Two years ago, the BRR broke me. During the Mountain Goat of Leg 6, you could pinpoint the precise locations I bent over puking in the bushes due to the 3 feet of decline my GPS picked up as I huddled into a mass. This year I was determined to beat the BRR. Better training; better nutrition and a better “van.” All meant I arrived ready, it was just up to me to get ‘er done.
Plus I luckily had a rabbit who started 1:30 in front of me to entice me to chase my wife and her van down.
Leg 2: “Beautiful Legs”
Distance: 7.5 Miles
For the first time, I knew my Blue Ridge relay would open with a challenging run as the milage upfront was going to catch me later in the night if I was not careful. So my plan was to stick to a solid clip. I have finally learned to run on heart rate versus pace as well, so when I hit the solid climb at mile 4 and the pace dropped by 1:30, I was not too alarmed.
Passing a few folks I began to chat them up having mastered the opening volley:
“Where you all out of?”
“Running a 9 person?”
“Have you done this before?”
Depending on the length of their reply, I know whether its time to move on, our tap into their chattiness as my mental distractor.
However, upon arriving into my van and share the life stories of the two folks I passed, I learned as one of my teammates stated, “I have run this 5 years and have never spoken to anyone.”
In the end, this was a beautiful run on a crisp mountain morning. The turning climb on leg 4 was not a bad push.
Leg 8: “Don’t Overlook The Shorties”
Distance: 3.1 Miles
One of my goals this year was to stay on top of proper nutrition. So between the legs, I eat a poptart, some shot blocks, an energy drink and an oatmeal bar. It all seemed rather overkill due to the short milage. I figured this was a quick in and out run.
However, it is often the overlooked leg that will catch you off guard.
As this run progressed, the low shoulder caused my left leg’s IT band to start bothering me. And then, a double side-stitch cramp attacked just at the base of the major hill.
Probably the combination of Gu and PopTarts were fighting for king of the colon at this time, but it was a good reminder that even the short legs of the BRR need respect.
The 9% climb near the end is the one place where the BRR got the better of me.
Leg 14: “It was either a sign from God or a Hallucination”
Distance: 6.2 miles
This was the leg that I was most focused on. I figured I needed to “grin and bear” this leg and the second half of the BRR would just be what it would be. Especially after the cramps and IT band issue on the last leg, I wandered the parking lot anxious about the leg to begin. The added pressure was that we had caught Lindsay’s team and there was a high probability that I would be racing against one of her teammates on this leg. Luckily they kept a 15 minute lead that prevented me from getting “chicked.”
Climbing out of the pool area, I fell into a good clip on the uphill, and as I crested the first real climb and old abandoned church had a verse about standing on our faith. This began to become a running mantra as the sunset started to set, and the cool crisp air moved around me.
Feeling pretty good, I started to push the pace. I came across another runner, but due to the sharp turns could not pass her immediately. Finally after get by her, I settled into the second half the race. That’s when a car went whizzing past me. As I looked at the car, I noticed that it had a Waypoint Bumpersticker…I rubbed my eyes, looked at my heart rate and worried that I’d just hallucinated.
Confused, dazed and tiring…I wondered how did our little logo make it onto a car 150 miles from Charlotte. Then the car double and tripled back. Turned out to be one of our ruling elders who was up there for the weekend and “coincidentally” went to check on the race.
In the end, the run turned into a great leg. As I strolled around the parking lot of the country story, enjoying the fellowship. As I enjoyed a perfectly cooked cheeseburger. As I tapped the outdoor shower attached to our WonderVan; the joy of the BRR settled in. Halfway through my milage, all that really loomed was the final 9.5 mile descent.
Leg 20: “I think I’ve Been Here Before”
Distance: 3.75 miles
While my van slept soundly, I wondered the parking lot Plumgrove Presbyterian Church. Having seen a Baptist church ever mile and quarter, it was a pleasant surprise to see this Presbyterian community.
A few steps down the road, I worried that my hullicinations had returned, as the run looked and felt familiar. But how could it? Then I began to do the math. The last time I was runner 1 picking up legs 1, 7, 13, 19, 25, 31. Then the BRR had to reshuffle the route. And leg 19 was now leg 20. Now my master plan of running all 36 legs in my life has been foiled. This slight change by the race director means I have 5 more years of doing the BRR instead of 4. Doing math at 11pm, I zoned out of most of this run.
Leg 26: “Noises in the Dark”
Distance: 4.4 miles
Running through the mountains at 2am on a Friday night adds a level of spookiness. Not to mention the man in full camouflage sitting on a lightless RV on leg 21 looking to “scare” runners, your senses start to mess with you. Also, this leg was the leg that most runners got lost on two years ago. So the mental aspect of the race was taking over the physical.
The barking dog off in the distance seemed to close surprisingly quick as the rustling in the shoulder made my heart rate spike into zone 5. Then just as I began to wonder if I had missed the turn a redneck voice from one of the seemingly abandoned homes shouted, “You better run from me, F@cker!” Worried that this was the wrong direction and I would have to double back at the bottom of this hill, I was frustrated at myself for having once watched Deliverance.
Then suddenly out of no-where, I heard large, clumping footsteps coming up from behind me. I wondered how this redneck could be that fat and that fast and that high on meth all at the same time. Just as I was about to surrender to the whooping I was going to get, I noticed the bobbing headlamp and that this was a fellow BRR runner (though he was more of a sprinter)
Leg 32: “Redemption Run”
Distance: 9.5 miles
Three years ago, I ran this leg. It was the greatest run of my life. Not only due to the pace, but the beautiful decent, the cool gift of water from Smokey at mile 6, all that ended with me drinking a Yuengling in a creek at the finish line. However, that was on a 9 man team. My 6th leg of the 6 man two years ago was the most broken I have ever been in a race. With
nervousness, I wondered which way the run would go.
Well setting a PR on a 10k isn’t a bad way to start.
It went of perfect. Leaning into the downhills, I hugged the corners. Hitting the pavement, I opened up my stride and slowly pulled a man in. The perfect rabbit laid 42 seconds ahead of me at mile 6. By mile 7 I has brought him to within 36seconds. I was not sure I could close the gap, but step by step I pulled him in. Thereby passing him at mile 9.37 to sprint to the finish.
Hobbling my way into my creek, I was able to bask in the perfect run at the end of a perfect 6 man.
Time: 1:05:09 (min faster than last year)
I came in having been beaten two years ago.
I left having beaten back the BRR.
The joy of the fellowship and friendships, getting to run with my wife, hanging out with her team (though I was so exhausted and hadn’t eaten since 11pm, I was a walking Zombie for most of the afternoon…put a pin this one.