Tag Archives: Run the Bluegrass

Rainy Run The Bluegrass


Wow, has the last month been busy.  I have some catching up to do.  I will start with our return to Keenland in Lexington for Run The Bluegrass 2014 version.  Last year this race very near took us out.  We had no idea what to expect, and the hills were brutal.  However, it was such a beautiful race, I convinced, tricked, and cajoled Joyce into signing up again.  We knew what to expect this year, and I was really looking forward to the race.  The organizers of this race are so enthusiastic and runner-centered, that it was hard not to be excited for this run.

Last year, the key word was “hills.”  This year, it was “rain,” which will explain the lack of pictures.  There was a 100% chance of rain, and we knew it was coming all week.  As a result, I did not carry a camera.  Luckily the start was rain-free.  Parking was much better than last year due to a lack of construction, and we made it in plenty of time to get a pre-race bathroom break.

Ready to run?

Ready to run?

Call To The Post

Call To The Post

We found our wave and waited for the start.  They spaced the waves 2-3 minutes apart, which really helped to space things out (unlike the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini – but that is for another post).

Great Crowd

Great Crowd

This race has a great atmosphere.

This race has a great atmosphere.

Let's go!

Let’s go! Do you see me?  Cloudy and I’m wearing shades.  Not for long!

The start brought great running weather.  There was a chill in the air, but we knew the rain was coming.  I bought a $10 rain jacket at the expo the day before, and it was a lifesaver for this race.  The first few miles were a bit tough, as Joyce’s legs just wouldn’t seem to loosen up.  As we went along, the rain began, and continued to become more steady.

Around mile 5 or 6, a little dog decided to join the race.  He was fast!  However, he was running away from where he lived.  Our running buddy, Sarah, the consummate dog lover, actually stopped to call his family from the number on his collar.  I half expected to have a new companion on the way home, or to see her cross the finish line with him (which I am sure she would have done had she not been able to contact his owners!).  She successfully got the dog where he needed to be and rejoined us after the finish, sans dog.

My personal goal in this race to to run the whole way up the hill/mountain/cliff at mile 9, no matter how badly it hurt.  By that time, the rain was coming down pretty hard, but I was not going to be deterred.  Up I ran.  I must have passed two dozen runners, and it hurt, but I did it.  I waited a few seconds at the top for Joyce, and we headed toward the finish.  As we did, it began to pour.

Heading toward the hill at mile 9

Heading toward the hill at mile 9

Mile 11, just before the beer stop.

Mile 11, just before the beer stop.

I forgot how hard the hills were in the last mile or two of this run.  Last year we had to really change our intervals to make it through.  This year, we tried to hustle through them as best we could.  By about mile 12 my shoes we soaked and sloshing.  I am surprised they stayed relatively dry that long.

We persevered and made our way to the finish about 7 minutes ahead of last year, ‘s time, which is great considering the weather.  Even with the rain, I loved the race.  This is one of my favorite courses (much to Joyce’s chagrin), and the volunteers and race organizers are second to none, especially this year when they braved the elements to hand us water (and a selection of at least 3 other drinks – Sword, Nuun, and Gatorade – AWESOME!).  The organizers had to scramble to re-arrange all the post-race festivities they had been planning for the last year, and they did a fantastic job.

Puddles are larger than they appear.

Puddles are larger than they appear. Hairline is just as it appears. . .

Wet and Done!

Wet and Done!

Another Run The Bluegrass in the books.  This year, RTB  paired with the Kenucky Derby Festival Mini, to offer the inaugural Kentucky Half Classic Medal to those who completed both races.  Of course, we were in.  My next post will review the KDF Mini and the Half Classic medal, and I am going to try to take a little different slant on that one.

Finally, if you can’t tell, I love this race.  If ever get a chance to run it, do it.





Holy Hills! Run The Bluegrass Race Recap.


I happened upon this race in looking for something to keep me going between the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon.  I am glad I did.  It was our sixth half marathon, and by far the most challenging.  Set in Kentucky Horse Country near Lexington, in my mind, it was the most beautiful as well, although my wife may still argue running up Main Street USA is the best.


The communication from the race organizers, via Twitter, email, and Facebook was outstanding.  They were responsive to requests, gave great tips and reminders, and did a good job of building excitement for the event.  Nothing was sugar-coated needlessly.  Their last-minute traffic tip on Facebook helped in determining how to get there, and how early to get there.

The two-day expo was also excellent, especially for a race this size.   Registration ran smoothly.   The legendary Hal Higdon appeared both days, and even ran the 7 mile race. The expo featured speakers, race gear, and various local activities.  It didn’t hurt that it took place on the grounds of Keeneland on a bright sunny day.  The location at Keeneland, as opposed to an off site location, certainly helped in building excitement for the race.


Traffic was horrible, but I don’t blame the organizers.  Poorly-timed major construction on the main route to the race was the culprit.  We arrived with about 40 minutes to spare and had to hustle a bit to get to the starting line (we like to get there early).  The waves/corrals were well-marked, and the lines for the porta-potties were as you would expect.  At these times, it’s good to be a guy.  We lined up in Wave R.  The waves were labeled G-E-N-R-I-S-K, in honor of the famous horse Genuine Risk.  The bibs and medal lanyards were also inspired by Genuine Risk’s silks.  Luckily for those stuck in traffic, the race was delayed 15 minutes to give those stuck in traffic a bit more time to get there (and to let the morning fog burn off).


This was an especially good start, as we got to give our boys a high five as we passed the start line.  From that point, as the old Irish Blessing goes, the road rose to meet us, almost immediately.  In fact, it kept rising, over and over again.  The blessing is that it also had its share of downhills, though seemingly much fewer than those of the up variety.  The first hill was within the 1st half mile. This race certainly showed me that I need to work more on my leg strength.  Running the flat races is one thing, this was quite another.

The first few miles went as planned.  I stopped to take pictures of the scenery, and our time was relatively close to how we usually start.  It is always difficult to start as slowly as we need to with all the excitement at the start and the rushing crowd, but we were doing pretty well.  Little did we know, there would be no negative splits on this one.  

100_2438    100_2437

They bill this race as one of America’s prettiest half marathons, and that was not over-selling it.  As the miles went by, and our legs kept begging us to give up, the beauty of the landscape surrounded us.  

Bands were spaced along the course, usually coinciding with water stops.  Each one added to the excitement, in spite of our aching legs.  The volunteers were great as well.  There were also a few friendly four-legged spectators.

This guy was loving the attention.

This guy was loving the attention.

We rolled with the punches through about mile 7 or 8.  About that time our legs really started to rebel.  Mile 8 is one of the most beautiful of the race, with a nice downhill run to the mile 9 marker.  Then, we hit the switchback.  Some call it the S-curve.  A roughly 100ft vertical rise within a little more than a quarter mile.  You know a big one is coming at that mile marker.  You can see it.  The real surprise for us first-timers is rounding the first right turn.  That is when you see the next left turn, still rising with no end in sight.  The legs were screaming after this one.

6.5% (or so) slope S-curve

The bottom of the 6.5% (or so) S-curve

From this point, it was survival to the end.  The hills kept coming, but we kept running – slowly.  We switched to a 1:1 walk run to make it to the end.  Beauty still abounded.  I had long since given up on a time even within sight of a PR.  I now just wanted to avoid this being our slowest.  The 1:1 saved the day on that.  We made sure to run in the downhills, no matter where they fell within our pattern, of course.  We finally crossed the finish line, and were about a minute per mile slower than our PR.


Run The Bluegrass was as advertised.  Beautiful, challenging, and fun.  There was an air of excitement, even when people were hurting at the finish.  Smiles were everywhere.

Kids’ Race!

The Run The Bluegrass Kids’ Race took place three hours after the half started.  Slightly less than one mile, the race used the same finish line as the “big race.”  The kids got their own fancy starting line, complete with a police escort, and they got the great opportunity to finish in the same chute as the adults.   This was really a great touch.

Thankfully, they delayed the kid’s race for 15 minutes as well, giving us parents a chance to recover a bit and watch our children race.  Our oldest loved it and finished the .9 mile race strong.  The three year-old picked out a special batman shirt (with cape) to run in, but all the kids + nap time meant that he got a bit nervous.  My wife was a trooper and carried him for his race.  He is already asking to run another – he wants more medals!  He has more at age three than I had at 38.  I am proud of both of my boys.

Taken as I was flat on my back after my run...

Taken as I was flat on my back after my run…

Final Thoughts

It would be easy to say “never again” due to the tough hills.  But I expect there is a really good chance we will be back to take this on again.  It was too beautiful.  It was Easter weekend, and I found myself thanking God several times throughout the race for the opportunity to be in that place, with the ability to run, even through the pain.  That’s the thing about running.  In spite of the pain you go through, you feel blessed to have been given the opportunity.  These races give you plenty of time to reflect on the blessings of life.

Race Bling

Nice Bling!

I hated running. . .

Bighit4Boy did I.  When I was in high school, there were very few things I despised more than running.  I played football and golf.  In football, at that time, running was punishment.  The last thing you wanted to do in golf was run.  Heck, that’s why I played golf.  Track & cross-country:  running.  Baseball:  Running (albeit short bursts).  In college, a couple dozen pounds ago, I was a diver:  No running.

Not until the last year or so have I come around to running.  Prior to that, I was still firmly on the side of “running sucks.”  I still thought of running as punishment.  Why do that to yourself?  Eventually, the scale, and my wife, got to me.  I started swimming, and went through a 5 week jury trial.  That combination led to a 30 lb weight loss.  But it was hard to get back into the swing of swimming after the trial, and the gym membership was killing me.  Then my wife wanted to do a half marathon, and the rest is history.  Running was essentially free, except for the cool shoes, “must have” gadgets, the treadmill, and the race entry fees. 

Either way, once I started running, I stopped seeing it as punishment.  I am not saying I love every minute of it.  I always have thoughts of something else I could be doing.  I often fight those rationalizations and excuses in my head for not running.  During a run, I have those moments where I question why I am doing this to myself.  However, I have not had a time that I remember where I finished a run and was sorry I did it, even after this year’s Walt Disney World Marathon where I hit the wall at mile 17.  I still was glad I did it.  

In fact, I am really excited about our next half-marathon, the Run The Bluegrass Half.  It is called “One of America’s Prettiest Half Marathons.”  All of the comments I have read about it mention the hills:  “For the hardcore hill chasers,” “hilly but gorgeous,” “the hills come early and don’t let up.”  Some may see this as punishment, but I am really looking forward to running through the beautiful hills of horse country.  Things have really changed.  I am fairly certain they have changed for the better, but check with me after March 30 to see if I feel the same way.

Running Season & Running For A Reason

First off, I feel pretty good about my last two weeks of training.  I did not miss a run, in spite of having a trial and a conference to attend.  In fact, I think the runs actually helped in both circumstances.  Training is going well.  Seeing all the races this weekend that my friends, Nascar drivers, and Team RunDisney participated in added to the motivation to keep it going, and reminded me that running season is beginning.  I was amazed at the times of Nascar drivers Kasey Kahne and Jimmy Johnson at the half marathon they ran the morning before qualifying for the Daytona 500.  Both sub-1:30!  Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend.

Things are getting ready to shift into a higher gear for me.  A two mile run with my oldest son in a couple of weeks (can’t wait!); only a couple more long runs until Run The Bluegrass; and then it is the Kenucky Derby Mini Marathon and Bay to Breakers in short order after that.

Snowy lunch run

Snowy Wed. lunch run

Warm Mid-Morning Run

Warm Fri. Mid-Morning Run

I thought I would share the weather for my last two runs.  It is a miracle I am not sick.  Wednesday brought a snow burst and 30 degrees.  Friday brought a conference in Fort Lauderdale and 70 degrees.  I think I enjoyed the 30 degree run more, and was actually excited to get to run in the snow, although Fort Lauderdale warmth certainly had its benefits.  I felt blessed to be able to run in both climates, but in Fort Lauderdale I missed running my long run with my wife/running partner.  I think it was our first long run that we have not shared over the last year or so.

On another note, for anyone looking to make a training run more meaningful, I would suggest the Sandy Hook Run For The Families, taking place on Saturday, March 23.  No, you don’t have to go to Connecticut.  You can run or walk virtually and join the more than 10,000 runners and walkers that will be participating in Hartford, CT, to support the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. You can enter the race as a “Virtual Runner” for a $25 entry fee (until 2/28 – $30 after that).  You run a 5K wherever you are. They will list your name in the results (without a finish time) and will mail you a race shirt after the event. Your entry fee is a 100% donation to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.  What a great idea to support a great cause.  If you’re going to run or walk anyway, why not sign up for this?


Just Be Awesome. . .

AwesomeI saw this quote recently, and for some reason it turned out to be my motivation for the day.  In fact, I told my son this today when he was nervous about his presentation at school.  It seems so simple – just be awesome.

When I first saw this quote, I thought of the Nike slogan – “Just Do It.”   That slogan was very successful, and served as motivation for countless people.  However, I think it could use some improvement.  Just doing it is a start.  Getting out the door is a start.   Getting moving is a start.  That first mile, 5k, 10k, or half marathon is a start.  However, I have found that once you “do it,” you want to do it better.  That’s where “Just Be Awesome” comes in.

To me, “Just Be Awesome” doesn’t mean I have to be the best or the fastest.  If it did, I might as well find another hobby.  I am never going to be mistaken for a top flight, or even a very good runner.  It means doing it right.  It means having fun while doing it.  It means not taking shortcuts.  It means enjoying it.   “Awesome” has many meanings:  magnificent, fun, surprising, inspiring, beautiful, wonderful. . .(Really, it does. I looked in the Thesaurus).

So, my goal is to make that next run Awesome, no matter when it is or where it is.  It may not be a PR, but it will be awesome.  If I can meet this goal, I cannot imagine how great I might feel.  Luckily, this year looks to have a lot of potential for Awesome in it:  WDW Marathon, Run The Bluegrass, Derby Festival Mini Marathon, Bay To Breakers, Dumbo Double Dare – and whatever other cool runs we can find.  And from the way our boys are talking about wanting to run a bit themselves, they are in for some Awesome as well.  Can’t wait. . .

Kids’ Night

Our next long race is the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon in Lexington on March 30.  Our boys are both signed up for the kids’ race that day as well.  Our three year old has been asking to run a race for a while now because he wants another medal. He loves his medal from the Big Hit Kids’ Races last fall, and wants to add to his collection.  In addition to the RTB Kids’ Race, our eight year old says he wants to do a 5k.  Well, tonight they both convinced us to let them on the treadmill for a little “practice.”  It was more like a ride at Disney World for them.  No, we did not let the little guy on it by himself.

I stood on the treadmill with him, and we started out at a slow walk.  By the end, he was at 4mph.  Pretty fast for a little guy!  Big brother got up to a pretty good clip himself!  In our little treadmill introduction,  the boys and I ran a mile relay.  It was an enjoyable evening.  It is good to see them being active, and good to see them interested in things mommy and daddy do.  I am sure it is only a matter of time before our coolness wears off.

While the little guy’s interest in running is relatively new, big brother has been interested since he was in kindergarten.  One day after gym class, his PE teacher, whom he adored (and who was the favorite of all the moms at the school for obvious reasons), told him that he had good running form and could be a good runner.  That brief bit of encouragement registered, and has stuck with him to this day. He has been confident in his running ability from that day forward.  He couldn’t wait to participate in cross country this past fall.  Just another example of the power of a good word, and the influence of teachers on our kids.  Mr. Robinson is no longer at the school, but we are sure glad he was there when he was.  I am also glad that my wife any I started running, so we could help foster his interest.

On a final note, more than one person has asked me why I run.  In fact, I asked myself that very question many times over the last 9 miles of our recent marathon.  Well, today Run The Bluegrass posted a story about Tom Little, someone else who likes to run for similar reasons as I. His story eloquently sums it up for me, and I am sure for many others as well:

“…[M]any of my friends ask me why I run. Since I readily admit that I’m not in love with the process of running itself, it does seem a bit odd. However, the answer is really pretty simple: I run so that I can enjoy my life. . . .”  He continued, “I want to enjoy as many years on earth as possible, with my family… and friends. I also want to enjoy good food and drink and a lifestyle where I savor the good life. Recreational running allows me to do that. I’ll never win a competitive race, but every run is a personal victory.”

So true.  You can see the rest of the story at Run The Bluegrass’ Facebook page.

Still learning, this whole blogging thing. Not yet ready for prime time.