Race #14 – Blue Ridge Relay – part II

Check out part I here.

After we finished our first set of legs, Van 2 trekked into Boone to grab dinner at Subway and pick up a few supplies at Wal-Mart. I have to say, there’s really nothing quite like people watching at Wal-Mart in a rural town. Since all 6 of us had gotten rained on during our first legs, we decided to pick up some towels along with some additional bagels and bananas before we headed to exchange zone #18. 

Van 1 had over 40 miles to cover before we would run again, so we set up camp at the exchange zone and tried to get a few hours of rest. We also re-decorated our van since the rain had washed almost everything off.
The tent ended up being a great idea – it gave us plenty of room to stretch out and allowed more people to actually get sleep than we’ve had in previous relay races. That’s definitely something we will add to our packing list for future relays! 

As we were heading to the exchange zone where I would be starting out from, we could see red flashing lights in the distance and a lot of cars backed up on the road. It was a little scary at first because it looked like we were coming up on the scene of an accident, but it turned out to be the fire station where my exchange zone was – all of the relay vans had to park along the side of the road, so the firemen were holding up traffic so that the vans could back into spots next to the road. After we told the first fireman we needed to park, he directed us to a second fireman up the road a couple hundred yards who asked “Yinz gonna park here or go through?” … I didn’t expect to hear any Pittsburghese in the middle of the woods in NC! 

Runner #7 only had 4.4 miles to do on her leg, so I was a little nervous about not being able to get out and stretched in time to meet her, but we ended up having an extra 10 minutes or so after we parked before she came in, so that was fine. My second leg was 7.3 miles with a hill that lasted just over a mile and ranged from 5-7% grade. Of course, this hill was also at the end of this leg, very similar to my first leg. I got on the road just before midnight.

  • Mile 1 – 9:35
  • Mile 2 – 9:35
  • Mile 3 – 10:20
  • Mile 4 – 11:30
  • Mile 5 – 10:57
  • Mile 6 – 13:19
  • Mile 7 – 10:04
  • Last .3 – 8:30

Overall pace: 10:41

I really struggled on Mile 6 and it definitely shows in my numbers… overall, I think the leg went well considering the terrain and I was definitely glad to be running that one at night – I can’t imagine running that hill in the heat of the day! I did get yelled at by some locals in a pickup truck as I was climbing on of the hills. The good news is that their truck was so loud I could hear which direction it was going, so I would have had plenty of warning if they decided to turn around and come back to bother me. Apparently on one of the legs there was someone on the course jumping out to scare people – I didn’t hear anything about it from any of our runners, but that’s definitely not something you like to hear.

After my leg, I made a point to be the navigator for the rest of our van’s legs so that I would force myself to stay awake and keep hydrating and it worked out well. One of the most interesting exchange zone setups was at a garage and all of the vans just parked along the side of the road (we had to be careful not to hit runners as we entered & exited the van) and the one portapotty that they had was still set up on the trailer that it was brought in on, so it was like walking on stage to go up to the bathroom – it was very weird and I saw a few teams taking pictures as if their runner was on a stage.

We, thankfully, had an uneventful night and after everyone had done their second leg, we were still hanging onto a 3 minute lead over our original estimated finish time. One caveat to the estimated finish time is that we were using our 10k pace, which is what everyone is asked to submit in order to figure out when your team will start running and while we padded our time slightly because we knew we would all be running double or triple that distance, everyone put in a pace they were comfortable training at for 8-10 miles (which, again, is about half of the total distance we would run over the course of the race). 

We handed off to Van 1 at exchange zone 24 and headed on to exchange zone 30 where we were all looking forward to a pancake breakfast and more sleep while Van 1 ran a little over 37 miles on their final legs of the race.

Check back tomorrow for the final part of the Blue Ridge Relay recap!

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