Thursday, August 30, 2007

GRR Day 2: 2 hours of sleep? That's it?

Note that I backdated my last post on our legs 7-12 so that it came in the right sequence of events, so it is down below :-)

While Van 1 ran their second set of legs, our only thoughts were of "Where can we sleep?"

We headed out to Exchange 18. As we drove over the hill the Shaun had to run, all I could think was "Holy f#%#"!

Exchange 18 was at a school and wonderfully we did not need to camp as they were letting people sleep inside. We crashed in the library and there was pure silence. Except for me realizing I had no cell phone signal and there was no way that the other van could get a hold of us to wake us up. So we set up a guestimated time and the school actually had wake up calls, where they would come find you and wake you up. As someone who stresses about missing alarms, this was a God send. But still... being awoken two hours later just seemed... evil.

We were all pretty grumpy and groggy but we got up and got Nisha ready for her 3.4 mile leg. Audrey and Shaun came into the exchange and we sent her off at about 3:30 in the morning. We headed to the next exchange where I got ready to run. Nisha came in and handed off to me and off I went!

The middle of the night runs are always the most fun on these things. Running woke me up and I felt quite invigorated. Now, running down a dark road all by yourself in BFE Wisconsin isn't recommended, but the occasional van passing somehow made me feel safe. But if the crazies ever wanted a good night to drag someone off into the brush, a relay is quite the opportunity.

I started out this 4.9 mile leg with a 9 minute mile and was keeping a pretty good pace. And I actually passed someone! My first pass on one of these relays! And I didn't get passed the whole leg. It was dark out and there wasn't a runner within sight ahead or behind me.

So I started out fast. And then I started running downhill. And downhill some more. And downhill some more. I had seen the elevation map, so I knew that I some other teammate didn't get the job of running back up. Eventually I had to stop running down and had to climb back up. I was glad it was so dark out since I couldn't see the top. The hill kept twisting up. It was about a half mile going down and a half mile going up, but it was pretty steep. My pace dropped down to like 15 minute miles, but I won't walk because once I start walking, I sort of give up. When Van 1 passed by the hill, they said everyone was walking it, so I felt like a rockstar. The top of that hill was pure bliss and the last two miles seemed easy after that. Even with the hill, I managed to average a 10 min/mile, which was faster than my first leg.

I handed off to Kori, who finished up her five miler just as it was starting to get light out. Then Kimberly ran a fast four miler - it was a good thing Tim had been out getting ready as she ran into the exchange earlier than expected, while the rest of us were still huddling in the car for warmth. Tim, like usual, kicked butt, again blowing past another runner 20 yards before the exchange. This time Nisha was taking the double leg, a 3 miler that would bring her across the river into Minnesota where Van 1 was waiting for us. While we drove to the exchange, there was this dog that kept running along with one of the runners (and occasionally running into the middle of the road). He was just a random dog who just seemed happy to run! But the race people had to catch him and hold onto him, as he wasn't the brightest dog when it came to cars.

Nisha decided she was going to really push on this leg, so she came hauling into the exchange and handed off to Laurie.

We were dead tired after finishing this leg. We found a diner to eat some breakfast and headed out to Exchange 30, where we threw our sleeping bags down on the ground and tried to get some more sleep.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

GRR Legs 13 through 18

Sorry, Danielle, after you backdated posts like a Silicon Valley CEO to get the chronology close to correct-ish, I had to come by and mess it all up again. I don't think I have backdating power, so... oh well. This was a pretty fun set of legs for us, so I thought it could use a coherent summary.

After reluctantly handing the baton over to Van 2's runners in Fountain City we hit the road for Stockholm and exchange #12. Got some dinner on the way at a little place with a sign outside reading “Best BBQ by a dam site” and a model train running around the perimeter of the interior. Shaun ordered a full rack of ribs, cornbread and a root beer float. It took him quite a while to finish all that (especially because the ribs were apparently not very good), but we had plenty of time with Van 2's longest legs now underway. We passed around a deck of Trivial Pursuit cards that were on the table and found that Trivial Pursuit questions are much easier to answer with a team of five people.

Stockholm had a nice big park by the river with plenty of room to spread out and sleep. But it was still just late afternoon when we arrived, so sleep was hard to come by. Laurie tried to get some advance shut-eye; Shaun headed down to the river for a swim, and Audrey followed. I went out on an outcropping but didn't go in, not wanting to risk running out of clothes. After we all wandered back to our camp we chatted for a while, filmed John trying to change his shorts inside of his sleeping bag (hopefully this film will surface soon), and maybe slept for a while. Trains went by pretty frequently, but apparently not as frequently as in Ames. By the time we were waking up to get me to the exchange the park was sparse and quiet; up at the exchange it was a totally different scene: teams all out packed along the exchange making noise, the Friday night bar crowd wandering around checking out the commotion. Before Kori came in to finish two other teams were coming into the exchange at a dead heat. A man was coming from behind and trying to overtake a woman, but she wasn't having any of it. She held him off all the way to the finish and he ran straight into a cone and lantern.

I really got the baton at a great time to run, somewhere around 10pm. It was my turn to fill in for our missing runner #1, a 6.2-mile leg with only the smallest, gentlest hills. I felt good. That was a bad sign. I don't know what I ran for the first half of the run, but I remember consciously slowing down in the second half to save myself for my shortly-upcoming leg, and was still told at the end that I ran it in about 38 minutes. That's just under 6:10 per mile, and only 2:45 over my 10k PR (I was in better shape then, so probably 1:30 over what I could have done for a single race).

The coolness of the night certainly ushered us through our legs quickly; Shaun did a nice job on his over-8-mile “second” leg, flying ultramen notwithstanding, and Laurie came through with another insane PR on a 5.3 mile jaunt. John powered through his 5-miler. The night really flew by. Most of the running was right along the river or the railroad tracks, and I think it would have been an interesting stretch of road to run on in the day; fortunately, it was also pretty much a straight shot along Route 35, so there wasn't much risk of getting lost. The speedy bliss, however, ended on leg 17, my second of the set. I really paid for how hard I took leg 13, and my stomach was cramping badly early in the run. I ran with my hands on my head on-and-off up to the base of my big climb, just under 1.5 miles in. Keeping my stomach loose and stretched out was the key to this leg, and after a slow, steady climb for another 1.5 miles I could finally lengthen out my stride and run at a brisk pace over some little rollers. The team met me where the road forked; my flashlight had died during the climb, and Laurie was fortuitously carrying one, so we made a quick exchange and I kept going. Following this was a big descent, which I unfortunately had to take a bit cautiously to keep my stomach happy, and a steep climb up to the finish. I had studied the elevation map, and knew that towards the end of the final climb it would get steeper before leveling off. There was a guy probably 70 meters in front of me that hadn't, and he had some choice words when he turned the corner and saw it. Unfortunately I didn't have it in me to catch him with just under a half mile to go on a hill.

I was pretty exhausted after finishing, so parts of what happened in the van during Audrey's leg were a bit blurry. What I remember is that we stopped short of 2 miles in to give Danielle and crew their wake-up call. She didn't pick up, we left a message. Audrey ran by and we didn't realize it until she'd already passed, so we cheered for her as we drove back by. Then we were planning to stop around 4.5 miles in to let her know the mileage and offer up some general encouragement in the middle of a very tough 7.4-mile run. But we got worried that Danielle hadn't called back, so we were going to go drop Laurie off at exchange #18 to go search for the Van 2 crew and make sure they were awake. Then just past the “one mile to go” sign we got a call from them, so we turned back to find Audrey around the 4.5-mile mark. Unfortunately, because we'd gone to about 6.5 miles and turned around, the error bars around the 4.5-mile mark were somewhere around a quarter-mile wide. And just after we stopped Audrey ran by and we missed her again. So I jumped out of the van, ran her down (I was sore and it hurt), and told her about how far into the leg we thought she was. Didn't mention the error bars. Thought it would be confusing. So then when we saw how many turns there were down by the end, Shaun (who probably holds some kind of career record for extra miles run with teammates during relay races... at River to River he almost always winds up running the end of the leg-22 hill) ran back and did the last series of turns through town with her.

All in all, quite a nice run through the night. Six quite nice runs through the night. Unfortunately we didn't seem to get many pictures during the night, so... this post is a mountain of text. Ah well.

Leg 18

After I handed the baton to Nisha at exchange 7 our van took off in search of FOOD. Throughout the few days of running it was always a challenge to figure out when, what, and how much to eat. I know for me, after meals my teammates would be all set, but since I had the last leg in the rotation to run I had to keep snacking for hours. You really had to pay attention to yourself and your leg and not just follow whatever everyone else in the van was doing. I don't know how people finished legs hours before me and just hung out waiting for hours to eat. But, they did wait, of course, because we were busy shuttling runners/the van around for hours until each 6 leg block was finished.

After eating we headed to exchange 12 to await van 2's finish of legs 7-12. Four van 1 runners then ran with Al running twice to compensate for our missing runner....the other runners will have to blog, check out Laurie's blog...and then, what you're all waiting for...MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I hopped out of the van and Shaun has pics of me so I am revealed:
Laurie and I (on right) before one of my legs.

It was dark for my second leg. Approx. 2 AM. At night you are allowed to shadow your runner on the course by bike or with another runner or by meeting them periodically in the van. The plan was the team would surprise me somewhere on the course around 3.5 miles in to check in and let me know how far I had run.

They ended up checking in three times which made me super supported runner chic. At mile 1.7 they cheered and shouted the distance at me as they drove by. At mile 3ish they were parked on the side of the road and I waved at them but they missed me b/c I was ahead of schedule and it was dark. Once they realized I had gone by they drove up next to me again and cheered and all of a sudden another runner came up on my shoulder. They had chucked Al out of the van to let me know way up close how far I had gone (~4.4). That was cool :)

So I'm booking. The temps are cool by this point and I feel great. I turn the corner somewhere in the last mile and see a HUGE hill. HUGE. AND, a pacer. Shaun was waiting to run with me. The last 1/2 mile of my leg had multiple turns and, perhaps having learned from our earlier mishaps, they decided I needed accompaniment. This was awesome because not only did I have someone pointing out the turns for me, but I had someone saying random encouraging things to me as I could barely breathe going up this hill. I'm embarrased to tell Shaun this b/c I'm sure he has never run this slow in his life (earlier I had asked Shaun and Al to figure out my pace on the previous leg and they were momentarily stumped b/c I'm sure they've never had to figure out min/miles in the 9 range so they were in uncharted runner math territory!) but I definitely picked up my pace on the hill and passed at least one guy (maybe a woman too?). Yes, that was picked up pace. Thank you Shaun! So I zoomed into the end of my 7.5 miles and handed off my bracelet. It took 1:04:30 (8:36 min/mile).

By this time various members of the team were beginning to complain of slight stomach ailments. You know, we were running multiple times a day. With different food. And no sleep. And for anyone who has read my blog, you can surmise that if other normal people are having stomach problems then I definitely am. So my stomach started bothering me which was kind of a surprise since I've been better recently. But then again, I haven't been running in relay races through the night lately (ever) so that probably explains the difference. OW.

Anyway, leg 18, CHECK, and van 2 was off to run legs 19-24.

GRR legs 14 & 26

After my first leg you would think I'd be smart enough to check over the courses for my next leg more carefully. What can I say? I can be pretty stupid at times. I believe it was Laurie who told me that there really weren't any turns on leg 14 so I didn't need to worry about losing my way. This was true so no problems in that respect. My only concern for this race was the one big hill. I had glanced at the route a couple times mostly just to see distance and how hilly it was. This leg was about 8.2 miles with most of the ups and downs being fairly mild. The hill of concern rose over 400 ft. Somehow I got the thought in my head that it was about a mile of uphill. On the bright side it wasn't actually that steep. The 400 ft climb took about 1.75 miles, but after running uphill for about a mile and seeing no end to the climb I was starting to wonder how much longer it could go on. I was still sore from the earlier 17 mile run especially in my knees and calves which didn't help at all with going up hill. To fully appriciate this next part I need to tell you that I finished the run in about 57 minutes. That averages to about 7 min/mile. I know I had be going up that hill pretty quick since due to my soreness I couldn't go down the other side of the hill very fast. Anyway a little over a mile up this hill this middle-aged man sprints by my while saying something about how tough this hill is. It was unbelievable. He might as well been running on a gentle downhill. I found out later that he was part of an ultra team, Michelob Ultra, meaning he had already run more miles than me and had more to go. I may be a decent runner but that team was amazing.

So anyway, completing leg 14 put me at a total of about 25 miles. While that may not seem like much to team Michelob Ultra it was a fair distance for me. Fortunately my last leg was an easy one. About 4.4 miles without any difficult hills. I didn't really get any sleep before this point so when are van finished it's second round of running we drove to our next exchange point and had something like 4 hours to get some rest while the other team was running. Wouldn't you know this was the section when they had all their shorter legs. So I slept what I could and was pretty much awaken to some more good news.
My teammates handed me a paper saying that due to a crime that happened a few hours earlier on my route an extra 2.7 miles was added to my leg to avoid that area. Instead of 4.4 miles I would have a 7.1 mile run. It seems like my first reaction was that they had to be joking.
Yes, that's me with the paper in hand in disbelief. My short leg was still shorter than legs 1, 2, and 14. Just not by as much as I had been planning on. When it got to be my turn to run I slowed my pace a fair bit from my earlier legs and began chanting things in my head such as "please don't walk" and "just keep moving" until finally I met Laurie at an exchange for the last time. On a side note Laurie was also the one that handed off to me at the beginning of this leg. It was her turn to run the extra leg so I recieved the baton from and gave it to the same person. I then limped off back to the van having completed 32 miles since starting almost exactly 24 hours earlier. So now a few days later the question is when's the next one?!?

GRR Day 1: Hurry up and wait!

Okay, so my attempt to have some appearance of chronological order in our accounts has been majorly stymied by me being a blogging slacker. I spent most of yesterday travelling home to Boston, and today trying to meet up with friends, so cut me some slack :-)

So now some Van 2 stories! (although ours aren't nearly as exciting :-))

So the weirdest thing about being Van 2 is that you start this race... and you don't get to run for hours... you watch everyone else run, but you don't get to. So by the time you start, you are all primed up.

So after sending Van 1 off, we went back to the hotel and checked out, went to the grocery store, ate a massive breakfast at Perkins and headed on our way to Exchange 6. We also missed Exchange 2, so that wasn't just Van 1 being silly! So we got to the exchange at about 12:30 and then waited.

We played cards.

We ate cheese curds (it's Wisconsin!).We played the naked game (which consists of looking at fellow runners and deciding who would look good naked - I am sure that Tim, the lone male in our van, appreciated this).

Finally about 3:30ish, Van 1 rolls in and we get Nisha ready to start us off. By that time, it was hot. She had a 6.2 mile leg on just brutally exposed highway. We pulled over halfway through her leg to give her water. During this time, we let Tim pick out which girls he liked. See we are equal opportunity oglers in Van 2 :-)

Nisha handed off to me. By the time I got to run, it had cooled down a little bit and I was at least off the dark pavement. I ran down this tiny country road. It was quite nice actually. Amazingly, my foot didn't bother me either! I merrily trotted along, starting off way too fast as usual. As captain, I got to assign myself easy legs :-) Actually, I got easy legs because I had barely run in the last month because of my foot and I wasn't sure how it was going to hold up. So my first leg was supposed to be 5.3 miles. But my Garmin said 5.7 and I finished in 57-something and I was pushing a bit so I would be waaay surprised if I was running almost 11 minute miles. My average page on that leg was 10:08, which I'll totally take given my spotty running lately!

I handed off to Kori, who booked it her whole leg. She was cruising! And of course looking hot in her white and pink running skirt. This first set of legs was Kori's double set. She had a 7.9 mile leg as runner 9 and then was taking the 6.5 mile leg for runner 12.

She passed off to Kimberly who had a hilly 8.3 mile leg, the longest of the relay. She busted her butt on that one too, with a nice PR to show for it at the end of it all.

It was nighttime by the time Tim got to run. Tim was the ringer in our van. The rest of us ranged in the 9 to 11 min/mile range, while Tim is down in the 7s. He passed 15 people during his 7.9 mile. 15! He took down his 15th about 20 feet from the exchange. We got short notice of Tim's arrival, so Kori hurried to get to the exchange but another team was coming in ahead of us... except that Tim totally wasn't having that and pushed past the other guy right before the exchange. In the dark though he didn't see that Kori wasn't in the exchange yet so there was a bit of "hey, over here!" going on.

So we sent Kori off to finish up almost 14.5 miles for her that day. And then we went and got beer. Because that's what Van 2 was all about - beer and nakedness :-)

Kimberly before her first leg --->
(she is much happier here than she was at the end of the race!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

GRR legs 1 & 2

Standing around at the start of the race I tried to keep my thoughts focused on how to handle the run. Normally I keep myself in good enough shape that around half marathon distance is never a problem. Unfortunatly my training as of late had not been up to normal. Starting off with a 15 mile run would probably be pushing my limits a bit. Not so much that I thought I might not finish but I didn't know how sore it would leave me for my other two legs. I still had an 8.1 mile leg with a very large hill and a 4.4 mile leg that I would need to deal with. Of course I didn't want anyone else worrying about it so I kept my concerns about the distance to myself for the most part. On the bright side the weather was perfect. Slightly cool and overcast. Nothing like the hot sunny day I had been anticipating.

As 9 a.m. approached I went to the start line and joined the others that shared our start time. Soon after the race officials counted down and I took off with corn cob in hand, Danielle's personal baton which I tossed as soon as I started running. I was immediately out in front and the sounds of the other runners began to fade behind me. Some of the markers guiding me through the route were a little confusing at a distance but they were fairly easy to follow. After a few miles I was moving along at a strong yet comfortable pace, around 7 min/mile, and I was feeling that with the weather as great as it was that 15 miles was doable.

Then when all seemed to be going so well, it happened. Over 3 miles into the race I came across a large very busy intersection with no signs or directions of any kind. I decided that I was either supposed to wait for my chance to cross the intersection or follow the sidewalk turning right. There were no runners in front of me so I couldn't use them as a guide. As I approached I decided that they wouldn't make me wait for a busy intersection like this without giving me some kind of marking saying I needed to cross so I followed the sidewalk. Feeling extremely unsure about my decision I kept watch over my shoulder to see what the next runner would do. Unfortunately by this time he had fallen way behind me so this took some time. Finally he reached the intersection and turned to follow me. This gave me some relief, however I thought he might just be assuming that I knew the way. After about half a mile I came to another busy intersection with no signs. All I could think was that this was all wrong and I turned around and started running back toward the first intersection. As I intercepted the next runner we exchanged some confused gestures and we stopped to evaluate the course. He quickly convinced me to continue the way I had been going, saying that even if it was wrong we could make a turn up ahead that would bring us back to the course. He sounded like he knew what he was talking about so I agreed and went back out ahead of him. Examining the course map afterwards shows that this could have worked if we were lucky. As it turned out lady luck was pointing and laughing at us as we just went even further off course. At this point I once again ran back to Steve and saw that all the others behind us must have turned back a while ago. The two of us ran on exchanging many a four letter word about the lack of a sign in a key location. Our off course running led us through many busy roads including a short run on I-90 before we happened upon a gas station where we stopped and borrowed a phone from the girl working there. Steve called his van and found the intersection nearest the exchange. So we asked for directions to that intersection and were told it was a few miles away. The entire time I was off course I was angry about not having one more sign, upset about ruining the race in the very first leg, worried about being able to handle the extra miles in an already long double leg. Before making the call Steve and I had talked of the possibility that someone would have to pick us up and bring us to the exchange. Would we get disqualified for that? What a horrible way to start a race. Once we did know where we needed to go it was a little comforting. On the last couple miles back to the exchange the fear and worry was taken over by the rage of me screwing up the race right at the beginning. When I finally got to the first exchange I was so pissed with myself that I ignored the water and tore straight through the exchange and on to the next leg.

The second leg was pretty straight and easy to follow. They had easy to follow signs for the couple turns that did exist. My self hatred lasted for several miles in which time I must have been running well under a 7 min pace. With what must have been a little over a mile left to go I started to lose steam, slowing to just slightly faster than the runners around me. As the second exchange came into sight I looked at my watch and was amazed to see that I'd easily still make it in less than two hours. My legs were falling apart with my knees and calves feeling especially sore so I didn't even try to pick it up at the end. I noticed something that seemed a little odd. I didn't see any runners near the exchange. Actually I didn't see anyone from my van at all! Sure enough I got to the exchange and had no one to hand off to. The volunteer at the exchange called out my race number several times. I called out our team name but there was no response. After a couple minutes I left the exchange to make room for other runners starting to come through. A few of the other vans took notice of my holding the wristband while standing around and informed me that the directions for the vans to get to that exchange were bad. Steve from leg 1 showed up to wait for his teammate and we made a few jokes about the whole situation. After five minutes or so I borrowed the volunteers phone and started calling my phone in the van to see if they were still lost. Nobody answered which made me think maybe they were out of the van at the next exchange. I asked the volunteer if she could contact the next exchange somehow to check. Unfortunately the only number she had was for the race director who seemed to have a bad connection the first time she tried. I mentioned that I was thirsty, after all I didn't take any water for the entire run, and she gave me a couple bottles. After around 10 or 15 min I decided there was no since in me worrying about it since I couldn't really do anything so I sat around and relaxed. I didn't really talk to many people but they must have all noticed me sitting around with the wrist band baton. For most of the rest of the race I got to have conversations about getting left and people noteing that my van finally found me almost every time I walked by anyone. Which they did eventually find me. About 40 min after I arrived at the exchange my van pulls up with Laurie jumping out before it's even stopped. I handed off and she sprinted down the road toward a PR. I then found out that they had been at the next exchange waiting for me and it just took a little while to realize it. I'd have to say it was the most interesting start of a race I've ever had.

This year, we have video! (Exchange 1)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Van One Dominates Legs 1-6

After dinner van 1 headed out to purchase supplies to fortify ourselves for the adventure. This quickly turned into a battle of wills. I tried to put food in the cart and implored people to make food selections. In turn, each of my teammates showed disinterest and decided things like one gatorade or a pretzel would hold them over. Now we're headed off on a two-day running adventure. With guys. And no one wants food? What. The. Heck?? I haltingly inquire...I kind of think we need more food. So, just to be clear, no one is planning to eat for a few days? They all stare at me and someone explains that when we're not running we can stop for food. Like actual meals. Oooooohhhhhhhhhh. Fortunately my new friends weren't going to make me subsist on Saltines for two days while running 19 miles.

Friday morning I awoke at 6:30 AM and headed down to breakfast in the hotel. Because I am stealth like a cat (not-just ask my college roommate) my hotel roommate Danielle soon woke up and joined me. We had breakfast and chatted until Shaun joined us, at which point we, in all our class, left him at the table. Shaun=had on running clothing. Ladies=had on pajamas. Happily the rest of the guys soon joined Shaun as Danielle and I went to get our running garb on.

Van 1 headed out to the start of the race along with a smattering of van 2 teammates who had woken up early to send us off (Danielle, Kimberly, and Tim). Nisha and Kori of van 2 stayed at the hotel to get their sleep on.

There were announcements and various picture taking: The inhabitants of van 1 are above (Al, Shaun, Laurie, Audrey, John).

These are our second and first runners Laurie and Shaun.

We were sent off at 9 AM. Shaun, though he would be running two legs in a row for a total of 15 miles to compensate for one of our missing/injured runners, led all of the teams out of the starting area. We hurried to the first exchange ~7.5 miles away to hand Shaun water as he cruised by us on his way to exchange two. We expected Shaun to be the first person from our start time to hit the exchange. With the excitement of having started the race we anxiously awaited his arrival. And waited. And waited more. We checked to see if he had already passed through (negative). So we lost our teammate 45 minutes into the race. Cool.

All of a sudden some guy comes running into the exchange from the WRONG DIRECTION shouting, "I just ran an extra 6 miles!!!" Shaun declined water, blew threw the exchange point, and headed back out on the course. We quickly scramble back into the van and head to the second exchange, doing quick math in our head. We decide Shaun probably ran an extra 3 miles or so :) Still, nothing to laugh at!! Unfortunately, however, we got lost on the way to exchange two. We still made it in good time though. And waited. And watched Laurie get geeked out to run. She wins for most electronic running gear! With her ipod and Garmin she dominated us and our mere watches-except for Al who doesn't even have a watch. But I digress...We were busy waiting for Shaun. And waited for Shaun some more.

John approached Laurie and I and says...hmmm...what's with the three placard on the exchange? Three...Three...What about exchange...2!!!!! Laurie, John, and I (without exchanging a word) went from standing still to a flat out sprint. We were at the wrong freakin exchange. We drove back towards where we thought exchange 2 was, stopping the van momentarily to let Al in who had started to run the leg in reverse to seek out Shaun. We finally found exchange 2 where Shaun, after having been waiting for 40 minutes, was mingling with, well, everyone. For the next two days everyone on the race course chatted with him, wanting to know-tongue in cheek-if his team had found him? Or admonishing him not to go to far in the Mississippi River b/c his team would leave him behind...

So we find Shaun, who had just run 17 miles in under two hours but then had to wait 40 minutes for us to find him, throw Laurie out of the van who takes off sprinting, and then head back to exchange 3 to await Laurie's arrival. She blows into the exchange having massively PR'd her leg (a trend that would continue for 3/4 of her race legs) and there are high fives all around.

Next up is John. Then Al. Then me. Pictures below.

I don't have any close-ups! Sorry, I was the photographer. See Danielle's pic of moi in the previous entry.

I can't speak for the others [feel free to chime in all, and anyone can check out Laurie's blog for her recap], but I can describe my own leg. After cool temps all morning, the sun came out in force. Al sped in after a blistering leg and slapped the slap bracelet (the baton) on my arm. I took my first running steps since my half ironman triathlon (that I was undertrained for) 6 days before. Oh. Yeah. Legs. Still. Trashed. That was a pleasant realization. And I'm hot. So I run ~6.7 miles of my leg which was dubbed "hard" by race organizers in 1:02 (9:15 min/mile). This was definitely not an even effort. I started fast, realized how not good an idea that was, slowed, realized further it was going to be a LONG 24 hours, slowed again, chippered up after I got halfway through and realized, hey, I'm almost done and I'm going to make it, and kicked it in once I saw the "one mile remaining" sign. In my opinion I had one of the best runner positions (runner 6) because once I finished I had my van cheering me on as well as van 2. I was handing the slap bracelet off to the second van, who would be completing legs 7-12.

On a sidenote, as for our 40 minute delay in getting Shaun, I just checked out the results. The team that placed one ahead of us beat us by more than 40 no harm no foul...except our pride...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

GRR Day 0: Amazingly, La Crosse is not submerged.

In an amazing improvement from last year, all of our team managed to make it to the start of the race.

Shaun, Laurie, John, Kori, Kimberly, and I picked up the rental van in Ames and caravaned out to La Crosse, including a drive-by runner pick up in Rochester MN, where we opened up the van door without stopping and tested Tim's running abilities by making him catch us and jump in. I mean, we didn't know this guy - we had to make sure he could hang with our team. Okay, not really, but our random "side of the road runner pickup" amused the other van.

We got to La Crosse and Al, Audrey, and Nisha were all merrily awaiting us at the hotel and we immediately headed out to dinner where we randomly had seated ourselves around the table alternating Van 1/Van 2/Van 1/Van 2, etc, which is good because you spend more than enough time with your vanmates on these things. I think during dinner that Laurie, Audrey, and I might possibly have frightened Nisha with our tales from the blogosphere (or at the very least she just thinks we are huge nerds :-)).Clockwise from front: Me, Laurie, Kimberly, John, Kori, Shaun, Tim, Al, Nisha, Audrey

Then we went out for yummy ice cream to satisfy a team milkshake craving that had been a-brewing since Iowa. And in a move that hasn't been seen since I was approximately 5, my ice cream fell off my cone.

Definitiely smooth.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Race Play-by-Play

Nisha, Al, and I (the non-locals) flew into Minneapolis from NYC, Chicago, and Boston respectively. We rented a car and drove to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where we're waiting for our other 7 teammates to arrive from Ames, Iowa. Personally, I was thrilled to see Nisha when I got to the car rental office. On the plane I had one small moment of anxiety where I thought-what if this is all a joke? I basically boarded a plane to the midwest without "knowing" IRL (in real life) any of the nine other people. :) But I trusted! And they do exist! And they are all exactly who they said they are (the correct ages, genders, they match their pictures, etc., and not non-running people waiting to kidnap me!)

Nisha and I have also been fielding the following question from people in our respective cities:


On my end, I'm not really sure. I honestly just feel compelled. Though I've never done it before, it feels normal to me to be a part of a 198 mile relay race.

And we haven't seen any flooding yet...

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink...

So... is always good to find out that the county you are starting a 200 mile race in has been declared a disaster area due to flooding...

...when you are running along the river...

(and Laurie is supposed to cross three railroad bridges on the railroad line that had a train derail on it because of the flooding)

Good times for all!

In random news, Chrissy found us another runner, but I am having him replace Teresa since since can't even walk without her hip hurting her, so we're still ten, but at least we aren't 9 and a gimpy girl anymore!

So yay for Tim, who is going to run with 9 complete strangers on a moment's notice! He's a scientist. So he is alright in my book!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Audrey is couch-bound

Unfortunately for my GRR teammates I am never exercising again. No more. I am completely exercised out.

1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking, 13.1 miles of running. That about does it for me.

To set the stage, when I awoke this morning I had never swam 1.2 miles, had never biked 56 miles, and hadn't run 13.1 miles in almost exactly one year. I actually hadn't run or biked at all in the past 6 days to appease the foot gods. I was READY!

My time goal was 7 hours. I carefully made this goal using large amounts of data by allocating 1 hour for the swim, 4 hours for the bike, and 2 for the run. I basically needed to give my parents a time they could start looking for me in the results (remotely, from NJ).

Do not stand near me at the start of a big race. When I mentioned I was worried the bike portion would be cold b/c of the wind, a friend said, "Hey, if you're working hard it won't be cold!" This is in contrast to me who is telling people, Um...those buoys look far away. Also, I heard the bike course is hard. So, for your own piece of mind, avoid me.

The swim was fabulous. 74 degrees. Pretty calm. The guys started in waves AFTER us and a bunch of them caught up to the women. While I was not amused with getting kicked by huge guys, I think I overall liked not finishing even further back from everyone as I would have if the guys had started ahead of us. I actually did pretty well on the swim. 45:34 (37:58 mile pace). Really, the swim was gorgeous. I LOVE NEW HAMPSHIRE. LOVE IT.

They had wet suit strippers who take their job super seriously. LOVE THEM.

I passed 30 people and got passed by about 1,200. Hey, I suck at biking and almost every other wave was after mine! I amused myself on the 56 endless miles by looking for people I knew. It was an out and back course (one loop) so I had a good view of everyone. 3:37 (15.4 mph). This is actually a good pace for me for long rides.

I have never felt jealousy like I did 1/2 way through the run. The run course was two loops which meant I had to run directly next to and past the finish line before heading back out for my second loop. The finish line was so close...yet so far...and boy, was I super-jealous of the people heading to the finishing shoot. During the 13.1 miles my pace deteriorated from ~9:25 min/mile to ~12:00 min/mile. I was doing crazy math in my head to figure out what pace I had to maintain to break 7 hours. In retrospect, however, I could not have gone any faster so the math was merely a mental exercise. 2:19:13 (10:38 min/miles).


1271/1491 Overall; 69/79 Age Group; 364/475 Gender

Despite finishing very close to the end I was beyond thrilled. I got teary-eyed at mile 11.5 of the run. I'm not entirely sure why. My emotions were probably tied to having worked hard for something athletic-related and having it pay off for the first time in a long while. With so many years of injuries behind me and so many un-run races, it was momentarily overwhelming to be so close to the finish line. Plus, my 12 month school year-filled with the dramatic highs and lows of being a law student-finally ended Friday. All of my accomplishments for the entire year basically culminated in the past three days. Henceforth, the teariness.

[and I am hoping to regain my mojo by Friday's GRR. until then...i'm not doing much!]

Friday, August 17, 2007


Last night, we got locked in the track at the high school.

Okay, that's a lie. There was an open entrance but it was waaay far away. We just ran 4+ miles - we didn't want to walk all the way around, because we're lazy like that.

Kori had gone out that entrance and I and two other girls had parked in the school lot (since we didn't know the secret parking places near the track entrance). So she left and I was supposed to meet her at her house to go out for one of our typical "devour all the calories we just burned in chips and salsa and margaritas" post-run sessions.

So the three of us wander back to our cars, except our original entrance is now closed. One of the girls decides she will scale the chain link fence and gets some nice scrapes up her arm (the top of the fence was *not* user-friendly). The other girl decides to follow suit, also scraping herself up.

And then there was me. The biggest wuss in the world. Who is thinking "maybe I'll just walk around the long way." I tried. Really. I was straddling the top of the fence and I could not get my toes into the holes to get some leverage to get over the top bar. And my shorts kept getting caught on the top of the fence, leading me to these images of ripping my shorts at the local high school. And my ankles don't handle jumping from a distance well! And what if I hurt my foot? That would be my luck - twist an ankle a week before the relay. But really, I was just a big wuss.

Eventually one of the other girls had a brilliant idea of letting me in through the high school, so I was finally freed. I returned to my car to this message from Kori:

"So I have been sitting in my driveway for like a half an hour waiting for you [note: it was 10 minutes]. Have you been mugged at the high school or something? Where are you?"

Note to team: Don't stand between Kori and Mexican food :-)

On the plus side, I think my foot is getting better. My foot has been sore, but after Big Creek I didn't limp at all, which is an improvement. I ran a solitary mile yesterday and then due to peer pressure did over 4 today. Things aren't all puppies and rainbows, but I think at least I can make it through the relay (since we are still down two people, I have no option but to make it through the relay!).

Monday, August 13, 2007

There were definitely choice 4 letter words shouted

So I'm sitting around my apartment studying for finals and tapering and icing my foot and eating lots of crap because I'm starving from tapering and bored from studying and resting the foot. And after a few days of gaining weight I start losing weight. Huh? What the hell? What is going on? I don't get it...FU*K. CRAP!!!

I'm losing muscle.


Seriously though, things are okay. After a year of law school this is the last weekend I have to work until Thanksgiving (apparently my fall internship has sweet hours) so i just have to suck it up for 3.5 more days. And try to retain some leg muscle.

I did run today and it felt "okay." Not too bad but not perfect either.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sorta forgot my "A" race was this weekend...

So with all my research stuff going on, I was most definitely not in the mindset of having a big race this weekend. But the Big Creek Tri was going to happen whether or not I was ready.

So I was not quite prepared for this. I had done no exercise in the previous two weeks. My foot hurts still. My week had consisted of a lot of time out in the sun, probably not drinking enough water, and eating crap. But I paid my money, so I was going to do it! I also figured that if I didn't do so well on my first Olympic distance tri, then at least I would have a low bar for PRing next time :-)

We met at 5am to caravan down to the race, which was only about a half an hour away. Like always, we were there right when transition opened and got a good spot and then waited for an hour and a half for the race to start. I hate the waiting!


I am the suckiest swimmer ever. So I was hoping to be out in less than 45 minutes. Compared to the washing machine at Cornman, I was surprised that I found a space and pretty much swam uninterrupted the entire way. It helps to be slow and to be dropped by your wave quickly :-) And with the 4 minutes between waves, the waves behind me were spread out by the time they caught me. The swim was surprisingly not as bad as I thought it would be - pretty much I just took my time. I hit the beach at about 43 minutes and there was a long run to transition.

1500 m in 44 min (2:44/100 yds)


This course is advertised as flat and fast. When I rode it before I indeed found that it was. There was a pretty good wind from the northeast today (which is totally opposite of what it typically is in these parts). The course headed east, then south, then north, then east, then west. I worked as hard as I could through the south leg of the course and my average speed was in the high 19s until the turn around. Then the wind hit. And my average speed slowly started dropping to the low 17s. Then when you turn west for the final bit, I was able to pound it out a bit more to finish it up at a 17.5 mph on average. I was really hoping to be in the 18s. But I spent a lot of time on the bike being conservative since I didn't want to trash my legs too early or kill them for the run. I was most definitely not the bike passing diva that I am at the sprint distance. But considering that is a faster average pace than all my sprints, I really can't complain when the bike was 10 miles longer than those races, can I?

25 miles in 1:25 (17.5 mph)


Here is where things got fun. Have I mentioned how hot out it was today? It was in the 80s when I started my run at about 10am. Between my foot, my non-training, the heat, and my horrible track record with the 10k, I took it easy on the run. I was getting sorta crampy anyways, so it was hard to push. In fact, my heart rate was the lowest on the run out of all three events. That never happens. I could not muster up the energy to go faster.

The race said there would be water, gatorade, and gels every mile. Liars. They pretty much just had water. I was sorta counting on the gatorade during the run, but I sucked it up and drank water every mile. I had one and a half bags of Clif Shot Bloks on the bike, so I just hoped I had enough calories and electrolytes. The first half of the run was brutal. It was very exposed. It took me 38 minutes to run the first 5k. I was a little more willing to try and run harder on the way back and there was a little more shade and I started seeing people I wanted to pick off so I got competitive. So in the most random turn of events, I negative split the run by 5 minutes. That seemed like the longest 10k ever. When I saw the end I started sprinting and I thought I was going to die.

10k in 1:11 (11:34 min/mi)

Total time: 3:25

When I crossed the finish line I couldn't talk (from sprinting) and the woman grabbed me and forced me into the ambulance because apparently I wasn't sweating. Funny how I failed to notice this detail. They asked me if I wanted an IV, but really I mostly felt fine so I just took some water and sat in the AC and they gave me a snow cone.

In my head, I had been hoping to get in the 3:10 range, so part of me was disappointed until I realized:

1. That was my fastest race bike pace.
2. I negative split the 10k by five minutes.
3. I got dragged to the ambulance after I crossed the finish line, so I can probably safely say I left it all on the course.

And of course, hopefully this means it will be easier to PR next time! Given my injuries and whatnot, this is my last tri of this season, but I think I am going to aim for the Hy-Vee Triathlon next June. After this race was when I was going to focus on running and getting ready for the Twin Cities Marathon, but I don't think that is going to happen for me this year. I need to go see the doc about my foot, but I am pretty sure "marathon training" is not going to be on the list of things to make it feel better. Oh well! More time for research (so I can graduate) and my other hobby!

Friday, August 10, 2007


First off, Jessica is injured, so we are now down two runners. Gees! Like I need more to stress me out!

And... I have been tagged by Duane.

Jobs I’ve Held
Concession stand worker at Great Woods (now the Tweeter Center) in MA
QA/QC for data entry at a health insurance company (ugh! boring!)
Lots of sciencey research jobs
Water sanitation engineer in the Peace Corps

Movies I Can Watch Over & Over
Legally Blonde
Indiana Jones

My Guilty Pleasures
The Girls Next Door
Hostess cupcakes
Reading blogs instead of doing my research

Places I Have Lived (in order)
Newton MA
Ithaca NY
Schenectady NY
Dominican Republic
Somers NY
Urbana IL
Woods Hole MA
Ames IA

Shows I Enjoy
Ellen (when I am "working at home")
How I Met Your Mother
My Boys

Places I Have Been on Vacation
Driving cross-country for a month
Lots of places in the Rockies to ski
England, France, the Netherlands
Puerto Rico

Favorite Foods
Asian food
Diet Dr. Pepper

Websites I Visit Daily
My Google Reader
Grist Magazine
The Onion

Body Parts I Have Injured

Broken baby toe

Awards You’ve Won
Speedy Speaker Award in my sophomore public speaking class
Most Aggressive Spanish Speaker from my Peace Corps group
Other boring ones

Nicknames You’ve Been Called

I am supposed to tag five people, but I am just going to tag my fellow blogmates here...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

i love ice.

sooo it's not broken. for shizzle. b/c i diagnosed myself. but i know i'm right and the doctor is wrong. i just know. i have peroneal tendinitis. i know this b/c my foot hurts all along where the tendon is and i can actually feel the tendon moving in the sheath around it. b/c it is inflamed there is a grating sensation as the tendon moves that i've experienced before (which feels icky and gross) when i had wrist tendinitis from tennis. this is the third body part i've gotten tendinitis in (wrist, knee, and now foot). i get tendinitis REALLY easily. and i do not get stress fractures. ever. so this is what i have. now, in an effort to compete in my 1/2 IM on the 19th and GRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrr on the 24th i sit with ice on my foot all day. my classmates used to react with, "OMG, WHAT HAPPENED?!?!" now they just ignore me and my ice pack. and while the injury is super alarming of course given things that i've been planning since...oh, november, are upcoming, i tend to do well when injuries force me to take monster "tapers" before events. so we shall see.

in other updates, i'm taking my 27th round of finals of my life right now. can i just say i'm ready for a job? like, it's definitely time for audrey to get a job. where people will pay me to sit at my laptop. i'm READY!!!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Still down a man!

Or woman!

Still haven't found a replacement for Chrissy yet for the relay. Shaun, in his awesomeness, offered to run two positions for us, but hopefully we can avoid that. So beg every runner you know to come out and have a good time with us! If you read our little blog here and want to do it, drop me a line! We're all about running with perfect strangers! (um, Audrey)

Laurie sent me this photo yesterday:
That would be where the last leg of the relay was supposed to go. The race directors sent out an e-mail to captains informing us that there will be a bit of a route change...

And someone please reassure me that not doing anything for two weeks is a good way to taper for Big Creek? Besides the foot, I have the insane research month from hell this month so I have been working late every day and in the field a lot so I haven't done anything since RAGBRAI! Gees!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

So, I'm a fear'd for my foot.

So a week ago Saturday, I e-mailed my friend Erin whose wedding is the same weekend as the Twin Cities Marathon. I asked her how late I can RSVP because there is always a chance I'll get injured and can't run and going to her wedding will be a nice consolation prize (there is talk of a scavenger hunt in San Francisco - this will not be your typical wedding).

Sunday morning I woke up and I had a little ache near my heel on the inside of the arch. Then I went out and rode the Big Creek course and did a mile run off the bike (with a guy in my running group who runs waaay faster than me but who slummed it with me - I was gasping for air by the end). My foot hurt a bit, but not too bad.

Monday night, I did hills.
Tuesday morning it was a little more sore. Tuesday night was the CyRide run.
Wednesday morning, Danielle is limping around the house.

I took Wednesday and Thursday off and then there was RAGBRAI, but biking didn't bother it.

Monday morning I went for a 4 mile run, my first since Tuesday. The last mile, my foot was killing me and then I proceeded to limp around for a day and a half afterwards.

This does not bode well.

I am already behind on Twin Cities training, since I wanted to ramp up more slowly to avoid aggravating my hamstring again. I can't really afford to take a couple of weeks off. If I can get up to 18 miles, I'll do it, but that is looking iffy. It's two months away and my long run right now is 9.5 miles.

I'm not sure if I should go cold turkey on running for a week or two and hope it gets better? Or perhaps only run when it doesn't hurt? Even if I don't do Twin Cities, there is an Oly tri and a relay this month that I am going to do no matter what!

Aarrrgh! Can I not make it a couple of months without hurting something please?