Describing these races is a complicated affair. You go through so many emotions and ups and downs in a short 48 hours. Starting with nerves at meeting new people, the unknown route, and the always precarious night running, there is the lack of sleep and it gets pretty repetitive after a while. For other perspectives and more pictures check out the other recaps by:
And by popular demand (aka she texted me whining): Danielle
The weekend started with a 5 AM alarm, about an hour before I had planned on getting up. This would not pay dividends later in the weekend. I drove down to Portsmouth to meet up with my van mates, Jen, Jill, Stacy and Carrie, where I was quickly banished to the back of the van so they could continue chatting as we made our way to pick up the final member of our van. With her blunt personality and driving skills, Jill (aka Rumble Strip) became the target of my unending teasing. That happens sometimes, I’m not sure why. I can only hope that she will not hunt me down and stab me in the eye at some point.
Once we collected John we were off to the start, making sure we were there at the time prescribed by our team captain, who then rolled in about half an hour later. We amused ourselves by checking out all the other team vans and their uniforms and decorations. Once we were all together introductions were made and we were off to learn not to peen on anyone’s lawn and other important rules. (mostly not to pee on anyone’s lawn and be quite at night, complicated stuff)
Then it was on to some team business, passing out our team sweatpants, getting our team pictures done and meeting other people we “know” from the intertubes. We ran into Danielle (who i think knew everyone at this race), she and I then finalized our bet. Her team was starting 40 min after ours and she thought they could beat us, and she was really insistent on making a bet. So I obliged her, having no idea the relative speeds of anyone on either team. She knew everyone, so I think she was totally suckering me to get free food. I also met others on her team who I knew only through the interwebs, it’s always exciting when an avatar becomes a real person. This seems to happen a lot around Danielle, she is a magic bridge between the tubes and real life; Charon, minus all the death and hell stuff. As our start time approached we gathered at the starting line to see our first runner off. At that time we split up, van 1 to go to the top of the mountain that was leg 1 and await Ruddly, while we in van 2 headed out for some food and to kill time until it was our turn.
Before we knew it Jill was getting the slap bracelet and it was our turn, which began a blurry ride of bunny hopping runners, running, pooping, drinking, eating whatever was on hand, pooping some more and making a vain attempt to get what little sleep we had time for.
At the first transition I was hanging out with Danielle whose team had already caught up to us. She was telling me that I was up against her team mate, Dutch. And that he was wicked fast and was totally going to pass me. Pfft, not on my watch. I got the baton and was off. It was going great, I was feeling relaxed but according to my Garmin I was reeling off 7:30 miles like a boss. This made me a bit nervous, as I’m not that fast and I had the big leg of the relay, 22+ miles total, a mileage unheard for me in a 24 hour period. But I felt good, so I kept it up. Then the hill came. I motored up it, dropping to 8:00 min/mile, my confidence was soaring. Then the wheels came off, with 6 miles down and about 1.5 to go things got slow quick. As I muscled my way up the climb to the finish I knew this was going to be as hard as advertised. i kept waiting for Dutch to motor by but he never did. I finished with what I had left and passed the baton happily onto John for his leg and joined the girls in the van.
Unfortunately, while I had held off Dutch, Danielle who was running out of her mind, motored by John, (Who has been henceforth banished from our team to a life of sad loneliness) costing me my bet. On we soldiered in the increasing heat of the day. While there are many up sides to sharing a van with 4 skinny, attractive, runner women, there is at least one downside. They don’t contain heat well. Thus when I am suffocating and sweating profusely in the back of the van they are just fine, but when I am at a comfortable temperature they are freezing. They let me have my way
some most of the time and kept there complaining to a minimum, at least where I could hear it. (Of note, we had been given team sweatpants that day, but I never saw them on anyone… herm…)
After our legs were done we grabbed some quick food and headed over to the next van transition to get some rest. I knew I would never be able to sleep in the van so I grabbed a patch of grass and attempted to get some sleep, between car alarms, loud talking and portapotty smell, I only managed to grab maybe an hour total sleep split up over the course of our time there. And I wasn’t happy that there were no showers, I needed a shower.
Way too soon, it was time for us to get up (1-ish am) and prep for our next leg. And boom Jill was handing me the baton and I was running again, my night leg this time. this was my longest leg, over 8 miles. It was also the most painful. As I had feared, I had wrecked myself stupidly during my first leg, so I had to suffer through this leg and just hope I had something left for my final leg. The night leg was uneventful, my team did a great job of being where they needed to be to get me food and drink throughout my run. This leg sucked because I was caught by teams that had started much later then us, aka they were stupid fast. I ended up being blown by, by at least 5 runners like I was standing still. Not the best feeling when you are already hurting. Eventually I handed the baton off to John again and was back in the van. I think I failed my team a little and fell asleep for a short bit while they dedicatedly ran and supported each other through the night.
It was already getting bright out by the time we were finished and had made our way to the next van transition. Once again, I grabbed some grass outside of the van to get some sleep. The girls had already spread out in the van as I had been driving so I grabbed the first pillow I found out of the back. This turned out to be very fortuitous for me. It turned out I had grabbed Jill’s 1200 thread count Egyptian silk covered, super comfy pillow of doom. Not even her husband had ever layed his head on it. And here I was, two legs worth of sweat and grime deflowering her pillow and getting the best 1.5 hours of sleep ever on it. It was glorious. My shady spot quickly became a sunny spot and it was time to grab some food and get ready for our final leg.
Another good thing about the women in our van: Yoga
It was getting hot, real hot. My final leg was sometime around noon, it was my shortest leg something just shy of 7 miles. I was still hurting at this point but my super pillow induced slumber had helped a bit. I tried to stay tough in the heat and pass some people for a change. I told my van mates to give me some water and Gu around 1/2 way, but they were smart enough to figure I would wilt in the heat and gave me an extra stop for water. This helped immensely as I reeled in a couple runners. Then with about a mile left and 2 runners ahead I decided to give it all that was left, my Garmin started to once again show 7:30s and the occasional 7:2x, and I picked off the final two runners with less than 1/2 a mile to go. I flew into transition handed off the baton and was done. 22+ miles, over 3+ hours, the most mileage I had ever piled up in a 24 hour period was complete.
It was at this point I began to notice I had been hoodwinked. I had been given the largest leg of the race, everyone else was scared of it. I figured because they were newer or slower runners. Umm, no. I began to notice our runners were smoking fast and knew what they were doing. I wasn’t even in the top 3 fastest in my van, let alone on the team, which was filled with marathon veterans and ultra-runners in training. Yet somehow, having never run a marathon and only 2 half marathons I got suckered into the big leg. Not that I’m bitter.
From there we hopscotched through our final legs to the beach. It was stupid hot at this point so everyone was having a rough time, but we managed to tough i out. And after 30 hours Jen rounded the corner to the finish line and we “joined” her running to the finish line. “Joined” may be too strong a word as she blew right by as we tried to keep up in flip flops and on smoked legs, but whatever, we were done.
We hung around just long enough to say hi to friends and get some team pictures taken, for Danielle to gloat (She’s good at that), then we were out of Dodge. We were all exhausted from running, and tired from not sleeping, so the mood on the van ride home alternated between total silence, delirious laughter at the most pointless things, and bad jokes. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. We dropped John off, then headed to drop me off at my car where I headed back to my sister’s house where I proceeded to pass out.
The whole weekend was a blast, I had tons of fun. Twittering, meeting new people, spending way to much time in close proximity to some of them, I loved all of it.
There will definitely be a “next year”, there is even talk about a later THIS year… We’ll see… 🙂