Run the Bluegrass: What “eating hills for breakfast” actually tastes like.

Billed as the “America’s Prettiest Half-Marathon”, Run the Bluegrass is held in Lexington, Kentucky every spring.  And, while the scenery is gorgeous (think famous horse farms, green grass for miles, and fields of lavender that meet the sunrise), many come to this race for the hills.  This race has been on my list for awhile, and after prodding from The Running Wife, I decided to register for the 2017 race.

I admit, I went about the whole process a bit backwards. I registered one day and then started researching more about it the next. Most every blog post and race review I found about the race talked about the expo, parking, swag, but mostly the hills.  How could a half marathon be this hilly? This isn’t San Francisco we are talking about, it is Lexington–a beautiful city full of gentle, rolling hills, right?  After discussing the race with some running friends who also signed up this year, we all stated “Hills? We eat hills for breakfast!”.  And we laughed, and I tried to stop worrying about elevation change for awhile.

Fast forward to race day.  {I will spare you with the expo talk- just go and walk through the expo-you will meet lots of friendly vendors and pick up some sweet bourbon swag. The race website has everything you need to know about the this, pre-race day activities, the kids race and more so check it out!}  My running friends and I poured into Keeneland excited about the weather and photo ops. We had forty–something-degree weather with no rain and race day was looking good.  Waves were released one at a time, and while we were a bit crowded getting out of the gate, by half a mile in we started to thin out and get comfortable.

This year I ran with a friend I had not raced with before. We both agreed we would run together, stop to take photos, and be a “running tourist” – it was her first time to the area and there was a lot to see!  We started out at a steady pace, but the hills started right away.  And they never stopped.  A small decline was greatly welcomed after the inclines, but I do not ever remember seeing flat parts to this course.  Mile 6 was a test; we weren’t smiling as much and working harder than we had the first few miles.  We stopped to take a few photos, but soon realized starting was hard again after stopping on hills!  And all of the sudden, I never, ever wanted to eat hills for breakfast ever again.  Afterwards, I told a friend the hills reminded me of contractions during labor. They came in waves, they were enough to make the strongest woman nauseous, and sometimes all you could do was hold on and hope they passed quickly!  The finish line came and my friend and I were both happy to cross together-she even half marathon PR’ed on this course, which I think is an amazing feat on a course like this one.

RTB 2017 1

I believe someone told me in total there are 33 hills in this race. I did not try to count them during the race; in retrospect that would have been a daunting task!  But I did take note of the number of beautiful landscapes and smiling faces I saw as I ran 13.1 miles that morning.  I highly recommend that runners take on this race at least once-not for the swag or the after-party, but for the hills.  And, just a word of caution: don’t eat hills for breakfast on race morning; you are going to get plenty of them later out on the course.

rtb elevation gain
Total elevation gain on my Garmin read 879 ft.

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