Tuesday, April 29, 2014

American Odyssey Relay - race report

 I have so many things to post about! I'm still dealing with injuries, but managed to have a great relay last weekend and half marathon the weekend before that. Updates coming soon on my fun times at the HM and physical therapy!

Let me start off by warning you that relays are a terrible idea. You will get NO sleep, it will take up your entire weekend (plus the packing and organizing beforehand), it will cost too much money, and you are running a very small portion of the actual race. I texted Beau at 4am, "This is awful in so many ways."

But actually? It was tons of fun. Against my better judgment, I will probably do another some time.

the American Odyssey Relay!
 There are 12 people on a team, divided into 2 vans. The vans leapfrog each other- Van 1 goes first, runners 1 - 6. Van 2 is waits at the exchange point where runner 6 finishes, and then Van 2 takes over for runners 7-12. Van 1 drives ahead to the next exchange to wait for runner 12, and then runner 1 starts the whole thing over again. Each runner runs 3 legs and the total distance is about 200 miles from Gettysburg, PA to Washington, DC.

the whole team at the starting line

cool shot of Van 2
I didn't know all the people on my team really well, but had a couple good friends in my van. Um, I loved my van. I cannot think of a better group of 6 personalities to be together for 30+ hours in a small SUV operating on little sleep. 
Van 1, minus Jaclyn who was running at the time

Lexi, our Runner 6 and MVP
the hand off: Runner 4 to Runner 5
being cozy in the Pilot
At my 5 year old nephew's suggestion, our team name was "the Honey Badgers". Do yourself a favor and watch this video. Unless you don't want to hear some bad language.... then don't watch the video. But it is hilarious.

The other team from my running club nicknamed themselves "the Badger Catchers". I thought they were pretty clever.

I was runner 4 and absolutely loved my runs. My first leg was the hardest at 8.9 miles and super hilly. I was surprised that I maintained an 8:36 average pace, but it was great to power up the hills and then fly down. It was a good rhythm to get into, and before I knew it I was handing off the slap bracelet to runner 5, Brenna.

finishing my first leg
Trying to sleep at the second exchange.
My second leg was a short night run at 4 miles. I was hoping to keep a sub 8 min/mile pace for my night run, but it was a little hillier than I anticipated and my average pace was 8:06. This run was at about 10pm and I was motivated to get back to the van because I thought I might get a chance to go to sleep. What a lie I was telling myself. Once runner 6 finished her night run, we all intended on sleeping a few hours before our last runs. You'd think it would be easy to fall asleep after being up for so long and running.... but no. I think I slept about an hour and then our alarms were going off to go meet Van 2 the exchange. I felt SO nauseous and SO yuck. It was the weirdest feeling to be standing along side the C&O Canal at 3:30 in the morning to cheer on Runner 1. Just a couple hours later, it was my turn to run my final 6.6 mile leg. I was lucky enough to enjoy the sun rise on the beautiful C&O Canal. I started out (still) feeling yucky, but eventually fell into a nice pace. I passed  few people and cruised into the transition averaging an 8:29 min/mile for my last leg.

Once our van had finished our third run, we drove to the finish line downtown and collapsed, waiting for Van 2. It was exhausting just laying there.

Jaclyn, Brenna, and I at the finish
Finally, a few hours later, our last runner came in and we all ran across the finish line together. Success!

I'm smiling because I know I'm going home soon.
All kidding aside, it really was a lot of fun. I would be hesitant to do another relay because this one fell into place so well. My van-mates were perfect, the weather (for my runs) was perfect, the mileage and course was perfect, and I don't know if another relay would be able to live up to this experience. But just like SO MANY things in my life (Marathon! Skyline Century! Thru hike!) I will probably forget every miserable thing and still want to do it again if the opportunity comes up again. But this time maybe I won't be the team captain. :)

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