Date: April 2, 2016
Location: Lexington, KY
What a great race weekend. Denise joined me on this one, and I’m so glad. We had a really great time and it was nice to have someone to hang out with. This state marked her 42nd and my 44th–we can see the end!
Friday was an all-day travel day. Both of us had two flight legs to meet up in Cincinnati where we rented a car and drove the almost one-and-a-half hours to Lexington.
The packet pickup was located where the race would begin and end–the Keeneland Race Track. The expo was filled with all sorts of running swag and some nice local features such as Buffalo Trace Bourbon and bourbon-flavored coffees. Yes, bourbon is definitely a “thing” in Kentucky and it became a continual theme throughout the entire weekend. We were even surprised to be greeted in our hotel lobby, upon check in, with free drinks–bourbon and ginger ale. Later, we also sampled what is probably now considered the best dessert I have ever tasted: Kentucky Butter Cake with Bourbon Sauce. Check out a food review here. Evidently, I’m not alone in my appreciation for the culinary delight.
The race is listed as “one of America’s standout must-run half marathons,” according to Runner’s World magazine, and I can see why. The location was worth visiting, the course was picturesque, and runners enjoyed one of the best post-race food options I’ve ever seen. Overall, too, the race was incredibly well organized and was not too big.
Course: The course, referred to as “technical” by some online postings I read before the race, was very hilly. There was no huge overall elevation gain, but the course consisted of a series of many small hills throughout the entire course. If someone was not used to running on hills, they would certainly feel it in their quads the next day. Luckily for me, I’ve been running primarily outdoors and on hills. My ten-mile training run probably really helped–I did that one in Emigration Canyon two weeks before the race and that consisted of five miles up hill and five miles back down with a 700+ foot elevation gain. Also, all of the awkward poses I’ve been consistently doing in my yoga classes have helped build my quads as well. Gotta keep that up.
As promised, the course was scenic as it looped through a series of estates with stately houses and expansive horse pastures. Had the trees been in full foliage, the course would have been particularly beautiful. The beauty of the course, I think, mostly made up for the fact that the first seven or eight miles of the race were incredibly crowded as runners were squeezed together on narrow roads. No car traffic, though, so that was good.
Medal and Shirt: I’m pretty sure the race medal is the heaviest one of now possess. I like the design of both the medal and the shirt. The shirts are black, cotton, long-sleeved hoodies–the kind of shirt I’ll likely wear on many weekend days.
Post-race food: Yes, for me, it’s all about the food and this race did not disappoint. After crossing the finish line and receiving our medals, runners were handed water bottles, bananas, chocolate milk, and sacks filled with a granola bar, fruit snacks, a bag of chips, and a candy bar. As we meandered along towards the free beer and pizza stations, we were also invited to have maple, cream-filled donuts. So, in essence, the 1200 calories we had just burned were immediately consumed within fifteen minutes of finishing the race.
Weather: On the bright side, we didn’t contend with rain, sleet, or snow like runners in some northeast races did during the same weekend, but the winds really picked up during the second half of the race and that made the cool temperatures feel downright cold. That prompted us to leave the race as quickly as we could to get back to our hotel for hot showers and dry clothes.
Post-race relaxation: In keeping with the bourbon theme, we took advantage of our hotel’s sampling offer after the race and tried three very different types of bourbon along with a great post-race meal. We were able to relax all afternoon and evening and enjoyed sleeping in the next morning as well. Love it when we have late-departing fights.We both made it home without any glitches, and feel satisfied having removed one more state off our lists.
Next Up: Next up for me? Four races in the Mainly Marathons New England series next month. After that, I’ll be incredibly happy to have all 48 contiguous states completed. Then I’ll get to join Denise again in Alaska in August and Hawaii in January as we complete our decade-long goal to complete half marathons in all fifty states. Can’t wait.