5th Annual Blue Ridge Relay

Race: 5th Annual Blue Ridge Relay

Date: Sept. 11 & 12

Team: Carolina Godiva Masters

Team Time: 22:58:54 Masters Course Record

Team Place: 3rd Overall, 1st Masters

Once again, I had a truly incredible experience! Faithful followers on my blog (all three of you) may have noticed that I haven’t raced since June. I’ve indeed been injured. Lymph node on pelvic bone? No. Broken hip bone? No. Stress fracture? No. Torn thigh muscle? No. Overuse and overtraining? Yes! I did have to see three different doctors, one physical and two massage therapists to finally reach this conclusion. I also had to take off three weeks from running. All of this happened just weeks prior to the race, and I had let my good friend Jim C., the team captain, know that I would not be running with the team. It wasn’t until just two weeks prior to the race that I let him know I would, in fact, be able run. It was quite an exasperating experience, to say the least.

I did cross-train during my rest and recovery, biking four or five times a week, and continuing to focus on yoga. I think/feel that cross-training was the key to my recovery.

Nonetheless, I certainly hadn’t put in the miles. Not for this race (races) or the upcoming Chicago Marathon.

We were the 5th seeded team and had a noon start. Wayne C. ran leg 1, Ulf A., Chris F., Gary S., and John H. ran legs 2 through 5, respectively. I ran leg 6. Gregg D., Tim M., Wayne M., Jim C., Rob W., and Kevin N. ran legs 7 through 12, respectively.

Leg 6

Distance: 5.2 miles

Time: 36 minutes (estimated)

Pace: 6:55

Time Of Day: 2:55 pm

Leg 5 ran through West Jefferson, and the vans had to take an alternate route to the exchange zone. Our van took two wrong turns. As we approached the exchange zone, we witnessed 20 or more police cars lined along the road. We got to the exchange mere minutes before I was to begin my leg, so I quickly used the porta-potty. Upon exiting, a runner informed me that a leg 5 runner had died. (At first it was rumored to be a heart attack, then a bee sting, but was finally confirmed to be self-inflicted. His wife was the leg 6 runner. Tragic.)

I approached the exchange zone just as John came in sight, and he began calling my name. I had not warmed up, and was a little distressed and discombobulated.

To add insult to injury, leg 6 was much more difficult than I had anticipated! The hills were steep, the gravel roads were rough, and the cars drove too close to the runners. Sounds like excuses, I know. Regardless, I was very disappointed in my performance, and I was regretting insisting to Jim that I be allowed to run with the team. Honestly, I can deal with disappointment, but not at the expense of others.

I could write pages about the other runners, particularly those from our van.

Leg 18

Distance: 5.9 miles

Time: 33 minutes (estimated)

Pace: 5:35

Time Of Day: 10:55 pm

My calves were aching. This leg was obviously much easier, and a great leg for someone who likes downhill running as much as I do. My splits ranged from 5:13 to 7:58. There was one very steep uphill at about mile 4. Better still, I passed a dozen runners during this leg. I will say, though, that it’s nonetheless difficult to run during the night, even with a headlight, as I’m always concerned that I’ll take a misstep.

Leg 30

Distance: 4.4 miles

Time: 29:05

Pace: 6:36

Time of Day: 6:25 am

My calves were aching, I was having a difficult time staying warm, and I was somewhat exhausted. This was my last leg though, so I managed to remain excited. I was waiting at the exchange, when who should appear but Jason P., from Team Mizuno. We were running the same legs, and I was fearful that we would indeed be running/racing. We compared our results from legs 6 and 18. As I was waiting at the exchange, I saw 4 runners approaching. The first was a runner from Norm’s Maggots, winners of this and every previous race. The next runner was John H.! That meant that I would more than likely be racing Jason. Ugh.

It was a rough start, but once I talked myself through the pain, it got a little easier. I immediately set 3 goals: keep the Norm’s Maggots runner in sight, attempt to pass anyone that he passed (he passed 4), and, if possible, not be passed by Jason P. I achieved all 3 goals. I felt somewhat bad for passing the 4th runner—just before the exchange. I did offer my apologies. She gracefully accepted.

I was exceedingly relieved to be finished my legs. A week and a half later, and I feel fine. I lowered my expectations from Chicago, and may actually run the marathon just for fun. At the most, it will be a training run for a possible Winter marathon.