Sunday, May 16, 2010

Palmetto 200 Relay Race (Event) Report

I would call this a race report - but we do this for fun instead of for competition.
So - this is a report from Van #2's perspective on April 30, 2010 as we drove to the start of the Palmetto 200 relay adventure in Cayce, SC and ran to Folly Beach, SC. We had a relatively normal leaving time of ~6:45am to make it to the Historic Columbia Speedway.

Typed the street into the Garmin and had a nice drive down after packing our bags and enough food for a small army. Stopped for coffee on the way, made some turns as directed and lo and behold - we end up lost - even though we see Caution Runner signs. We figure out we are close - which is good because we are cutting it close to meet up with Van #1 to get a team photo before the 9:00am start time. What made it worse was

a train stopped on the tracks. We found a way around it and made it in time.

Christina was the first leg with a loop around the speedway before heading off on the rest of her route.

We got in the van and headed to our first major exchange area. The Garmin got used again and guess what? We got lost again. Turns out there are multiple Old Belleview Roads - good thing we had time to spare. We stopped using the Garmin after that. Even with going out of our way - we got to the outskirts of St. Matthews and had Hours to kill.

We were much smarter this relay - we had tailgating chairs so we were off our feet. We used suntan lotion so we wouldn't get burned (Chris's hands got the worst of it), but a canopy would have been even better. We kept track of Van #1 on our handy spreadsheet showing the estimated (and actual) start and finish times for each leg. This was So Helpful! If anyone wants a copy - let me know - it can be used for any relay. (I actually like our better than the one from the Running Relays website. Van # 1 arrived around 2pm and I got ready for my measly 1.7 mile run - the shortest of the whole relay. Started off with a downhill, then a longer uphill before turning and completely flattening out. Jeff arrived and I took off just ahead of another team's runner. She was tall with long legs and guessed she might pass me on the way down - and I was right. I was also correct that I would catch her on the uphill. We ran the whole leg within 10 yards of each other. I knew she was pushing me to run faster, but the leg was so short it couldn't make that much difference!

I made it the next exchange in ~12 minutes (thankfully not beating our van!) and passed off to Charles for Leg #8 - 4.0 easy miles out of St. Matthews.

My run was warm, but it was going to get much worse for our van this day (and the next day too).
Charles handed off to Chris near someones personal airstrip out in the boonies. We noticed that many of these legs were relatively flat, and also had very little shade. Chris's leg #9 was 4.6 easy miles, but it was starting to get toasty out there. We drove ahead and had already started checking on our runners as we passed to check their water situation. Not only our runners - but others as well and I must say we were amazed by many things - but the generosity of all of the teams looking out for each other outshone everything in this race. Strangers offering water or anything else that was needed made the relay possible for many to finish. One runner about this time actually collapsed and was rushed to the hospital (Horrors of the BRR came back to mind, but this had a happy ending as we later found out he was fine, released from the hospital and made it to the finish, and his teammates skipped their middle legs and finished the relay).
Chris at the start of his run:

Anyway - Chris got beat down by the heat

but made it in to Cameron (where gnats made it rather difficult to do anything) to hand off to Dave for Leg #10, 9.8 hard miles.
We shadowed him every few miles and he looked strong early on.
About the 5 or 6 mile mark, we saw him turn a corner and start smiling. He always smiles,

but we later found out he was smiling because he needed water and he was Hoping that we had stopped for him. We went ahead to the next exchange and passed a bridge over some water/swamp land and a small cemetery just before the handoff location. I walked back to check it out and saw some headstones from the early 1800's. Not a bad place to be buried overlooking the water.

Dave came around the corner, I gave him a fresh bottle of water for the last stretch (it was 5:30pm at this point) and Alex went out towards Elloree for his 3.5 mile, flat Leg #11.

We waited around Elloree for a bit before Kerrie started the last of our 1st legs. It was a nice little town but obviously affected by a continuing slow economy as there were numerous empty buildings downtown. Kerrie had a good route out of town and ending her 7.3 miles going into Santee State Park.

We met up for the 2nd time with Van #1 at the park, and let me say the park was the Best exchange zone we have seen. Even better than the oulets at the Blue Ridge Relay. Lots of trees (=shade), a beautiful Lake, places for tents, some used the showers that were available, one smart person brought a hammock - such luxury!
So it is 7pm, we are 1/3 the way thru - having covered roughly 68 miles in 10 hours. No sleep as of yet - but we would try soon. There was a stop for Subway at 11am and we'd soon stop at another one. We headed to our next major exchange at a church near Eutawville.
So we chose to drive ahead to the next major exchange after eating at another Subway (We did see Kathrin run past on her leg over I-95, so she got a little cheer). Time just seems to fly on these - there is never enough time to rest. We got to the church,

Alex and Charles set up a tent while the rest of us tried to snooze in the van.

It was a little warm and I got zero sleep, but did rest for a while before giving up and heading outside around 9:30pm. Chris and I spoke to a volunteer for a while which was nice. I probably wasn't going to run until 11pm, so I just milled about, got my stuff out of the van and laid it out on the ground to re-organize. Eventually - Van #1 showed up and I was ready to run my night leg, #19, 7.7 miles along Old Hwy 6 towards Cross.
I was a little worried because the shoes I have been trying to break in and wore on the first leg had given me the beginnings of a blister on my right heel. The shoes had 2 runs of 7+ mile each and did fine the previous week. Luckily - the discomfort disappeared soon after I started and I thought no more about it. The run was fine - basically flat, but more heavily traveled than I had expected and had knee high weeds to run in just off the road. That and the numerous potholes at certain points made my headlamp come in handy - dodging trash in the weeds and trying to save my ankles on the road. Passed two little bars (one was the Cross Sportz Bar - Crabs on Thurs & boxing on Sat!), a large pack of dogs that were well off the road and never seen, and little else. After a minor issue with a runner being harassed earlier in the evening, all vans were shadowing their runners to some extent, even to the point of staying beside them the whole way. After getting a little side stitch after 5 miles or so, I worked thru it and still finished in ~1:02. Alex went out for his 5.3 miler to a boat landing and we went to go meet him.
It took about 40 minutes for me to settle down after my runs and get to the point where I was getting sleepy/tired. By the time we got the the next exchange (another boat landing at Lake Moultrie where the frogs were Loud!) and Chris was coming in - I was ready to crash hard. We almost started to worry about him after he was a bit beyond our planned time for him, but then he showed up and both Dave and our van were on the way.
So it's now 2am and Dave is running 6.9 miles towards Berkeley HS and Moncks Corner. I think at this point I tried closing my eyes as I do not recall the next 2 exchanges or our drive to the next major one - an Elementary School. I didn't sleep but was just exhausted. (No pictures during the night!)
We got to the school,

the tent went back up, and we all slept a good solid 2 hours. It was wonderful. Woke up at 7am feeling refreshed and had 3 hours before my last run, leg 31 - a 7.3 mile run going over the Isle of Palms Connector Bridge and over to Sullivan's Island. I chose runner #11 just for that reason! Was getting restless after our trip to Dunkin Donuts, so I wandered around, spoke to some of the other teams (Amelia and Bowen, the runner from my 1st leg and her husband) until Van #1 showed up at 9:45am. Jeff had a short run coming in and he was consistently faster than we predicted - so I was ready early.

Good thing, because he surprised just about all of us and I was off.

I had mentally broke it up into 4 sections - from the school, a quick right then a 2.3mi stretch to the IOP connector road (517); leading up to the bridge (~2.5mi); Over the bridge (~0.5mi); and over into Sullivan's Island (2mi).
1st stretch was fine. Little warm, but the clouds were out and there was some shade. Another runner was up ahead and I knew at our current paces that I would catch him at some point. He started walking pretty soon though and I passed him quickly. My calf was tight again (did I mention it tightened up during my night leg?) and I knew at some point I would be walking. I had to put it off as long as possible as I told myself once I started taking walk breaks, I'd continue taking walk breaks.

(Looking back at the IOP Connector Bridge during the next leg).

I made it to the corner and turned onto the long, straight connector bridge road. Good wide shoulders for once, but a Fierce head/cross-wind pushed me back the whole 3 miles to Palm Blvd (703). I decided I would walk once before the bridge started to climb. 30 seconds and I was back at it. Another team we saw frequently had stopped on the bridge before the top and asked if I needed anything. I said no and got a laugh when I asked if they could do something about the wind. It was ridiculous. Oh yeah - the sun came out too as I turned onto this section. Now it was downright Hot. My water situation was fine thankfully. I willed myself over the bridge telling myself (yes - I talk to myself, but not out loud. Usually.) that I asked for this leg and I wasn't going to walk up the bridge. I continue to run until I crossed the street and made the turn for the last 2 straight miles. My water at this point was on the warm side, but still drinkable. I got going again and knew I'd get there soon. It was too bad they didn't have us run a block over so we could glimpse the ocean. Passed a yard sale (said I looked good - I said I didn't feel like it) and after another walk break - came upon the most wonderful thing - a sprinkler! I stopped, stuck my head over it and let it soak me for a good 30 seconds. That helped tremendously. I knew I'd run the last mile in as I felt my body temp come down in that short shower. Passed another walker before the Sullivan's Island bridge (the competitive juices do flow - even in the heat when we aren't really racing for anything). Going over that bridge had the best view - a beach and inlet on my left, and the marshland of the intracoastal waterway on my right. I was hoping to go take a quick dip in the ocean after I passed off to Charles, but that didn't happen. My time of 1:04 was a bit slower than my 7.7 miler, but I was still pleased with it considering my walks and the heat.
So I was done - Charles was off on his run (they routed him on the road closest to the ocean - lucky!) and we went to the next spot where Chris would take over. It was at a baseball field and one of the volunteers was the wife of one of the Race Directors. (She's the one that told us the runner that collapsed was ok). We thanked her the for the help and allowing her husband to do this. The other wife was at the next exchange and we found out they originally wanted it held 2 weeks before this, but Folly Beach had another event going on. Oh well. So Charles did his 4.8 miles and Chris took over for his 3.1 miler,

ending just short of the Cooper River Bridge.

It was all familiar territory from doing the Bridge run before - Shem Creek, Mount Pleasant, etc. While waiting for Chris - I went and checked out the very nice kid's park/pier below the bridge and the views across the water.

Dave's run carried him up

and up over the Cooper River Bridge. As we passed him on the downhill, he was checking out the sites of Charleston from the bridge and looked to be doing just fine on his 6.3 miler. There was quite a bit of traffic (both cars and pedestrians) on Bay Street, so we thought that may slow him down some. We stopped along the Battery to take a photo
and check out the water. At the next exchange - a girl from that school was having each runner leaving from that spot sign a Palmetto 200 t-shirt. That was nice to see and I do not recall any other school representative out from the ones we stopped at. Dave did well and handed off to Alex

for his 6.1 miles out of Charleston and over the Ashley River, ending at James Island County Park.
We got stopped at a drawbridge on the way over (Alex did not get stopped). Lots of traffic to deal with and major roads too. The park was nice as it had a large open water dog park that we could see from our field near the entrance to the park.
We waited and chatted to some other teams. One team had 9 members and opted to run 4 legs each, but each did two of their legs back to back. Another team was a little behind, so they ran 3 legs simultaneously to catch back up. There are many ways to do it if the relay directors will work with you - and they certainly did here!
So Alex came in, Kerrie left
on the very last leg of the relay. Our Van #1 teammates had already showered, eaten and would meet us at the finish line. We had a recommendation to eat at Taco Boy at Folly Beach, so once we found parking (not fun), we made a reservation for our team.
Met the rest of our team

Spoke to the race directors before Kerrie came in
and we all joined her in the last stretch. Our fearless captain Chris brought it home!

The clock was an hour off, so our official time was 30:54!

We really enjoyed the relay and are already looking forward to our return to the Blue Ridge Relay in September (with both Mike and Todd back!)
Van #1 decided to forgo a second meal so soon after their first - but van 2 had a great time at Taco Boy!

1 comment:

Kathrin said...

What a ride it was!

And it was fun to read van #2's side of the relay.... ;-)