Urban Bourbon Race Recap – 2017
“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
This blog post is more of my personal take on my adventure, (and a little long) for a to the point review check out my review on bibrave.com.
At this point, you should know I was headed to Louisville, KY for the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. I mean I was preparing for a half marathon in bourbon country the best way I knew how… consuming all the bourbon! While that might seem like a strange strategy, especially a week after a marathon…. it would be my 46th race at this distance, and I have run this one before – I knew what to expect.
The race was on Saturday, October 21st and packet pickup was the Friday before, until 8pm. There was no race day packet pickup, and while someone else could grab my stuff for me… I figured I would have enough time Friday evening to get it myself.
I hopped in my trusty ol car, coffee by my side and was on the road. The trip was uneventful, except for all the stopping to use the bathroom. I must have the world’s smallest bladder, seriously I thought I would never get there. Luckily there was a Waffle House on the route too!
When I got near Louisville, I knew I wanted to cross the river on the the Hwy 31 bridge. Within the last year or so, they finally finished the construction on the Interstate 65 bridge, and it now requires a toll to cross. The Hwy 31 bridge has no toll and it’s easier to navigate, it dumps you on Main St in Louisville, next to the Yum! Center, which was a block from my hotel, the Galt House.
I lost an hour due to the time change, and it was near 4 when I found parking under the hotel – $20 for the time I was there. I made it to the lobby and discovered a long line for check in. Daylight was burning! My plan was to park my car and leave it until after the race, check in, run to packet pickup, then run back…. but I wanted daylight to do this.
Magically, someone from the hotel caught my attention and opened more check in desks, so after all that and waiting in the lobby to grab the elevator to my GIANT room. I was back down on street level and moving on foot to packet pickup.
In years past, packet pick up was near downtown at the baseball stadium, however this year due to a successful soccer team it was not available. The race directors came up with another plan, which moved packet pick up to an Arts Center a few miles away from downtown.
I had google mapped the distance to this, and found a route. However, there was a road closure and I wasn’t sure if this also meant that the sidewalk was closed to. I reached out to the RD and he was like, oh no problem – just take these roads and you will get right to the Arts Center.
So – I fought through the foot traffic, there was a Jason Aldean concert happening…and was on my way. I was going to meet fellow BibRave Pro Nicole, and waiting on that elevator had already put me behind. I was keeping her up to date via text.
I am somewhat familiar with running in Louisville. I was down here during the summer, and this was going to be my 3rd race here. My route to packet pick up took me along the river, and near the Big Four Bridge. I kept following the sidewalk until it ended… insert a Shel Silverstein joke. I was along a 4 lane highway, at a bridge…no safe way to get across. I had no clue where I was, after some back and forth, I checked in with the map, on my phone with 30% battery life…There was a trail behind an apartment building I needed to find.
I found that trail and really hoped nothing was going to happen to me. It ended at some strange side road with a dirt bike course. I was in the middle of no where. I continued and was running on the shoulder of a busy, 2 lane road. I cut through a parking lot and was on the street where packet pickup was located.
Luckily, Nicole was patient. She had been waiting for me the entire time. We waited in the long line to get our bibs. It was really crowded. With the line out the door, it was a tight squeeze in and out.
In addition to getting your bib and shirt. The local Fleet Feet was inside, race merchandise was for sale, Jim Beam was sampling bourbon as well as pre-selling etched bottles.
When Nicole and I got to the front of the line, we didn’t have our bib numbers. We totally forgot to check the board outside the location. They were not sent in an email. The nice people let us go check and bump back to the front of the line. We showed our ID’s and they put the Bourbon Bash wrist bands on our wrists. We then got our long sleeve, gender specific tech shirts. (I really like the shirt, they had to go to plan B with this too, however after wearing it once it has snagged)
From there we sampled the bourbon and decided to pre-purchase the etched bottle. How cool is that! Jim Beam will etch a bottle of their black label with the race logo and your name and time or anything else you want it to say. The idea is that they will have access to live results and print them as them come in to them at the Stillhouse, so you can just stop by after the race an grab your personalized bottle.
I made it back with 6% battery life. I next needed to find something to eat. the race offered a couple sit down options, but one was $20 and the other $45. I also didn’t take the time to look into them further. However, I did notice a pasta restaurant 2 blocks from the hotel.
I made my way over to the pasta place. It was full of runners, I could tell by the bourbon bash wrist bands. I was actually relieved to have found a place with runners, the hotel was full of people in fancy clothes as there was a “Ball” going on.
After I was full of all the plain spaghetti noodles, bread and salad. I got all my running clothes together and decided to call it a night. I also noticed my throat was a little scratchy. I had a headache on and off all week, and I was just thinking it was dehydration from my marathon the week before.
Ok guys – sorry this is sooo long… but I will re-read this one day, and like to remember what I did.
Gear: Sparkle Athletic donut skirt, Zensah socks, Hawkeye Hat, Bibrave tank, Spi Belt, XX2i France 2, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Garmin Forerunner 935, Brooks Ghost, Adidas Shorts, Road ID
The race started at 8:30am. I know, sooo late… and my hotel was located at the start/finish line. Depending on the elevator schedule, I could be there in minutes. Alas (is that the right word?) I was up and at ’em at 7 am. I first had to make sure I could get a late check out. They said that 12 noon was the latest, without an extra charge, so I said OK, I’ll do that.
I brewed some coffee in my room and tried to eat a Nugo bar. I still had that headache, and didn’t feel the best. I was sick, or there was something in the air, or all the travel and running was catching up to me.
I really didn’t know what to do with all the time, I liked the later start, but I am ready to get things done, plus would be nice to not worry about hotel checkout. I was done wasting time, so I walked down to the race start.
It was a nice morning, about 50 degrees, and the sun was out. I met up with Nicole and the guy who plays the trumpet at the start of the race. He’s originally from Iowa!
Nicole and I chatted until it was time to file into the starting corral. There was only one entrance and it was in the back. If you were planning to run fast, it would have been a good idea to line up early, or you have to fight your way through the crowd. There were signs along the side to encourage people to line up according to pace. There were also pacers in the corrals.
I had one goal for this race, get back to my hotel and showered before they kicked me out. With an 8:30 start, I knew worse case scenario would be a 3 hour race and then I would bust my butt.
After a trumpet rendition of the National Anthem followed by the trumpet cheer you hear at the Kentucky Derby, the race was off! I had ended up near the 2:45 pacer to start, I just didn’t want to fight through the corral any further – and with chip timing, I didn’t really care.
The course starts through Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville and takes you up through Cherokee Park to then loop back around to finish up running by the Slugger building.
I was with the 2:45 pace group for a cup of coffee, that wasn’t gonna work… I need to start slow and this method helps that, but I left them and was soon running with the 2:30 pace group.
After passing through the first water stop, I ditched the 2:30 pace group and just ran how I was feeling. Headache aside, I was feeling pretty good.
I mentioned I had run this before, and I knew the park was a pretty place to run through, I also knew this is where the hills were.
Leading up to this point, I enjoyed the live music and the guy on a bike with GIANT speakers playing loud music. I stopped at all the aid stations. They had water and then Powerade, both in paper cups. I like I always knew what liquid I was getting, but feel the Powerade should have been first.
Mile 7 – my legs were dead… they felt like goo. I had climbed the first 2 major hills in the park, and the downhill was decent too. With my strong start, and with a marathon last week, I wondered where my wheels would fall off.
I did manage to get a decent photo at this point, and the pictures are FREE to download!!
I just kept motoring through the course. I did have the time on my mind, and I knew the 2:30 pace group was behind me. If I never let them pass me I would be good.
The last mile was decorated with a balloon arch, and this is when I didn’t have anything left… I was still running, but I was tired!! “Just keep moving forward.”
I was on the home stretch and could see the finisher arch in the distance. I had a plan to jump across the finish line. In 2015, I did this and my picture was epic, however the race pictures were not free then, I am poor, I did not buy one.
I jumped across that finish line, but sadly the 2 photographers did not capture that moment, however I can remember the moment I stopped my Garmin – forever!
The volunteers at the finish line handed my my Jim Beam bottle shaped medal and I grabbed a bottle of water along with a small bottle of Powerade.
There was a short line to get a photo with the race backdrop, so I stood there for a little while.
I then made the turn towards the Bourbon Bash area. This walkway had bananas, chocolate milk and bagels. I also was greeted by a fellow Instagram user @lawgirl246 I wish we had more time to chit chat, but I bolted back to my hotel room.
I got back to my room about 11:15 am. There was a house cleaning lady in it….I was not happy and explained I had a late check out, and she was like, no big deal, and let me take a quick shower. Whew! That was a close one!
I got my things all packed up and back to my car. I would say I crushed my race day goal!
Now, for the fun part of the day. The Bourbon Bash!!
This is the post race party. The race is open to participants 21 and older for this reason. I mentioned the wrist bands we received at packet pickup. If you did not run you could purchase one for $30. They allowed you 4 bourbon samples, 1 beer, a bowl of burgoo and a slice of pizza. However, you could trade these tags, they weren’t being monitored. I saw a lot of trades of bourbon for beer and vice versa.
The weather was perfect, it had warmed to near 70 degrees, this made for long lines as people stuck around. It also helped that the Louisville Crashers were rocking the stage! The race merchandise was also available for sale here too.
I made sure to get in that beer line right away, it was one of the longer ones. They were serving a Kentucky bourbon barrel brew that was near 8.2% I also sampled a lemonade moon shine, a peach bourbon, and a mixed drink with brandy. I also waited in line for a slice of pizza.
Even though I was there by myself, I had a great time. I stayed until the party closed at 1pm. We weren’t even kicked out! However, because of this, I forgot about the bourbon walk. Which is a partnership with some local establishments to get pins if you purchase something, oops!
All good things must come to an end…. I left the fun and walked over to the Jim Beam Stilhouse to get my etched bottle. I walked in and waited in the line, I was then told my bottle was not done. I was very confused. Apparently they sold more than they expected, and were etching bottles from walk in orders, and couldn’t keep up with the pre-orders.
I wasn’t happy, and there was nothing I could do, I prepaid for the bottle and I wanted to take it with me. I took a seat and waited…. I think I waited about an hour. They did offer a free tasting to us that were waiting, but I was officially “bourboned out.”
I finally got my bottle just after 2pm, and I only remember this as I really wanted to get a donut and they closed at 2pm.
I walked back to my car, and entered the GPS to visit family in Lexington. It’s an easy, hour-ish drive to the east. I listened to the last of the Hawkeye football game on the way…it went to OT and they lost, boo!
That evening I caught up with some blogs and we went out to eat.
When I woke up in the morning, there were donuts!!!! They were like bourbon balls. I sadly had to much other breakfast food, so I brought some back to share with Josh.
I left Kentucky around 11 am, knowing I would gain an hour on the way back home. I thought was on the route to take me through Cincinnati, but I ended up back towards Louisville, so I went with it. However, I ended up on some side road that took me on another toll bridge. I did everything to avoid that on the trip down, and I am now waiting on a $4 bill in the mail.
The rest of the drive was uneventful. I felt kinda like crap, so lunch was a bag of popcorn and Gatorade. I think I pulled into the driveway around 8 or 9pm.
I love a good road trip, and couple it with a great race, you have an excellent time! If you are around Louisville and you enjoy a great race and a great drink, this is the run for you!
Thank you for reading this, it was super long….