Quick background on what a relay is. If you already know, scroll down 🙂
The idea is almost always the same. You get 12 people (unless you’re crazy or just want more leg room in the van, then you go with less people, as few as 4). And two vans start at one location, and basically take turns running until you get to the end point- usually 200 miles away. It’s split up into 36 legs. And most legs range in length- about 3 to 10 miles, though some are longer.
What that really means is you spend 24 hours in a van with 5 other people. You run through the night. And there’s not a lot of space, so you only bring the necessities. The roads aren’t closed, so you get extra cool points for wearing dayglow and reflective vests, headlamps and blinking lights. Other rave attire is optional (remember those glow-stick necklaces… heck yeah! we will be rocking those!)
I had never heard of a running relay before. I would have pictured the olympic relays- in which they run once around a track and hand-off the baton… It was a Girls Night at our local Fleet Feet (running store), and my running buddies were congregating around the champagne and Sarah said “Hey, this looks fun. Do you guys want to do it” while holding a flyer for the “Tuna 200“. I laughed and said sure, as long as I didn’t have to do any long legs or any runner recruiting… I seriously thought she’d never actually follow through with it.
And a week later, she brought it up on a run, and a few others were interested. And eventually we had so many people interested, we had to split into two teams of 12.
The Tuna 200 is an inaugural event. For those who didn’t go to college, that means it’s the first year. Ever. And things aren’t really set up way in advance like they are for other seasoned races. It runs from Raleigh to Atlantic Beach. The reason it is called Tuna- they provide a Tuna beach party with local brews from Mother Earth. Mother Earth has exceptionally delicious beers, so this will be very nice Saturday afternoon. We haven’t gotten our official start time, but we are thinking it will be 7-8am on Friday morning, and we will take turns running until 2-5pm on Saturday afternoon.
The race is Oct 19 (next Friday). We just got an updated/ finalized course map on last Saturday (Oct 6)- 13 days before the race. We expected minor changes. Instead of a few of the 36 legs being adjusted, there were pretty significant changes to about 15 of the legs, and minor changes to another 5 legs.
Anyway, so I had been envisioning a 9-miler to start out. Then 6.5 miles later that evening, and finally a 6.5 miler at sunrise. In my head, a slow easy 9 miles, then two tempo runs (at a sub-9 pace). But, now, I will be running 9.08 miles at ~1030am, 9.96 miles at ~10pm, then finish up with a speedy 3.33 miles at 5am.
For the night runs, I will just imagine I am a post-zombie world like The Walking Dead and running from zombies on a country road. In that case, maybe the blinking lights is not such a good choice. (BTW- why are zombies attracted to light and sound? Good thing I’m a stealthy lightweight/minimalist runner…)
I even got in a 3.33 mile run on the treadmill last Monday. And including a 11:00 pace warm-up, I finished in 29:25 (which is a sub-9 minute pace, if you’re counting). And my legs felt like death at the beginning of it, but I managed to pump out a 6:45 pace for the last .25 miles. Okay, honest time here- I am faster than I really tell people. I could probably run a sub 8:00 pace; just not for long, and am too lazy to work that hard on a regular basis.
Other things to know about
life relays- You will never be as prepared as you want to be. There will inevitably be something you “need” but didn’t grab and tons of things you grabbed, but never used. So, back to the post-apocalyptic zombie world; I will pack as little as possible. My packing strategy- what would I absolutely need? Okay, now what else would I grab if my apartment was burning down, and I couldn’t go to the store… (bare essentials and then one more thing haha).
We sent out list upon list upon list. Mostly the email thread was jokes like “I’ll kick you out of the van if you bring a blanket!” or “I’m building a fort of pillows around me. And my espresso maker” But Allison and I finally came up with a list. And went shopping Tuesday; which went like this-
Allison: “Should we grab ____? We might need it…”
me: “I think we’ll be okay without it”
Allison: (warily) “Okay, but I might bring some just for myself”
me: “Okay, you’re right. We should grab a pack of ____”
Allison: “Do you think a 88-count is going to be enough?”
me: “um, yeah. I think so” (laughing)
Allison: “Well I use them a lot”
me: “Then you should buy more 🙂 ”
All in all, we will probably have to stop. At one point in an email chain with Sarah, I asked her if there was a pending apocalypse that I didn’t know about. Are we not going to be able to stop at stores? Are the stores going to run out of basic supplies like water?
So our line-up:
Runner #1- Allison (aka “Turtle Killer Turner”). She is bright and cheery, and will probably be the most stressed out and the most prepared. Also my long-run and Richmond-marathon-training buddy. She likes turtles. Total= 20.44 miles miles. Plus a few hundred yards here and there at about mile three of each run.
Runner #2- Dan. He is our veteran relay runner. He has done three before, but when we ask him for advice, the comments are generally I don’t know. Yeah, you don’t really sleep. I think I maybe ate a doughnut? Yeah. He was roped into it by Dave, who once played kickball with Sarah aka “Champagne”. Total= 20.79 miles. And speedy too.
Runner #3- Olga. She likes to drink diet mtn dew, and is bringing a 12-pack. Which I picture her chugging like a frat boy and PBR 🙂 And has done two Blue Ridge Relays, so I am envious. She is our speedy/shorter distance runner. Total= 9.46 miles. Also, she ran three 5K’s last weekend. Clearly dedicated to practicing for Tuna 🙂
Runner #4- Sarah (aka Skipper or Champagne). Too much for me to even start with here. But she is pretty much awesome, and oh- she’s ran a relay before. Which she apparently got on a plane with one backpack for the whole weekend of festivities. Pretty badass right there. Total= 15.32 miles.
Runner #5- That’s me! I feel really prepared and am ready to be the anchor of distance for our team. I’d say my pace is about a 9:30, but I tend to be faster than I think I am… I am also probably the crankiest one of the bunch. I’ve already told people like 20 times “Don’t touch my food!” But I’m in the zone, and will be fine. As long as I get my 3 doughnuts after my 9miler. For real, even though I’m skinny, I like my food. Total= 22.37 miles.
Runner #6- Dave. Dan and Dave are all bromantical and do almost everything together. He’s the youngest. And hardly ever runs more than 6 miles and has only been running for a year. But he does crossfit, so that’s like the same right? No, he’s the youngest, so he’ll do fine. (I hope) Total= 16.79 miles.
And that’s Van #1.
There is a Van #2, but let’s not kid ourselves- they’re not important.