Runner 1, despite being 2.2 miles off course (full story here: wp.me/p1N36Q-6l
), finished strong and with a smile, and handed off to our second runner, who blazed through his awesome course that took us through the battle fields of Gettysburg. Although two of our three teams ran together for the first leg, our second runner was much faster than their second runner, so we lost our buddy system pretty quickly. And then it was Runner 3's turn:
That's My Husband.
My husband had run a 5k here and there before agreeing to do this, and has put in a lot of effort into adding distance to his ability. He was so nervous about letting our team down, and most worried about his first run as it would be the most difficult of the three he'd be doing. I think the butterflies fueled his run, because he did awesome, breaking personal records for his 10k even though he had to run up and down hills here.
And then... our other team's third runner "killed" him. (I learned that's what you call passing someone on the road in the relay community).
Runner 4, our driver, had a particularly grueling 8 miles up and downhill to complete next before handing off to Runner 5.
I knew that our two teams Runner 6's wanted to run their leg together and would wait at all costs for each other (it is widely known that Runner 6 has the toughest legs of the race, with this particular leg being 6 miles straight up hill), so I had my work cut out for me trying to narrow the distance between myself and the other runner 5. I took off at my sub 9:00/mile pace, and felt pretty good when I had two "kills" of my own (yup, they were "Chick'd" - that's when you are passed by a girl, apparently).
And that's when the hills kicked in. I knew I was in trouble when I felt a cramp come on, as I NEVER have cramped up running, not even during my two half marathons. I cursed the flat terrain of central NJ - and my lack of foresight in only using a 1.0% incline on the treadmill - for not preparing me adequately for this. When Maya (MapMyRun - more info here: wp.me/p1N36Q-4b
) told me at 2.1 miles I was barely hanging on to a 9:14 mile pace, I knew my 9:00:00 race average was not going to become a reality. This first leg, at 4.5 miles, was supposed to be of "medium" difficulty.
Sure. Maybe to a gazelle.
I ended my first leg with an average time of 9:09, learned I had done a pretty good job closing the gap on the other team's runner 5, and we bid farewell to our Runner 6s. We were all looking forward to our first of three well deserved naps with the hand-off of the baton to the next six runners awaiting us in our second van.
The night time runs began for us right about sunset, and were fairly uneventful. Nobody got lost. This time around, our Runner 4's stuck together, and I got to hang out on my second leg with the other team's Runner 5. A good thing, too, as it was 10:00 at night and our leg was along a main road that was pretty uninteresting. This was to be the easiest of my three legs - 4.0 miles with gentle rolling hills - but I think the long day and lack of sleep were already starting to wear on me. 9:14/mile pace this time.
My favorite part about this portion of the course is that it ended right near an angel's house. Ok, not really, but a close friend who actually knows many people on our three teams very well lives along the route, and each year she opens up her doors for us to take showers and sleep - albeit for a very short period of time - on beds, couches, air mattresses, anything she has to offer. A clean and grateful me laid my head to sleep on a pillow and air mattress, and figured someone would come wake me when it was time to lace up again.
I figured incorrectly.