Friday, September 21, 2012

How To Survive The Bourbon Chase

It's one week away!

This morning I was texting with a friend who is doing the Bourbon Chase for the first time this year and she was asking me some questions which inspired me to devote a post entirely to surviving the BC!

For those of you that don't know what the Bourbon Chase is, you can click on the link above or you can just continue reading: it's a 200 mile overnight relay race through Bourbon and horse country of Kentucky!  When non-Kentuckians think about Kentucky geography, what do they think about? Farms?  I've never been to Iowa, but when I think of Iowa I think of corn fields.  When I think of Idaho (also never been there) I think of potato fields.  Although Kentucky definitely has a lot of farms, it's not so flat like states in the Midwest.  Kentucky is VERY hilly, and teams competing in the Bourbon Chase will tackle many, many of those hills. 

Back to the prep-work and survival!

1. Realize what you're signing up for.  You are in for at least 20 hours of lots of driving, lots of running, lots of port-o-potty usage, etc.  You are in for NOT a lot of sleep.  You are in for sitting around for hours in sweaty, stinky, running clothes.  This event is INTENSE. 

2. Get a hotel room.  Our team did it up right last year when we got two rooms at the Bright Leaf Golf Resort in Harrodsburg, KY.  It's a more or less centrally located spot, and each van returned to the hotel twice for food, showers, and a bed.  We saw plenty of teams who settled for sleeping in their vans/grassy fields and it looked miserable.  I cannot tell you how nice to was to take showers and stretch out in a bed.  It made the whole experience a lot more bearable!

3. Get some group emails floating around and have some meetings.  Chances are you don't know everyone on your van much less your team so take advantage of opportunities to get to know your teammates better.  You're going to be spending a lot of time with them.

4. Coordinate who's bringing what.  A week or two before the race, send around some group emails and figure out who will bring the gear for running at night, who will bring some food, who will bring some drinks, etc.  I headed up the email for my van and we also discussed items like a foam roller, The Stick, music, etc. 

5. Do some research.  The Bourbon Chase website outlines what roads you'll be on, and if you want to make some stops, use those details to help you plan.  I went on the Kroger website (grocery store) and found the closest Kroger to our hotel in case we want/need to swing by at some point.  The majority of the race is in the country so there isn't an abundance of stores and restaurants.  Take a GPS system with you!

6. Know your legs.  Again, the Bourbon Chase website outlines every single leg of the race with directions, mileage, and even elevation.  LOOK AT THE ELEVATION MAP.  There is nothing like turning a corner and seeing a hill that some might call a mountain.  This entire event is hilly.  You will run hills.  Do yourself a favor and prepare yourself for it.

7. Over pack.  You are about to run a race in Kentucky.  You should know that our state receives some of the craziest weather in the country: in the 80s one day and the 50s the next, hurricane winds despite not being on a coast, hail storms, terrible thunderstorms, tornadoes, earthquakes, you name it.  We get it all.  That said, be prepared for any weather.  Pack multiples of everything.  Would you rather have more than you need or not enough?  Here are some items that I packed last year:

a. Multiple pairs of underwear, socks, shorts, sports bras, and shirts
b. Toiletries: shampoo, toothbrush, lotion, sunscreen, chap stick with SPF
c. sandwiches and granola bars
d. A light jacket that is also waterproof
e. Garmin watch so I know if I'm staying on pace
f. A backpack to put it all in for easy carrying and storage

And here are some items that I will add to that list this year:
a. Gatorade packets (better hydration)
b. a sweatshirt
c. Icy Hot/Bengay/some kind of topical analgesic
d. a hat or visor
e. more food - I am Runner #3 which means that after I run there are at least a couple of hours until we return to the hotel and potentially sit down to a meal.  That said, I will endeavor to eat a few items post-run like a banana and a granola bar, or a sandwich. 

8. Have fun.  Obviously.  Enjoy the scenery because there's a lot of it and it's beautiful.  Walk around the distilleries.  Try some bourbon (but not too much!).  Cheer on the other teams.  Take pictures. You will look back on this experience and smile and be grateful that you did it!

Anyone else have tips they'd like to share?

See you next week!

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