Confession: I am super behind on my blogging.
I have so much to tell you!
So, for the sake of time, I am combining GBN Weeks 10 & 11 into one post.
Here we go.
Monday-9.6 miles. I came down with a cold early in the GBN week and decided not to push too hard because it was so close to the race, this resulted in 4 days off without running. On Monday night, Farmer Ben and I were determined to get a long run in. And we did. Per usual, the first mile or two was a bit tough but after? I felt like I could take over the world. The original route was 8 miles, but I decided that I could go further. And I did. I was sore the next day, but it was totally worth it.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were rest days. Unintentionally but definitely needed. I managed to kick the cold for the most part and was mentally prepared for the Ragnar Relay.
Total Mileage: 9.6 Miles
Overall-Even though I only ran one day, I still feel it was a success. I got my long run in and I stayed healthy, for the most part. That’s all I wanted to do. And I did it.
The Ragnar Relay!!! Hooray! I woke up at 4:15 am on Friday morning. Having gone to bed after midnight, it wasn’t a happy morning, but I was pumped. We crammed everything into Zeke (the Versa) and headed toward Saratoga.
Because we had a bit of a van snafu, we ended up having to bring my car along for the trip, this allowed for some extra room, but was a huge pain. I totally missed out on precious hours of sleep because I had to drive my car to the major exchange points and then to my mother’s house. Le sigh.
Anyway, my first leg of the relay started around 1 pm. It had rained all morning and I was not looking forward to getting–and staying– soaking wet. I tried to nap before I started running, but of course that didn’t work. I was too excited to sleep!
It felt like an eternity before I started running and I was starting to get nervous. When I saw runner 6 (Hi Jessi!) barreling toward me, I knew that there was no turning back. It was time to go. I put one headphone in my ear and found a good station on Pandora, then I started on my 9.3 mile trek.
It was still raining, but barely and it would be clear by the time I finished running. I was feeling pretty good but knew that I hadn’t hydrated enough. No worries, there would be a water station somewhere along the course, right?
Wrong. I got to what I assume was the 6.5 mile mark, based on my leg map (they only marked the last mile of each route) and realized that I was on my own. Had I known this, I would have had the van meet me at the halfway mark with some water, but it was too late. I kept going and had, up until that point, kept up a good pace, but lack of sleep and proper hydration was definitely catching up with me. My phone died around 7 miles, taking my tunage with it.
Shortly before I saw the glorious blue mile marker (which by the way, was NOT at the mile mark, but further out), I started to crash. My body did NOT want to keep going and I slowed down a lot. But seeing that blue sign awakened something in me, and I took it one step at a time.
The funny thing about running is that even though your heart and your body are going crazy and pushing as hard as you can (at least during a race), and sometimes you’re not sure if you’ll be able to finish, your head is usually calm. Focused. I find that I have some of my most intimate conversations with God when I am running. Not intentionally, it just happens that way. Something about pushing yourself to the limit makes you clear your mind of all other distractions.
I used the last two miles of the race to talk to God. And to ask Him for help. And he sent it.
I didn’t catch his name, but this ridiculously tall, overly excited Ragnarian whizzed by me…at the exact moment that I let out a pained grunt. He whipped his head around and cheered me on. Although he was much faster than me, he yelled all the way up the last little hill until he was out of sight. After that, Sara, another runner ran by and continued to cheer me on, I ended up staying close to her for the remainder of the leg and went over to thank her for helping me finish.
Then I thanked Him.
After my first run, I cheered (loudly and obnoxiously) for the rest of our team. It had started raining again but we didn’t care. Our team was looking good and by the time we got to exchange 12 we were running on Clif bars and adrenaline.
At around 8:30 the first runner started his second leg of the race. We were in Lake George. Our van went to find food and I drove my car a little over an hour to my mother’s house, stopping at a Stewart’s to grab a sandwich, chips and chocolate milk (best recovery drink ever!). When I got to my mom’s, I threw my wet clothes in the dryer and then drove by where she would be volunteering for the rest of the night. After that, we drove to Ticonderoga (just under an hour), the next major exchange point and the beginning of my second leg. I got there a little after 11 and managed to nap for an hour or so. According to Van 1’s schedule, I’d be running around 2 am.
I was exhausted but wasn’t too worried about this leg as it was only 2.4 miles. I walked around and stretched to wake up and warm up (although it was warmer out in the middle of the night than it had been all day!). Once I started my leg, I was feeling great. My shoe came untied so I had to stop and tie it, other than that, things went off without a hitch. The last mile was uphill, but after some of the hill training I’d done, this was no big deal.
I ended up running my middle leg at about 9:10 pace. Much faster than I expected, so it was a pleasant surprise. I got back to the van and someone noticed I was bleeding. Apparently, our team slap bracelet had cut me. No big deal.
Again, after running, I was too excited to sleep, at least for the next few hours, so I cheered on my team.
Our van stopped at the halfway mark for Farmer Ben and we noticed that he was taking a little longer than usual to get there. I started to worry because I knew his foot was bothering him and because it was 3 am, dark and rainy.
He finally came into view and I could tell he was hurting but he simply grabbed a bottle of water from me and kept going.
We went up a little further (about two miles from the finish) and I decided that I would jump out and finish his leg for him. That didn’t go as planned because he wouldn’t give me the slap bracelet, so I ended up running with him. He was determined to finish, what can I say?
After Ben finished, I finally got a short nap in, but woke up a few times to cheer on one of our other runners. I stayed awake until we got to the next major exchange (where Van 1 would be starting) and then slept for a couple of hours. When we got Ausable Forks (where I would start running again), a few of us went in and got breakfast from the high school cafeteria. I had low expectations, but I was still disappointed. It was pancakes, eggs and sausage…I think. As gross as it was, I knew that I needed to eat something so I choked about half of it down. Then I ate an apple and filled up on water. I changed into dry clothes (it was still raining, but starting to clear up) and peed about 23543452456 times.
I was very happy to see two of my closest friends and the mother of another team member show up at the exchange point to cheer me on. Being exhausted, I was really worried about running my last leg. It was 5.1 miles, a rolling route that stayed along the Ausable River and seeing familiar faces really helped.
My heart was struck with genuine fear when Jessi came sprinting toward me, slap bracelet raised high. But I took the bracelet like a champ and started running. You could tell the end of the race was near because the excitement was everywhere, cars and vans drove by, honked, beeped and blasted music. This all kept me going.
About a mile in, I heard a familiar voice and turned to see a friend from church in his car. He slowed down and chatted with me for a few minutes and then wished me luck and went on his way. I later found out that another friend had seen me running. The perks of doing a crazy relay close to home!
I even passed a water station on this leg, but I was so disgusted that I didn’t stop.
I asked another team that had pulled off how far I had to go. They said the magic words: You’re halfway there. This was a great feeling. I felt a little spring in my step and even picked it up a little. Once I got to the 1-mile-to-go sign, I was feeling great. I handed off to our next runner and found out that I had run at 9:40 pace, which doesn’t seem that fast but it was a lot faster than I thought. I’ll take it.
I felt amazing after that last run. I had done it . 18.8 miles (this includes the extra two miles). I survived. Now my only job was to cheer for my team like crazy!
We ended up having to sub in a runner for the last mile and a half of the race, but we finished. We crossed the finish line at about 5 pm. And then headed over to get our free beer, medals and shirts.
This was an amazing experience. I cannot wait for next year. The actual running wasn’t as difficult as I thought, but the lack of sleep and food were a huge challenge. I definitely pushed myself and am jones-ing to do so again!
After the race, we met up with my mom (who lives about 20 minutes from Lake Placid) and I drove my friends Jessi and Niki back to Saratoga to pick up their car. Then we headed down to Albany to drop off the van. At that point, it was after 9 pm and I was so tired I could barely move, so we rented a hotel room to crash for the night.
Since the race, I have been pretty low-key. I’ve been going to bed a lot earlier and haven’t gotten any running in. But I will.
The Army Ten-Miler is 17 days away and I still have some work to do. That means tonight I get back to running. I’m fighting the sniffles after being in the rain all weekend but I am feeling a lot better and my body is finally recovered. So, the GBN journey continues!
What are some of your exercise challenges you’ve faced over the last two weeks? Any races coming up?