19 August, 2009

My "100-on-100 Heart of Vermont Relay" race report

I'm not sure where to begin. Firstly, it was one of the most memorable weekends I've ever had. My 11 teammates (we have 2 teams of 6 running) come from all over the country. We're 3 VTers, 2 from IN, 1 from VA, 1 from MD, 1 from MA, 1 from IL, and 2 from NY. Anyways, I'm so fortunate to know them and to have spent quality (albeit smelly and stinky) time with all of them. We were truly a team, and this was really about pulling together and honoring Cody, the son of my teammate Mickey and his wife Diane, who passed away this March at age 6 of Neuroblastoma. It was an honor to run in Cody's name, and Cody was in mind a good portion of the day.

Saturday, we meet in the hotel lobby at 5:30 to head to Trapp Family Lodge. I'm a-skeered. Runner order for team 1 is: Eric, Scott, Elizabeth, Rick, Kerry, then Bill. We run in that order, and repeat 3 times. (Team 2 order is: Leslie, Ros, Karen, Tobes, Judy, and Mickey).

My 1st run:
This is my first run of the day, and it's 7.0 miles. It was still a bit fogged in when I started running. Legs feel good. Plenty of rolling hills, and I'm feeling comfortable. I get about a mile into my run, stop to stretch my calves and quads a bit, and keep going. I think our van passes me around mile 2 or so, cheering me out the window. Around mile 4 or so, though, my stomach starts acting up, very similar to the problem I had at NYC last year - I feel like throwing up when I'm running, so take it down to a power-walk until my stomach calms down. Start running again, feel like throwing up again. This goes on pretty much the rest of this leg. I get passed by about a million people, I reach the transition point and hand off to Rick. I was VERY frustrated at this point. My teammates were wonderful, reassuring me that they didn't care about my pace (or lack thereof).

My 2nd run:
This portion of the run is described as leaving the forest behind and entering pasturelands. They were telling the truth. It's 4.7 miles, mostly flat, but there is not a lick of shade to be found. NONE. ANYWHERE. It's a little over 90f, I'm absolutely roasting, and also still tremendously nauseous when running. I was running with a waist-pack water bottle carrier, and that's making my stomach worse - too much pressure around the stomach I think. When the team passes me at around mile 2, I give them that, and just take a water bottle. That helped, and they checked in on me again around mile 3. I run (a little) and walk (a lot) to finish out the leg and hand off to Rick again. I manage a good number of pretzels and a piece of bread, hoping that'll help.

My 3rd run:
This leg is 4.5 miles and described as: "Kill-ington Descent, sure to leave a lasting memory with those that take on the challenge." I get the hand-off from Scott, and take off. My stomach seems kinda okay, so I keep my stride smooth and low to the ground and keep running. The leg is rolling small and large hills for the first 2 miles or so, then all downhill from there. 1000 feet descent in 2.25 miles. I just keep running downhill, downhill, downhill. It actually felt pretty comfortable for me, although there were a few places where the slope would increase to a point where I was a little worried about taking a wipe-out. Just before the 4 mile marker, Karen from Cody Team II comes flying by me - yelling out something to the effect of "I'm out of control. I can't stop!" with a huge smile on her face. Anyways, I feel good and strong on this leg, and after the disasters of my first two run, am VERY pleased with this one. I hand off to Rick as dusk is setting in and away he goes.

The cameraderie of this race was awesome - we saw Team 2 out on the course, and at transition areas throughout the day. And as Mickey (Cody's dad, on Team 2) and Bill approached the finish, we all joined in and Teams 1 and 2 crossed the finish line together. I'll never forget that moment. Lots of hugs, and lots of thoughts of Cody.

We all had breakfast together Sunday morning, then hit the road, with folks going in different directions - back to MA, IN, VA, MD, IL, and NY.

GREAT GREAT race, and I'm definitely doing this next year.

p.s. That downhill run... Well, let's just say it's a little tough on the quads. :-)

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