my 5K PR during a tournament of underdogs

aka ‘I hope San Diego State beats you too

So today’s 5K sucked. It was really hard. Dan and I joked about not even going.

We started off the day a little later than usual, and headed to Cirque de Vol’s Align and Shine yoga. Which was an amazing start to the day. But it just kept getting colder and colder, and the rain started falling around 1pm (and kept falling harder). We started with a ~mile jog to the start. Then desperately tried to stay warm and dry not soaking wet until the start of the race at 2pm. I was looking Dan under the tiny packet pick-up tent (which had about 100 people under it). Suddenly, the wind picked up and dumped a gallon of water on my right shoulder. I quickly huddled under the tent next to some guys who were rocking Florida Gulf Coast University shirts (This made me happy- as FGCU was a strong underdog and took out Georgetown, officially killing my slightly red NCAA bracket). I made conversation with them until I saw Dan. He found an empty awning by the start, and we made our way there.

A woman came up to me and said “We look like purple condoms. Big, purple condoms.” I replied “You can stand under here with us” 🙂

Finally, at 1:55pm, people started heading toward the start line. I had satellites on my watch (which excited me). I left Dan with a pat on the butt (he was trying to break 20-minutes, which put him much closer to the start than I cared to be). I made my way to the middle of the pack. The weather was 38 degrees, and pouring down rain. We were all soaked to the core, just by standing out there for about 5 minutes.

At 1:59pm, Paul (Dan’s friend), and other various legit runners stripped off their sweats and jumped to the start line. And we were off at 2pm!

The anxiety and nerves rushed me. I felt strong for the first couple minutes, weaving through some of the people. Then, started to question my pace. [Given the weather conditions, it was impossible to check my garmin constantly). The thought occurred to me that I was going at an all-out pace, so I dropped back a little. Then, started focusing on a person-by-person target (in lieu of a “pace”). I kept picking people up, slowly. I overheard a guy saying we were going a 7:42. Since we were only about a 1/2 mile in, that made me slow back a bit…

We hit the “1 mile” mark, and the time-keeper yelled “8:42″… I was so disappointed. (btw, he was not at the one mile- see splits below). I sped up as much as I could hold. Then the cramping started. Damnit! I thought. I wasn’t even running that fast. I decided to just try and hold that pace. And we got past the “halfway” sign, and I pushed a little extra. I was struggling to breathe. And it felt like my legs were frozen.

Two miles. Finally! And my watch dinged “7:59” for that mile. Okay, mile-by-mile doesn’t matter anymore… I switched my view to overall time (as opposed to pace time) and distance. Time to kick it in. I tried to pick up the motivation, but it was just so freaking cold. And wet. I kept pushing.

I saw this older guy (probably 60?). I just had to pass him. I kept telling myself I could do it. We volleyed back and forth as to who was leading. Then, I saw my “nemesis” (this girl who was likely in my age group, and looked too pretty for an ugly day 5K)… I wanted to beat her, just for the principle of it. And I could see she was slowing down.

Finally, getting up the last little hill, and a downhill stretch for less than 0.5 miles to bring it in. I had to get in front of the old man! Finally, with about 0.25 miles left, I conceded. “You’re…. doing… awe-some!” I said to him in between breathes, and decided we’d finish together. Final stretch and I could see 24xx. I heard Dan yelled my name, and “24:15!” Looked up, saw 24:19, and flew past the finish. I’m still not sure what my final time was (not yet posted), but my garmin said 24:27, but I ran an extra bit to get out of the finish shoot before stopping my watch.

SPLITS:

Second Empire 5K Splits

After running through the final shoot, I hunched over, and glanced around, giving the old guy a high five “Nice job!” He agreed, then I saw the FGCU guys come through the shoot. Immediately my mind went to tonight’s game (which I am currently watching)

I hope San Diego State beats you too.

There is a sassy black woman inside of me. They were actually pretty nice about it, and wished San Diego luck as well.

(I went there for grad school, and, personally, they’re underdogs too. Hopefully my cockiness doesn’t push them out of the Sweet 16 advancement…)

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Running family and real family…

Today is Thanksgiving.

For me, that means beginning the day early with ~3,000 other runners for the Ridgewood Turkey Trot 8K (5 miles). In 2010, I was training for a half marathon, and someone suggested I do the turkey trot. I was planning to do a 5-6 mile training that day, so I signed up.

And something about running through the old neighborhoods off Ridge Road. It feels like home. Running through all the piles and piles of orange and brown leaves. The crisp, cold air. The calm, that doesn’t generally accompany races. It’s like we are all there for one reason- to cancel out the food we plan to eat later to give thanks for our ability to run.

So, my first time at this Turkey Trot, I had no idea what to expect, but thought I ran 8’s, so would finish in ~40 minutes. I went out really strong. At Mile 1, I had done a sub-8. Woo! Then, I started hitting the hills of Raleigh. And then, I hit the last hill. Basically Ridge Road is a slow, steady up-hill for the last 2 miles. And I just had gassed it way too early, so I (sadly) walked for about a mile. And managed to finish in 44:30-something. And was devastated.

After doing a few more 8K’s, I realized 45:00 is about my average, and not to expect any faster.

Today was different.

Last night, I met Dan and Dave at packet pick-up and we enjoyed some beer out on the patio. And some great conversation, and good laughs. Then, I spent the night at Dan’s. I just relaxed. It was such a nice night.

And he woke up at 6am, I woke up closer to 630. And got coffee, and slowly made out way to the cold winter air outside. I wore a tank top (with my Brooks arm sleeves), and simple capri tights (not fleece lined). Everyone we met was decked out in major winter gear. I was thinking Guys, c’mon! It’s ~40 degrees, the sun is shining, and it’s only 5-miles. And hugging Dan for body warmth.

We headed over to the start to find our pace groups. And Dan and Dave convinced me to start in the 7:00-9:00 pace group. Dan had been thinking 7-something, Dave was thinking sub-40. I was thinking my blisters hurt this morning in bed… And I just ran a marathon 12-days ago. Where is Steve (first timer), and Oh! Sondra said she was running an 11:00… But I hung with the boys until the start, and fell back quickly.

My hands were freezing (as in hard to move them, and they didn’t hurt), so I pulled my arm sleeves down over them. And wished I’d brought gloves. Once I warmed up, I started taking charge on the hills. Tearing off toward the sidewalk, and running on the outside during turns, in order to pass people, and find some “space”. At halfway, I wondered what idiot was blaring their music, and realized it was coming from my butt. So, I reached back to turn it off, and saw the dreaded time. Why did I start this app? I thought to myself, and saw the time- 23:00 (2.58 miles in)… Okay, not bad, I want 45-minutes. That works fine. You ran a marathon 12 freaking days ago. Just finish.

Except, I also used to run this way back for every tempo run for a good 10-12 weeks. It’s like my body just knew that, and kept pushing more and more up the hill. Until I saw the Steeples (a church that’s about a mile away from finish), and tried to give it as much as I could. And then I saw the parking lot. Which always tricks us into thinking the finish line is there (it’s not! You have to run a small zig-zag of about 200 meters in), but I always kick it too early. And as I approached the final turn, I heard Dan yelling my name, saw the time was in the 42’s, and noticed everyone was blazing past me.

I stopped my watch- 42:50. I’ll take it (chip time was actually 42:34, but I always start it early/ end it late). So, I PR’ed by 2 minutes. I looked for Dan and Dave. Found Dave, who finished in 39:50-something, and then we wandered for Dan… who finished in ~36 minutes (woo! woo! That’s fast to me. The winners are usually like 30 minutes).

So, I started off the day with some people who always inspire me, and make me feel like I can accomplish anything. My running family. And starting the day with Dan. Well, that was nice. It’s been a long time since I wanted to see someone I dated on a holiday.

So, then family time. And oh my gosh. I am so. freaking. stuffed. Like, laying in my bed. Thinking, I will have to run a good bit tomorrow to try and get rid of it all. …And looking forward to our first official date on Saturday.

HAPPY GOBBLE! GOBBLE! I hope you all have something in your life to be thankful for.

Me- my health and happiness. They both take work to get to, but are always worth fighting for 🙂

Richmond Marathon- in photos

For those who prefer to look at photos (with brief captions), rather than read the entire post:

Early on in the race

We tried. Really hard. To get a good picture…

Allie and me, preparing to photo-bomb this “Lisa” girl

Lisa: You’ve been photo-bombed.

I did feel bad, because it looks like we ruined her photo. However, we were holding hands and running for a good 400 meters… And didn’t even get a picture of us doing so… Unless you include this-

“Oh no. Not those two- they look ready for a photo…Can’t have that… hmmm… I know! I’ll cut one of them out!”

I basically kept giving thumbs up.

Isn’t that vein that pops out on my forehead sexy? I’d also like to point out my good form running— look at those feet- pushing perfectly straight, and landing totally flat-foot (this I’m sure is not in all the pictures… )

Pondering life’s mysteries… Like why I am I still running? Where is the finish?

Just keep pushing… Don’t look down…

Somehow I still have good form? Awesome.

Me and my new friend, Meg. We ran the last 2 miles together… I ran with my eyes closed. Awesome.

Good thing that vein went away. But I definitely did not see the camera, and was just thinking ‘Please don’t let my blisters burst until after 26.2′

Mile 26.2– Can you see the elation on my face?!

Damnit! That vein is back… Luckily the last .25 miles is downhill… Oh wait, that means my feet will be pushed to the front of my shoes, and oh! blisters…

If no one is in front of me in the picture, it means I won, right?

Blisters, blisters, blister. Ow ow ow! You can see that those words on my face…

Also, I was 6 minutes behind the clock, so chip time= 4:30:39. Go me.

And, I found this picture, but have no idea when it was from- mile 17 to mile 24…

Not insane power walking. I was running…

Richmond Marathon weekend- recap (long)

There is so much to say about Richmond, and about my first marathon.

First things first, my training was amazing. Having Allison there every Saturday morning was one of the things that kept me going. And the week of the race, we kept reminding each other “it’s just another training run” to calm the nerves.

Second, the Richmond Marathon truly is America’s Friendliest Marathon. I have done several half marathons- small (~300 people) and large (20,000+ people), and no other race I’ve done had better crowd support. There were people the entire way. There may have been about 500 meters where I didn’t see a spectator cheering us on, handing out pretzels, or high five-ing the runners. It felt like the city opened its arms to runners for a day, and embraced us all and helped push us along. So that was great.

I knew it would be a good race when we got into and out of the expo in about 30 minutes, and the “long” time was mainly because Sarah, Allison and I decided to get shirts and go to the majority of the booths to check things out. Then, we grabbed food (which we ate insanely quickly, proving skinny girls can put away food too. Especially the night before a marathon). After getting food, we saw a Target and pulled over to check out the athletic apparel and Sarah and Allison got cheap “throw away” beanies for the start line. [Weather man said it would be 30 degrees at 7am, and 65 degrees by noon] We, of course grabbed a 12-pack of beer, and wine for each of us.

Just a quick recap- our pre-marathon priorities were: clothes, then alcohol. Yep, that’s why I love these girls.

We designated my room as the “party room”, and I loaded my fridge with the beer and a gallon jug of water.

How the “B Group” prepares…

RACE DAY!

I woke up at 5am (before my alarm), and decided to get up and get ready. I had already packed everything the night before (including headphones in my capris, socks in my shoes, to remember).

Flat Chandi!

We got on the shuttle, which was really more of a “pre-party bus” set up with empty champagne flutes. Everything about getting there and getting set up was stress-free. It felt eery how smoothly things went. Usually, you are running to the bag check, trying to find your corral, etc etc. Everything was so calm. We sent Sarah off to the half marathon start and cheered her on. Then went back to our marathon corral (the last one), and lined up just in front of the 5:00 pace group (we wanted to start off slow).

Anxiously waiting to start…

Before we knew it, people were throwing sweat shirts in the air, and we were walking to the start, and throwing our hoodies off to the side. We started out beautifully- in the low 11’s, which is where we wanted to “warm up” for the first couple miles. And even though we had gone to the portapotties twice, Allison and I both had to pee after about a mile. And decided to stop at mile 4 (since there was no line). And then, we felt much lighter and started shaving some time, until we were comfortably in the low 10’s (10:10s, 10:20s).

on Monument Ave

We turned down Monument Avenue, which has a lot of Victorian homes, and statues of famous people (though I wasn’t paying attention to who), and looped for turns. We got water at every water station (every 2 miles for the first 20, then every mile the last 6). Around mile 8, we started looping to a road that went along the James River, and we quietly zoned out. Just glancing over at the water occasionally. Then, by mile 10, we came back into some neighborhoods, and saw the next portapotty/ water station, and we stopped for about three minutes. We had been somewhat relying on Allison’s Garmin to keep our pace, but stopping kinda messed with it, and our next mile was like a 9:50 or something, so we slowed down some. And saw the 13.1 (Half) marker. YAY!

Allison and I were preparing to cheese and she said “do you want to hold hands?” ….Um yes! Heck yes I do! So, I hope that picture came out good. And we were at 2:24 according the clock. But I got a text, telling me Allie was at the half marker at 2:18, so we were about 6 minutes behind the clock. At mile 15, there was a Accel Gel station. We walked as I reached for a GU (had been munching on Honey Stinger chews every so often), and some water. After a couple minutes, we started running again.

We got to the Robert E Lee Bridge (mile 16 or 17?), and Allie seemed to be getting in her own head. I made idol conversation with a fellow Raleigh runner (thanks to his Raleigh Running Outfitters shirt), and we saw the beautiful view of downtown Richmond against the riverfront. Then, there was a junk food station with coke and gummy bears. I took the coke, thinking it was water. And realized quickly it was not. But I took a few sips anyway. Soon after Allison wanted to walk again, and I just couldn’t. My body was in so much pain, and walking hurt. That water/GU break to walk had mentally defeated me, and I couldn’t do it again. And I started to say “Okay, I can walk” and she said “go on”, so I did.

And zoned out to my music. Nikki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne, etc. I started cruising. I won’t say I felt great. But my legs knew what they were doing so, I had to let my mind get out of the way of my body. At mile 18, I felt the inner parts of my big toe and second toe blistering up with every step. But I pushed through. I was passing people left and right. And only 1 or 2 people passed me between mile 18 and 22. At mile 20, I saw the clock said 3:34, and I knew I was 6 minutes ahead, and I could taste 4:30. I knew I’d be in the 4:30s, even if I backed off a little.

My head kind of negotiated with my body to slow down, but my body knew better. It’s like my body knew that I could do it. And it just kept going. It hurt to pass people between mile 22 and 24. And I passed by the beer station (dixie cups of beer), and a guy in front of me took 4 shots of the beer back to back. And I was thinking this hurts. What is wrong with my body? Why won’t my body slow down? And instead, I started speeding up again. And I could feel the blisters multiplying on every step on uneven pavement.

And then, suddenly a girl appeared next to me. “You! We started at the same time. I remember your [neon] green sleeves. You’re gonna run me in.” As flattering as this was, I felt she must have mistaken me for the strongest runner in the crowd. Then, I looked around, the two of us were flying past everyone else. So I agreed. She kept telling me she was going to drop off, because I was going too fast, and I kept saying the same to her. And then at mile 25, I saw Sarah, and she laughed (I know she was thinking Of course Chandi found a friend. She’s a social runner. She always finds a friend”). She ran with me for about 100 meters or so, and it felt great, to know she was there. Sarah described the finish, wished me luck, and then went looking for Allie. My new friend, Meg, kept saying “I can do this. I can do anything for a mile. I can do this” and it kind of became our mantra.

I would love to have seen my actual mile splits for the last 10K. It felt like the last two miles were sub-9:00 pace. And I said “I haven’t seen the 4:30 pacer yet, but I know we’ve got to be getting close to it…” And a guy said “yeah, there’s no way- they’re way up there” but I just kept pushing with my new friend Meg. Every hill was like a challenge for me to dig in. And I just kept pushing, and I definitely felt like my last mile was my fastest.

The last .25 miles was a steep downhill. Did I mention my toes had blisters, beginning at mile 18? And any cracked pavement hurt to run on? Well, running downhill hurt. And then I felt the blisters split open. On the last downhill stretch. But, I literally didn’t have it in my quads to slow down, so I tried to turn my grimace into a smile for the photo finish. And looked up- 4:35:31. Sweet! 4:30s! And I bent over and thought I’d cry because I could barely walk on what I imagined were bloody feet. A medical aid ran over to me to try and catch me (she thought I was going to fall). And I said to Meg “my blisters split on the last downhill. I can hardly walk” and contemplated going to a first aid tent to have the professionals take care of them. But I also knew Allison was only a few minutes behind me. So, I thought, I’ll cheer her in first. I remembered to stop my watch and it said 4:31:57, so I thought to myself Did I do it in under 4:30?!?! Hell freaking yeah! (I texted Sarah to let her know I was done and around 4:30, so said “U had 4:30:39! Great job!” In looking back at my 10K splits, I can tell why the last 6 miles sucked. I dropped about a minute-per-mile pace for the last six. But, hey, it’s what my body wanted 🙂

Thank you, Meg, from DC, for choosing me. I’m sure I looked strong at the time, but was mentally and physically drained at that point, and wasn’t sure I could maintain the 10:00 pace I’d been hovering at. And you helped me get into the sub-10:00 to finish strong just as much as I helped you.

The Numbers:
10K- 1:05:33 (10:34 pace)
Half Mar- 2:18:25 (10:35 pace) <– Also stopped for 3 minute bathroom break (mile 10?). hehe.
20 mile- 3:29:31 (10:18 pace)
Finish- 4:30:39 (9:33 pace)
*Those “paces” are on my split times, so 9:33 was my average pace from 20 to 26.2, my overall pace was 10:20. But for my first time, I am so proud to finish, and to finish strong.

A little word of advice- if you’re ever struggling in a race, find someone who looks physically strong upright, and yell out “You! Run me in!” Because it will actually help you both finish strong.

Me and Allison. Beer and medals in hand.

Great experience. And I’ll probably post more at some point. Today (Monday) my plan is to do a 2 mile walk to start shaking things out some. I went to Dan’s last night, and he drove us to a bar that is about 0.5 miles away from his house. And this morning, I was able to go up and down stairs like a normal person (not granny- one step/two feet, holding onto the railing for life- style). It’s slow, but still moving 🙂

Tuna 200 recap (long one)

I just got back from one of the best weekends ever. Definitely the best running weekend ever. Walking away, I know I will be doing another relay. And will be so much more prepared for it too 🙂 So Oct 19-20 was the Tuna200 which is a 200-mile relay from Raleigh, NC to Atlantic Beach. Our team was 12 people, and two vans. Seriously, I won’t go into all the details, but if it’s something you’re curious about, click the link. It gives every detail. I had legs #5 (“Hard”), #16 (“Hard”), and #25 (Easy route, but terrible timing haha).

So our adventure started Friday morning at 6am. Dan, Dave, and I met at Sarah’s to pack the Tahoe, and got out of the driveway by 6:10am (go us! We were planning for a ‘no later than 6:15’). Dan, who’s usually a little late, was the first one there. I took co-pilot seat; the GPS was mine so I input the address of the start line. A great sign to a trip- we missed the turn for the park where everyone was meeting… Whoops! And Sarah got to test her five-point three-point turn skills on our first country road. It was raining when we started, so Allison was nervous, and had texted 2-3 times and called Sarah’s phone, asking where we were. As soon as we got there, Olga and Allison loaded the Tahoe with the stuff, and we all began to wonder silently ‘where is the fifth person going to sit?’ … Well, not me. That early in the morning, I’m hardly silent. I made snide comments about how much Allison packed (uncalled for- but I was anxious too, and anxious about everyone fitting in the Tahoe comfortably). We lined up at the start to go over the rules, and with a little spanking, sent Allison on her way to kick off this 200-mile race. We made jokes that she was on her own, and we’d see her at the beach. 🙂 #CornyDadJokes

We headed off to the next spot, and saw all the 730am runners, Allison barely trailing the others. Allison handed off to Olga flawlessly, and the relay had officially started. We attempted to paint the van, since it had stopped raining. It ended up looking very pretty 🙂

Olga handed off to Sarah. Who, handed off to Dan, and I realized I needed to change shirts and get ready… Here goes nothing- I had the first long/hard leg.

LEG #5 (my first leg): 9.08 Miles “Hard”

I couldn’t feel the “downhill” in the beginning… You can see my elevation edits 🙂

Dan handed off to me at 1034am, and I took off. I kept telling myself to go slow and just hit my stride. Unfortunately, when running on the road, here’s a few things to think of. On a curvy country road, the road slants in the direction of the curve. And my left hip started to feel that by mile 3-4. You also have to jump on and off the road depending on how fast the car is coming toward you/ if they see you. Also, you get no shelter from the sun. It was beautiful and 75 degrees, but I went through about 12 oz. of water in the first 4 miles. Okay, Chandi, time to reserve the water. I went for about 5 miles without seeing another runner. One guy “blazed” past me. Then stopped to walk a couple minutes later. He seemed just out of reach the whole time. I kept trying to pick up the pace to catch him, but couldn’t do it. I came upon my last curve and saw the church. And heard the church bells. I remember I was supposed to finish at 12pm according to schedule (after 12pm, you were required to have water on you). So I made my final sprint. And Ca caw’ed to make Dave smile, as I handed off to him. (Finished in 1:26:15. Yay! 9:29 pace… look at me, picking up the seconds hehe)

My vanmates basically rocked. I had told them a few things before the run- I wanted a cold Nuun and 2-3 Dunkin donuts when I finished (We wrote Running on Dunkin on the Tahoe… and I ate five throughout the race). And Dave asked that I ca-caw to him (Allison and I stole a brilliant idea to ca-caw as you are coming in at night, so the next runner can tell it’s you from a distance… Then that runner yells “Hootie Hoo!” so the runner who is coming in knows you’re ready. It also gives a little extra encouragement. We saw so many teams who their runner would go fast/strong, and then end up standing around for 10 minutes, trying to find their person. This doesn’t just cost you time, it would be aggravating and a little stressful in my opinion).  Dave could clearly see me- it was noon, but it was fun to ca-caw.

After my run, we ran into Kerry, our old coach. His team actually won the whole thing. They started at 9:00am (giving us a 1.5 hour head start), and had already caught up with us by that exchange- #5. So I was on an endorphin high. I walked back to the car, and declared proudly, “I’m taking off my shoes!” And threw my phone to the ground…
“I hope my 10-miler is shorter than my 9-miler” I said to Dan. He responded Maybe. Just Maybe. And we burst into laughter. Then, I walked around the Tahoe to get some water, got distracted by donuts and jumped in. … Leaving my phone and shoes behind. I also tried to get in a 15-passenger van at Exchange #1… So, hey! I got the right vehicle this time, right?!

We realized I left my shoes when we were getting ready to leave the next Major Exchange, after sending Beth off into the country… Thankfully, we told Jesus (a runner in Van #2), who had been talking about it and someone overheard him and walked over with my shoes and my phone. And he showed up Jesus. Saves. The Day. (That guy has such a great sense of humor!) So, then, we took off for Smithfield for lunch, and eventually to the next Major Exchange. [Major Exchanges= all the vans meet up because you are switching from the last runner in one van to the first runner in another van] We had about 3 hours, even after eating lunch. So we all set up towels and worked on our tans. Did I mention I did the middle of the day 9-mile run… Well, I didn’t need much “work” on my tan after that… haha! Dan and I practiced gymnastics (I was a coach for about 6 years). Olga and Allison continually updated their facebook, and gave us the updates (including one of our running buddies, who had joked about running with us, but thankfully decided not to, as his wife had her baby Friday morning). We also took bets on who would come out of the port-a-potties first, as we had a front row view. And listened to a random woman playing violin in the field.

FINALLY! We got the text from Van #2, saying they were headed our way, and we met up with them. They were making great timing and we were about 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Allison geared up with her “night” gear at 5:30 (had to have it after 6pm). So she was walking around with a reflective vest, headlamp, and blinkies until Jason came across the exchange zone. And she was off- for the hardest leg of all- 11.06 miles. And there was about 2 miles where cars weren’t allowed access on the road, so no van support. We headed off to get gas and water, and looped back to catch Allie at mile 5, just in time. One of her blinking lights wasn’t working, and it was just getting dark. We switched it out for her. Cheered her on, and went on our way, barely avoiding hitting a HUGE dog. Allison later told us that dog scared the piss out of her at mile 6…

Reflective gear is fun. [Dave, Dan, Sarah]

The next point was a field on the corner of two highways. And no port-a-potties. So we stood in the field. Laughing and talking. Dave’s next leg was 1.81 miles, and he joked that he was going to try to beat the Tahoe. He predicted he’d finish in 6:30’s, which was a little ambitious (he usually runs a 8:30-9:00 pace). After Dave took off, we waited at the light. And he ran by. Then, we got to another light, and passed by him. We got to the exchange zone, thinking we’d have a few minutes. Dan got out of the Tahoe, and stretched, with just enough time to hear “ca caw! ca caw!”… “Dan? DAAAAANNN! Where the hell are you!?” (Dave pounded that leg in 12:30, sub-7s). And Dan took off for the road. Sarah and I changed.

LEG #16 (my second leg): 9.96 miles “Hard”

Felt downhill until the last 0.5 miles 🙂 Great run! Thanks Charles!

I was up next- 9.96 miles in the dark. When Dan came blazing in, there were two other runners with him. I thanked god there were others, then freaked out that I would run too fast and burn out and be stuck walking in the dark (which seems sad). I took off fast! So fast my blinking light jumped off. I had to turn to grab it from the road, and struggled to find a place for it on my back, while I made introductions with the other two runners.

One was a girl, who said she was going for a 8:30-8:45 pace. I laughed and dropped away from her. The other man- older with a gray mustache and a headlamp that spanned the entire width of the two-lane road, said he was just looking to finish. He was on an ultra team, and had already done ~20 miles. His name was Charles. And we had a lot in common (his first full marathon was Vegas, which was my first half marathon… the same year). We hit the first few miles too fast- 8:07, 8:20, 8:30, then finally 8:57. My GPS jumped from that to sub-one-minute pacing, and I mean even when I’m fast, I’m not that fast. So I turned it off. And just ran my heart out. But it felt like we were hovering around 9-minute splits, and Charles glanced at his watch every so often and reported we were at 9-minute miles. I felt like my legs were running as fast as they could. One foot in front of the other, just staring at the white line, making conversation with Charles. At mile 5, we decided we were in it together; if he sped up, I sped up. If he wanted to slow down, I would too. But we both refused to slow down. He later told my Van#2 teammates that it was the best 10 miles he’d done to date, and most enjoyable too.

We saw the sign for “exchange zone ahead” (which varies but can be anywhere from 0.2 miles to a mile away from the zone). Charles assured me it was just around the corner. And I realized I had been tearing up the asphalt, going way faster than I had told my vanmates. I had said “I’m just looking to finish. Don’t expect before a 9:30 pace…” And had been going 9’s and below. I said to Charles, I’m going to do something crazy… And he looked at me like “Oh no. she wants to go faster!” And I ca caw’ed as loud as I could. It was like a battle cry. I had no idea where I was, or what time it was, but I knew I was coming in strong, and probably 5+ minutes ahead of time. When we came upon my van-mates. I heard our two teams cheering us in, and pushed it with every fiber in me. I saw Olga scrambling to get to the road to meet me [I later found out they had all been talking outside, when Olga suddenly looked around, going I might be crazy, but I think I hear her… Someone ran to the road, saw me coming in hot, and grabbed Olga. Thankfully, she was ready to go a little early]. We fumbled a little with the hand-off, but then she was off into the night. I quickly scrambled to get my things together and excitedly jumped into the Tahoe, telling my vanmates every little detail. How there were three drunk guys who pulled over to cheer us on. I shared my water with Charles, and we got fresh water at mile 6. And how Charles had yelled Chandi! Quick on my right! when a dog approached. Haha! And how I wanted to get to a port-a-potty… I had just ran 10 fast miles, and my metabolism was kicking into gear.

After Olga was Sarah. I suggested we stop to cheer Sarah on. Dan reluctantly agreed. I was still in co-pilot chair… hehe. I think there were only 2 or 3 times I wasn’t in co-pilot seat. Sarah came on us so fast, we actually almost missed her and felt like we could have done so much better cheering her on. haha. oh well… there’s always next year!

Then we were done for the night. Dan drove us to our next major exchange, where Sarah and I asked the boys to exit the Tahoe, so we could change (no inside bathrooms).  After getting settled back in the van, with the temperature outside dropping into the lower 40s, Dan and Dave thought it would be brilliant to crack their windows because it was going to get steamy. Time to sleep…  move around awkwardly on leather seats, crammed into little human contorted bodies in the Tahoe. Every time I glanced over at Dan, he was in a different *unique* position (he said the same about me). Dan was behind the driver’s seat. And I tried so hard not to laugh when he would lock us in or unlock the doors, turn on the emergency flashers, all while trying to find a comfortable position. I guess he saw me shaking at one point (I was wearing my running skirt- ready to go for my next leg), and thought it would be nice to roll up his window. Except, he rolled down Dave’s first, then turned on the child safety. And didn’t notice. So Dave was shivering, and all of us were wondering, why is it getting colder in here?

Leg #25 (my third/final leg): 3.33 “Easy”

My 4:45am run. Felt like a death march…

At 4:20, I decided to was time for me to start waking up. Clara was supposed to get the exchange zone at 4:41am, but they were running about 5 minutes behind, so I figured 4:45 would be fine to get out there. I went to the port-a-potty a few times. It was sooo disgusting. At that point in the relay, people had made poor decisions about what to eat, or not hydrated enough, etc etc. And the overnight port-a-potties… Well, they aren’t pretty. I took my headlamp so I could make sure not to trip on something, and gagged at the illuminated sight of it all. And got back in the Tahoe. Jarod (our big brother type, and super competitive Van #2 “co-captain”) texted me “Where are you?! Get out here!” to which I replied “I am out back, in the Tahoe. It’s only 4:40…” He soon appeared tapping Dan’s window, then his watch, and throwing his hands in the air, as if to say “when are you going to run?!”
me: “Okay, okay”
Sarah: “Dan, can you drive us around to the front? By the road?”
Dan: “no”
Dan: “If you want to drive, I’d be happy to switch places with you Sarah.”
the rest of us… exchanging awkward looks…
A few minutes later Dan agreed to drive me to the road, and I got out of the van at 4:45, thinking Clara’s not fast… I hope she’s here soon. I don’t want to wait an extra minute in this 42 degree weather in my running skirt longer than I have to…
I slowly and reluctantly walked toward the road, and heard Ca Caw! F*ck! I thought. Hootie Hoo! Hootie Hoo! And walked a little faster toward the road (4:48am). “Where the hell is she? Who am I giving this to?” Clara screamed. I snapped Hootie Hoo! I’m right here bitch!” grabbed the snap bracelet and took off running. I kept thinking, just run as fast as you can. You’ll warm up. And I did, around 2.5 miles in… I tried to chat with other runners, but it was clear all the other runners felt the same way as me. No one wanted to chat, so I just listened to their feet pounding the pavement and tried to keep up. I came across the Exchange Zone Ahead sign, and CA CAW’ed at the top of my lungs. And then, I heard Sarah Hootie Hoo Bitch! I gotcha! And I sprinted in as fast as possible. ~28 minutes. Go me. 5:16am. I had never been so happy. I proudly exclaimed “I’m done bitches!” And Grumpy Pants (aka Dan) reminded me I ran the most and the high would soon fade. I felt bad- he had his longest leg last (almost 9 miles) up next. And would not be able to get coffee. We rushed to the next exchange and waited anxiously for Sarah. She finished in ~30 minutes (a 3.5 mile run). Go Sarah! We were starting to hit a high as a team, and the energy just kept building. Sarah handed off to Dan, who ran into the night. Probably grumbling to himself.  Since his leg was longer, we had a chance to grab coffee.

Allison to Dave

Yay! Hardee’s is open! We grabbed a large coffee for Dan. Dave opened his Splenda packet and sprinkled it over the trash. We all laughed. I was still wearing my reflective vests. And the guys in the hunting attire were looking at me weird. Sarah wanted chicken and eggs and didn’t understand why more people didn’t put those two together, on a biscuit. We got to the exchange point, and waited for Dan. Allison took off, after sunrise. Dave was next, and KILLED his 8 miles, with 8-minute splits. Dan, Sarah, and I slept a little. And snored a good bit. I’m sure I drooled too. While Allison and Olga prepared for Olga’s last leg. Except it wasn’t her last. One of the runners in Van #2 was injured and couldn’t finish his last 3 mile leg, so Olga (our 5K specialist) stepped up. After she finished her final leg for our van, we drove to the hotel at the beach, showered, changed, most of us drank a beer or two. Picked up Allison’s friend (who had grabbed the beer), and headed for Olga’s final leg. It was leg #35, of 36 legs. She would hand off to Jarod, who would bring it on in to the beach.

Our total time was 31:09 as a team. For 205 miles total. So we maintained a 9:02 pace (our predicted time was a 9:07 pace, so very close to it). We finished 25th out of 53 teams. We celebrated on the beach with Mother Earth Brews, and a few slices of Tuna. And just enjoyed the perfect weather (Seriously, sunny, and 75 degrees, with a slight breeze. Totally perfect!)

Side note- we had been kinda racing against another team. I may have mentioned there were about 20 people who wanted to do the Tuna. Sarah and I grabbed the first 12 that responded, then more and more kept responding they were interested, so Casey started his own team- the Big Katunas. We were the Deadliest Catch. The Big Katunas’ Van #2 talked a lot of smack to our Van #2. So Jarod was determined to beat them. And we did. Very easily, by about 30 minutes. But we all talked and hung out and made nice at the post-race party.

We eventually did our own team’s partying at the local Tackle Box Tavern. But that wasn’t as interesting.

I love my team, and especially my van-mates. Even when there was tension, I still love them dearly. I cannot picture doing a relay without those 5 people in my van. Yes, my legs were a little sore (tight really, but fine). But my cheeks and abs hurt more from laughing so hard. There was a point where I thought I was going to choke on crackers because I couldn’t stop laughing. Also, we are going to probably do a relay from Columbia, SC to Charleston in the spring. Yep, we’re cool like that… 🙂 Not sure if other van-mates could ever replace my Tuna200 van-mates, but I will accept one switched out.

It’s hard to get 12 people to stop talking, smile, and face the same direction. Especially after spending 30 hours together 🙂

Marathon is 17 days.

Birthday in 2 days.