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.


Audrey said...

Nice post (and run) Al! I'm sure you have many talents and skills besides being able to backdate blog posts so no worries :) Thanks for the up close and personal mileage update, in the middle of the night, after you had already run. Rock on. You're right, I don't think it was necessary to let me know the potential margin of error!

Laurie said...

This was a great recap. Apparently you should have taken me up on my e-cap offer much earlier than you did ;)

I love that I was the slowest runner in our van and you still mentioned my 'insane PR.' You guys are so incredibly supportive, thanks!

Steve S. said...

Nice run!!!!