This last leg was one of the toughest things I've ever done.
Dave was the last runner in Van 1. When he handed the wristband to Paul at exchange point 18, we departed quickly in the dark of the night to a hotel that Gene had reserved for us about halfway between exchange 18 and exchange 24. Having that hotel was one of the best ideas of the whole trip!
There were people lying on the ground everywhere at exchange 18! The weather was starting to get uncomfortably cool. I grabbed a cup of hot chocolate and was than
kful that I didn't have to try to sleep in a sleeping bag on the ground. They were serving a hot meal there, too, but I couldn't think of eating after Park-n-Dine!
One thing I learned about relay racing is that you don't have nearly as much time between legs as you think you do! Man, we didn't waste any time, but the time just flew by! We got to the hotel at about 1:30 and we were estimating the start my leg at about 5:00 AM. Counting time for a MOST welcome hot shower and drive time to exchange point 24, that left about 2 hours for sleep. The last leg was BY FAR my hardest! It was supposed to be 7.8 hilly miles.
Those two hours of sleep just flew by! When we got to exchange point 24, it was very crowded. There was a lot of traffic and there was just no space to warm up. I tried to warm up, but it was just miserable. I didn't have space or desire to run. So, after about a half mile of jogging, I just hung out with the team and waited on Christie to bring me the wrist band.
I really wanted to run harder on this leg than I did. I wasn't thinking anything crazy like 6:30 or even 6:45 pace, but I sure was hoping to keep the pace below 7:00. A 6:59 pace would have been acceptable. However, I had a feeling that 6 something miles were a VERY long shot. I was trying to get warm and stay warm, but I just couldn't stop dreading the run! Justin said that there would be no more 6:00 miles for him. I agreed that my 6:30 miles were all used up as well.
The 25th Leg
At about 5:40, They called "1-1-5, Team 115 get ready, your runner is approaching!". Oh well, here I go. I guess I will if I have to! I knew that this section would be hilly. It was nothing like Runner #5 had to deal with, but it was rolling to say the least. I also hadn't studied this route like I should have, so I was more dependent on the course markings. Angie told me that if I was running uphill then I was going the right way! It sure seemed that way!
The first mile was mostly downhill and it still took almost 8:00! I wasn't warmed up and I was very tired. It wasn't "running" fatigue as much as it was "lack of sleep" fatigue! I just couldn't get going. The second mile was rolling, and took around 7:40. I knew then that sub 7:00 average was probably out of the question, but I was awake and warm now. I realized that I hadn't eaten since the Park-n-Dine. So I downed a gel and tried to dro
p the pace. The problem with dropping the pace was that it was still hilly!
Man, this route was in the middle of nowhere! I heard (and smelled, ugh!) cows and horses all around. The smell of this route was nearly unbearable!
When I started this leg, there was no other runner in sight. At about mile 1, I finally caught someone. I encouraged her as I passed. Yep, even running a 7:47 mile, I caught someone! And then there was another! Then, the Expedition leap frogged me and Van 1 was there cheering me on! That is really what lifted my spirits. I heard cheering teammates and I kept seeing blinking butt lights to chase. At this point in the relay, though, nobody was making even a modest attempt to hold me off! I encouraged everyone as I pa
Wow!! More blinking butt lights! I passed at least 14, maybe 16 runners on this leg. I was having trouble counting because of the lack of sleep! Nobody passed or even threatened to pass on this leg. I don't think I was the only one who was totally spent by this time.
At the two mile to go mark, a van passed and told me "2 miles to go!" I thanked them and tried to give more effort. I was just out of gas, and that next to last mile was uphill!!! Another van passed by at the one mile to go mark and said, "1 mile t
o go!!" I thanked them, and tried again to increase the effort. Thankfully, the last mile was somewhat flat. I was so glad to see the exchange point up ahead!!
This run didn't hurt nearly as bad as the first and second. It was like I just couldn't move faster. It was just the general fatigue of two previous hard efforts in the day combined with the lack of sleep. The leg was a little longer than advertised, 7.96. I averaged 7:15 per mile, up and down and up and down. I probably did let the team down a
bit on this leg. I just didn't give the effort that I should have. Looking back, I should have taken the attitude that this is the last leg and I have nothing to save for. I simply did not go all out.