Sunday, September 25, 2016

Roanoke Growler Relay

I found out about this event sometime early in the summer, and asked around until it sounded like I had enough interest to put a team together.  When I tried to register, we were too late and all 25 team spots had been taken, but I got us on the waiting list.  A week or two later, they accepted 3 more teams, and we were in.  But...everyone suddenly found out about other obligations (like...their kid's soccer games), and suddenly I had no team.  I found one other person who was definitely in.  And then it was a scramble trying to find others so that we wouldn't each have to run half of the 53.2 mile course.  Jessica was able to recruit one more runner, and I had two more people who were solid maybes.  Then I moved to Abingdon, and started trying to recruit from the running group there.  I got one recruit there, and thankfully my 2 maybes came through, for a team of 6.  I took everyone's input about which leg they wanted to run, and made the leg assignments, giving Lauren and I each two in order to fill the eight legs.  (I took the two that were supposed to be the most uphill...of course)

Once I had the team put together, I booked a room at a motel only a mile from Parkway Brewing, where the relay started and finished.  Everyone else also booked rooms there, and then I picked a pizza/pasta place for us to meet for a team dinner the night before.  Lauren was unable to make it because of work, but the rest of us had a great time, and Lauren joined us Saturday morning in time to drive to the start.  It was forecasted to reach 90 degrees on Saturday, and if it didn't actually make it that high, it was definitely close!  I'm sure it was over 90 with the heat rising off of the roads.

Pre-run team photo

9:40 AM, Lauren started us off with a smile and a wave!

Once Lauren took off, the rest of us piled in the car and drove to the next transition point to play the games they had set up for us, and to wait for my turn.  Before we knew it, Lauren was flying in, and I hadn't even turned my watch on to find a GPS signal yet.  It took about a minute for me to get a signal, but then I was off on a 2 mile uphill climb, complete with switchbacks up a mountain.  This leg had been advertised as the hardest, and uphill.  It was uphill...but only for the first 2 miles.  I was disappointed to reach the top and discover I had to run down the other side and then flat for the rest of the leg.  The downhill wasn't quite as steep as the uphill, so I was able to open up my stride and fly down it without worrying about hurting myself from the pounding, and then I kept pushing as much as I could on the flat, although the heat was definitely not helping.  

I finished and handed off to Jessica who we thought was going to have a moderate 8.4 mile course.  

Once Jessica left, we completed the game challenge for that transition point.  Each one of us had to throw a frisbee through a hula hoop on top of a stick.  It took me too many tries to count...but I finally got mine in.  We piled back in the car to drive to the next transition point, and found out very quickly that Jessica's leg was no where near as moderate as described.  It was quite hilly, and there wasn't a lot of shade either.  
Jessica finishing her hilly/melty leg with a smile. 

Ross then took off on his 7.5 mile leg.  Which turned out not to be too terribly hilly, but it also had no shade.  We drove to the next transition point, which was at Flying Mouse brewery.  By this point, I was in desperate need of lunch.  I had snacked a bit, but really wanted a giant sandwich.  There was supposed to be a food truck at the brewery, but it was running late.  I was supposed to run the next leg, but I knew I was not going to make it through that 7.5 miles in the sunlight without a decent meal first.  I lucked out, because Lauren felt up to that leg, and was happy to give away the last leg, so we traded.  
Ross finishing his leg, coming up the brewery drive.

Once Lauren took off, we waiting a little longer while those who were done for the day enjoyed a beer, and then gave up on the food truck and decided to find somewhere else to grab food.  Thankfully there was a subway nearby.  I inhaled a 6 inch sandwich, and it was the first time in about 10 years that I wished I had gotten a footlong instead.  By the time we drove past Lauren, she only had about a mile left, so Mike didn't have a whole lot of time to prepare for his leg, but he was ready just in time. And was able to take off as soon as she arrived and passed off the key that we were given as a baton.  

Those two legs were no less sunny and hot in the reverse direction than they had been originally.  We had lots of time at the next transition point, where the challenge was to place about 10 playing cards on top of an empty beer bottle, and attempt to blow off all but the bottom one.  It was so windy, it was nearly impossible.  Finally, they took pity on us and said if we could put just 2 cards on the bottle and get the top one off, we'd get the credit.  We eventually succeeded in that.

That transition point had the best view.  
Dave headed out on his leg, the 7th of 8. 

Back over the mountain to the transition point where I started my first leg, to wait for my last leg.  Once again, I was caught off guard by how quickly our runner came in and I was not ready.  But again, I waited impatiently for the GPS signal, and then I was off.  It was hard to get going again after standing around all day and not eating well, but I pushed hard to get the leg done.  My first two miles were under 7 min/mile, and my average for the 5.1 miles ended up at 7:05, which I was pleased with.  I was also pleased to accomplish that without too much lung trouble!  I crossed the finish line around 5:20.  We were the second team to finish.  The only team to beat us had started about 45 minutes later, and finished about an hour before didn't stand a chance against them.  Of course, this was a non-competitive fun run so there was no prize for being first or second anyway.  

Finishing strong. 

Post-run team photo.  
After we had devoured our hamburgers and had a bit of recovery beer. 

All in all, it was a fantastic day.  We all had a blast despite the heat, and are hoping to do it again next year.  And now that we have this one under our belts, we know what to do to be better prepared next time!  Like...bringing better food/snacks with us, getting team shirts, bringing chairs for the transition points...etc. 

Update 10/2/16
The official photos were posted today!  They got some great ones of me!
It's rare for me to ever be smiling in an official photo, but I made an effort to smile for the cameras this time, and it looks like I succeeded!  They didn't have a single photo of me without a smile.

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