Now that I've had a week and a half to recover, I think it's time that I document this admittedly insane, fabulous, sickening, wonderful event. The Blue Ridge Relay was something that I knew would be physically challenging, but I totally underestimated the cumulative effect it would have on me mentally and emotionally as well.
A group of friends started talking about this around the 4th of July, which was when I was invited to take part. I thought about it for a couple of weeks, and finally decided that it was something I didn't necessarily WANT to do, but I probably NEEDED to. The main goal was to take my running to the next level. It was just starting to get really hot during the summer and having something of this magnitude to train for would ensure that I wouldn't slack off. The icing on the cake; When I messaged my sister Kasey about whether I was totally insane to even be considering this, she said if I decided to do it, she would join the party...hard to say no to that!
And so it began. I calendared my runs and just DID IT. It's really amazing to think that I went from running 6 miles as my longest training run, to 10 miles, in a matter of 4 weeks.
One of the many things I learned about myself, I am stronger and much more capable than I give myself credit for. (This applies to more than running!)
I didn't miss any of my runs, and in fact ran 80 total miles in August alone....I had physically and mentally prepared the best that I possibly could have and all that was left was to JUST DO IT.
208 hilly miles lay in front of us, 36 legs, 12 runners.
Windy, steep roads. We were oohing and aahing at every turn before we got nauseous from nervousness and carsickness..
This was our van for the 2 days. It became chaos very quickly with 6 women and all their gear. We packed lots of awesome food but none of us had appetites after traveling all of those windy mountain roads. Good thing we'd also packed Gu. The only real food anyone could stomach was chocolate milk and bananas. Sleeping bags up top!
My sunrise. We arrived to the start at 6:32 am...2 minutes late! My pit crew got me off and running within seconds and the officials let me start anyway.
I'm pretty sure I made up the difference with all that adrenaline, I set an all-time PR!
My cute sister Kasey was runner #3. I swear, she had the most beautiful runs of the whole course!
Here I am at the end of my 2nd leg as the sun was setting. 7.3 miles.Straight.Uphill. No joke. I couldn't breathe for the first 2 miles because of the hills combined with the altitude. Then my lungs decided I really wasn't going to stop and they just acclimated.
Peeee Esssss: I don't recommend sports beans. They kept trying to come up the whole run. ICK. Stick to Gu!
Our sleeping accommodations between 2-4am Friday night, after a 1:30am meal of $3 baked potatoes put on by the Fire Dept..AKA...manna from heaven. Needless to say, not much "actual sleeping" happened, Kasey and her super-earplugs being the only exception! Good thing too, she had a 9 mile run in front of her. (which turned out to be 9.3!) My last leg was directly after this and we were all coming apart at the seams. Brain function was severely limited, muscles were sore from the day before. Advil and Gu (2x caffeine) were consumed in order to function!
My 3rd and final run started at 5am. It was dark, windy roads, deserted and foggy. I could only see 5 ft in front of me with my headlamp to begin with and then once my breath warmed up it fogged me in completely. I could hear things in the bushes and "molester-mobiles" were coming around the corners at 60 MPH. I was a little freaked, but I gripped my mace and ran as fast as I could to get it over with ASAP. Luckily my sister-telepathy was still functioning and about 2.5 miles in, Kasey came back in the van to check on me...and pretty much stayed near me to the end. I did this for the next runner too until sunrise. Freaky stuff, Maynard!
Kasey at the end of her last leg! She was a total rock-star!
I love how this picture captures so much of what we saw in one frame...churches, port-a-johns, tractors and shacks...all in one!
We finished our last leg for our van around 12:30pm Sat...saw the other van off for the final 6 legs and headed for real food. Once the anxiety about our upcoming legs and everything else was over with, relief abounded and our appetites returned with a vengeance! Olive Garden has never tasted SO good. And then showers, provided by the Asheville YMCA~
Here are the Crazy Soles from Van 1 (Michelle, Jolin, Natalie, Heidi, Annette, Kasey), fed, showered and waiting for Van 2 to cross the finish line...any minute now...
Woo-hoo, we did it! What a feeling!
An amazing experience, made even more extraordinary by having my sister with me through thick and thin!
I found a quote shortly before leaving for the relay and it stayed with me throughout. It seriously helped me through the mental battle during this physically demanding experience: "Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever." - Lance Armstrong
And guess what? It's true. As hard as this was, it was temporary. (I DID have to go up and down the stairs sideways all day on Sunday because my quads were SHREDDED) But the benefits and lessons learned, mostly about myself, are with me forever. How can you put a price on that? You just can't.
I am so glad I allowed myself to be challenged this way. I highly recommend it!