Since I was runner #2 I had (naturally) the 2nd, 14th and 26th legs of the race which meant I was able to relax and take it all in at the starting line because Captain TK was starting us off. The starting area was relatively calm and quiet because many of the teams had already started and were en route. The start is staggered so that the teams with slower projected times start early in the morning around 6 or so that everyone finishes within a span of a few hours. Our start time was 10:30am and it was already HOT, HOT, HOT out, yikes! 90 degrees in Vermont? Why?! I watched the other teams prepare their vans with last minute details including obligatory “Caution: Runner on Road” signs, tacky chalk paint, and the best one of all- a large blow up doll named Judy.
My first leg (5.76 mi) started near some barn in the middle of nowhere, in a town probably called Shadeless, VT. The midday heat and sun were bearing down on me right away, but I knew I was hydrated enough to last a few miles and I planned to monitor my HR with my Garmin. I took off down the gently rolling road with lots of pep in my step, though I was cautious because I noticed how red TK’s face was as she passed me the “baton” after her leg. I was about 2.5 miles into my run and knew there was a Mormon church ahead where I should expect to see my team waiting with some water, I was ready for a swig of cold water, it was so hot that I’d begun running on the grass/dirt on the the shoulder to avoid the hot road. Oddly, my team wasn’t waiting for me at the church, but Team Judy Doll offered me a cup of their frosty water, I swigged, dumped some on myself and thanked them. Their teammate was hot on my trail. I figured my team was waiting at about the 3 mile mark so I told myself, “yeah, that makes sense, the halfway point” and that kept me going. It was beautiful despite the heat, but it felt strange to be racing, but alone. I cruised by mile 3 with no sign of the van, but I told myself they’d found a spot by the covered bridge I was expecting to cross at 3.7 mi. I crossed A bridge, but it wasn’t covered so I began to worry that I’d missed a turn, but I reminded myself that there had been no turns to miss. As I hit aboout 4.25 mi, I saw Team Judy Doll again and a lone man stood by the street with water, so I stopped and took it from his hand. I mentioned that I’d beeb afraid that I went off course because I hadn’t seen the bridge OR my team. When I said that, this look came over his face of “OMG you’re not the girl from our team” and he reached his hand out for the cup. Haha, thanks for the water anyway! I ran the rest of the leg with some confusion and a bit of annoyance fueling me because it was 90 degrees and I needed WATER! When I reached the finish and handed off, I discovered that my team was under the impression that it was a “No Support Zone” so they didn’t stop along the way. AHHH, bad news. I downed some water and gatorade and hung out in the shade to try to cool down before heading into the van. It took a long time to stop sweating after that leg, even in the cool A/C of the van. Done in 44:00 , a 7:36 pace. I’m really happy with that effort, especially considering I slowed a little around mile 4 because I was concerned about the heat and my HR was really creeping up.
For the next few hours we goofed and chatted and basically made fun of everyone else we saw (windows rolled up, of course) along the course. It was impressive that we’d managed to pull together a group of people who shared the same cruel, snarky, dry humor. I didn’t realize that so many of us existed and I was thrilled to be able to let go and completely relax and enjoy myself. Let me just say that everyone else got water along their legs after the “mishap” of my leg. But I’m not bitter. Nope. Not a bit.
The rest of the afternoon was hot, shadeless and just a lot of fun. Once our first legs were finished (way to go team!!) we headed to the Ben&Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, but to my dismay I couldn’t stomach the thought of dairy in my stomach in that heat. Everyone felt the same way and we all ended up sipping smoothies or sorbet at a table surrounded by America’s finest fatties enjoying their buckets of ice cream (no exaggeration). We were clearly set up in a game of “one of these things is not like the others.” The mocking continued and switched to one of our own as I read a tweet posted by @pigtailsflying stating that Julie had turned down the baby wipes after her first leg and “can you say scented carboard tree?!” WHAT on earth was she referring to?? It turns our she was referring to this:
We usually refer to it as an “Air Freshener”
After a feeble attempt at napping in the grass at the next “exchange point” I snacked, made fun of Matt and Mike, and just lounged until my next leg at dusk. The exchange was in the parking lot of a large and abandoned…factory? barn? Hay processing plant? Who knows. The scene was one of a zombie horror film with people laying on the ground next to their vans (did you not read the rules or do you have a death wish?) and in the nearby grass. It was a spooky sort of haze at this point too and it was clear that one of two things was about to happen: rain and humidity or the end of the world. Luckily (or maybe not) it was the former.
Van 1 became active again around 8:00 pm with TK starting us off in early dusk. By the time she finished her leg, it was nearly dark so I snagged her headlamp and took off into the darkness with my reflective vest and blinky lights. My leg map suggested a scary “cliff of death” along a blind, shoulderless curve so I was trying to be hyper-vigilant about not stepping off of the road. As it turns out, the map was again a complete lie, no cliff, but there was a long, blind curve which was a little scary but not as big of a deal as they suggested. I passed a girl along the way and offered a quick “hey”, we were both obviously suffering in the oppressive humidity. The hot wind was gross and I was again drenched in sweat. The leg was quick though, 3.59 miles in 26:39, a 7:25 pace which I was happy with considering I wasn’t able to look at my watch more than about once. The oncoming traffic had been somewhat steady and I’d tripped over a large branch early on so I wasn’t taking chances. I also was plagud with some hideous stomach/gut cramps, so bad that I was digging my knuckles into my stomach for much of the run, they didn’t go away for about 40 mins post-run. Ouch. The girl I passed came in a few minutes after me and ran right over to the grass and puked. I feel partly responsible for that. Ew.
The later it got, the goofier we got. The humor ended up at about an 8th grade level by midnight. Matt modeling for a night shot...
As van 1 passed off for the second time to Van 2, we headed to a cheesy “woodsy” motel for a few hours of sleep. I entered the room, removed my shoes and promptly passed out. It wasn’t nearly enough, but that sleep really helped me on my next leg.
Next up, early morning run and the finish.
I want to include more pictures, but I seem to have F-ed them up somehow and it's been more annoying than usual to upload them :(