Let me start by saying three things:
1. I am sorry the pictures are so bad, they are all cell phone pictures because I didn’t have enough space to pack my good one.
2. There is no way any post I write could possibly do this experience justice.
3. This was the most insane, fun, crazy, ridiculously amazing thing I have probably ever done!!
Before we Left
Thursday afternoon we headed up to Rock Hill to meet the team, have some dinner and sleep before getting up bright and early (5:00 am) to hit the road for the race. We had a few drinks and dinner at Six Pence Pub in Rock Hill and hung out for a little bit before hitting the sack.
We got on the road right around 5:45 and with a few pit stops for breakfast/coffee/bathrooms we made it to the start at the Jim Beam Distillery around 1:00. There we met up with two more members of the team and transferred our stuff to “van 2” for the actual race. After going up and checking in, we wandered around Jim Beam for a while. It was absolutely gorgeous!
At 2:30 our first runner, Justin kicked us off!
Then it was time to start waiting. Once Justin was out of site, the vans split up and van 1 headed to the first exchange while we took our van to the first major exchange (exchange 6 of the race). This exchange was at Makers Mark which was a really awesome distillery. They also had bourbon truffles which were to die for!
At around 7ish, Ryan from Van 1 handed off to Carlos from our van and away we went. The five hours while your van is going absolutely FLY! Pretty much as soon as your runner leaves, you get in the van, head to the next exchange point and start warming up/stretching out. When you are done your leg, you race to get in the van, and ride until the next exchange point and change clothes once you get there. This first leg for me started at 9:49 PM and was 5.8 miles long. I have never run in the real, pitch dark so I was very skeptical but with the reflective vest, blinking light and head lamp I was more than covered! At the very end of this leg I saw the most perfect shooting star I have ever seen. I swear it fell for a full 5 seconds. I wished that the large hill in front of me would be my last and it was!! I managed to average 7:16s and was more than pleased with that time. Our van certainly pushed one another to be our best to say the absolute least! Plus, every time you passed some one you got a “road kill”, but if you got passed you had to subtract; all the teams kept track of their “road kills” on the side of their van so everyone could see as we traveled!!
What we weren’t expecting was the 40 degree weather. I had only packed one pair of full length tights and two long sleeve Lululemon Swiftly’s. It was 87 degrees when we left Charleston so I thought even that was way over doing it but man was I wrong. I didn’t wear a single pair of shorts, wore one pair of crops and wore the tights twice (they were almost dry, gross right?).
After everyone ran their legs, we hit the next major exchange, handed off to van one and then went to the third major exchange to try to get some sleep. Let me tell you, trying to sleep 5 people deep in a yukon (I think thats what we were in) is not the easiest thing I have ever done. Luckily, I was deemed to be the hardest sleeper so I got 2-3 hours of van sleep before we got back out and hopped to it.
Leg 2 (and 3)
Because we ran the race with 10 instead of 12, three of us in our van had to run a double leg. My second leg was my double coming to a grand total of 9.5 miles. This leg was pretty much all on the highway (though it wouldn’t have mattered because it was so dark still). I took the hand off from Lauren at 5:51 am and averaged 7:45 min/mile. I thought for sure that by the end of my leg the sun would at least be starting to make an appearance but it looked like it could have been 2 in the morning. At least at the end of this leg, I knew for sure it was going to be sunny for the next one.
After I handed off to David and then off the Barbara we headed to meet with Van 1 at the next major exchange at Four Roses.
We looked around the distillery for a bit the headed to have some breakfast at a little local diner and then off to our next major exchange at Woodford Reserve. This was the first place I finally tried Bourbon and y’all, I did not like it one little bit! It would have been nice if I did because it would have warmed me up but I was pretty much one and done with that stuff. About half way through our break time, it started to POUR down rain.
We joked that during our last legs it was going to be all for survival instead of the competitive running we had all been doing. Luckily for us (not so much for Van 1) it stopped in time for us to start our final legs.
Carlos went first and he absolutely destroyed some major, MAJOR hills. He came in for his final hand off to Lauren looking mighty strong!
This was Lauren’s double leg and it was all rolling hills and picturesque Kentucky beauty! She had 9.5 miles to cover too and absolutely killed it. She handed off to me and I was ready to take down my last leg. It was ranked 3rd hardest on the course but I was ready to conquer the beast.
Only times that picture by a million and thats how pretty it was! The leg was tough but gorgeous and I was so motivated to do well and be done! I managed to average 7:45 miles again (I have no idea how) and was so pleased with my whole performance along the entire race. I finally came over a hill top and could see the exchange ahead at the top of one last hill. I pushed it as hard as I could up the last hill and made my last hand off to DK!
We hit the van, headed to our last exchange and the sun finally came out in time for the husband-wife hand off from DK to BK!
We all piled into the car, changed into our team shirts and hurried to downtown Lexington where we could meet as a whole team and run in together once BK made it to the end of her leg. It was absolutely freezing at this point but we were euphoric. I can’t wait to see the official pictures that got taken at the finish line (I will share as soon as I have them). We don’t have an official time yet but it was somewhere around 28 hours and 15ish minutes.
We didn’t hang at the post race party long because we were seriously freezing and ready for a shower.
After the boys got enough bourbon to satisfy their cravings, we hit the hotel for showers and went for some dinner in downtown Lexington. I couldn’t believe we were all actually still awake at 11:00 sitting at dinner. I definitely learned I can sustain life on much less sleep than I thought I could. We also were just basking in the glow of our achievement which was fueling our energy big time!
We got up around 7:15ish on Sunday to head back to South Carolina. In the van Carlos warned us we were going to have a serious emotional let down and he was absolutely not kidding. I can not explain how intense of a bonding experience this was. I feel like I have known these people for years, not 4 days. I miss them so much and our group text has been going like crazy all day so I know the feeling is mutual. Luckily we have made plans for a few from the team to come down for the James Island Connector run in two weekends! It is good to have something to look forward too now or I would be so sad!
So the moral of the story is, if you EVER have the opportunity to take part in something like this, don’t hesitate for a second to say yes. No matter how much you will lack sleep and drag for a week, no matter how much it cost or you are nervous you will not regret it. You will come away with amazing new friends, an experience that can’t be described (as hard as I have tried) and two days that will be some of the best in your life, I promise you this!
To the members of Drunk is the New Black: I miss you all dearly already and can’t wait to see you in a few weeks. Thanks for welcoming me and giving me the experience of a lifetime. Hood to Coast anyone? #awesome, #bourbonchase, #fast #DrunkistheNewBlack, #hashtag, #love!