Twenty-eight Miles

I considered many titles for this blog, including but not limited to the following:

  • Woefully Unprepared
  • Chickens of the Sea
  • Jaclyn vs. Kelli
  • I May Have Cried
  • I Have Control Issues
  • Sunrise, Sunset
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?

I had the pleasure of participating in the 2015 Tuna Relay Run, a 201-mile race beginning in Garner and ending in Atlantic Beach, NC. It was my honor to be a member of the CrossFit Surmount “Chickens of the Sea” team consisting of Ashlyn, Bonnie, Jaclyn, Jennifer, Kelli, Kevin, Marianne, Marni, Mike, Stephen, and Susie. Oh, and me!

I was driving Van 1 when I wasn’t running one of the three legs I was assigned. Yup, I do indeed have control issues. As I’m a very safe and experienced driver, folks truly did appreciate my willingness to drive through the day and night and day. Uhm, and all napped whilst I drove. Ashlyn, Bonnie, Jaclyn, Marni, and Mike were in Van 1. Oh, and me! We had a delightful time.

Before I describe my 3 legs it’s important to note that Jaclyn, upon completing her first leg (leg 6), announced that she was pregnant. Yay! Later that day I was using The Stick to massage my muscles. Jaclyn asked to borrow The Stick and I said “No, a stick is what got you in trouble in the first place.” Later that day, when using my selfie stick, I once again said, “You can’t use the stick, Jaclyn, as the stick is what got you in trouble in the first place.” She asked for a banana and I said, “That’s what got you in trouble in the first place.” When eating breakfast Jaclyn stated that she wanted some sausage. I said, “No, Jaclyn, sausage is what got you in this mess in the first place.”

Kelli assigned the legs. She’s mean. All of my legs were classified as “hard.”  I hadn’t gone on a run longer than 1 mile since I ran the half marathon months ago, and I hadn’t run two times within 8 hours in as long as I can remember. Yup, woefully unprepared.

Leg #5 – Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church to Elevation United Methodist Church – 9.08 miles (Angier). The Run has a total ascent of 325.51 ft and has a maximum elevation of 329.43 ft.

This was by far the most challenging of the 3 legs that I ran, as the course was very undulating with many steep hills. The morning began cool but warmed up rather quickly. Too quickly. The temperature had risen to the low 80s during the course of my run. I made a very big mistake in that I didn’t carry water or Gu, even though I considered doing so. There were no water stops along the way. Dammit. Bonnie handed off the baton to me at about 10:14 am. I clicked the Start button on my watch. Uhm, but I hadn’t set up the watch correctly. Dammit.

I struggled establishing my pace and settling into a good breathing pattern. And this was just the first mile. I thought, “This isn’t going to be pretty.” Disassociation is a very useful tool, so that’s what I began to do. Breathe, 2, 3, 4, breathe, 2, 3, 4. Breathe 2, 3, breathe, 2, 3. Breathe 2, 3, 4, breathe, 2, 3, 4. Breathe, 2, 3, breathe, 2, 3. Mixing things up a bit seemed to help.

I wore a pair of Nikes and the toe box was too tight. I realized the mistake almost immediately and switched from forefoot to heel striking. Alas, I nonetheless developed blisters on my toes. I had also forgotten to slather my toes with Bodyglide.

Another way that I disassociated was by focusing on passing runners out in front of me and began to pick them off 1 or even 2 at a time. With just a couple of miles left I passed a young man who said, “Slow down! You’re making us all look bad!” “I just want this to be over with as soon as possible!” I replied.

As I didn’t wear a watch with GPS and as the miles weren’t marked, I really couldn’t get a sense of pace. I knew I was running fast and I knew I was working hard. I passed 14 runners along the course, including a female runner just 100 or so meters from the finish.

Upon handing off the band to Jaclyn I proclaimed “F@ck!” and began to walk to the van. I was spent. And dehydrated. And becoming somewhat delirious. And feeling the blisters on my feet. And the chafing in my nether regions. And dreading my next 2 legs. For the first time ever my left knee ached, and I know why: the roads had a banking angle and as I was always running against traffic I felt the impact mostly on my left side.

Time = 1:03
Pace = Just under 7 mpm

Awesome Van 1 had breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then headed to the leg 13 exchange.

Leg #14 – Manley Grove Church to Daughtrey Field – 10.24 miles (Mount Olive). The route has a total ascent of 124.21 ft and has a maximum elevation of 178.81 ft.

This was by far the most miserable of my 3 legs. I wore Altra shoes with a bigger toe box, and that helped. My left knee, however, still hurt. I began the leg truly dreading having to run that distance. The only nice thing about the run was that I got to watch a beautiful sunset. The course consisted of long stretches of roads in the middle of nowhere. I passed 4 runners and was passed by 1 very, very fast runner. One of the runners I passed said, and I quote, “Well, okay then. Go, go, go!” So I did.

Again, I only had my watch to rely upon and I accurately estimated that the run would take me 80 minutes to complete. I distinctly recall glancing at my watch and reading 30 minutes. “I have fifty more minutes of running,” I thought.

And I wanted to stop running and just cry.

I instead opened my only pack of Gu. I had remembered to carry water with me, but for some unknown reason I had only packed 1 Gu. Dammit. I could’ve used 2.

I wanted to stop and cry each time I glanced at my watch. Forty minutes; only halfway there. Fifty minutes; still a half hour to go. An hour; 20 more minutes. With an estimated 10 minutes remaining it was all I could do to will myself to continue running. My throat was parched and my lips were chapped. My shoulders also ached. Did I already mention the blisters? Ow.

I was so delirious at the end of the run that I took off my watch instead of removing the relay band I was wearing. Ha! I’m sure Ashlyn wondered what the hell I was doing.

Time = 1:20
Pace = 7:50 mpm

I spent many minutes trying to persuade, cajole, coerce Jaclyn into trading her 6.51-mile for my upcoming 8.68-mile leg. Sadly, she never acquiesced.

Leg #27 – Free Will Chapel Church to First Baptist Church of Maysville – 8.68 miles (Trenton). The Run has a total ascent of 139.13 ft and has a maximum elevation of 59.42 ft.

I was dreading this final leg, but this was my most enjoyable leg. I witnessed a beautiful sunrise! The temperature was a chilly 52 degrees so I made sure to wear a hat and wool gloves. And I’m very glad that I did! My hands didn’t truly feel warm until the very end of the leg. I once again wore Altras. I forgot, however, to put Bodyglide on my nipples. Dammit.

There were 2 major stretches of road to this leg, both about 4 miles long. I only looked at my watch about 6 times during this leg and did look at each turn. I was right on pace to run 8 minutes per mile. This gave me a much needed boost of confidence.

I also passed 8 runners along the course, often having to run for 10 or more minutes to pick off someone. Sounds mean, doesn’t it? I’d often provide words of encouragement — if the person wasn’t wearing headphones, that is.

Time = 1:10
Pace = 8 mpm

I have never felt so relieved in my life! And I didn’t feel the least bit sorry for the remaining runners on my team, particularly not Jaclyn. Ha!

My goal was to have fun, and what an amazingly fun time that we had! I’ve been on highly competitive teams before and I’d much rather run on a team that, well, isn’t as competitive but is much more fun!

Given that I’m no longer a runner, I am very pleased with my overall performance. The only preparation I had for the relay was CrossFit. Yup, just CrossFit. And that’s all that I need!

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One thought on “Twenty-eight Miles

  1. I came into this race very nervous and frankly was disappointed in my performance overall but I had so really strong moments that encouraged me not to give up. I can’t speak for Van 1 but Van 2 was amazing! I have never felt so supported and encouraged during a race. We al had ups and downs but there was always a kind word, hug, or what can I do to help that followed. I’m ready to do this race again!! Next year I will be back stronger than ever!!

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