Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2010 Blue Ridge Race Report - part 3 (final)

Van 1 was doing their last legs, we had just finished up our rearranged legs at 4:24am and we headed from the Bakersville Fire Dept to the next Exchange Zone, some 30 minutes away. We ended up following the first leg of van 1 exactly, passing Alex on the way (Dave didn't even slow down). Passed the next exchange zone, then soon turned off course to drive a more direct route. I'm riding shotgun passing along directions when I see a guy with flashing lights. Ummm, he shouldn't be here. We pull up to him and ask him what leg he is on, then reluctantly tell him he made a wrong turn a mile or so back (Should have been on 197 North, not South). We offered him a ride back, but he refused, saying it was his fault, and off he went. We were glad to have saved him an even longer return route. There's no telling how far he'd have gotten.
So we got to the church and got settled before we had to do it one last time each. It dawned on me as we got there and parking was very limited that this was a big difference than last year. We were only an hour or so behind last year, but the difference was huge in terms of the number of runners we were running near and how full the parking lots were as we were pretty late arriving at each one. We heard there were only 18 or so teams behind us...I know the 1st van would have to get up a little bit earlier, but starting early has it's advantages (safety being one of them).
Anyway, I headed to sleep inside the church this time with Chris following too, the others stayed in the van. We missed this whole scenario last time. Walking into the church (past the people eating pancakes), the floors and pews were littered with sleeping people. They were everywhere. I hope someone was wise enough to get a photo. I found a spot on the altar (I believe) and tried to get comfy on the carpet. It was 5:35am. I was tired enough to sleep, or so I thought. My legs were already a bit sore from the runs, mostly my outer thighs. It really is a shame that the door into/out of the church had a ridiculous squeak to it every time it opened. For 3 hours, I layed there, listening to the door squeak every few minutes, people getting up to go prep for their run, use the toilet, whatever. Every now and then, someone wouldn't notice the "Quiet - Runners Sleeping" sign and would have a Loud conversation right outside the door. Oh well. I somehow felt rested with no sleep.
We were expecting Dave to start his leg around 10:30am (30 minutes behind our rough estimate going into this relay). With 2 hours to kill, we chatted with some people and tried not to let on we changed runner's around - no point in advertising it during the race. Walked around, snacked, cleaned up the van.
Once he started, we said our goodbyes to Van 1 (we'd see them at the finish) and tried not to think about the fact that they were done.

Kelly, Kathrin, Kerrie and KTodd
before Dave's leg

Yes, the legs get harder as you get closer to Asheville. Out of the final 6 legs: 1 Moderate, 1 Hard, 2 very hard, and 2 Mtn Goat hard. Van 2 is up to the challenge!  
We expected Dave to do well on the climb up, switchback after switchback, and he did very well. (I took video of this section; I'll have to post sometime). 6.5 Mountain Goat-Hard miles. 10' down/1398' up. Ouch.
Now the leg-changing began: (Dave kept his original legs). Kerrie gave her leg to Kelly (who loved this leg last year) so she was Runner 8 again for Leg 32). Chris was back to Runner 9. Kerrie took over Todd's leg, becoming Runner 10 for Leg 34. Todd replaced Kelly for Leg 35/Runner 11, and I was still the finishing runner.

View on the way up the Mtn.

Kelly heading down the Mtn.

Kelly did have a blast running down the mountain. 2093' down/20' up over 9.4 very hard miles. At this point it is 12:41pm and we knew we only had another 3-4 hours left. We were all getting anxious. We joked with Todd about how difficult his leg was, but Chris' was just brutal.

Chris on his way.

5.2 miles, Mtn Goat Hard, 683' down, 883' up. Steepest climbs And descents of the relay. Up to 13% grades each way (and that is the mapmyrun average I assume over the 0.25mi section, so it must be worse than that). Chris was looking forward to the challenge. Madman. Looked good on the flatter section before the climb. We always see everyone struggle. This time we were flagged down for water by a runner, with their van in sight at the top of the hill. By the time Chris came in, we were almost worrying about him. Seems legs cramps hit near the top, and coming down is not any easier. He made it though - and ran more in 24 hrs than he ever had! Way to go captain!
Chris and Kelly had the shortest turnarounds between their 2nd and third legs, whereas I had the longest. (The time between my 1st two legs was very short - only 7+ hrs). This time I had over 13 hrs between runs.

Kerrie always strong despite a sore leg.

Kerrie continued to take it easy on her leg and ran the Moderate 4.2 miler. 246' down/262' up. Ran a good time, but for Kerrie, it was a little bit slower than her normal, healthy self.
That left 2 more legs.

Todd starting his climb.

Todd ran my Blue Ridge Parkway section from last year that we scared him over and over again about. It starts at the bottom of a hill and the 1st two miles are ALL uphill, to an 11% grade. Only rated Hard, but covers 285' down/951' up over the 4.2 miles. (There are still some discrepancies with some of the ratings, but at least the elevation charts and a few ratings have gotten a little more appropriate from 2009).
As nervous as we were making Todd, he handled it just fine and we waited for him just off the BRP (Craven Gap Exit) where I would take over for the final leg, mostly running on Town Mountain Rd.

Van 2 (Minus Todd) on Last BRP leg.

I was nervous I'd not have anything left for the 6.7 very hard miles. 1276' down/240' up. The "up" comes in the first mile, and the majority of the down comes from mile 4.5 to 6. I knew one guy was behind me soon after I started, and he caught me as I walked up some of the early uphills. My outer quads were sore before I even started; Not a good sign. That's a new one for me. Anyway. When the guy was getting close to me, I was running next to a guard rail on my left. Just down the embankment was a house. I heard some rustling. Saw nothing. Heard it continue. Kept looking over. The house gave way to a patio. I saw a bear looking up at me. Seriously? A bear?! I stopped and we looked at each other. The other runner came by and I pointed and said "That's a bear". I had never seen a bear in the "wild" before and I was excited. Was a decent size. Needless to say, I kept my eyes open the remaining 5 miles into downtown Asheville! So I continued plugging along, taking walking breaks as my legs dictated. The other runner got a decent bit ahead of me and I tried to keep him in sight. I eventually started feeling better and knew I was speeding up. The downhills helped of course. As I ran over I-240, with ~0.5mi left, I knew I could probably catch him. Running thru town I hit a traffic light perfectly. With 0.1mile left, I slowed dramatically and gave the other runner some time to enjoy the finish as I ran up to my teammates. My wife and daughter came this year to cheer me on. (Of course, an untimely diaper change again. Guess I ran too fast). Cooled off in the fountains with my little girl.
Final Team stats: 33 hrs, 3 minutes, 9 seconds for 207.1miles. (9:32/mi avg).
My Final Stats: 22.1 miles (2234' down/1576' up). 7.9mi in ~1:12. 7.5mi in ~1:09. 6.7mi in ~55min.
Post race: Sore Sunday & Monday. Woke up Tuesday feeling just fine. Swapped my Tuesday speedwork with my Thursday tempo run and it all worked out. Didn't push too hard as I had a race the following weekend. RiverBound Half Marathon Race Report to follow! 

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