Buffalo Trace 5K Goes Down Smooth and Easy

Buffalo 1With the excess in consumption that usually goes hand-in-hand with the celebration of our nation’s independence, I dragged myself up from bed early to run The Great Buffalo Chase 5K in Frankfort Saturday, which ironically is hosted on the grounds of the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Nothing like the smell of sour mash to encourage one to run faster…

The weather was perfect for running, overcast and in the low 70s. I just wasn’t happy about waking up at 6:00 AM. I had been working Friday on a mix to listen to while I ran and didn’t get that properly finished until 2:30 AM.

Gabriel, 12, also was running this race and he went to bed about the same time, so we were both bleary-eyed Saturday morning. We got our gear straight and headed over at 7:00 AM. We still needed to register. With all the rain we’ve been getting in Kentucky I wanted to be sure it wasn’t pouring before I plunked down my cash.

There were about 900 people registered, with far less actually showing up to run. Proceeds from the race went to the local VFW to help pay for the fireworks display that was shot off later that evening, so it worked out well for all involved.

While much of the road-racing hype in this area on July 4th goes to the Bluegrass 10,000, a 6.2 mile run in Lexington, the top runners are in Frankfort for The Great Buffalo Chase 5K.

It sounds odd, but there is a rather simple explanation: Prize Money. The top three male and female winners each earn cash prizes; 1st=$3,000, 2nd=$2,500, and 3rd=$2,000. If the course record is broken there is an extra $1,000 awarded.

Trust me, my chest would explode if I even attempted to run as fast as any of the top finishers. I was here merely for a training run. I ran a 29:00 5K at the ProActive in May, and hoped to eclipse a 28:30 Saturday.

I cranked my new mix up and Love and Rockets roared “It Could Be Sunshine,” as I dodged and darted around runners when the starting gun sounded. I hit that first mile at about 8:50, which felt right.

Runs of a 5K distance, 3.1 miles, are tricky. They are long enough that you need to be careful not to go out too fast, but short enough for half-marathoners and marathoners, that these can be considered a sprint. I’m not in that kind of shape yet anyway, and had no interest in feeling like my burning lungs were about to come out through my throat on this morning.

The mix I was listening to served as a nice distraction. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Generation), The Raconteurs (Steady, As She Goes), The Beatles (I Call Your Name), Barenaked Ladies (Straw Hat And Old Dirty Hank), Cake (The Distance) all were feeding me energy, and I hit that second mile at around 17:30. So I picked my pace up from the first mile.

On the third mile I was feeling the strain. I saved some energy, but there was a persistent incline leading to the conclusion of this race. Not a hill. It wasn’t that pronounced, but definitely an upward sensation was being felt, and I had little impulse power remaining.

Thankfully I got a sweet dose of adrenaline courtesy of Kanye West. His track “Stronger” got my legs moving with purpose again. I dig that Daft Punk sample. I hit the third mile at 27 minutes, and finished up at 27:33. As a reference, the winner, Shadrack Kosgei, completed the 3.1 mile course in 13:54. That’s a 4:29 pace per mile, and easily smokes anything run at the Bluegrass 10,000 yesterday. That’s cookin’ brother!


Buffalo 2Gabriel had a solid run as well, finishing at 35:26. With a little training he could easily get his per-mile pace down to below 10 minutes.

On the other hand, my training buddy did not fare so well. His calf muscle knotted up on the first mile. He tried stretching it out, but at the 1.7 mile mark he came off the course with a pulled muscle. That is horribly frustrating considering he had easily completed training runs of five miles at a pace below nine minutes per mile. This was a case of his 48-year old body saying, “Nah chief this ain’t happenin’ today.”

Regardless, this race was an excellent way to start off our 4th of July, even if it came a bit early in the morning. I now have the rest of July and into August to work on my short to middle distance endurance, before cranking my long runs up toward 10 miles and above in preparation for the half-marathons in October.

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