Friday, November 12, 2010

My legs of the race

1st leg- 5.8 miles- Down the Mountain
So I've had digestive issues / queasy stomach all day, and the closer it comes to my race the worse I feel. I'm nervous about my first run because the first 4 miles are straight down hill. To someone that doesn't run that much that may sound awesome, but for this girl who has to watch her knees, hips, and today her stomach, its less than appealing.
Because it was after 4:15 pm (race rules) I had to wear my reflective vest and my head lamp to ensure safe running. After one last bathroom stop, started to take off my layers and situate my bib on my shorts and already they were calling me "Team 159!!"

Kristy is the runner before me, and I might add shes FAST- generally she was averaging 7:45 mile splits. So needless to say I was unprepared, no warm up or stretch (in 30 degrees) and literally had to run to the chute so I could be there to receive the hand off (a neon green slap bracelet).
Kristy getting ready to hand off to me.
Just like that I was off. Right away I had my first 'kill' (term we used in reference to when we passed someone) and then I was all alone. First 1/2 mile was so so- legs felt great, breathing was good, jamming to my music- all was well. Something happened once mile 1 hit- don't know if it was because my first mile was too fast, or if the gu I had earlier didn't agree with me, but I felt sick- on both ends. I can deal with pain in my muscles, however I had yet to experience this type of pain while running. Deep inside my stomach (ladies think day before your 'gift') it felt like someone was punching me, and from the other end it felt like I hadn't gone to the bathroom in days.... so as you can imagine, I've had better runs.
Its hard to go slow down hill, so adjusting my pace accordingly wasn't an option, and the pounding of the pavement only made things worse. Within a few min I ended up throwing up briefly- never exercise induced vomit before.  To say I felt great afterward would be an overstatement, however it was much more tolerable.
It's dark now, I'm the only one of the road, I have about a foot wide of running space, I'm cranky. Luckily as  I turn a corner I see my teammates and dad pulled over, screaming my name and ringing that cowbell- sucking it up I speed up. I don't know if its a good trait to have, or bad, but generally when there are people cheering / spectating I have a tendency to pick up my pace while in their presence- today it was a good thing.
Few more minutes go by and I notice that there are now cones to block off more of the road- more running room, YES!!! I soon realize I'm definitely going to need it. For about a full 1.5 min I was running a huge steep downhill against traffic- nice to be in middle of road vs. running on the speed grooves on the edge of the painted lines. Lucky for me during this steep downhill action, I happen to pass my teammates again so it helps to keep up the pace... another kill!

Hard to see, but tackling the huge downhill 
Finally after 4+ miles I believe I'm officially down the mountain and  now its just flat- thank goodness! Unfortunately because it was so cold and my muscles were constricting my arm band I use to hold my phone so i can listen to music wouldn't stay put and kept sliding down to my elbow pit. After 30 sec of it being repositioned it would slide right back down again- frustrating. I'm the type of person that HAS to listen to music because I can't stand listening to my own breathing, so I took off my band and decided to just run while holding my phone. In this process I wasn't paying close attention to the ground and I tripped and fell- at least a passing by Ragnar van stopped and asked if I was ok.
When I get up I can see 2 blinking red lights in the distance (all runners have to wear a blinking light on back of vest or pants) my new goal- catch those lights! After a few minutes of closing the gap my music stops playing- great. Its cold, I can see my breath, I can hear my own heaving breathing, I can barely see anything (found out later I didn't have my headlight lamp on full blast) and now I have nothing to occupy my mind. Is this run over yet?
Eventually I'm about 30 feet behind my 2 blinking light runners, excited to add 2 more kills to my list; unfortunately one of them stops and walks over to the van on the other side of the road- it was a guy helping to pace his teammate... at least I got 1 kill in.
1 mile marker left- wooooooooo. Nothing eventful happened here, got a kill, had a little uphill action and finally reached  the walkie talkie guys so they could see my bib and announce to the chute which runners were approaching so my teammates were ready for the exchange. Since I'm runner 12, the last runner of my van, I hand off to the first runner of van 1. These are larger exchange points because you're switching which van is 'on' and which van now gets to rest- thats US!!!!! Another bonus is its nice to have the extra cheering and of course see your entire team as well. After I hand off to Arthur (6:30pm) I say goodbye to my dad who is going to meet us in Nashville the next morning and head out to grab some real food with van 2. Sirenora granola bars, trail mix, and bottled water- its dinner time. 

1st Break Time
After driving around for awhile in who knows where podunk Tennessee, and having my suggestion of Waffle House get rejected, we decide on Larry's BBQ to eat. This was definitely an experience- Less than 500sq ft inside, country themed everything, and generations of photos all over the wall

It was nice to be able to sit down somewhere outside of our van, and the BBQ was good as well. The boys got a family meal of what the rest. liked to call 'loose meat' vs. pulled pork- had a good chuckle with that.  I decided on the baked potato with butter, cheese, bbq sauce, and loose meat.
In my defense, we ate probably around 7:00pm and my next run wasn't until about 2:00am- so this meal didn't affect any future runs. The plan was to leave here then head to our big exchange with van 1 so we could sleep for a bit before we get the call from then. Would have left sooner, however the owner of this place had to tell us every detail of how the restaurant came to be, and in all her excitement we didn't want to be rude.

After finishing our meal we make our way to next major exchange. Once there they have a station set up under one of the picnic areas for portable fire places, hot chocolate, coffee, snacks, and even a big screen w/ projector to watch movies. I'm am a wuss when it comes to the cold so I know there is no way I can actually sit outside and watch the feature- plus it was episodes of the office and pretty sure i've seen them all. On our walk back to the van you can see oodles of people in their sleeping bags both on the ground and on picnic benches trying to get some shut eye before they have to run again. Since none of us were feeling sleeping outside in 27 degree weather, we all  pile in the van to catch shut eye... waste of time. Everyone kept trying to reposition themselves to get comfortable, bags of food rustling anytime someone moved, people outside shouting, Sloan and Craig snoring in the fronts seats all kept me awake. Thankfully 11pm rolled around and we start to prepare to sent off Scottie for his first run.

2nd Leg- 3.5 mile 2am run
By the time its my turn to run, its a little after 2am. I line up outside the chute waiting for the volunteer to tell me my teammate is coming up the hill. Some other guy gets called up before me then I hear "Team 159!" Eventually we see the first runner coming up the hill- the guy turns to me and asked if that was my teammate bc he was waiting for a guy and this was definitely a girl- sure enough it was Kristy. Had a little chuckle as the volunteer exclaimed "holy crap she kicked that guys butt- I was told she was 10 sec behind the other guy and now shes prob 10 or 15 sec ahead of him!"  Can't help to wish I could be that fast. Get the 'baton' from her and off I go, hoping for for a quick 3.5 miles.
Within a minute I realize that in addition to being able to see my breath and my nose running, its also much harder  to breathe in this low 20s weather-just feels like I need to take quicker shallower breaths because the deep ones hurt.
On the positive side, my run is relatively flat, I have plenty of running room this time, and I have my headlamp on full brightness so I can see so much better than my previous run. I notice that it is starting to get brighter and before I could figure out  it was someone else's head lamp I got hawked down by the guy who I was waiting with at the chute- damn I was just somebody else's kill. Looking back now, I"m pretty sure all this happened within view of where my van pulled over to cheer my on- embarrassing.
Teammates Craig and Sloan were waiting for me on the side of the road to see if I needed water- in between breaths I ask if they can stop shortly with a tissue handy so I can blow my nose. A minute later I hear the pounding on pavement- oh great I'm about to get passed, nope just Sloan who caught up with me, tissue in hand... relief at last.
Shortly thereafter my music goes out- seriously?!!? Now the only thing to occupy my mind is gazing up at the stars- quite serene and breathtaking out in the country- just me, the road, and the night, could get used to this. Once I take my eyes from the sky I see a flashing red light ahead-  a new goal- catch that light! Finally catch up to it, some guy who is seriously struggling, took a break just sitting down on the ground. He gets up and tries to run and talk with me- I nonchalantly tell him its hard for me to breathe at night so I can't really talk but he doesn't get the hint and keeps asking questions. Slowly I speed up and eventually leave him in my dust- see ya! Pass the 1 mile left marker, no flashing lights in the distance so its just me alone on the road again. Finally see the walkie talkie which lets me know I'm close to the exchange, sure enough after I get up past a mini hill I see the chute and hear my teammates cheering me on! I hand off to Arthur and I'm done for the night.

2nd break time
We all grab some hot chocolate at a nearby tent and then make the drive to my place for some shut eye for a few hours before having to meet up at for our last exchange between the vans. Ended up being a very LONG 40 or so minute drive- comical to see Scottie try to keep Sloan awake at the wheel. Get back to my place around 3:30am, call Van 1 to confirm when they should call later to let us know to head out and then crash. Little after 6am get the call that we have 9 miles to gear up and head out. Our exchange between the vans is at Healthways, my work, only a quick 15 min drive, so we get there and have plenty of time to kill. Seems colder now, than it did for my 2am run- lets hope it gets warmer by the time I have to run. Eventually Brianna turned the corner and made her way to hand off to Scottie. Van 1 is officially done and we make plans to meet them at the finish line where i'll be bringing it in.

3rd leg 3.6 miles to finish line
As I'm waiting for the hand off from Kristy, I'm now starting to feel the effects of the lack of stretching, warm ups, cool downs, and being cooped up in a van has taken on my legs, at least its warmer out and this is my last leg and we're done with the whole relay!

Got baton from Kristy and headed off toward the finish line. Right away the guy in yellow ahead of me got passed, KILL! The first part of my run is actually an area of town I run often with one of my girlfriends so at least the familiarity of it made it pleasant, an as an added bonus, only one slight hill. About 1 mile in teammates and dad cheered me on before making their way to the finish line.

About 2 miles in I was running down a street in front of a row of bars and had to dodge a few people who wouldn't get out of the way- in the process I wasn't paying the best attention and a car came out of a hidden drive and knicked my  left calve, down I went- jerk didn't even ask if I was okay. After a bit my legs felt like lead and I had to do my run / walk combo a bit to stretch out. Apparently another guy had the same idea because he was doing the same thing, only more walking vs. running so he got passed, KILL!

Once I turn on to Church St, the final street before turning to the finish line, a girl catches up to me telling me how much this sucks and she hates running but her friend talked her into it blah blah blah and then she passes me! A girl who hates running, who didn't even want to do this relay, but yet is going faster than me, what the hell?!?! Mini goal- pass her back up and beat her to the finish- shouldn't be a problem because its pretty much all downhill at this point. After awhile I get some momentum going, let my legs carry me down the hill and then bam! stoplight. Since we are in the heart of downtown Nashville if you don't stop at the stop light, you will get hit. This happens about 3 times before we are past all the stop lights and then its go time. I see my entire team at the bottom of the hill cheering and screaming my name- see ya later other girl! So for whatever reason I thought if I just got to my team I was done, definitely not the scenario. After I pretty much kicked it in to them I turn the corner and actually see the finish line- its glorious, but I'm tired now.
Finish line actually much farther from the corner that this, was taken at a closer point from my dad. 
So I make my way toward the finish line- again not knowing the rules. Apparently your team is supposed to all run in together, and instead I'm in front of them just trying to get this run over with.
Coming down the home stretch with my team behind!
...Almost there!
The rest of "Runners of Walmart"
Close up L -R Christian, Craig, Arthur, Kristy

                                    Right when you finish they have a table filled with all sorts of snacks and candy!!!

Our full team "Runners of Wal-Mart" Back row L-R: Scott, Sloan, Craig, Kristy, Brianna, Arthur Christian, Sarah.
 Front row- Lindsay, Jess, Me, Shaun.

And we're done 28 hours 2 min- 195 miles from Chattanooga TN to Nashville, TN. Had an amazing time with a great group of people. I highly recommend for anyone who is looking for a challenge to definitely look into one of these overnight relays, something I'm sure you won't forget!

After showers and much needed naps Van 2, minus Kristy, hit the town for celebratory drinks, real food, and fun! Out of all the bars we picked downtown, we just happened to be next to the team of the girl who I passed on the downhill who 'hates running' 

                                                                         This is our "before" picture

And close to the 'after' 

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