Blue Ridge Relay Ultra 2012

My second time running the Blue Ridge Relay and my first time in both an ultra team and a women team. I was filling in for someone who has to drop and while I feel bad for her missing all the fun, I'm so glad to be on this team, the Distance Divas!

Vac & Dash printed the shirts for us. Thanks, Peter!
We are a team of six women, in running order: Tiffany, Kate, me, Cheryl, Erica, and Wendy. I only knew half the team before the race but what better way to get to know people other than spending almost three day-and-nights together?

Here are my running stats:
Total distance - 29.95 miles
Total running time - 241.28 minutes
Average pace - 8:05 min/mile

As in all six-person team, we each run six legs of the race (36 total as a team). My favorite legs are the last two - a nine-mile run and a mountain goat leg.

The nine mile leg started at around 5 a.m., a time that my body is not accustomed to running. I started the run feeling hollow inside, probably because I had not fuel properly before the run. Who eats at 3 or 4 a.m.? I normally don't look at my garmin while running but I felt the urge to shortly into the run. Not a good sign. I knew it was just a little over a mile into the run and looking at my watch to confirm that would be worse.  So I kept running, trying to find things to distract myself. At the crack of dawn, I was able to see more. The birds, blue sky, the river...and the long stretch ahead. I started praying, thinking about the people who live with hunger and fatigue like I was at the moment, and how they keep pressing on. Believe it or not, that thought kept me going. "This is just another training run," I told myself. Another training run for WV Trilogy so I could raise more funds for my friends in Ethiopia, and so they could have a job and have a place to live. How often do I feel fatigue and without help? Almost never. How absurd to put myself through something like this in order to identify with what 99% of the world's population experience everyday.  Even then, I knew I'd be stuffing my face with a turkey sandwich - yes, I was thinking about turkey and the Great Harvest bread - in an hour. After about six miles came a turn which I had been anticipating. A change in scenery always helps - even if it means turning onto a road named Big Hill Road. Steeper hills picked up here, but not too bad. After reaching the top after three miles, the run ended with a downhill into the exchange zone. That was a good run.

Leg 33 - Mountain Goat Leg. Look how pretty the array of color is!

My last leg for the race is a Mountain Goat leg. According to the description, it has the steepest uphill and also downhill of the race. For me who is not much of a racer, downhill means rest and recovery. Knowing there is a downhill awaits after the climb helps. I was looking forward to this leg and it didn't disappoint. Climbing uphill was fun. It started gradually, 1-2% grade,  then 4, 6, 8, and up to 13% grade. If there's any trick to running uphill, it is one small step at a time. I finally broke into hiking up at around 2.6 mile into it, which is right about where I hit the 12% grade. Funny enough, I caught up with two other ladies while hiking. I tried to run a couple times, but my attempts reduced to hiking again. Towards the top, the grade "flattened" to a 10% where I could run again. There were so many people up top cheering! I wished I showed more appreciation for their cheers and encouragement. It was as if I just crossed the finish line of Western States - at least that was the image I had in mind. From the top, it was all downhill plus about 1.5 miles of flat before the exchange zone. The thrill of climbing was over and it was all about finishing well at that point.

Left to right: Wendy, me, Cheryl, Tiffany, Kate, Erica
There were a total of four women's ultra team and we all started at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning. We leap-frogged at least two of the teams along the way, but when the night came, it was too dark to see who was who and I had no idea where we stood. At 4:41 p.m. on Saturday, all I knew was that we finished! However, that's not the end. This morning, we got the good news that we actually came in first in the Ultra Women category. Yoot! I am proud of our team, not because of our place, but because we persevered. There were tears, pain, whining, frustration, burning quads...but we finished what we set out to do. Huge and special thanks to our driver, crew, and support, Kevin Johnson! He's a trooper in driving us around, getting us what we needed, and helping us through the whole thing. I cannot imagine if we were without him, or with any other driver but him.

1 comment:

  1. Great job out there! I had other plans over the weekend but felt a bit jealous seeing everyone updating about their Blue Ridge Relay adventures. Congrats on pushing through and succeeding in the race.