I have a ton of pictures from this one which is good because there are so many things to say. If I took my eyes off the boy child long enough to write all those words he would no doubt poop his pants. I cannot take the shitty pants any more, people, so bear with me and know that nothing I could say here would properly describe the utter awesomeness that was the Blue Ridge Relay anyway. So you get you what you get and you better not pitch a fit.
First off, lets talk about the relay in general. If you ever get a chance to do this race don’t even think twice. In fact, go put together a team right now and then come back and finish reading. If you cannot talk 11 friends into doing this race then
find new friends inquire with local running groups until you find a team needing a runner. It does not matter if you don’t know each other now. Other than the one team meeting that I went to (there were two team meetings but I missed the first one), I had never met 8 of the 11 other runners or either of the van drivers prior to the race. And now? Now I want them all to move to a giant compound in the middle of nowhere and run with me all day long every day. Stacey, you can take breaks from running to bake things.
(In the time it took me to type the above, the boy child shit his pants. Again. I hate potty training.)
Okay so twelve runners and two drivers. We rented two fifteen passenger vans and split into two groups. Each group consisted of 6 runners and one driver. You totally saw that coming, right? I hope so. There’s a lot of math in a relay. Maybe grab a smart friend to do the math part. While one van is actively on the course the other van is “resting”.
Based on your predicted overall average team pace you are given a start time for Friday. Ours was 6:30am. Faster teams started as late as 2:30pm. Those 2:30pm people are scary as hell when they bear down on you all of a sudden out of nowhere in the middle of the dark ass, country road night. Then they pass you and are never seen again. We covered 208 miles (actually more I guess because there was a detour that added some miles to a couple legs) and had to be done by, I think, 5:30 or 6p on Saturday. You’re loving my very precise details, aren’t you? Read the race site. I’m not your damn maid.
Essential relay packing tip : Ziplocs.
I packed each of my three running outfits, complete with everything from shorts to headbands to socks, in a separate large ziploc bag. This comes in handy because it keeps all the details together and, more importantly, you put all your sweaty clothes back into the bag after each run. Seal up that funk and keep the van odor to a minimum. I also had a fourth large ziploc that I labeled “in between and just in case”. This bag had clothes for lounging in between runs and extra gear in case of cold/rain/apocalypse. I brought a running skirt, lounge pants, clean undies/bras, a long sleeve top, and gloves/hat. Aside from the gloves and hat, I used everything that I brought.
The race provides absolutely no food or water. You must pack in, or buy along the way, all the things you need. Because all I’ve done since April is ultras, I had a hard time on food packing. They warn you not to overeat while sitting in the van because you’ll end up feeling crappy on the run. I’m just so used to packing up a ton of sugar to get me through. So I packed this giant bag of snacks. Then, just as my ride pulled up, I panicked about being labeled a lard ass, overpacker and tossed a bunch of it back into the pantry. I did bring (and use)the twizzlers, stuff to make a couple PB&J’s, chocolate milk, diet coke, a case of water, accelerade and a couple gels. We also stopped for lunch at a BQQ restaurant and we partook of a “baked potato bar” fundraiser that a fire station/exchange zone had in the middle of the night.
I know you love pictures of my matching luggage. The large purple tote is full of ziplocked clothing. The black and white is the food bag that I actually ended up paring down to a smaller tote. The polka dot bag functioned as my purse and misc stuff bag. I had my wallet, sunglasses, garmin, various chargers, toiletries (I had everything just in case I stumbled upon a free shower. But really you NEED deodorant, baby wipes and toothbrush/paste for good vanmate relations (ewww not like that. I did not have relations with any vanmates)), and some magazines. I brought magazines because I worried I’d get bored. I laugh heartily at that now.
The flat of water, a sleeping bag, more water, a yoga mat that I didn’t end up bringing and a bag of general van stuff. We each volunteered the bring some stuff to share vanwide. We didn’t need every one of us to bring toilet paper and first aid and such. I brought markers and glow sticks for van decorations, as well as shower wipes aka Relay Gold (seriously, get you some. Now.) and some other crap I can’t even remember now.
Our team captain had handled van rental and pickup so we met up at her place to load, decorate and ponder what the hell we were doing.
Karen brought first aid. If I were to tell you to bring first aid you might show up with band aids and motrin, right? Karen had a full CVS inside of two grocery bags. We could probably have performed surgery out there. This would come in handy later when I, for the first time ever, suffered horrendous gas pains on one of my runs. I got in the van and started bitching about them and Karen was like “voila, bitch, Gas-x!”
Van paint job that then got rained on and runny making it sort of appear like the van window was bleeding.
Because of our early start, and the fact the start is a couple hours from Charlotte, we went up Thursday afternoon and spent the night. We stopped for a beer (carbs!) and pizza dinner and then proceeded to Sparta, NC and the Allegheny Inn. Clean, cheap, no bed bugs. Karen, Stacey and I could not find our room for a long while. Then we discovered it was hidden behind the office, conveniently located by the public restroom and conference center? We were also on the first floor and had a window that opened onto an alley and would not lock. Whatever. Clean, cheap, no bed bugs. That is all I need from a race hotel and this fit the bill nicely.
We got up around 4:30am, left the hotel around 5 and hit the road for the start line, arriving just in the nick of time for check in at 6. Good thing Runner #1, Rebecca, is such a mellow girl because we barely had time to get her in her night gear (reflective vest, headlamp, and blinky lights on front and back required from 7:30p to 7:30a), pin a number on her and send her on her way.
The sunrise as we drive down to the first exchange to wait for Rebecca to arrive.
Now its daylight-ish so we can start with the constant group pictures. You know what we also did constantly? Headcounts. Every time we’d get in the van, before driving away, we’d take a quick roll to make sure nobody got left behind. You laugh but it could totally happen!
Night gear because, despite the daylight, it is before 7:30am. Also because I think its totally swanky looking. I’m wearing it 24/7 these days.
Waiting for Rebecca and being a dorky turd.
Taking the slap bracelet nice and slowly. Don’t want to pull a muscle or break a sweat.
My first leg was mapped as 7.5 miles of downhill and rated “Hard”. The notes claim it was rated hard because it is downhill for so long which can really give your legs a beating. I think maybe it might have been hard because of the two sizeable hills I had to climb up, while shaking my fist at nearby livestock and muttering, “Not downhill, still not downhill. Oh shit is that a dog, please don’t bite me.” I also kept thinking, “wait, if this is “Hard” and I’m feeling so tragic…WTF am I going to do about leg #2 rated “VERY hard” and admittedly uphill the whole way!??!”. Then I just tried to think about lunch. Lunch always makes me feel happy. I also enjoyed the gorgeous, gorgeous bunch of scenery. Little mountain houses, animals, fields. Really pretty, especially at sunrise in the quiet (aside from my muttered cuss words).
Handing off to Jaime. Jaime’s like, “where the hell have you been, out staring at cows or something!?”
Jaime, like a bat out of hell.
Jaime is back already because she pretty much broke the sound barrier. Jaime passes to Karen.
Finish your leg and cross off the leg # on the side of the van.
Take a group picture while waiting for Karen.
Rebecca deals out some french braids to keep me and Maddie from getting gnarly hair.
Oh look, its Karen! Coming in fast. Turns out, I was totally the snail of the group. I tried to make up for it with witty commentary.
Karen to Monica. Monica is the fastest runner known to man. We actually picked her up to fill a last minute vacancy on the team. Less than a week’s notice and this girl stepped up and signed on to a team of 11 complete strangers. I believe somebody posted a note on a local running board and Monica answered? I think that’s what happened. Or maybe we found her at a local womens prison? Crap, I should have asked… Anyway, she was fast and funny and never smelled bad. That’s really all you need in vanmates. Everything else can be purchased or stolen from other vans.
Karen’s debut outfit was my favorite of the day.
I’m already in my lounge clothes and hoping I can talk somebody into a cheeseburger break soon.
No, those cheeseburgers are too fresh, Rebecca.
Karen doing a behind the van change after her leg. Jaime and I held the towel and also took pictures. Duh.
Monica tearing up the countryside to bring the bracelet to Maddie.
I don’t have a picture of Monica passing to Maddie. I’m sure there is one. I feel like I saw one. I just can’t find it. I swear it’s not because I hate Maddie. Even though I do sort of hate Maddie because she’s all super skinnier than me and her stomach can be bared in public.
Here’s Maddie! Passing to the first runner of Van #2, Laurel. See Maddie, I don’t hate you. Skinny Bitch.
We cheer Laurel out the gate and then Van #1 is done for a few hours. Whew.