 
As we approach the small town where my exchange will be made, this guy caught up to me, smacked me on my butt, and told me "nice work wonderwoman!" Unless you know me, don't smack my butt. That gave me all the motivation I needed and I pushed through and passed him in the final stretch. After I handed off the baton I turned around and told him I wasn't wonder woman and walked back with my team. Is it me or is just satisfying to "chick" douchey guys???

After we all finished our van 1 legs we made a beeline for the hotel where a hot shower never felt so good. We ate, drank, then made our way to the finish line to cheer on our team to the finish line. 

Ladies and men of team "Ball so Hard we ran our Hasselhoff" 

Group Photo 

Thankfully we finished early enough, 330, to go back to hotel while van 2 showered that I could catch a quick nap before we made our way back to the bourbon tent at finish line and then on to dinner. Every runner gets a wrist band with 4 tear offs for free bourbon tasting. I had 1 honey wild turkey with several ice cubes that I managed to choke down and 1 Woodford Reserve that made me almost vomit. I don't think I'll ever be a Bourbon gal, but it doesn't mean you still can't have fun at the race. 

This year was SUCH a different experience than last year--- no getting lost, chased by stray dogs, being in last place, having to skip exchanges, or finishing 1.5 hours before they close everything down. I knew 2 people on this team prior to race, and both were in van 2. Although relays are always fun with some of your best friends, I think they're pretty fabulous with strangers as well!!!
Thanks for redeeming yourself Bourbon Chase--- maybe we'll meet again next year!


  1. Glad you had a better experience this time around.
    I don't know that I am much of a bourbon fan either. Too strong for me, I much prefer beer or wine.

    Your "wonder woman" outfit is great and nice job chicking the douchy guy. What a jerk, I hate it when guys think they can do that.

  2. so glad your experience was better!! i just don’t understand why they have such weird themes each year? just a random thought. :) and, i hear ya on the bourbon. after last year, I was done with it!