Race Report: Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon

 When I originally signed up for this race a couple of months ago, I set a goal of 1:25.  I felt it was a realistic goal, yet aggressive enough to push my limits.  As I got into my training, it became clear 1:25 wasn't going to happen, especially on a hilly course.  I just wasn't hitting my times and the weather was making training tough.  I broke through and a couple of really good workouts and hit some of my goal times in the final couple weeks of training, but it was too little too late.  I adjusted my goal to 1:28.

After getting to Kentucky and driving the course the day before the race, I adjusted my goal to 1:30.  I knew the course would be hilly, but I didn't expect it to be THAT hilly.  I clearly had not run enough hills. 

Race Morning at Keeneland.

Race Day-

This has been the worst spring I can remember.  The weather has been absolutely dreadful.  Fortunately, race day was the exception - mostly sunny skies, a high of 60, green grass....exactly what I needed.  A little blast of spring.

The race started and I went out at a 6:50 pace and felt really good.  The course is constant rollers, some pretty steep, with a few big climbs.  I felt good on the rollers in the first couple of miles and was feeling confident I could hold that pace.  

By the halfway point, the hills had taken the snap out of my legs.  They were feeling a little heavy and I had fallen off pace a little.  I knew with several tough climbs left, I wouldn't be able to make up my lost time on the second half of the race so I adjusted my goal to finish with a sub-7 average pace.

A long, steep climb around mile 9 did me in.  I lost several seconds on my average on that climb and struggled to get my pace below 7 after that climb.  My legs were tired and my quads were hurting from the downhills.  This was by far the hilliest course I'd ever run.  All goals were out the window and it was survival mode.

The last 4 miles were really tough.  I felt slow, tired and weak.  Mentally it was tough to keep pushing hard.  I hit the finish line 1:33:30 with my quads threatening to cramp.  I grabbed some food and water from the finish line, did some stretching and found a good spot to watch and wait for Courtney and enjoy the warm sunshine.  My legs hurt more than they do after a half ironman.  

Courtney has always struggled mentally with hills.  They always get the best of her and she ends up walking so her #1 goal was to run the whole thing.  Her other goal was to break 2:20.  I told her the first goal was well within her control.  All she had to do was get really stubborn and flat out refuse to walk regardless of how slow she was running up the hills.  Just don't give in.  The second goal would be tougher, but I believed she could do it.

She conquered the hills and ran every step of that race and crossed the finish line 2:18.  She had a great race.  

Despite coming up well short of my goals, I'm not at all disappointed.  The course was really tough and I had fun.  And I have a new definition of a hilly run course.

Best awards ever.
Even though the course is tough, it's amazing.  I loved it and am considering running it again next year.  It starts and ends at a race track and runs you by some of the best horse farms in the country.  The roads were in great shape and the scenery was awesome.  I saw about 4 spectators out on the course, other than the thoroughbreds, and not a single car. The race was really well-run and the race director was really good.  I highly recommend this race. 

Check out the barrels.  Those are the age group awards.  I think I was about 6 minutes short of taking one of those home.  It makes me want to return next year and see if I can score a barrel...


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