Ever since I've been back from Burning Man, I've been filled with anxiety in regards to The Bourbon Chase.
I had never been on running team of any sort before.
I hadn't been training recently due to an injury and overall busyness. Considering that I didn't run the Ultra 50K at Burning Man because I was so out of shape; I was only in a worse spot now.
My estimated pace for the race was far from what I would realistically be able to run, so I was very concerned on the impact that might have on the team.
I didn't know anyone on the team. I was a Facebook friend with the Team Captain and organizer through another mutual Facebook friend who I didn't know that well.
And then there's the matter of spending many hours crammed in a van with a bunch of sweaty people I didn't know.
I mostly didn't want to let people down.
August 12 · Edited · The Bourbon Chase is just a little over 9 weeks away, and I am proud to introduce Team Monster Mash!
Your ghoulish runners are Nicole, Dale , Michael, Jim, Marina, Abigail, Keil, Jon Danniells, and yours truly! We have a spectacular support squad of driver Brienne
We look forward to sharing our adventurous weekend with our friends and family!
Love, the distilled freaks of Monster Mash
Driving Up with the Atlanta Crew
It only took around 10 minutes, maybe less of meeting my teammates to know that things were going to be more than alright and I was in for an amazing weekend.
Even though they were serious runners who logged in a week what I do in a month or more, they were adamant that this event was all about having fun and not to worry about my performance.
It also turned out we shared a lot of similar interests, political and social outlooks and twisted sense of humor.
The 6 hour drive flew by and while I was very excited to meet the rest of the team, I was bummed that I would be in the other van during the course of the run. Although that ended being a silly concern as it turned out
October 15 at 4:52pm · Nashville, TN · On our way to the Bourbon Chase
Birds of a Feather
Jon Danniells at Sushi Thai Tara
October 15 at 8:10pm · With fellow Bourbon runners
When we discovered that the restaurant was BYOB, Mike and I volunteered to go across the street to grab some beers from the gas station.
Two gas stations, crossing over a culvert in the dark, jogging to the other side of the interstate to get to the closest interstate and 30 minutes later and we were back with a 6-pack of craft beer and a bottle of wine.
I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, these were my type of people and if the rest of the crew were anything like them this was going to be a weekend to remember.
After our Thai dinner which turned out to be surprisingly good, we headed over to Mexican restaurant to meet the rest of the gang and a couple more beers and then to the hotel for another round and our first team photo.
Any butterflies I might of had I, managed to drown, but I was pretty amped up and getting any sleep was a challenge. Fortunately our start time was noon-thirty the next day, which gave us plenty of time to decorate our vans properly, check-in and register and revive those dang butterflies.
And to eat a way too early Denny's Christmas-themed breakfast.
I was running our first leg, which was my longest and hardest, 7.1 miles and classified as Difficult. That said, it started off on trails and a bike path and then onto a little country road. It was gorgeous and the weather was perfect.
It was not nearly as brutal as I had imagined and my pace was not nearly as slow and off-mark as I had anticipated.
I felt great at the end of it.
I had my first and hardest leg out of the way.
It was all down hill from there, or so I thought.
After the hand-off we jumped back in the van and headed to the next exchange.
Jon Danniells at Cue on Main
October 16 at 7:47pm · Fueling up for my next leg on The Bourbon Chase, which should be sometime around 11:30 tonight
My next estimated start time was around 11:30 pm and the one after that the following morning around 9 am. I had figured there was going to be a ton of down time which is why I brought my foam roller and Body Wrenches.
I think I got to use them twice for a total of maybe 5 minutes.
We were constantly racing from one exchange to another. Even when we were the "off" van we didn't ever have a chance for napping.
I managed to get maybe 2 hours of sleep before my morning run and that was cramped up in the back of the van and broken up with being awoken by people "checking out" the big hook and chain decoration on the back of the van and using it as a door knocker, at like 4 in the morning, a few inches from where I was resting my head trying to get Z's in.
Good thing I don't need much sleep.
As with many of my posts, this one is a bit disjointed and can ramble a tad and be out of chronological and logical order.
Even though this event is The Bourbon Chase and we are running a 200-mile relay race along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. "The Bourbon Chase celebrates the best of Kentucky. It is a 200-mile journey across the Bluegrass State – through our historic bourbon distilleries, across our majestic horse country, and into our enchanting small towns."
There was a very strict "no drinking on course" policy which I'm sure was strictly followed.
So even though we cruised past 9 different world-famous distilleries we never had a chance to do much visiting or tasting, save for at one of the major exchanges at Maker's Mark where we got to check out some of the mash barrels, get a little taste of bourbon and visit their gift shop. Where we managed to make our mark, but as they say, "What Happens on the Bourbon Run".....
We had so much fun.
Had so many laughs.
I was inspired on different levels and in different ways by each and every one of my team-mates.
Even though I might not have their love of running or their level of commitment and consistency they made me want to push myself and believe in myself as a runner. I am very excited about using the energy and spirit of this group to push me to the next level in my training.
I am really, really excited about running and my upcoming year of Marathons and PRs.
October 17 at 1:27am · Junction City, KY · Finished my night-shift on The Bourbon Chase; only 1 more leg for me sometime tomorrow morning; taking on role of team van driver--Go Team Monster Mash
Jon Danniells at Bourbon Chase
October 17 at 9:30am · Finished my last leg at 8:46 this morning and I'm all done with running; switching to driver/support mode; Go Team Monster Mash
I was at least consistent with my times which was pretty weird given the variations of distance and difficulty and time of day and level of exhaustion on my three legs. My first leg, the longest(7.1 miles) and most difficult, but my first and in the middle of the day, I ran at 9:47 pace. My second leg which was at night and labeled Easy, I managed a 9:39 minute pace and my final run after 2 hours of sleep in the wee and cold hours of the morning, but shortest and deemed Easy, I ran at 9:41.
Not close to the 8:30 pace I had predicted and far off from the 7:40 I'll need to hit to qualify for Boston, but much better than the 10:30 pace I was doing just a few weeks ago. And a was a crazy hilly course.
I did a goodly amount of driving for the team. I felt given how few miles I was running comparatively and that I've driven this size of van for the last 30 years it was the least I could do.
It really was.
I can't express enough how much fun this team was and what a great time I had.
Looking forward to doing it again.
The oldest member of our gang, Jim (just a couple years ahead of me) and incredible Endurance Race Statesman,(he's finished a plethora of marathons with more than respectable times, at least 1 Ironman as well as several of these team relay type races) ran the anchor-leg and we all joined him to run across the finish line.
And then we went on to gather up some swag (one of the best medals I've ever received) and finally, finally get to taste some Bourbon, actually quite a bit of bourbon even though it was one tiny thimble-full at a time.
Then off to find somewhere to eat and again in keeping with the "Birds of a Feather" theme, it was based on where they had local microbrews available.
I like beer. I like beer a lot. These folk love beer and know beer.
It was as great to drink and eat with them as it was to run and compete with them.
Back to hotel to continue the celebration, along with the locals, post-wedding guests and a handful of other racers.
The next morning we had one last meal together.
On the drive home we hit a Kentucky winery for a quick tasting.
Loved the weekend, love these new friends and teammates, what an amazing experience.
What was I worried about...