Tuna Run Relay 2016, aka “Serge”


The second time must truly be the charm! I was the Team Captain for CrossFit Surmount (not the catchiest of titles, I know). In addition to me our team consisted of  Ashlee, Bonnie, Darren, Jaclyn, Jennifer, Kelli, Kevin, Mike, Steven (#poorstevedodge), Stephen, and Susie.

What an awesome tee!

Click here for 2015 musings.

Just like last year, I was driving Van 1 when I wasn’t running one of the 3 legs I was assigned. This meant that I got very little rest, as the remaining 5 runners in our van napped frequently (and in the middle of the night quite loudly).

The Relay course had to be changed this year due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. Legs 7 through 10 were skipped; thus 4 runners (Kevin, Kelli, Steven, and Bonnie) ran 2 instead of 3 legs. As Stephen ran one of Kevin’s legs, we had 7 in our van at the start of the race. As there were many teammates who were running the race for a 2nd or even 3rd time, assigning legs was relatively easy. I had originally planned on running legs 5, 16, and 27, the 3 longest legs, but as leg 14 was modified I switched with Ashlee and once again ran leg 14. Yup, I also once again ran the 3 longest legs. I 3 of my legs were categorized as “hard.” [Insert penis joke here.]

I set goals to not be passed and to run my first leg smarter and thus slower than I ran last year.

Leg #5 – Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church to Elevation United Methodist Church – 9.08 miles (Angier). 

Ah, Leg #5, I remember it well. This is a very challenging leg due to not only distance but a series of undulating and sometimes steep hills. The weather was a very pleasant 66 degrees. I wore running shorts, Tuna CFS tee, Altras, and Bull City Running cap. Unlike last year, I made sure to carry water bottle and bring Bee Stinger. I also consumed a Bee Stinger a few minutes before the run. I didn’t, however, stretch as much as I should have. Why? Because Darren ran so damned fast that he arrived many minutes before he was expected to! And that’s okay. I quickly established my pace.

Perhaps the best thing that I did was to wear my Garmin Forerunner 25. Last year I was disheartened that there weren’t mile markers along the course. I didn’t want to get caught up in elapsed time, so I set my watch to display mileage and pace. I’d occasionally glance at my watch and would most frequently focus on pace. Running downhill and pace 6:00? Good! Running uphill and pace 9:00? No need to worry! There were quite a few times when I didn’t hear the watch beep to indicate a mile elapsed. As I couldn’t see elapsed time I didn’t get bogged down in attempting to establish how long it took me to run any given mile. Again, I could only see accumulated distance.

Uhm, but for whatever reason I thought that the run was 9.8 instead of 9.08 miles. Ha! I didn’t even attempt to pick up the pace for a fast finish until I rounded a corner and saw as well as heard the Exchange. I felt very good during the run, although I didn’t run at a steady pace. Why not? Hills, baby, hills! I passed 19 runners along the course. I said, “Nice job!” or “Stay strong!” to any runner who wasn’t wearing headphones. I did so for all 3 legs as well.

Splits: 6:34, 6:29, 6:44, 7:07, 7:08, 7:22, 7:01, 7:53 (steep hill!), and 7:14
Time: 1:04:03
Pace: 7:03 mpm

I ran a minute slower than last year, but I was nonetheless pleased with performance. Why? Because I knew that I had 2 more long legs to run and because this leg “felt” much better than it did last year. ‘Twas a confidence booster.

Last year I ran this leg at a 7:50 mpm pace. Have I gotten faster?

Cracker Barrel for lunch and then off to Leg #13 for the next exchange.

The start of Leg #5.


Leg #14 – Manley Grove Church to Daughtrey Field – 9.83 miles (Mount Olive). 

This was a miserable leg last year but my favorite leg this year. I set a goal to run at a 7:30 mpm pace, you know, so that I’d have something left in my legs for the last leg.

Steve Dodge ran Leg #12 in a torrential downpour. It was still raining when Jaclyn began Leg #13 but dissipated when she began. Lucky Jaclyn! Poor Steve Dodge.

I wore white Nike running shorts (Jaclyn’s favorite!), CFS tee, Altras, and lululemon cap. Whilst the rain had stopped by the time I began my leg the sun was beginning to set, so I also wore headlamp, reflective vest, and blinking lights. I carried water bottle and carried Bee Stinger chewies.

I quickly established pace and breathing and settled into the run. This included counting off runners as I passed them, although never out loud. That would be just rude!

About 3 miles into the run a male runner heard me approaching. He glanced my way and then picked up the pace. I kept running at a steady pace, knowing that I’d eventually catch and pass him. He surged 2 or 3 more times. I did easily pass him and as I did so he asked, “What’s your pace?” I said, “Last mile was 7:15.” “That’s too fast for me,” he replied. Uhm, I know. He was about the 6th person I passed. Seven, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. At about the 5-mile mark runner 13 was in my sights. At first I though the runner was a female, as I could see a short ponytail. I thought, “She’s running at a very good pace, but I know I can catch her.” I looked more closely and then determined the runner was a male. Uhm, the broad shoulders and hairy legs should’ve been a bigger clue. When he heard me first approach he glanced at me and then surged.

I shall refer to the runner as “Serge” for the remainder of this blog.

I know how to run and I know how to race. I wasn’t going to play his reindeer games. Serge and I continued to pass runners. Thirteen, 14, 15, 16, 17. I continued to run at a very steady pace and Serge continued to surge each and every time I approached. I certainly wasn’t close enough to draft, as Serge was bound and determined to not allow me to pass him. At about 7 or so miles into the run I shouted, “Nice job! I feel like you’re doing all of the fucking work. Listen, I’m not trying to pass you. You’ve been doing a great job setting the pace but if you want to take a break from doing so I’d be happy to pace for a while.”

No response.

I picked up my pace ever so slightly, passed him, saying, “Again, good job. I’ll keep the pace.”

He allowed me to run ahead of him for maybe 15 seconds at the most. He then surged and passed me. And I laughed out loud. Again, he hadn’t yet said a single word.

I allowed him to run ahead of me and then I ever so slightly picked up my pace. I quite easily caught up to him but instead of running behind or in front of him and ran beside him, matching his pace. I ran beside him for a good minute or so, never looking toward him and not saying a single word. Serge didn’t say a single word either. After a couple of minutes running beside him I once again picked up the pace, and Serge just couldn’t keep up with me.

Again, I know how to race. I never looked back. I did, however, make sure to put into my long-term memory the number 25, as Serge was the 25th runner that I passed. Twenty-six, 27, 28, 29, 30. And no sight of Serge. I was bound and determined that he wouldn’t catch and certainly not pass me.

I could hear and then finally see the Exchange zone as I passed runners 31 and 32.

Splits: 7:10, 7:15, 7:02, 7:07, 7:14, 7:10, 7:05, 7:01, and 6:54
Time: 1:09:55
Pace: 7:07 mpm


I ran the last .83 miles in 5:51, a 7:04 mpm pace.

I honestly don’t think that I would’ve run that fast if it weren’t for Serge. I can only speculate that he didn’t want and/or like to be passed. I know the feeling, but I also know how to run and race. Have I already mentioned this? I was pleased with my performance but was concerned that I wouldn’t have a strong final leg.

We drove to Exchange #25. Having learned valuable lessons last year, I parked the van far away from other vans. We settled in for a nap. I reclined the driver’s seat, put on headphones, set the volume to high, and attempted to sleep. Mike snores. Kevin snores. Darren snores. And Jaclyn snores. I listened to “The Smiths” greatest hits but was always awakened during the pause between songs, you know, because of the snoring.

Leg #27 – Free Will Chapel Church to First Baptist Church of Maysville – 8.68 miles (Trenton). 

Jaclyn and I discussed switching legs. For no other reason than to get it over with, I ran my assigned leg.

I had been looking forward to this leg but was upset that I wouldn’t be running as the sun rose. Dammit. The weather had chilled to 55 degrees. I wore compression shorts, CrossFit shirt, Altras, lululemon cap, headlamp, reflective vest, blinking lights, and gloves. Yes, gloves. I once again carried a water bottle.

My ITB felt tight, both on right and left legs. I stretched somewhat. Jaclyn was kind enough to stay with me so that I could wear sweatshirt and then hand it to her as Ashlee gave me the baton. I set a goal to run at 7:30 mpm pace. Sound familiar?

I began running without a single runner in sight ahead of me. I’d have to run fast if I were to pass anyone.

It took me longer to settle into pace and breathing. It was difficult to quickly glance at watch, as I’d had to adjust head and arm to view. It just wasn’t worth it, so I looked at watch infrequently, not even looking at mile splits.

And then it happened. I started to truly enjoy myself. I liked running this course during the nighttime hours, as I couldn’t see the miles and miles of road ahead of me. I instead just focused on foot strikes and breathing. I did eventually catch up with runners and passed 5 by the 7-mile mark.

And then math happened. I thought the leg was 8.8 miles and not 8.68. Okay, just .14 miles shorter. As I approached the town I quickly glanced at watch and thought it read 8 miles. I thought, “Just an eight of a mile and I’ll be finished. Surge!” Uhm, I didn’t reach the finish yet the Garmin beeped to indicate another mile. I glanced more closely at my watch. Eight miles. Dammit. The surge must continue! As I passed runner 6 he said, “You must be running the 70-miler.” “No,” I replied, “I’m in the 200-mile relay.” “Oh,” he said, “that’s a very fast pace then.” I passed 2 more runners for a total of 8.


Splits: 7:18, 7:18, 7:16, 7:08, 7:13, 7:05, 7:06, and 6:55 (mistaken surge)
Time = 1:01:56
Pace = 7:09 mpm

I ran the last .68 in 4:35.

Last year I ran this leg at an 8 mpm pace. I was quite pleased that I was able to run at a 7:09 mpm for this last leg!

Mileage: 27.59 miles
Time: 3:15:54
Pace: 7:06 mpm

By the way, whenever I’d run past a “Trump” sign I’d, well, flip it off. This helped pass the time.

Jaclyn finishing her first leg!
Team CrossFit Surmount after the finish!
Drinking Kellerweiss with Darren!


Funny Shit Paul Says

As I was toggling through radio station I paused on a station discussing sports of some kind. Baseball maybe? I thought it might be NPR so I listened until, well, I realized that the only topic that was going to be discussed was sports.
Darren: I can’t believe Paul was listening to sports?
Me: Was that sports? I thought I was listening to a Spanish station, as I couldn’t understand a single word that was said. 

Darren: It’s difficult running in the dark, as I don’t know if I’m running uphill or downhill.
Me: That’s how I feel about sex with a woman.

Jaclyn: Did you hear that Stephen was chased by dogs?
Me: Stephen? He’s a vegetarian. It’s funny that the dogs would chase one of the few people in this race who doesn’t smell like bacon.

Me: Did anyone else notice that we’re in a Fire station but they can’t get the bunsen burner under the hamburger tray lit? I guess they can only put out fires. 

Kevin: When I was in the Navy we had to learn how to put out fires.
Me: Because you’re constantly surrounded by water. That makes sense. 

Jaclyn: Did that make sense? Are you confused?
Me: I’m not confused because I wasn’t listening. 

Me: You can tell that the IQ level gets increasing lower as you travel East in the state as indicated by the ever increasing number of “Trump” signs. 


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