My comeback to distance running in my hometown

Inaugural Rock n Roll Raleigh Half Marathon Recap

Backstory

Let me start by saying that it has been a while since I posted anything on here. There are a few reasons, but, honestly, I needed to return to running in private. I was afraid posting about how little I was running or how slow, or how hard it was, and how much it hurt, would only make it hurt more. About a year ago, I ran through an abdominal strain. In general, I didn’t think it was too bad. Eventually, it got to the point where I was in pain (or “high” on muscle relaxers) the majority of last summer. But, I have talked about that enough…

I first signed up for the RnR Raleigh as the full marathon about a year ago, when it was first announced RnR was coming to Raleigh. There was a lot of controversy about it. All of which I find stupid. Some people argued that we had too many races as it is (in my opinion, these people are the lazy people who do not understand or appreciate all the hard work that goes into planning/training or running a race). Others just felt that this particular “big” race would pull away from the smaller races in the area. From my experience, the RnR attracts a lot of beginners, and beginners usually catch the bug, and sign up for other races- even 5K or 10Ks. Also, it challenges race organizers to be inventive to get people out. Raleigh has 8 half marathons I believe- City of Oaks (the biggest), Raleigh Rocks (which has now been changed to the “Rockin Rebellion” to accommodate the #RnRhaters, and is in April AND October), a Turkey Gobbler (in Wake Forest), Midtown (which was so popular, they have one in June AND September), American Tobacco Trail, Inside Out Sports Classic. Also, 3 mid-size full marathons (City of Oaks, ATT, and Umstead) Anyway, the controversy makes me laugh. I just had to note it- because I think the out of towners had no idea their desire to come to Raleigh upset so many haters.

When I signed up I was also signed up for Richmond full last November. I ended up not even showing up for that. In November, I struggled to get through 5 miles. As of January, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to complete the half marathon in April. All of this isn’t to organize a pity party for me, but to point out how far I have come.

In training for RnR Ral, I gave myself a goal to get to 10 miles. Once I got to 10 miles, Dan and I went to Mandolin for dinner (sooooo freakin’ yummy!). That was February 9, 2014. I hadn’t ran that far since April, 2013, as part of a relay race.

I ran with a friend Sheryl, who was training for the full marathon. One day, I had agreed to 12 miles, but she was going 18-20 miles. I ended up clocking 14.5 miles that day (March 8, 2014).  I managed to max out at 20 miles per week two weeks in a row. So, Sheryl and I would meet up, and run a slow and steady 10-14 miles at a time. I almost always picked routes with hills, knowing that Raleigh has hills. There were weekends when our schedules didn’t match up, and we ran apart.

 

Pre-Race

I was so nervous the week before the race, that I just kept taking muscle relaxers to sleep, to make sure that my ab pain didn’t creep back in the slightest. I didn’t run at all last week, except for the race. People asked what my goal was, and it was mixed. Of course, every runner loves to PR. I would say, “I just want to finish”, and genuinely mean it, but I had an idea of 2:10-2:15 in my head. The more runs I did, the more confident I felt. My fastest half marathon on record is about 2:08, though I’d been running much faster when I got injured last year.

I went to the expo Friday afternoon (after work). It was your typical RnR expo- large with lots of sponsors and goodies. I didn’t really want to go through each exhibit- just get my packet, grab a Trophy pizza, and head home. But, it was nice. Brooks had RnR Raleigh shirts in my favorite style. I was tempted to get one, but didn’t even want to look at the price tag, as I figured the typical $25 shirt was closer to $50. To have a NC state outline, and “RnR” or something in it. Still, I wasn’t hatin on people who were wearing them… I was kind of jealous. haha.

I had a few friends running the full marathon. So, all last week, when I got nervous or scared, I made a sign for them. I ended up with 10 signs… 🙂 The full marathon happened to go just past my house, so Saturday night, Dan and I drove around, putting up signs for them by our neighborhood (miles 11-19 for them). I went to sleep around 10pm, setting my alarm for 4:45am.

Race Day

I tried to plan with Dan to account for traffic, and the road closures. We had planned to leave at 5:50am. I got up as soon as my alarm went off, went out to get some coffee (“out” into our kitchen), and started getting my clothes on, and a little SPF 35 CC cream for my face. The weather for the morning- 60 at 7am, 70 by 9am, and about 80 by 12pm. And sunny. I actually think I overdressed (In the second mile, I was tearing my sleeves off).

Flat Chandi RnRRal

I ate a slice of toast with peanut butter. I had stopped drinking the night before, because I had a feeling I was overly hydrated. So, no water Sunday morning. I waited for my coffee to do its thing. I woke Dan up around 540. He was ready to go by 550, as planned. I went to the bathroom one last time (success!), and we left our building by 555.

Some of the road closures took effect at 6am, but most of the “outer” sections were supposed to close at 630am. We met our first closure about 5 minutes into our drive, that was supposed to be closed at 630am. SHIT! Dan and I both panicked- trying to find an alternate route. He kept saying “I’ll take X road”, and I’d shut him down, “nope, that’s closed off”. The ONLY way in and out was from South Saunders. We finally got to S Saunders, and it was clear it was the “only” way, because EVERYONE (10,000 runners and spectators) were on it. It looked worse than a typical weekday rush hour… Hmmm… We looked at each other, and Dan was like, “nope”, made a couple turns (through a random gravel parking lot… mind you South Raleigh can be rough in parts), and got me about 3 blocks from the start. Not sure how that all worked out, but I was to the starting area (Salisbury St) by 625, and headed straight to the port-a-potty, as we all do the morning of a long race. I waited for 20 mins, and by the time I made my way to the corrals, it was 655, and the only corral open to runners was corral 12. I was supposed to be in corral 11, so this was fine. However, you could tell it was the only one open, because I saw people from as low as corral 4 to as high as corral 24. hmmmm… maybe this will be a clusterf*** the first few miles. As the race started, and we starting moseying ahead, I spotted a familiar teal mohawk, and scooted over to start with Darryl and a couple of his running buddies (Teryn and Rachel). They were all running the full, but shooting for a 4:30 time, so I figured it’d be perfect, and my 2:15 would be good, as I’d be with them for 8.5 miles of my 13.

A race photographer found me looking for a corral, and got this shot (I promise, I plan to buy a few, because they are actually pretty good, but wanted to get this post up before I forget)–

RnR beforeWe started off nice and slow and steady, allowing our legs to warm-up, careful not to pass people too quickly. Our first mile was 10:28, and that sounded perfect to me. We all cheered for how “on target” we were. I put my headphones in, and kept my motivation up. Teryn and Rachel slowly started to speed up, but it was downhill, so we went along with it. “9:17” Darryl and I both looked at each other, laughed, and suggested to the newbies that we slow down. Which we did. The next mile was “9:27”, and our first 5K was over, in about 30 minutes (but I missed hitting the pad for an official time). Then, I lost Darryl in the fourth mile. Rachel and Teryn pulled too far ahead, and I lost them too by the fifth mile. I was now on my own, and on target for a 2:10 with some big hills to come. I planned to run the race hans style (solo), so I didn’t mind. I just kept pluggin’ away, as I started to hit some of the first set of uphills.

Going through Oakwood and Mordecai reminded me of times in high school (I grew up in Raleigh), and it was great to see so many people out to support the runners. Raleigh was out in true form. I even saw a few people I hadn’t seen in years (clearly out to support someone else, but it still felt like home). The brightly-colored wave of runners made its way to Peace St, past the Krispy Kreme, and past Peace University, and down our last downhill. My garmin buzzed another mile, and I was still sub-10:00 pace by the 10K.

The fluorescent, sweaty herd struggled to get all the way up Peace/Clark. One man was sitting by the Black Lotus, who said we were done with this hill (at the first plateau, just before Glenwood Ave). I have ran this route before, so I laughed, and shook my head at him. I knew this hill would slowly roll for another mile or so. The wave of people slowed down, some people started to toss aside their goals, and decided to walk. I heard some people discussing their struggles with the hill. I knew I’d soon see Dan, and Sarah, and Will, and was amazed that there was not a foot of the sidewalk where my fellow Raleigh-ites were not out in full swing. Even those who were passively watching because they couldn’t leave their houses… Thank you!

I made it up the hill, with a 9:53, which left me astounded and proud. I came upon Cameron Village, and wanted so badly to see the Flying Biscuit (where Dan said he’d set up camp, before anyone else, as soon as he left me in South Raleigh). We spend a good amount of time in Cameron Village, and I thought of the Bloody Mary’s at Cameron Grill, and chugged on, until I saw Sarah. Dan was hiding behind a tree, Will sitting next to him in a camp chair. Sarah was cheering for everyone passing, and I yelled her name, as they all yelled and cheered me on. They all looked shocked (even though I was perfectly on time- at a 10:00-min pace, as I had estimated, and had even texted Dan when the corral before me left the start). It was a little boost to see them, and I half-pictured them hopping into the van (relay buddies), to meet me a mile or two down the road…

Oh well, onway and upward. The hill wasn’t completely over, though it had flattened a little. I wondered if the spectators knew how long of a hill we’d been going up, as they encouraged walkers to pick it up. I knew the turn-off was up ahead. It had to be, we were almost to 8 miles. I was tired. I was thirsty. Bad sign. You never want to be thirsty during a race. But, really I was exhausted. The thought occured to me that I hadn’t seen the GU station that was supposed to be around mile 5. I glanced down, and I had been running for about 90 minutes. Generally, I use something every 60 minutes. Ruh-roh!

[Also, just a note- they had Gatorade, but gatorade is too syrupy and makes me nauseous. I prefer Honey Stinger chews (or Sports Beans “bean me up”) and Nuun. But, when I am thrifty or running a lot, I will do every other with GU- they also take up less space.]

Finally, we turned on Hillsborough, and we started our return to downtown. Actually, it was kind of nice, because the majority of the time, you could see downtown in the background. And there was the glorious GU station. Gatorade first. Yuck. Water- yay! GU… yay! …Bleck! Gross! and more water… Just to wash it down, splash the rest on your face. That will totally hydrate you. Well, hell, at this rate, I’ll pour it on my head. It’s hot up in her’!

I appreciated the downhill slope of Hillsborough. I’ve ran this before at the end of a race- it’s a great ending- just enough slope to make you feel speedy effortlessly, but not so much that you feel like you are spinning out of control. We rounded the round-about, and turned on Pullen, and my garmin chimed for another mile “10:28”, and I felt great. I just let go on the downhill, through NC State’s campus, past Pullen Park, then turned onto Western.

And I started to feel it. I wondered when the next water stop was. I was feeling so tired. More than I should be, and I just hoped I had enough to get through another 4 miles. Okay, now is the time to ramp it up, right? So I tried to ramp it up, and felt queasy. You can do this I told myself, and then I vommed in my mouth. Gross. You can slow down now. It’s okay. Let the GU fully settle. And “10:03” chimed in, to agree that it’s okay. Okay, new plan- 2:12? I was at about that pace, and there was no shelter from the shade. I turned onto Dorothy Dix’s campus, and was waiting for the beauty to hit me. I love this campus. Instead, I felt numb to it all. Spectators? Didn’t matter. I just wanted to get to Mile 10.5. My dad said he’d be at mile 10.5. I passed by a thankful water station, which helped me feel better. I started to worry that I had missed him. I got over it, and just continued to chug along, running at a somewhat steady 10:30 pace. I had slowed down, but I still had my eye on 2:15, and was convinced I’d feel peppier when I got the downtown area.

Finally, I saw him! Right after the 11 mile, I waved at him on a small downhill from Dorothy Dix campus to Lake Wheeler, and turned into downtown. I feel a little pep, and tried to push it again, as I knew the Boylan hill was ahead of me, and a cushion of time would help. I tried to push it up Lenoir, but “push” was a 10:30 pace, and felt hard. I continued up Boylan, where they forced us onto the sidewalk, which I thought was asinine. This was at mile 11.5-12, and people were walking. And this sidewalk is only one person wide, broken, and has a steep hill on either side, lined with trees. But, every time we runners (sorry, there were a lot of walkers at this point) tried to jump down to the street to run, some volunteer would berate us like a bad dog peeing on the carpet. So I crushed a few people- sorry! Truly! And that was at a 12:00 pace…

Finally we got to the top of Boylan, and I knew we were past the 12 Mile point, whether the course said it or not (I hadn’t seen it, but I did see the Fleet Feet Raleigh love on Boylan Bridge). I felt inspired to run a little faster for the last mile. And vommed in my mouth again. Alright. I get it body. I can go slow, or I can vomit and go kinda faster. I chose to go slow. People were passing me left and right. Fans were cheering to pick it up into the home stretch. And, as I passed Nash Square, dodging to the right, in case I actually did puke, the 2:15 pacer triumphantly flew past me. And I didn’t even care. That’s how I know I was hurting. I am competitive, and anyone passing me in the last mile is bad news. I just didn’t want to walk down the final stretch on Fayetteville, so I kept plugging around, at my slowing pace. I managed to smile as much as I could for cameras. But, one guy got my true shot- as I stopped my watch, I really thought I was going to hurl. I didn’t see medical tent or staffers. I didn’t see a bucket or trash can. So I proceeded to get my medal, a dry towel, and searched for an ice bucket, grabbed some water (shove a Nuun tab in that. Yes, I hid a Nuun in my back pocket), got a banana and protein bar, and by the time I found a spot to sit, I no longer needed to puke. I texted Dan to let him know I was done, and final time of 2:17-something, and told him where I was.

He was there in minutes, and I told him how I had been doing so good, up until the last two or three miles….

The last few miles were a blur to me. I felt awful. I am not sure if it was dehydration, or overhydration, or lack of electrolytes, or if the GU just didn’t settle right on my stomach. I have never felt like that after a run. If I’m overheated, I usually get dizzy/light-headed, sometimes losing some vision (high blood pressure in my eyes), or see spots, once or twice swaying after finishing. But, never feeling 100% sure I would barf.

I have no regrets. I am proud of my 2:17. And once I felt fully hydrated again, I went back to Nash Square to cheer on my fellow runners. Dan grabbed us some coffee and more water, and I kept yelling for them, hoping I’d start seeing my full-ers soon.

Finally, I saw Beth, and yelled my butt off (4:10, oh yeah, and 8th in her age group- WHAT?! That girl is a beast). Then, Rachel, who I met just before the race with Darryl. Then, Teryn, Darryl’s other buddy. I anticipated Sheryl soon, so I walked along the course to the Boylan Bridge to meet her, and spotted Andrea. She was hurting, feeling just like I had. So, I ran her in, and we ran and walked a little, until I patted her on the back into the finisher shoot. And then, I finally got a text from Sheryl- she was on Lenoir. I texted back- I’m on the Boylan Bridge- see you soon! And I ran her in the last mile.

Here’s a few shots her friend got of us (I thought it was so cute, even though it’s pixely)

RnR with Sheryl 1

RnR with Sheryl 3

So, all in all, I ran about 15 miles on Sunday. Someone managed to snap a picture of Sheryl and me, and it makes me happy- a picture of me and my training buddy. Did I mention Sheryl sub-2’ed this spring? Yup! And that’s my next goal- for the fall. I was fast enough for that last year (was training for a sub-4:00 full marathon). Anyway, that’s next- in like 6 months.

That means, this summer will include a lot of sweat, sore muscles, blisters, probably less toenails, chafing, and probably lots of post-run beer 🙂

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today we leave… tomorrow we relay

Today; well tonight, we leave for Columbia. To begin our Palmetto200 adventure from Columbia to Charleston.

I generally go into a race with a plan. But, if you have ever done a relay, you cannot have a plan. Best case scenario, you run all your legs way faster than you planned, and everyone else sucks. All you can control is your attitude.

In a relay like this, you are counting on your other 12 11 teammates (we are down one runner). A lot can happen within 200 miles. The most likely thing to happen is a lot of fun, but still plenty of competition. For me, I will try to make friends with almost everyone. Then, realize that means I’m running too slow, and make my newfound friends eat my dust. If I can help it.

So, tonight, we set out for a crammed hotel room in Columbia, SC. We will wake up bright and early to get to the race track (how cool is that- that it starts on a race track?) by 615 for a 7am start time. Dan is leading us off, and it will likely be in the rain.

Then, Sarah, Chris, Brucy, and Will-y-em, and I will jump into our luxurious (and likely overpacked) 12-passenger van, and head to the first exchange, to drop off Sarah, and pick up wet and smelly Dan.

I will be running the last legs for Van 1, so I won’t see any members from Van 2 until I hand-off to Andrea and wish her a speedy run for her less-than-two-mile-can-you-tell-I’m-jealous run. Then, Van 2 will have to rush to get to their next exchange where they will take over playing runner’s leap frog. We will then have a few hours to rest, bond, eat, rest, go gymnastics, and oh yeah, drive to the next major exchange.

Right around sunset, Van 2 should show up, waiting anxiously for Jarod (their final runner). We will talk excitedly, and get recaps of how Sheryl rocked her 4-miler at a 9:00 pace or how Andrea and Clara almost forgot where they parked the van, or other silly randomness. Hopefully, we will all have shoes and our cell phones at that point.

Then, Van 1 will take back the slap bracelet baton, and travel into the darkness, running, pointing and laughing at reflective gear, hoping no wild dogs actually catch us, and finish up as most college kids are heading out to the bars; hoping we will sneak in some sleep in the van (and tent?)… Then Van 2 will show up, and take over until most of the college kids are heading home from said bars; then Van 1 will send Dan off in the middle of the night for his hardest (and final) leg, without coffee. Maybe. By the time I run again, the sun will be fully in the sky, and I will hand-off to Clara for the last time (which seems fitting as she handed off to me at 445am for my last leg on the Tuna200 in October).

Then, Van 1 gets to head to the hotel. Detox, shower, and go in search of beer to stock our fridge. We’ll attempt to get in a short nap, perhaps during the shower, for optimal time management. Then, head to the street to cheer Jesus in on our final leg, after the “dreaded” (beautiful, in my opinion) Cooper River Bridge. We will enjoy the sun, and sand in our toes, do some more handstands in the grassy areas, drink a few beers (or a few too many), talk about the good times we had and do a lot of remember when…?, and make our way to downtown Charleston to celebrate in style. And by style, I mean likely with a foam roller in hand, flip flops, and A&D ointment for chafing. Classy.

Charleston, here we come!

…It may take a while; we’re running to get there

best kinds of relays

When we first signed up for the Palmetto200, I felt the anticipation of competition. It wasn’t until today that I felt it again, upon hearing that our frenemies (best way to describe them based on the driving competition) on another team would be starting 30 minutes ahead of us, and were wondering when we would finish.

So the best kinds of relays (I’ve decided) are when you know another team. Bonus points is there is some underlying beef between you. For instance, apparently Jarod (on my Tuna team) and Casey (on the Big Katunas) do not like each other, on principle, and were smack-talking on the sidelines.

They stole Dave.

‘Nuf said.

They are going down. Oh, sweetie, the smack talk has just begun!
(There is a sassy black woman inside of me. High five, bro. Cards Against Humanity flashback)

Okay, no really, it will be fun. And we will play back and forth. And I think there is enough varied speed in our runners that we will probably ping pong a good bit.

But, it does feel satisfying to know their start time is before ours (because they’re a little slower than us).

Again, I repeat: They stole Dave

[Dave is Dan’s best friend, who got confused and ended up on the wrong team… We found great replacements, and I am truly happy with our van’s end result, but they stole Dave! hahaha]

Let the games… BEGIN!

My walk of shame, thru a marathon

Yes, you read that right. I am going hold back some details, because, well I have class (BAHAHAHA! No I don’t! I just can’t remember all the details).

Saturday night was my old friend Dave’s 25th birthday. Given that he is the youngest of our group, we felt it necessary to go out. He did as well. This Dave is not the Dave I run with. He’s a Dave that hooks up with one of my best friends, and the two of them are head over heels for each other, but she refuses to actually call them a couple. But, everyone else just presumes they’re a couple. Anyway, not the point. The point is- I invited Dan (guy I run with) out with me. He had met the gang before.

Dan was meeting some friends at the Borough. [There are three gay bars in Raleigh; the Bears go to the Borough, the Queens go to Legends, and the Twinks go to Flex]. Some of Dan’s gay friends were there. One I already knew (and loved! Someone said something really awkward and he looked around and took a long sip. I knew we’d be besties!).

Oh, and Dave was wearing a tie for his birthday. This Dave used to have dread locks and smoke pot all the time, and I kid you not- was a member of the drum circle in Asheville. So if he’s wearing a tie, all us girls decide to wear dresses. I didn’t tell Dan. But I was wearing my sequin mini skirt, black tights (with rhinestones up the side), and 5 inch heels.

I sent Megan a picture while she was working…

So we met up at the Borough, I ordered a Big Mama (most lesbian drink on the menu… not that I’m lesbian, but all the others had that weird combo of gin or scotch with fruity mixers). Then we made conversation, as I quickly killed the drink and we headed to meet up with Dave’s birthday gang. On the way, I got the traditional ‘So Megan and Dave aren’t together?’ and quickly briefed Dan on the situation. Megan (my oldest friend- like since I was 10) was working an event until 10pm in downtown, so she came over soon after. We moved the location a few times.

And then someone suggested Tequila. I don’t think I drank anything after that, but maybe I did? Either way, since I couldn’t remember I told Megan I would stay at Dan’s. (Dan and I had also made out a little at the bar. What?! It was only a little bit. A couple kisses really.) Then, I stayed at Dan’s. That’s all I’ll say about that.

But, I had agreed to cheer on the City of Oaks Marathon and Half Marathon in the morning, at Sarah’s. She lives at mile ~25. We were meeting at 8ish.

Dan’s: mile 1 (yellow), Sarah’s mile 25 (green)

Dan is great. Have I mentioned that before?

Because I’m not used to that. I was all like… Oh god, I have to go (Allison and Sarah had been texting, then Allison called, and soon found out why I would be “late” and “walking” which she didn’t understand before hearing me). I asked Dan for a hoody (it’s cold outside). And he offered to give me a full outfit. Still wouldn’t fix the 5 inch heels, which were the major problem (and pants would have been big). And I calculated the distance- 1.8 miles.

So I was downstairs yelling up, “OK! I’m Leaving Now!” (Thinking Gosh he’s not going to even walk me to his door? Wow, what a jerk <- I date stellar guys). He yelled down Hang on! I’m trying to find my beanie! And came downstairs. I’m coming with you. (Btw- he left the beanie in Megan’s car) He was shocked I thought I was going to walk alone ~2 miles, especially when meeting fellow Tuna runners, who he knew.  We stepped outside, walked out to the main street, and Dan said “I could drive us closer” and I jumped on that. So we drove to the middle, but I still had to do the walk of shame from the finish (26.2) to mile ~25.

Dan went into Cup of Joe’s quick, then we saw Jarod (finished in 1:42?). And Carrie (1:43?). And there I am- sequin mini skirt, rhinestone tights, 5 inch heels, and a hoody. Yelling! Like a crazy person. And my friends running the half started pouring in. We rushed to Sarah’s and she handed me a “FREE BEER AHEAD!” sign which had “WALK OF SHAME” written on the back. And we all laughed about it.
[Our other signs- “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon” and “In our mind, you’re all Kenyans” <– Some woman said But I really am a Kenyan as she ran past. But most of the people got a kick out of the signs]

I had so much fun cheering people in though! The last mile- best spot for a spectator. Really. You see the fog start to lift. And one of our Tuna team-mates, Andrea. That girl rocked the half. Shaving 13 minutes off her PR (2:21 to 2:08). She ran the last mile in 8:30… And then the full marathoners started trickling in. And we just kept yelling and yelling for them.

Basically, I was stocking up on race karma. I totally believe in race karma. If I see someone struggling, I cheer them on (even if I’m hurting too), because I would want that if I was hurting that bad. If someone needs water, and I have some, I share. If they looked like they were hurting at mile 25, I reminded them of the cool space blankets, and the medals, and months of training leading up to this moment. And the stale bagels. And tried to make them laugh “Start practicing your photo finish! You only got a mile left to perfect it!” or Time to fix your hair or (when a speedy full marathoner was passing a slower half marathoner) Trip him! He’s going too fast!… Making us all look bad! Which usually made both people smile.

So now, on Tuesday, I still have to whisper because I have no voice. And Dan and I are going out to help me begin carb-loading tomorrow night. I can say more on all that later. For now- I’m focusing on stretching my legs, foam rolling, and wearing 2 inches or less on my feet this week.

Something I never knew until cheering people on- wearing something unique DEFINITELY helps! We cheered our hearts out for Wonder Woman and Gold Shorts Guy (who turns out is one of Dan’s friends, and dropped by later). We yelled for shirtless guys (in 40 degree weather?), and people with their names on their shirts. So I plan to do something- write “Candy”  on my arms/ legs. (No one ever pronounces Chandi right, and at mile 23, it would annoy me more than encourage me if they say it wrong, so I’ll embrace Candy- my “stripper name”).

FOUR DAYS! I keep wanting to go to Fleet Feet to get things. But I would just keep buying, and probably not need any o it.

FOUR DAYS TIL RICHMOND!

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.