If you see me limping around town or my eyes barely open, don’t worry — I’m just trying to recover from this past weekend. My legs are shaky, my eyes are heavy and my tank is running close to empty. I’m in desperate need of an oil change.
I competed for the Bourbon Trail Barrellers in the Bourbon Chase race, a 200-mile relay along the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trial that started in Bardstown on Friday and finished in downtown Lexington on Saturday night. There were 152 teams consisting of 12 runners with each one completing three legs of various distances. The Barrellers finished fifth overall and second in the men’s open division — we had two girls but five were needed to race coed.
I was lured into the race a few months back when some guys I know asked me to be on their team. It sounded like a good idea at the time. And, despite my struggles this week, I’m glad I signed up.
When our team met at Pizza Inn in Frankfort a few weeks before the race to discuss the details, I volunteered to run the three legs with the hardest ranking. I was too busy stuffing my face with pizza so didn’t really understand the consequences — food is my weakness. I cursed that decision more than a few times over the weekend.
I was the 10th runner in our lineup, which meant I ran leg No. 10, leg No. 22 and leg. No. 34 out of the 36. My first leg was a relatively flat 7.1-miler, which I started at around 12:30 a.m. Of course, by this point, the rain had started and the wind was starting to pick up. It didn’t help that it was the darkest night of my life, or at least that’s what I remember thinking at the time. I ran along highway 151 without making a single turn before I got to our next runner — good thing because I’m definitely navigationally impaired.
My second leg was a hilly 8.1-miler through the outskirts of Lawrenceburg that I started at around 8:30 a.m. (I ate a big meal at Huddle House between runs, then tried to sleep in a moving van with a bunch of stinky runners.) I capped off the relay with a very hilly 4.3-miler at around 3:30 p.m. Our team goal was to average 7-minute-per-mile pace for the 200 miles and we finished at around a 6:50-average. I averaged 6:18 for 19.5 miles.
I’m not going to lie, it was tough. But, in an odd way, it was also very enjoyable. The lack of sleep was probably the toughest part. I got my best sleep when I snuck away from the van and crawled in my sleeping bag next to a busy highway for about two hours on Saturday. I woke up, jogged a few minutes, tried to work out my stiff legs with some screaming stretches and started my final run.
My foot hurt, especially the bottom of my right one. I got cramps in my stomach. My quads were screaming at me. My hammy was about to rip. I had to use the porta-john way too many times. Riding in a van got me a little car sick. And, when we rolled into Lexington, we all stunk really, really bad.
But, in the end, it was all worth it. I’m already talking with some people about getting a team together for next year’s race. My wife, who watched my final leg and the finish, is even pumped about participating next October. I’m just hoping I’ll be recovered by then.
Tommie Kendall can be reached at email@example.com.