Palmetto200 relay recap (long)

After the race (includes race nicknames)

This weekend was amazing. That really is the only way to describe it.

Our Van 1 consisted of some of my new best friends. My abs hurt as much as my quads from laughing so hard. I could go on and on about the non-running parts, but I digress…

(So straight to the recap)

It was a rocky start. We were all planning to meet at my apartment at 430pm. Bruce picked Dan up in downtown, and they headed to get the 12-passenger van (aka our new vacation home- kitchen, bedroom, party room, etc). Dan texted at 421pm “we’re still in line. haven’t gotten the van. will be late.”

Soon after, Will showed up. Will is the runner with the most mileage (all long/hard legs), and is accustomed to running ultras at a decent pace. But, I don’t really know Will too well. And it was definitely awkward, him being the first to show. “Welcome to my home. Thank you for being on time. You will not be rewarded because everyone else will be late” πŸ˜‰

Will also told me he brought a duffel bag full of food, a gas ‘hot plate’ for oatmeal or mac & cheese, and a ruck sack full of various items (including 4 headlamps, in case someone forgot one. Note- he is the Pack Rat). He also said he had a bigger stick than mine, so we agreed to bring his. We were all happy that he brought all his stuff; especially given the amount of food Bruce managed to put away.

I got a call from Sarah, asking where we were.

Sarah: “I don’t see you”
me: “Oh, I’ll come outside”
Sarah: “Oh, I meant the van. Where’s the van?”
me: “On its way”
Sarah: “Oh… ?”

As Sarah and I conversed in the parking lot, my cat decided Will was his new owner and acted like a whore and Dan and Bruce showed up with the van. Chris was still not there.

We started packing our vacation home down, and decided there was no need to organize or prioritize because we had so much space. We headed over to Target when I realized I didn’t have my phone. We headed back, I ran upstairs for my phone. And couldn’t find it. But I left my brush and water bottle, so grabbed those. Then, asked that someone call my phone. We called a couple times… It was under all the bags. Thanks boys. Note to Sarah and myself- We will have to be in charge of packing and organizing from now on πŸ™‚

We got on the road, and the van felt like a boat, swaying side to side in the wind.

We arrived at the hotel in Columbia around 10-1030pm.

Front Desk Person: “How many people are staying with you?”
me: “just one more”
F.D.P.: “Phew. Good, we only have a room with one bed for you.”
(no questioning of if I wanted to share a bed with said person)
me: “Okay, our other room is going to need more than one bed” (Thinking that’s where all the boys are staying)
F.D.P.: “Oh, okay. Well, when they get here, I’ll see what I can do. We’ve had issues with several of the rooms”
me: (gesturing to Dan, who was standing next to me the whole time) “They’re here.”
Then, going outside to break the news to Sarah that we will soon be snuggle-mates.

********Flash to relay race********

Relay terms to be familiar with:

Kills: You end up passing quite a few people, as the start is staggered. Every person you pass is a “kill”… This can be especially motivating for a longer night leg.
Legs: The 200-mile course is split into 36 separate courses, or legs, that range from 1.7 miles to 10 miles long. Usually, a full team means you run 3 legs, and about 13-20 miles.
Exchanges: This is where you hand-off the baton (a slap bracelet) to the next team member. Major Exchange is the Army Major in charge of all the Van Captains, and he hangs out at exchanges… what? is that not accurate? Okay, fine. It’s where all the vans meet up, and usually there is food.

We had a 7:00am start time, meaning we were supposed to be at the start line by 615am. Dan was our first runner, and was particularly grumpy (he tends to be that way in the morning; though he’s usually better after a run or after coffee). The race started on a tiny race track (maybe 0.25 mile around) in Columbia, then headed out about 5 miles. Since it was 7:00am, he didn’t have to wear the night gear (reflective vest, headlamp, and blinking light on front and back); but he was supposed to wear NEON colors. He was wearing a grey shirt and black shorts. So Sarah and I made Dan wear a vest- I mean, the race director (enforcer of rules) would be kicking off the race)

We watched the Way Far Runners (running frenemies) head out at 6:30am; then we started getting ready for the race to begin. We listened to the race director go through all the rules, while Dan bitched and moaned and declared “I’m never doing this sh** again!” (We laughed and said “ok.” He was our vet, having 5 other relays under his belt)

At 7:03am, they finally began the countdown, and we sent Dan off. He maintained the lead around the track- which was pretty impressive against some of the other runners, who we learned how fast they were by driving by them πŸ™‚

First lap around the race track, and Dan is the orangey blur in lead… WoOoooO!

We hopped in the van, and headed to the next exchange. A boat landing, which was very pretty that early in the morning. It was hot, and crazy humid already- at 7am. I started getting nervous about my 8-hilly-miles at mid-day.

Dan crushed that leg with a 7:03 pace (and came in shirtless with the reflective vest), and we sent Sarah off down the road for her 6.5 mile (hardest of her legs). She estimated she’d finish in 9:30 splits.

Flawless.

We had some time, so we looked up the closest Starbucks- about 20 mins away (and it would take her about an hour to finish). We headed to the Starbucks, which turned out to be a distribution factory. The next closest starbucks was in Charleston (195 miles away)- no, I am not kidding. Apparently, people in South Carolina are strictly against coffee. We rushed to the next exchange- a gas station, and Will got ready for his long/hard leg (9.26 miles with some decent hills). It was getting hotter and more and more humid, so Will opted for Dan’s tactic- reflective vest with a bare chest, and short shorts. Except Will’s vest cut in to reveal his nipples (sexy). Does this make my boobs look big? Will and I saw a group of people coming in strong, and I said “no, Sarah is probably not in that group- we’ve got like 3 to 5 minutes til she comes in” And we heard “Ca Caw!” and I sent Will out for a flawless exchange of the baton.

We grabbed coffee at the gas station, and told Will we would meet him “halfway” or close to it with water/Nuun. And since there was nothing else to do in that neck of the woods, we stopped a few times. Part of his 9 miles was on a dirt road that was difficult to drive through, and every runner said was hard to push through.

Will passed off to Bruce. Sarah and I snuck in PB sandwiches. Bruce headed out for his teeny 2.4 miler; then soon after Chris. And I was up next. We pulled over at the top of Chris’ major hill, and I thought mine is a little bigger, this will suck. Then headed on to our next exchange, where I prepared for a hard 8-miles.

Leg 6: 7.99 miles (Hardest Leg)

11:09am.

Chris handing off, as I get started on my hardest leg

Honestly, it wasn’t too bad; compared to other courses that are actually hilly (like the Blue Ridge relay, or say Big Sur Marathon, which include 1000+ gain of elevation). By comparison, this hill was teeny. But still, it loomed. And made me wonder if I took the wrong turn into the mountains…

I took off a little too strong, but knew I could maintain 8:30s for a regular 8-mile run, in race mode. And I remembered the first couple miles were rolling, slightly downhill, so faster was okay. About a mile in, someone from the Mustache team ran past “Sorry, but I mustache you” (must dash you). I thought it was cute. And his grey mustache told me that big hill would hurt him more than it would hurt me. So, I’d catch up; just keep him in your sights, Chandi.

I ran my little heart out. And was feeling exhausted. And hot. I could feel the heat of the pavement within a mile or two. It was 79 degrees out, with little shade. Though it was cloudy at times, with a warm breeze for the first couple miles. The humidity was about 75%. And pollen-filled. At about 4 miles, I felt a good downhill bit, and braced myself for the coming hill. Honestly, the hill reminded me of my college running days (in the mountains). It loomed in front of me. And I think it actually cast a shadow. A lot of vans were stationed at the bottom. I envisioned one of my vanmates gearing up to run it with me. I just thought don’t drop below a 10:00 pace. You can do this.

Elevation change. And my splits (the last two-minutes are post-run)

Elevation change. And my splits (the last two-minutes are post-run)

My mantra for that hill was Dig in, Breathe deep, Dig in, Breathe deep. And it helped. I knew I couldn’t surge the hill, because I had another 3+ miles to go after it. And then two more legs. I kept running though. That is key. Dan was stationed at the top, with Nuun, and water to refill my fuel pack. I just took my water bottles out and said “here babe” between breaths. He said he was surprised I kept running. Apparently all the runners before me had stopped to walk over to their van for support and water. Not this chick. I saw the Mustache man slow down too much on that hill. And after 4 miles behind him, I was hungry for a kill.

I got through the hill, and struggled to find my footing again. And Dan filled my Nuun too much, so it was fizzing all over my skin. Which, I didn’t mind too much; it was hot. And there were no longer clouds- just sun. My watch chimed for the 4th mile, and I was afraid to look- 9:40

Not bad, considering that hill, I dropped to as slow as a 12:00 pace. Okay, Chandi, get your breathing back, and catch that guy. And then the wind picked up. It was like running up that hill all over again. The wind was blowing so hard, my vest was tearing off my body. My next mile was equally slow- 9:39. Crap! I’ve got to make up some time… I looked up ahead to see that Mustache man was a few hundred meters ahead of me. So, I dug in (mentally) and tried to catch him on a curve. And was successful, but also gave myself a splitting side cramp. I saw there were two people just ahead of him, a hundred meters or so away. I tasted my kill, stalked my prey for a mile or two, then felt my second wind. I was able to catch them and pass them. Three kills total. Not bad this early in the race. I made my final turn, holding onto the 8:40s again. And I saw my final hill. Are you f***ing kidding me? Another one?! It was tiny (+100 ft over 0.5 miles), but like a smack in the face, at the end of a hot, hilly 8-mile route.

I dug in, and mustered all the courage I could to surge the last hill. I managed to catch a guy who was all tattooed up. He was struggling. Walking a little up the last hill. We had our final surge together. Running into the exchange, I was looking for Andrea, and couldn’t see her. I held up the snap bracelet waving it as I ran in. Turns out she was standing behind my running buddy’s teammate (who was like 6’5). I screamed “watch out! My teammate is behind you!” as I almost tackled him to get to Andrea. πŸ™‚

And Van 2 was off. We had time to get lunch and head to the next major exchange for a nap. While we were in Subway, it started POURING outside.

There was a road closure on the way to the next major exchange, and my navigation skills got us there earlier than most of the teams, so bathrooms were clean, and there was room to spread out a towel under a covered picnic table. We napped a little. We walked down to the lakeside dock. Then set up by a playground. As soon as Dan and I sat down, fire ants started attacking us. Damnit! We walked away with only a few bites each, thankfully. But all on our feet.

We started waking up, and hit the bathrooms- disgusting- after just a couple hours of runners. We got a little excited upon seeing the first team come in around 4:30pm, and started perking up for our own runner (Andrea again) at 5:10pm. We heard yells for Olga before 5pm, and hoped Andrea was killing the leg a little faster than we had projected. 5:10, and no Andrea, or anyone from Van 2. Around 5:15pm, we started to get nervous. Finally, Van 2 arrived, reporting she was just down the road, would be here any minute. All the while, I prep Dan, suggesting he needs to finish his 4.2 miles in 30 minutes or less (or a 7-minute pace). Even for him, that’s fast; but I thought it was a good goal. Finally, we saw Andrea. She looked exhausted, and didn’t even have it for an extra kick, but kept steady and strong to bring it in for Dan. Who took off his shirt upon noticing Andrea’s sweat and exhaustion. Then, took off like a bat out of hell. We quickly followed. And waited nervously at the next exchange, down the dirt road; tagging other vans with our “foot” (tarheel shaped). I am no artist, and we all joked that it looked like I was tagging vans with a penis, until I drew the toes on top. [Sorry, we had a van full of boys, and me and Sarah, and lacked sleep] But no one interrupted us, except R.U.I, who tagged us back at the next exchange.

and off she went; soon into the night

and off she went!

Dan came in at about 29:30, for a 6:53 pace. Which motivated us to keep it up. Sarah started off a little too fast- 8:25, 8:30, 8:25; then had to slow dramatically when the heat and humidity suddenly hit her for the last two miles, but still came in on predicted pace. Will took off for his sunset leg, with no night-time gear. We stopped the van to give him a vest and blinkies. While we were stopped, the biggest spider I’ve ever seen came flying across the road. I’m pretty sure cars swerved to avoid hitting it- it was that big! I jumped on the van, and refused to go into the grass again (it went into the grass by us). When we decided to hit the road again, I went through the driver’s side, and tripped, hitting my knee square on the first row of seats. OUCH! (I have a bruise a couple days later, and it’s still tender)

Will handed off to Chris, for his night leg. Chris, aka the Swamp Thing, who is a tall guy; beasted it. Keeping a good pace, and even picking up some runners in the last mile (which was a straight shot, so we could see him coming down the road, his headlamp about a foot above the other runners). It looked like he was a swamp beast, eating the smaller runners for dinner.

Leg #12: 9.67 miles (Hard)

And I got all excited. Let’s go! Let’s go! Chris just picked those people up; I couldn’t let their runners catch me. I ran out at 8:30s for the first couple miles, then felt like I was all alone, so slowed down, as I was afraid I missed a sign. I saw no street lights, no race signs, no vans (usually you see vans driving past at this point in the relay), no blinking lights ahead for me to “kill”… I do not want to make 9.67 miles any longer than necessary… Finally, a 12-passenger van drove past, and cheered for me. I said “I thought I went the wrong way”. It was the race director. He decided to stay near me until other vans came up, he was within 0.5 miles of me the rest of the way (Thanks guys!)

Still, no runners until about 4-miles. I started calculated how many minutes I was knocking off our pace.
Okay, my predicted pace is 9:15/mile, so 8:35 is +:40, 8:43 is +:15 +:17, which is +:32, added to the :40; wait, where am I? No, I see a sign. So, where was I? +:40 +:32. Woo! I am already over a minute ahead of pace. Ah! What was that noise?! Oh gosh, did I swallow that bug? Ugh…. (spit) etc.
Finally, I heard footsteps behind me. She seemed like she was coming up fast, but I felt like I could go faster; especially to stay with someone. I wanted to make her work for it, so dropped to hold a steady 8:30 until she met my speed. After a couple miles, I decided to drop back, but keep her in my sights. I stalked my prey, never letting her get around a curve without me; staying 5-10 paces behind her. After seeing my van, I was rejuvenated, and picked up the pace to 8:30 again. I lost count of my sandbagged minutes, but was at about 3-minutes before picking up the pace. We had 3 miles left, and I was determined to finish strong; preferably ahead of her, but with her would be fine. The last two miles, we kept dropping the pace. I kept glancing down- last mile, I’ll kick, I thought. Finally, 8.7 miles. I told her, Last mile, and we kicked. She glanced at me, and said Are you sure? I don’t see the exchange? I knew it in my body, and trusted in my little garmin. No, we’re almost there. It’s just a curvy road; last 0.5 miles… C’mon girl! Get it! (we mercy killed a few walkers)… This might be a murder/suicide between you and me. Finally we could hear our teams, and saw the steeples. I almost cried. I was not going to let her beat me on the last 0.33 miles. I gave it all I had. We finished the last 0.67 miles at a 7:45 pace. The last bit, when I looked at the pace, it said 7:05.

I Ca-Cawed for Clara (in the dark it makes it easy to find your person). Except my entire team was there (or 7 of them) Hootie Hoo’ing back at me. No, WHO? …. Where? between gasps for air. I handed off, and we sent Van 2 on their way. 8:56 average pace. My 10K pace is about a 8:50, so I basically maintained 10K pace for 10 miles. Sh**********t!

They had sandwiches there, and all of my van (except Dan) was in there killing some sandwiches. I think we took out about 10 sandwiches, our van alone. I was uninterested in sandwiches though.

I snuck back to the van, where Dan was sleeping (on our suggestion, before his 3am 9miler), and finished off the remaining donuts, and got rid of the box evidence πŸ™‚

We all slept, overnight. A few hours. Until my alarm went off. I checked my phone- no updates. Great. The other van could be here, or they could be 20 minutes behind. I told Dan the update, so he could prepare for his 3am 9-miler. (Ugh)

We got him outside to warm up, and saw Andrea and Sheryl scuffling around looking for our van. Jarod’s leg before that was short (2.5 miles), so it would be close. Dan got out the street just as Jarod brought it in, right on cue. 3:01am. I woke everyone else up (Sarah was the only one awake, as everyone else just slept on the sidewalk), and we hit the road to cheer him on a few times, and hand him some Nuun, water, and support.

Dan handed off to Sarah, who was aiming for a speedy 9-minute pace for her last 3.75 miles. Will picked it up at 4:50am for his last leg- 7.47 miles. Bruce got up, and got prepared for his last run. Meaning he ate everything in sight, and downed some crackheads (chocolate-covered espresso beans). Chris, Sarah, and I refused to leave the van, so Dan went outside to be moral support while he got ready, grabbing his things. Bruce, then let a long loud fart. And Backseat Sarah woke up, laughing hysterically at the 15-to-20-second long fart. Bruce had not realized she was still in the van. It was really priceless. And Dan almost went back into the van to say You’re on your own, bro.

Bruce had a nice leg. 7.47 miles at sunrise over the marshy wetlands of South Carolina. He was just coming over a bridge when the sun starting getting into the sky. We were all a little jealous. It was just me and Chris left, so we strategized how we were going to kill our respective 4.72 and 4.11 miles- I’m gonna try to just kill some sub-8s, but not go any slower than 8:30s (Chris). We went into the nice gas station to make a deposit because the bank was open, and ready for business. The bathrooms were still nice, but we planned to change that.

I stood by the road with Chris, pumping him up while the others got coffee, water, etc. Finally, Bruce came in, and Dan and I gave him a love tunnel, which made him smile, and sent Chris off into the morning light.

The sun was fully in the sky (and was about 70-degrees with a cool sea breeze), so I decided to wear my blue booty shorts, my Nike There’s no I in Team, but there is in Ice Cream tank, and neon green Brooks arm sleeves, with PROCompression baby blue socks. I looked fast.Will prepped me- as the last runner, this was our last chance to get a lead on the WFAR group. I said I wanted to finish in 35:00, thinking that was a little lofty, but do-able (4 miles at just above 5-K speed).Will- Well, any minutes you can pick up. I mean why pick up just 2 minutes? We need 3 minutes. No pressure. Thanks, Will. I’ll see what I can do. If I get a sub-8, I’ll be happy, but that’s over 1:00 faster than my real pace, so let’s just see. I’ll try to get 3. No promises.

I almost put on a game face (aka eyeliner, etc.), but decided I’d rather pee. I had about 3-5 minutes until Godzilla aka the Beast aka the Swamp Monster was coming. So I sprinted to the bathroom, and back. As I was running back, Dan yelled “He’s coming” As Godzilla took out some small children and a car to get to the exchange point. He was running fast (probably 7:00-7:30 pace), and he handed all the energy for me.

Leg #30: 4.11 miles (Easy)

I’d even say very easy (there were sidewalks part of the way that made me feel at home, running through a shopping center at 7:00am). I took off WAY too fast, matching Chris’ 7:00-7:30 pace. I told myself to breathe and slow down. I kept getting honks from random people on the highway, due to the blue booty shorts. Thanks, SC πŸ™‚ I saw someone about 0.5 miles ahead. I will catch her. I need at least one more kill. As I got closer, I realized she was going much slower- 9:00, and catching her didn’t mean too much for my pace. But, I caught her around 1.5 miles in, and kept sprinting, breathing easily. Crushing my pace. 8:30, 8:19. And feeling the burn in my dead legs. Then I hit the shopping center and got a second wind, opening my pace up to 8-8:15, I got a little hung up trying to figure out how to cross a busy traffic circle without sidewalks, but maintained a strong pace, as my vanmates cheered me on as they drove by (I also noticed they were coming from the wrong way, aka, they got lost. haha).

There was no shoulder on the road, and it seemed like rush hour traffic. So I was going slowly to make sure people saw me, and squishing my stride up a bit. 8:30. Finally, the traffic broke, and I made one of the final turns. I let myself open up again, and pushed my speed. I saw another guy ahead of me… Maybe I can catch him, and glanced down. Oh, I have less than a mile left (and he is cruising at 8:30s). Okay, pretend like you can catch him… Last little bit. It’s supposed to hurt. That means you’re doing it right. Don’t leave anything left. They’re counting on you. I Ca Cawed, and searched the crowd of cheering people for Clara. I didn’t see her yet. I felt my watch buzz, and saw something in the 8s (8:19, in case you were wondering), and pushed it for a true sprint of a 0.11 miles, in 39 seconds. And the wheels came off. Just as I slapped the band on Clara. My muscles couldn’t stop moving, and I ran through the crowd without any quads/brakes to stop me. Everyone was cheering, and total strangers told me how awesome that was.

The WFAR group couldn’t believe it. I had narrowed their lead to a few minutes within my 4 mile run. Apparently when the first person on my team said “Hey, I think I hear her. That’s Chandi”, their team members said “no, couldn’t be” and similar. I felt victorious when I crossed into that exchange. I ran so strong, and was so happy. And proud. I felt like I showed Van 2 how to keep it up. How to push hard for the “win.”

And then I got Chick Fil A biscuits and coffee, and made conversation with Allie (on WFAR group), while our two vans congregated. My van said they saw the fear in their eyes as I came in. I was too high on life to notice any of that. And they might have been seeing what they wanted to see, but we knew it’d be a close call who would finish the course faster (It was clear we would not finish before them, as they had a 33-minute head start, and we were a strong 10 minutes behind with our slower paced van now running). But, WFAR had been running strong as well, so we decided at that point to just enjoy it. We wanted to finish and have fun together as a team. We headed on to one of Van 2’s checkpoints to hand off park tickets for the last stop, and cheered on Sheryl for her last leg. She had a beautiful view over the bridge, down to the water, which she took a picture of, and still killed it at a 9:01 average, with her fastest mile ever on that run. Woo! Woo!

Finally! We were in Charleston! And we decided to set up camp at the finish line/ post-race. Just as they cracked open the first keg. First team to the beer, #33 to cross the finish. Seems fitting for my team πŸ™‚

We got word that Jarod was beginning the Cooper River portion- this was the leg that could hurt our time. It’s the last hard leg (If you’ve ever ran the 10K, it’s basically that, plus 0.25 at the end). Then, Jesus. They were making decent time. And soon Van #2 joined us in the post-race beer-drinking festivities, after our third or fourth beer. We watched as several teams came in. The clock kept ticking. I told them Jesus should be here 12:40-12:45 if he stays on pace. 12:10 came, WFAR made an obvious effort to announce Olga should be there any minute… 12:15 passed, no Olga. We were nervous. Anything that could slow Olga could slow Jesus as well. At least Jesus had Clara to pace him, and support him on her bike. 12:20, still no Olga. I wasn’t paying too much attention.

I was enjoying my beers in the shade, and realized around 12:30, we should head to the sunny, grassy area, and start looking for Jesus. I started seeing who else would want to go with me. And I just honestly thought I had missed Olga’s arrival. Oh well. I guess we won’t know when she came in, I thought, as our team made our way to the grass. Then, finally, Olga rounded the corner. And we cheered so loudly for them. Their outfits looked great, and they represented as a team, running Olga in.

Our team started getting ansy then. We got nervous at 12:40 came and went. Anyone who sneezed, every bird that flew by Is that them?! And finally! 12:42, Jesus and Clara entered the park, and we threw off the flip flops and ran over to greet them, and Jesus made a final kick, which none of us could keep up with. And we all ran it in, just under 29:45 for 198.4 miles (or 8:58 average). The Way Far Runners maintained a 9:02 pace, so yes, those extra minutes counted. And yes, those extra kicks at the end of our runs counted. We all got beers. Olga looked wiped. I really felt bad. She looked as exhausted as Andrea did after her first leg.

so bad ass, we didn't wear our team shirts...

so bad ass, we didn’t wear our team shirts…

We hung out for a while; Dan decided he no longer wanted to be hanging out with a bunch of tipsy runners, as he was our driver. And we headed back to the hotel. Some of us to the pool, some of us to nap. Everyone to shower.

We later went to Noisy Oyster, and tried basically everything on the menu, including a “bite-and-pass” of all desserts available (8?). Van 2 couldn’t finish their plates, so Van 1 cleaned up again πŸ˜‰ (Totally kidding there!) Dan and I headed out, and we were told the party just got better and better. We hadn’t napped, so by 10pm, we were OUT. And we woke the next day to sore muscles and empty stomachs.

Stumbling through the hotel lobby to find coffee, I see someone making zombie gestures out of the corner of my eye. There was Jesus. So funny and good-spirited. We, apparently, looked like zombies due to muscle fatigue and lack of coffee in hand πŸ™‚

We looked for the closest restaurant- Hominy Grill? I say to Dan. Bruce’s fat middle-aged woman’s ears perk up Omigod! It’s settled! That’s where we’re going. (starts gesturing to people eating various continental breakfast options) Throw that shit out. We’re eating real food now! And, oh, my, god. It was amazing. The grilled vegetable omelette with goat cheese was the best omelette I’ve ever had. Easily. It was all delicious. We ate like we hadn’t seen food in days, despite destroying Noisy Oyster the night before. And Bruce piped up again, Dessert? And convinced the table to order a round of desserts (4 between the 6 of us- pecan pie, beer float (espresso porter with caramel ice cream), strawberry rhubarb, german chocolate cake). We then rolled our fat asses back to Raleigh.

So, total for me: 7.99 miles in 1:12:01 (9:03 pace), 9.67 miles in 1:26:28 (8:56 pace), 4.11 miles in 34:20 (8:21 pace) [or 21.77 miles in 3:12:49, or a 8:52 pace]

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!

how to train for a relay

Disclaimer: I am not an expert. This is what works (or worked) for me:

So, I had done a few “tempo” 5-9 milers, then met with the group for a 6-11 miler in the morning (mentoring a half-marathon program). This seemed to work fairly well, but wouldn’t test my legs with a longer distance in 24 hours.

So, today. I chose to do three runs mainly because I have a week off, and it is 2-weeks out from our relay. (OMG! Two weeks!)

If you are thinking What the heck is a relay?! Here is a brief overview of the Tuna200, which I did in the fall…

love seeing these!

love seeing these!

Now that you’re all caught up…

I am captaining this relay team van, from Columbia to Charleston, SC. My first leg is the hardest of the relay according to the race directors, and those 8 hilly miles will earn me a car magnet (Woo!). My next leg will be 10 miles at around midnight. My third and final leg will be 4 miles in the morning, after the sun has come up. I get to “rest” in between, and eat plenty of doughnuts and Nuun, so I should recover just fine. But, in my head, that’s 22 freaking miles!

relay_leg6

So, I wanted to get in at least one day, where I did a “mock” relay, and ran three times.

Last night, I purposely chose a hilly 8 mile loop. I took it easy on the straight-aways, and charged the hills. My average pace was about a 9:00, but that included the 9:42 warm-up and 10:11 cool-down. I stayed around a 8:40 the rest of the time. It was hard, but brought a sense of clarity. I envisioned my van-mates cheering my name on, or picking up roadkill (when you pass someone), and pushed through the pain.

This morning I met another half marathon mentor, who runs around a 8:30 pace, sometimes a 9:00 on long run days. We had agreed to run 10 miles. And I figured she’d want to go a little faster, and push my speed.

We met at 9am (yay for State holidays! Good Friday indeed!). When we started our loop around the lake, we saw a “dog” scoot into the woods. I said “that dog didn’t have a tail… Omigod, I think it was a deer”… Sure enough, it was. There were two doe just standing at the edge of the running pavement, staring out toward the lake. It was so quiet and serene. It was really beautiful! I didn’t pay attention to my speed any. But my running partner kept checking to make sure I felt comfortable, because she didn’t want to go any faster (haha).

The last few miles, I felt like I had something left in me, so I started pushing the speed, as we came back to the lake. We pushed our pace from a 9-9:30 down to a solid 8:30. Then the last 0.5 miles we were running a steady 7:30 pace. She smoked it in a little faster than me at the end, but I still felt like I finished strong with a 9:08 and 8:06 for my last two miles of a 10-mile run. That rounded it out to a 9:12 pace (which is right on target for my predicted time).

So, now, I have a 4-miler tonight. I intend to smoke it as fast as I can.

My advice for running a relay, in general, I’ll post separately.

relay_sleeping

how to sleep during a relay…

But as far as the running part goes-

It helps to run often. You don’t have to run fast or hard, but don’t let your body recover. It sounds strange at first. You want to teach your legs quicker recovery time. If you currently run 3-4 times per week, this may mean running Monday and Tuesday, then Thursday and Saturday, and eventually throwing in another run. Or running twice one day, then leaving your body time to recover.

Treat each leg as a separate race. If you don’t hit your pace on one leg, don’t worry; you may have more kick on the next one. You may be side-by-side with someone to encourage you to push your pace. You may just be sick of running, and want to run faster, so you can get to the beer and post-party faster. Or you may be freezing cold, and want to run as fast as possible to get back to the warm van and eventual coffee (my third leg from Tuna).

Enjoy your night runs. Some research has suggested you run faster at night because you run closer to your true pace. Seeing the trees blur as you run past them tells your brain you are going fast and many of us slow down. In the dark, that is not an issue. You get a chance for clarity. You can see your roadkill flashing along ahead of you as you come up on them, greet them, and pass on by. There’s also an extreme bonding with the people on the road. Teams tend to line up and cheer for you, even if you aren’t their runner.

And stretch. And foam roller (or stick massage). And eat right. Oh my god, eat right. Test out which foods work for your stomach. Which gels or chews work for you. Not just during the run, but in between. What is your time window before you run? Do you need an hour, three hours? For instance, I can almost always eat a banana. During a run, before a run, after a run; it doesn’t matter. However, I’ll admit- after living on bananas, apples, Nuun, Honey Stinger chews, and donuts, my stomach wasn’t feeling too great before my final run, in those 1-4am hours. And judging by the porta-potties, everyone else must have felt worse than me.

If you’ve never run a relay before, the biggest thing is to enjoy it! Laugh. A. Lot. Cheer on others. Honk. A. Lot. Just have fun with it!

Captaining a relay team

I think relay races are tons of fun. They are like a combined destination wedding of best friends and a race weekend. In that, you get to hang out with some people who are truly awesome, run several mini-races, and travel to somewhere you maybe never thought you’d ever want to go (usually on the way to somewhere you do want to be).

For this relay team, I was chosen as captain. Or was defaulted to captain. Which became slightly awkward when I started dating one of my teammates. Trust me, he’s getting no preferential treatment; he has one of the worst leg set-ups, in my opinion.

So things to know-
1. Speed does not matter as much as personalities. Personalities have to mesh well, as there will be times when, for instance, you ask for a banana at 5am, and demand someone search for a freaking banana because I know I grabbed two bunches, and unless you turned into a freaking monkey back there, there are more bananas. Most people wouldn’t mesh well with me.
2. People like leadership. People like to get some direction. So you should email them daily with tasks. Oh, and these emails need to be extraordinarily long, and not get to the point until the last couple lines. Bonus points if you forget to attach a document you reference.
3. Organization is key. You must enjoy (or just be good at) organizing to keep track of everything. You want to have a list of who has paid you (& how much/ what for- hotel, van, registration). Personally, I used google docs, and had an excel sheet. This came in really handy when I would randomly run into a team member, and they would hand me $100 cash at a bar. I could simply open my google drive on my iPhone and add $100 to the “paid” column for that particular person. On another note- having either disposable savings account or a high credit card limit helps too (At one point, everyone on the team owed me about $1500 for the registration [$1100], plus van rental [$350? I have it saved somewhere how much that was…]). Either way, without an organization system, I would have gone crazy. It was stressful at times as it was.
4. Remember these are adults. Although you can make suggestions about what or how they should pack, they are grown-ups, and if they forget necessities like underwear, they can deal with consequences (commando). You will want to email 1000 times between signing up and race day, and probably kick your best friends when they do not respond with a simple “4pm sounds good” or when one person of the six people in your van respond “430 works better” and the other four are mute.
5. Create a packing list the week-of. This will help you visualize what is left. You clearly don’t need to buy a box of trash bags. Likely, everyone has a trash can at home, and have a few bags lying around. If everyone brings two bags, you should be covered. As captain, you get veto power as the van begins to fill up.
6. You will need access to a printer. Handbook, course map, race worksheet, etc. Although you could lug around a lap top; it’s much easier to just print it all off.
7. There will likely be the following types of people-
The vet. He has done 5 relays, but refuses to say much when you ask him for a breakdown of what to expect in front of the group. He will likely be one of the “non-responders” to emails. The good thing is you can give him whatever leg, and he will run it πŸ™‚
The newbie. This person may be new to running, in general. This person is most likely to get injured while training, so it’s best to calm their nerves. They are anxious to be a part of the team, so they will tell you their injury is nothing; until after their first leg, then struggle through the second leg; and finally someone will have to pick up their final leg. (You always hope to be wrong thinking you will have to pick up their leg, but you may).
The disappearing act. This person is the last person to pay for everything (even though he may have been the first person signed up), he will not respond to emails, texts, or facebook notifications. You will wonder if he is still planning on showing up when you told him to. But, he will likely show up, and kick butt on some of the longer/harder legs. And he is usually someone you want on your team again.
The pack-rat. This person plans everything. They are one of the first people to sign up, and ask you thousands of questions about when/where/etc. They will likely bring enough food to feed an army, and enough toilet paper and wet wipes for an oversized newborn. You will likely have to reign this person in some with their packing strategy. If someone mentions a bringing a tent, hammock, or yoga mat, this is your pack-rat. You will tell them you are all bringing X, Y, and Z; but they will bring their own box of food, two rolls of toilet paper, a large duffle bag, enough wet wipes for the octo-mom, several foam rollers/ massage sticks, an extra first aid kit, an extra relay handbook, several car chargers, and possibly their best friend. Basically, bear with this person- they are just excited to relay. And you can usually talk them out of bringing one of these options, but likely not all, without major drama.
All of these people are essential to a relay team. You will need the vet to pick up an extra leg when the n00b develops a stress fracture. The disappearing act will generally be doing something for the van, or just occupying less space in the vehicle. Likely, the pack rat will pack something that you need- like a 12-pack of beer in her third pair of shoes.

But, most importantly, remember to enjoy the race; even though you are captaining the vessel. Also, people should get the free drinks for the captain at the end- they deserve it. And hey, they’re free! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ #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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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).Β  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 πŸ™‚ 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).Β  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…Β  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.Β  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… πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

Marathon is 17 days.

Birthday in 2 days.

When planning a relay

Quick background on what a relay is. If you already know, scroll down πŸ™‚

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!)

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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.

Signing up for 2013 already right?!

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.

courtesy of AMCTV. At least I’ll be better dressed

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).

Just add a hoody, running shoes, deodorant, and toothbrush, and ready

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 πŸ™‚ ”

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 byΒ  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 πŸ™‚ And has done two Blue Ridge Relays, so I am envious. SheΒ  is our speedy/shorter distance runner. Total= 9.46 miles. Also, she ran three 5K’s last weekend. Clearly dedicated to practicing for Tuna πŸ™‚

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.

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