If you are considering running a half marathon in 2018, you are going to want to make sure you add the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in Louisville, Kentucky to your race bucket list!
This race was different from any other race I have ever done because it was focused on the experience, not necessarily the running, there were people of shapes, experience levels, and sizes running. So when I say the experience, I mean the bourbon experience, what else?
Urban Half Marathon Race Weekend
I was really looking forward to this race because it was one Brian and I would be running together. Well, we would both be on the course at the same time. Brian was shooting for a sub-1:35 and I was going for a sub-2 again.
The best part about this race for me was going to be seeing one of my best friends, who I hadn’t seen in a very long time! It is crazy how life brings people into your lives and you can not see them for over a year but you can pick back up right where you left off. That is me and Shelly.
The nice part about heading to her hometown is she knew all the sites to go see, the must-dos, and could navigate the city for us. Plus, her parent’s were gracious enough to let us stay at their house so that helped the budget (after all, we are saving for a wedding)! We did end up staying in a hotel the night before the race to make things super easy. The nice part was were able to just get up and walk to the race (5-minute walk from the hotel). We wanted to limit stress.
The Bourbon Expo
I will say, this expo was the most understated race expo I had been too. But they had pre-warned all racers of that. The expo was about picking up your bib and trying bourbon. It was not going to be flashy or a ton of vendors. Again, it was about the Bourbon Experience. Brian and I were not in the mood to taste test so we picked up our bibs and left to go home and check into the hotel!
Urban Bourbon Half Marathon: Race Day
Race Morning was probably the easiest I have ever had. I woke up, drank a cup of black coffee and had a vegan pumpkin muffin (thanks to Shelly’s mom), drank some water and ate a banana. Then I did my thing, showered to wake up, went to the bathroom, and got dressed in my race outfit!
I also mixed up my two bottles of pre-workout, Energize. One in my race bottle that I would carry with me and the other in a coffee cup to drink as we walked to the starting line. This was a strategy I had tested on many of my longer training runs; as well as, at Corning and loved the effects. This is the only kind of pre-workout I have found that doesn’t give me the jitters.
About half an hour from the start, Brian and I walked over to the gates and parted ways. I stood in line drinking my pre-workout, listening to my pump-up playlist and tried to focus my mind.
The Starting Gun
This race was different from Corning because instead of starting with the 2:10 pacer, I started with the 2-hour pacer and said I would stay with them as long as I could. I knew the course was going to be way hillier than I had trained on so I went into it for the experience but was going to push.
As I started the race, I felt great. When I heard my first-mile time was an 8:59 I was in shock. First off, the pacer was going faster than the 2-hour pace but I was okay with it because I was feeling good. The next 5 miles flew by and my time was continuing to drop. When I hit mile 6, I was on pace to hit my goal by a few minutes. I was averaging 8:50/mile and still with the pacer. Despite the rolling hills, I was feeling great. The Energize was working.
The miles I would like to forget: 6-7
The Urban Bourbon Half Marathon up to the halfway point had me feeling great. I was thinking, I can run rolling hills no problem! Even my sister who was watching via the tracking app was thinking I was about to hit my goal.
But then at about mile 6.5 as we entered into a park was the hill that I know I will never forget. Everything was burning and I felt like it would never end. I also realized my pace was the same pace I could walk (or at least it felt like it) and mentally I was defeated. So, I decided I would walk to the top of the hill (which was well over a mile or at least it felt like it). I may be exaggerating the distance but I have never gone from being on such a high to crashing so hard. The race photos were taken right at the start of the decline of the hill.
Now, at this point, I was still on pace if I picked it back up to where I was to hit that goal but I couldn’t get my legs moving again. That hill had taken so much out of them. It was heart-breaking for me to hear my total time continue to increase as I went along.
I ended up crossing the finish line with a time of 2:07:21 (which would have been a PR before Corning 2017). I had also run 13.39 miles so almost .3 more than 13.1. But that didn’t bother me because even if I had only run 13.1, I would have missed my goal.
Although I didn’t hit my PR, I still managed to have fun and take in the sites of Louisville. Despite having an evil death hill, the park we got to run through was beautiful.
After the race, I got to meet up with Shelly and Brian. Brian had hit a HUGE PR with a time of 1:34. I was so happy for him, I even paid to have his medal engraved with his name and time (plus now we won’t confuse the two).
The line of food for the runners was amazing coming across the finish line! Panera Bagels, chocolate milk (what I crave after any race), Powerade, water, and bananas. I grabbed a Cinnamon Crunch bagel (my favorite that I try to avoid because it is over 400 calories) and enjoyed every last bite of it.
We headed back to the hotel to stretch and shower before hitting the party. Something I was grateful for as I really needed to stretch. Plus, by this point, my sweat had started to turn to salt, a major sign I was dehydrated.
After we had showered, hydrated, ate a bit, we headed to the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon post-race party and it was a ton of fun! Definitely earned its top 10 status for a reason. The only thing was there had been some rain and it had made the field so muddy! But the tastings were great.
Brian and I did not wait in line for pizza because the line was so long but the soup/chili was amazing! We grabbed some photos and stayed until the party was over listening to the music and enjoying our tastings. Having never had bourbon, the bourbon barrel beer was my favorite drink, but I did have one tasting that I really enjoyed.
After the race, we headed to Peerless for a tour and tasting. And then Brian and I downed two pizzas at Garage Bar with Shelly and Brett.
The rest of the night was low-key. We enjoyed some relaxing time with Shelly’s parents at her house, stretched and headed to bed after watching Game 7 of the American League Playoffs. We were flying out early the next morning to have the rest of the day to recover and prep for a week ahead so after an eventful day, it was time for sleep.
Consider a Half Marathon?
Overall, if you are considering running another half marathon or your first and love bourbon, the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon is for you. If you have never been to Louisville, this race is a great “runcation”. That was one of the reasons we ultimately ended up deciding to go! We had never been to Louisville, we wanted to see Shelly, and there was a top 10 race with an after party. If you love hills or even if you don’t, this course is a fun time and the after-party is one to remember!
Top 4 Reasons to Run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon
- Free Race Photos
- Great Post-Race Party
- Free Bourbon Tastings
- Convenient Hotel to Race Start
- Really Cool Medal
My only recommendation: Stay at the hotel closest to the start!