Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Creative Finish

We knew it was a possibility. With 8 newbies running a relay and not just any relay, one of the most difficult it seemed highly likely. I guess in the perfect 20/20 hindsight of the whole event when we were assigned the 5:45 start time maybe I should have requested that we be moved to 5 a.m. But would that extra 45 minutes have even mattered. Maybe not, maybe yes.
Good Girls Gone Trail happily cross the finish line. 
I mean what you have to understand is that this relay is freakin hard. Sure the legs are rated easy, moderate, challenging and hard. But my view of easy and the race director's view of easy are very, very different. Just to clear up any confusion I have described what each of those ratings actually mean:

Easy= there will be hills, which means lucky you there will be some downhill but not as much as the uphill and some point during that uphill you will cry for your mama.

Moderate= Remember when you cried for your mama, how naive you were back when you were running the easy leg. The leg that is rated moderate will include most likely several miles in the upper double digits because you will be reduced to a crawl. I mean you will try to run when the van passes you but we all know you could walk faster than your sad attempt at running up this hill (which is actually a mountain). Most likely you will get mad and at some point curse everyone who said this would be fun/ a good idea.

Challenging= Don't worry the majority of miles will be downhill and you will go screaming down the mountain either on a road or on a trail thinking you have transformed into some sort of running god who normally pulls off miles in the low 7 and 8 minute range with such ease. This relay is fun you think. It is not really that bad you convince yourself. You will feel so elated that you are finally going downhill you will not notice that your knees and ankles are being crushed by all this downhill momentum until you arrive at a flat, or god forbid, a hill and then your legs refuse to work in their normal way. Also, good luck getting out of the van at your next leg.

Hard= You will run up a mountain and gain several thousand feet in elevation. You will feel like like your lungs are being crushed and your heart is going to explode. See above part about crying for your mama. Only instead of silent tears they may be real.

So as you can see, difficulty rating of the relay was fairly high.

Corrie, Kelcey and our wonderful driver Sarah
Oh right, back to the time thing. So Friday night Nicole realized that we were falling behind the other teams but I decided that we had all night to run and it was too early to worry about it now. All we could was keep moving forward and see where we were in the morning. Well where we were in the morning was at a spot that would have had us finishing at 9 or 10 p.m. that night instead of around the 6 p.m. cut off time. Kelcey and Nicole figured this out and when they did gave the race director Jim a call. His response- no big deal (FYI race director Jim was the best. He welcomed us at packet pick-up, prior to that responded to our email questions and worked with us to complete the relay in a creative fashion- a fashion which has happened in prior years. We were not the first team to run into a time crunch). Jim told us to cut leg 32- the one tough mother leg that was almost ten miles of a steep climb. That just happened to be my leg and apparently takes forever to complete.....er well it probably would have taken me forever to complete. My teammates were nice enough to give me the option of doing it but I felt if the race director's first recommendation is to cut that leg to get us to the finish in a timely fashion than his advice should be followed. Hindsight I kinda wish I had done it. We probably could have made it work with simultaneous running of legs which we ended up doing for several legs anyways (several runners out running their legs at the same time no longer in order) but instead I got to do one of Kelcey's legs which was very pretty and enjoyable so it was a nice trade off.
Kelcey, myself and Nicole- organizers of Good Girls Gone Trail. Couldn't have done it without these amazing ladies. BRFs for life!
The second recommendation as mentioned above was the simultaneous running of legs. Multiple runners are running legs at the same time. Our team asked some of the other teams in front of us their thoughts on us doing this and they were fine with it. It means we will not be ranked. But since we were most likely pretty solidly in last place or at least vying really hard for it and not really there to compete but experience the relay we felt fine with this course of action. So I guess instead of 212 miles we ran 203. Well more like 205 cause Corrie and Nicole got lost during the last leg (poor signage) and added some mileage to the whole thing. But by doing this we got to actually cross the finish line and experience the finish line festivities instead of role up in the middle of the night to nothing. It seemed and I still believe was the best choice for us. A creative finish let us get the whole relay experience. And maybe even more importantly by that point in the relay got us to dinner.

Ashley and Dana our amazing trail runners! The crushed some of our hardest and most technical legs.
Overall thoughts on the relay:

It was challenging. I think it was my teammate Ashley that mentioned that the relay does not only challenge you physically with the running and sleep deprivation but mentally as well with keeping things organized and trying not to get too bitchy as the hours roll by with no sleep. She probably said it more elegantly but I think that pretty much sums it up. 

It was fun. I laughed a lot and got to know some great people even better. I got to run in some beautiful places. I got a sweet medal and t-shirt. 

It was inspiring. Everyone struggled in their own way and no one gave up. I was repeatedly impressed by every one of my teammates. They made me want to be a better runner myself. I also loved running in the mountains (I mean the lack of oxygen due to altitude and car sickness aside), it was a beautiful place to run and makes me want to become a stronger runner.

Something will always go wrong. Embrace this early on and you can just role with it. That is a big lesson learned. Don't stress about every little thing going wrong or you will miss all the great things going right.

I can't wait to do another one! This is a good thing since I have two more in my future. 

We have unfinished business. Though we were more than okay with how we finished the relay several of us have a sense of unfinished business with this whole relay concept. And we will be back for more. Most likely not the Smoky Mountain Relay but at another. And next time we will be out to compete....or at least not have to get creative at the end.

Good Girls Gone Trail outside of our 36 hour home.

Again a big thank you to all of our sponsors: Big Dog Running Company, Asics, Jason Bent, and Ascent. Thank you to our main van driver Sarah and Cathy who filled in during rest time. You both did an amazing job handling that beast of a vehicle! Thank you to all of our family members who held the fort while we played in the mountains. To all our friends and supporters who followed our progress and sent us kind words during our adventures it means the world to us. And a huge, HUGE, thank you to all of my wonderful teammates who made the experience a great one and who were crazy enough to say yes several months ago. I am so proud and honored to have had this experience with you. Good Girls Gone Trail will forever hold a special place in my heart. 

3 comments:

  1. Aww, I am happy you finished wanting to do another!

    I know a group who had to double up on legs to finish a relay last year. It's a good option that lets you still finish on time and run as much of your miles as possible!

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  2. Congrats to you and your team on a great run. Really cool that the RD wasn't bothered about your creativity - I honestly wouldn't let it bother you. You ran a relay, you had a great time, you're all still friends at the end. Nice work.
    Now, go crush that 50k you CRAZY woman.
    (ps...missed you today, I ran in HMB south of my turnaround and got to run some of your route. It was crazy!!) x

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  3. Hey, loved your recap. My friends and I are 5:00ish marathoners. Some are a little faster. Would it be nuts for us to even try this?

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