The time spent with 7 wonderfully hilarious and kind people, cramped within a vehicle for over 30 hours created some wonderful memories. It also created stories that want to be told but would take more than one entry to share. I ran three legs of the relay. Each one was beautiful in it’s own way, each one taught me something about me as a runner. And each was it’s own experience, bundled up under the umbrella of relay racing.
Part 3 – my run through Midway and the van shenanigans before and after, and, BONUS: The finish line jog, follows below. Enjoy!
Part 3. The search for more sleep.
My second leg was complete: A little over 6 miles at 0330 AM – dark hillsides, and long hill climbs to the stars. I had views of the sky that were, frankly, moving. I experienced all kinds of ‘the feels’ (probably exacerbated by the theory that I was actually still sleeping while I ran). I’m sure anyone running that portion of the race (a 4-lane highway) in the daytime would’ve felt cheated. There’s no way it was as pretty in the sun as it was in the dark.
After I took my seat on the van, I plunged into a restful position, my eyes closed and earbuds in. Like the rest of my team, we were trying to get as much rest as possible. I dozed, but never quite fell asleep. The sleep isn’t all that important, but the rest is. I opted to sleep through the next two runner exchanges. Mostly because it was feeling bitter cold out and I didn’t pack anything really warm enough for it, and because with the van mostly empty (another runner remained behind to doze too) I was able to stretch my legs out – and that was the most comfortable thing about it.
I do regret skipping the runner exchange at Four Roses Distillery. Apparently they gave out bourbon balls. Luckily, our Captain deemed that there was “too much bourbon” in the treat and gave me hers. Silly, Captain. There is never too much bourbon!
The next exchange I woke for, and participated in (Mostly because of a need to hit a restroom) was at Wild Turkey. This was a big exchange, where we handed off to van 1 and they made their final cycle of runners before the finish. After pushing a van out of a ditch and wandering toward the runner exchange, I was treated to a beautiful sunrise, complete with fog. It. was. stunning.
Around that factory-like distillery was the runner exchange and the gift shop. I almost felt really jealous for the first runner in van 1, who would get the timer thingy from us here and take off into this beautiful morning. Alas. With the beauty comes the suffering. It’s also one of the shortest but most difficult legs in the route.
We poked around the distillery a little. I considered buying something for my husband (again) and decided against it (again). Prices and logistics just didn’t work for me on this trip.
All back together, we wished van 1 good luck, hit the real restrooms at the distillery (yay) and piled back into the van for a real breakfast (super-yay!). We pulled into town at Versailles and plopped down at Madison’s on Main.
Lemme tell you about this place.
From the eclectic dishes, to the waitress bringing one of our guys what amounted to a bowl to drink coffee from (because he kept saying “more coffee”), to her telling us about how the place was haunted and joking with us, and on to the elderly waitress being motherly over our Captain when she put her head on hands to rest. This. Place. was lovely. This place was wonderful. The food was…it was food. But the staff? Perfect. Just perfect for a group of tired, stinky runners among dozens of the same. Food took a while, but we weren’t in a hurry and they were so swamped that one waitress didn’t even work there! She was a family friend who came out on her Saturday morning to help out.
After breakfast we, like every other team out there, tried to find the right place to settle in and get some sleep. People were out in sleeping bags everywhere. I felt pretty rested – having actually done better about getting sleep when we were at the lake house, and then resting during the dark hours in the van.
Soon enough we were gathering everyone into the van and heading out to meet up for our final legs. Van 1 had some runner issues, and so they swapped out runners and were going a little slower coming in.
I read the description on my route while we traveled to where we were going to meet up with runner 7. As we passed her we saw that she was “chatting it up” with a guy, and so hollered appropriately at her as we passed. We are terrible people. 🙂
The route description said that I would be running past limestone fences and thoroughbred farms, making me wish I were one of the horses. I believe it. Waiting for our runner at the exchange, I was looking down a tunnel of autumn trees and limestone walls. I couldn’t wait!
When I got the timing chip, I slapped it onto my wrist and took off, quickly overtaking three runners. Look. It didn’t escape my attention that I was listed on our team roster as the fastest-pace runner. I didn’t intend to be like that. But I have since figured out a few things about myself as a runner:
First. I do not like running in silence and alone.
Second. Music moves me. Normally I listen to audio books, but on occasion, when I’m just doing something “as fast as possible to get it over with”, I play music. I guess my body just responds to music as, “go fast” now.
Third. I feel good when I pass people. I try to chat some, but I like going past folk.
Fourth. I don’t handle being passed very well. I got passed by a speedier runner, and he was very polite about it, but I caught myself trying to speed up, up hill, to keep up with him. There was no way. I was already killing my pace prediction, running 7:34min/miles. The Captain was going to strangle me.
I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t stop. And the route description was right. It was freaky how beautiful it was out there.
I also wanted very badly to be like the horses. The horses I saw were leisurely wandering their fence lines, enjoying the scenery…eating the scenery… not running a hilly route.
This run was a 4.8-ish mile leg, with a “difficult” category on it. Yet, it felt like the easiest run I had the whole time! I heard myself over and over, “You can do anything for four miles”. Unlike all the other times, I wasn’t nervous about this run and I wasn’t feeling any concern for how fast or slow I would run. In the end, my average pace was a stellar 7:27 min/mile pace.
Fifth lesson? I run faster when my muscles are tight.
I rolled into Midway 12 minutes faster than I was predicted. I got guilted by the team that I couldn’t have a video of that hand-off because I was so early. I didn’t care. My runner’s high was all-encompassing. And I was hungry. Very hungry. And very thirsty.
I popped into line for the free massage (What a mistake! I hurt so badly after that!) and finally bought something for my husband! Bourbon honey. I asked the lady selling it which bourbon she used and she simply stated, “We’re in Woodford County” (That means Woodford Bourbon, for you lovely readers not steeped in Kentucky Bourbon knowledge. Woodford is not a brand you mix with Cola, fyi. Or, at least, you shouldn’t. It’s too good for that).
Sixth lesson? I had no idea where I was for the entirety of this run.
We made our way, runner by runner, up to Lexington, where we met our final runner about a quarter of a mile…probably much less… away from the physical finish line. There we ran as a group across the line and cheered ourselves into a frenzy. The time? 5-something PM.
After the group photo, and obtaining our “Bourbon Trail Passports” and our t-shirts for completing the full trail, we headed over to the party area and obtained our free bourbon shots (we got 4). I had three – my favs: Woodford, Bullet Rye, and Maker’s Mark. By the time I got most of the way through the third one, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast that morning.
A few of us piled into one of the two team vans and traveled back north, to our homes and our lives. Just before we turned onto the lot where we met to carpool down, one of the women said, “Look! That car has writing all over it! I wonder if they were in the race too!” We all watched, on the edges of our seats, as the SUV passed- it’s windows proclaiming, “GO UK”. I leaned back against my seat and commented, “It’s sad, coming back to real life.” The van hummed with everyone’s agreement.
So. I’m here. Back in real life. With all these wonderful memories and stories and jokes! And not a single co-worker who cares. haha. I think it was record-breaking, watching the eyes of the guy who asked about my weekend glaze over so fast… He had so much hope when I said bourbon…
If you get the opportunity, I’d recommend putting serious thought into doing a relay. But. And that’s a big BUT (So I cannot lie). You need to know what to do to mitigate things that annoy you. Me? I get super grumpy when I don’t sleep. I made an effort to at least relax and rest. And it paid off. You also need to be with the right mix of people. That makes all the difference.
Thanks for reading.