Tuesday, December 15, 2015

200 Mile Run

Not a whole lot new to report. Still not running fast. Still not sleeping perfectly, but I did much better last night. Is my body finally recognizing this way of eating as the new status quo? Or did my awesome massage last night just put me in a perfect state of relaxation? Too many variables to know for sure.

So maybe it's time to tell some more old racing stories. My lack of sleep as of late reminds me of one of my favorites.

I first heard about the American Odyssey Relay when twelve of my friends formed a team in 2011 - a 200 mile trek every April from Gettysburg to Washington, DC completed over the course of 30 or so hours. I thought "gee, I really need to find more sane people to hang out with." When I heard they were doing it again in 2012 - and had enough interest to form a second team - I thought "well, maybe I could do that." And when they approached me - and my husband - in 2013 to help them round out a third team, I thought "We're in." (despite my non-running husband's objections.) And so began four months of focused training, our determined accountability to our teammates forcing the two of us to enter the gym almost daily for another grueling treadmill run, or tackling 10k races in the bitter cold, or building up some leg strength with Sunday morning Bodyworks or flexibility with Yoga. As my pace improved steadily, generally staying under 9:00/mile, I figured I was solid to average the same pace for my team come race morning's start. After all, I had to account for hills, tired legs, and sporadic and interrupted sleep in a less-than-comfortable mini-van. But the training I had done in NO WAY prepared me for the challenge that AOR presented. I may need to break this down into a few posts, because there's a lot I remember about this life adventure. So here's the digest version if you don't want to follow along for the next day or so:
  1. Nope. Running 200 miles over 30 hours does NOT stop you from binge eating.
  2. Hill and hell sound similar for a reason.
  3. You know a friend is true when you forget to show up for your last leg of the race and they forgive you.
Anyway, the runners from New Jersey met the night before the race to vanpool out to Gettysburg, with one last minute addition - one of our runners had to drop out that day, creating a scramble to find a new 12th team member. So another runner put a call out to her running club and found a guy crazy enough to join us on a whim.

And here I had just put in four months of training.

We arrived at about 9:30pm - just enough time to mix and mingle with other team members we didn't know very well, meet those we'd be sharing a van with (and getting to know a little TOO well), and get a good solid night's sleep in our hotel. The first two happened easily - but either nerves or just being in an unfamiliar bed didn't work in my favor.

Still, we were up, dressed, and fueled with coffee and fruit to meet our teams at the starting line. All of our teams were given a 7:45 start, as they stagger the start times based on how fast you think your team is going to run the course. Our first runner (in yellow, and the one who found our crazy last minute addition), mentioned this was her first relay and shared she had slightly objected to running first, so she was a little bit anxious about it. I don't think it helped when one of the other runners shouted "Anybody know where we're supposed to go?" A few chuckled nervously, but were reassured when the race director reminded them that the course is marked and they'd just have to keep an eye out for the directional signs.

The start of my American Odyssey relay running race.
Someone had the genius idea that each of our teams should have matching t-shirts in neon colors (our team is in yellow, another in orange, and another in pink) so that we could easily pick each other out.

And then they were off! The remaining 5 members of my van packed it up, hopped in, and headed off on the course, prepared to support our runner with bottled water, gatorade, and cheers of encouragement. She had asked that we follow her along the race route instead of the driving route just to check on her initially, while our other teams shared they would be ok for their 5.8 mile run and could wait on support. We drove about a mile and didn't see any runners, and thought "wow, these guys are flying!" When we went yet another mile and saw no runners, we checked our own race map to determine if we were lost. Nope, we were good. A third mile down, and we finally came upon some runners - only we didn't recognize them from our start. Our driver rolled down the window and asked "Hey, when did you guys start?"


Our hearts dropped. If these were the 7:15 runners, it meant our runners were off course. And it was the FREAKIN' FIRST LEG. We immediately got on the AOR twitter-verse to ask help from other drivers to start looking for the group. We trekked back to the starting line taking a few different roads. We could not find them anywhere. I immediately pulled out my leg maps and pored over them, desperate not to have the same ill fate befall me.

We eventually got back on the running route, and felt elated when we saw bright yellow and bright orange running together. We pulled up next to them, waters in hand.

The damage? 2.2 miles off course, changing a 5.8 mile course into a full 8. Apparently, the first sign indicating to run straight across the road was poorly placed, and the group all followed the first guy out the gate - who turned right.

Well... the adventure had begun.

123 days left.

Today's Exercise:  Walking, 1 hr

3 Eggs, spinach, Coffee
Tuna Salad,
peppermint tea
WalnutsPaleo taco salad

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