Saturday, June 26, 2010

Green Mountain Relay, Part 1

Who knew that sitting in a stinky van with 5 relative strangers for nearly 3 days would end up being one of the most fun weekends of my life. I know that may sound over dramatized, but I’ll say this only once: I guess you had to be there.

If the concept of a 200 mile, 12-person relay isn’t something you’re familiar with, here’s a breakdown of how it goes:

2 vans, 6 runners each tackle a 200 mile journey one leg at a time. Van 1 contains runners 1-6 and Van 2 contains 7-12 and a “baton” (a Livestrong bracelet) is passed through the first van’s runners at the end of each leg. As runner 6 is running his leg, Van 1 drives to the “exchange point” where they meet with the members of Van 2 for the handoff. At that point Van 2 is “active” and Van 1 is considered “inactive” for the few hours that runners 7-12 do their thang. In the meantime Van 1 has to make their way to the next “exhange” but has time to stop and have a meal or just go to the next echange and rest up. The race goes through the night (many people I’ve told are shocked by this) and everyone does a total of 3 legs. The legs vary in length and difficulty and the vans each carry all of their own supplies including water, food, first aid, and the all important baby wipes.

Okay now that you’ve got the idea, here’s how it really works. Friday morning the 18th the team (minus 2) gathered on the sidewalk outside of the van rental center on 96th St and there was a sense of anticipation and a hint of caffiene in the air as we all prepared ourselves for the ~6hr drive up to Jeffersonville, VT. I had met nearly everyone at the GMR happy hour events leading up to the race and was vaguely familiar with the blogs of a few members. Otherwise, we were basically strangers. As we piled into the van (mixed up to increase socialization) the thing that always happens when you put 6 runners together began immediately: we talked about running. We talked about past races, goal races, crazy big dreams (RJR is working his way towards running Badwater), previous experience (or lack thereof) with relays and training buddies. It was several hours before anything non-athletic came up in conversation, but man was it refreshing to be surrounded by so many like-minded folks. I feel like I could have brought up any race in the world of any distance and gotten support and advice for it. I was supremely impressed by the speed of the runners in the van and it struck me that we might do really well as a team.

It wasn’t until our lunch stop that some real personalities began to come out. I know for myself, I’m a bit punchy (understatement of the year, perhaps?) when hungry, so once the wait for the food started to border on absurd, the jokes began…and the acrylic-nailed, Lee jeans wearing waitress/bar wench was the unfortunate (for her, not us) brunt of all of them all. RJR and I decided to split a large pizza for lunch, but when it came out, dammit, it was only a “four-cut” (a what?!?) but we were not to worry because an “eight-cut” was being put in the oven for us. Being New Yorkers, we cruelly mocked her use of the terms “four-cut” and “eight-cut” which were used in place of “large” and “personal” to describe our pizza pies. Oh well, the pizza was greasy and filled by belly without any consequences.

With the exception of one little mishap in the directions that left us on the west rather than east side of Lake Champlain and rapidly approaching Canada, the ride went swimmingly. Actually, the mishap in directions was resolved by taking a short and beautiful ferry ride across the lake which thrilled our Captain TK to no end and was really enjoyable.

We arrived mid-afternoon at La Quinta Inn in St Albans, VT and divided up into rooms of 2 or 3 people and spent some time relaxing. I ended up in a room with Julie, (Races Like a Girl) because we both needed to pee and didn’t have time for the indecision that was occuring. In hindsight, it was one of the best moves I made all weekend. The afternoon was spent walking around the track and sports complex near the motel and taking pictures of the practicing local “Professional” soccer team, The Vermont Voltage. The team had a nice relaxing dinner together at an Italian restaurant in town called Mimmo’s where we enjoyed their fine italian creations and I enjoyed a blackberry beer with what seems to have been a hint of Herbal Essences shampoo. It takes a trained palate to detect such subtle hints, I’ll have you know. After dinner I was part of a small welcoming committee employed to pick up Matt (the voice and brains behind DRC) and his identical twin brother, Mike. We weren’t aware that M&M were identical until we saw them, oh boy..it was going to be a tricky weekend. Having gotten a room key from two of the guys on the team for M&M, I made an executive decision to send the guys into the room with the other guys rather than looks like a slut and invite them into my and Julia’s room. It was another excellent move on my part, because I’m certain that if we’d shared a room and discovered we shared similar senses of humor that night, it would have been like a slumber party and we might have giggled all night long rather than sleep. There was plenty more time for that on Sat night. Instead I had a heck of a sleep and we both woke up 90 mins before the 7:30 alarm…oops. It was time well spend though, Julie shared two new websites with me that I couldn’t believe I’ve been living without for so long. (STFU Parents and Engrish Funny …. Prepare for sputtering and an inability to control your laughter.)


Next up: Saturday and some running, hilarity and heat

5 comments:

  1. I'm still really confused as to why we only got charged for the four-cut when we ordered the eight-cut...

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  2. Because the waitress felt bad about not being able to bring out your food on time. She comped you. Which, of course, made me feel guilty for the complete ragging we did on her every time she came out and went back in. We're all going to pay for that in a future life.

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  3. Did you really feel guilty about ragging on the waitress? I didn't. She clearly deserved it for the severe lack of judgment she dispayed when painting her fake 2" nails electric blue with white racing stripes.

    Also, doesn't everyone agree that Matt and Mike should ride up in the vans with us next year?

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  4. I like teh idea of green mountain relay...from your story I find the game interesting...I want to organized this kind of event too in our area...

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