Farewell Tour (whatever JH!) #BRR2011 #BlueRidgeRelay

29 hours 48 minutes and 15 seconds after sending Jason M. off down the Grayson Highlands mountaintop start we finished up in Asheville 100% intact with the fanfare that John deserved in his “last Blue Ridge Relay ever!”  If you believe that you will have no problem sending me $1,000,000 so I can help educate the needy in a 3rd world country.  This time was good enough for 64th out of 120 teams, an 8:36 overall pace and 11th out of 18 Ultra (6 or less) teams.

I always put off writing this post every year because there is an odd post-race blues period where you realize it is over and it is likely a year before you get to run an event this cool again.  It is also hard to sit down and write because I find it difficult to organize my thoughts into meaningful compartments – even more so than on a normal day.  Here it goes.

Pre-Race Picture

First, a word about our sponsor:  KT Tape.  This company responded to one of my tweets (which I truly believe is the sign of a company dedicated to their customers) and within days offered to sponsor us with shirts and tape for the race.  Most of us were veteran’s of KT Tape usage largely due to the small ailments that come with age.  The shirts were super cool and looked great at the start, the finish and in between stages where we weren’t too lazy just to be ok sitting around in our old sweaty running clothes from the last leg.  We used both the standard KT Tape which was offered in Purple, Lime Green and Black and was more of a Fabric-based tape.  This stuff worked great as usual.  You put it on and you always tend to wonder: “What’s this going to do for me – I can hardly feel it on me.” Then you stand up and you get it – the skin pulls away a bit from the muscle and it feels like blood flow in that area is enhanced.  We did use the synthetic version of the tape but we all agreed we missed having the pre-cut strips down the center of the tape strip in the event you wanted to apply in different ways.  Without scissors, this made using it for the variety of applications we used it for more difficult.  Oddly, when ripping off a strip from the roll with this tape it tended to not rip cleanly leaving some of the strings hanging.  We also learned that if you don’t apply the tape on clean and alcohol-rubbed body parts the chances of it sticking for a leg of the race were slim.  Baby wipes were not the same as a shower and alcohol application.  We knew this going in and they folks that applied their tape prior to starting any running had tape on 29 hours later.  Those that didn’t often didn’t have tape on at the end of their leg.  Again, we knew this but thought some baby wipes and extra hard rubbing (friction) to get it to stick would overcome.  Great sponsor, company and concept.  BUY THEIR PRODUCTS!

Pictures: There’s a “Bermuda Triangle” occurrence in effect at this race.  In my 6 years at this race I am pretty sure I don’t have a single documented photo from our team between legs 20 and 28.  These legs take place from roughly 10pm and 4am.  A camera is the last thing that we think of I suppose.  In actuality, it is pretty amazing that we don’t have a complete breakdown in van driving at this point.  Simply getting to the next exchange zone is commendable, but I’d love to have more pictures of the amazingness of this race at night.  If you are interested a link to our pictures is at the bottom of this post.

Van Ripeness:  Every time I pick up the van for this event I wonder how they get a relatively used van (31k miles) to smell so new and be so clean?  Every time I turn it in I wonder how will they ever get this god awful dirty shoes, mildewy clothes, burp, fart, sweat, gatorade smell out of this van?  This mystery becomes more amazing to me each year of the event.  The odd part is that it isn’t until the day after the race that I realize how truly bad the smell was.

Nemesis:  For me, Leg 20 from the Green Valley Fire Department to the Mount Carmel Baptist Church.  Sounds innocuous, right?  Wrong. My Garmin shows nearly 1200 feet of climbing just under 4 miles of this 6.7 mile leg.  That’s steep.  I ran it in 69 minutes.  That’s short bus slow.  Let me be clear:  that’s walking nearly the entire set of hills except when a van was passing me – then, and only then, my pride wouldn’t let me walk.  I don’t know what it is about this leg but each year when I reach it I am woefully unprepared.  It is my shortest turnaround from the prior leg (just over 2 hours) but 10 minute miles still do not add up…it makes getting closer to a 7 minute pace for this race a tall order much less the barely sub-8 minute miles I achieved.

Post-Race What-ifs:  I don’t have a lot of remorse for my performance or for the performance of our team.  I would like to run the race from front-to-back without walking during one leg.  I think that’s worth between 5-10 minutes of total time of our race for me alone.  I would like to be more strategic with my eating.  Literally just after finishing my 6th and final leg of the race I read an article in Men’s Health about needing few calories than one would think to complete this race.  Sometimes timing is everything.  This article discussed that a diet lower in solid food and not exceeding your normal daily calorie intake on a high output day is enough for peak performance.  This could be an area of improvement for next year.  Sleep in the first 12 hours of the race is a mandatory improvement for next year.  Being awake for 22 hours straight with the exception of a cat nap around noon was unacceptable and impacted my performance in the early night stages.  Otherwise, I’d bring less food, more salty foods, and drink less Gatorade early into the event.

Pet Peeve Time:  Aside from the normal race chatter which annoys the snot out of me about running events (you know what I mean: “what pace do you plan to run?” or “how you feeling?” or “are you ready for this?” or “tell me about those shoes”) the only minor peeve I can come up with regarding this event is the growing trend for teams to log “Kills” or “Road Kills” on the side of their van with van markers.  These are referring to the numbers of runners they have passed since starting the race.  I don’t care for this.  I think it is poor sportsmanship and is outwardly looking to take something away from others who are achieving great goals too.  Unless you are prepared to take my name off your list when I pass you later (which most teams don’t do) and ask me on the way by whether I’m running in the same category (most teams writing this on their vans are speedy, but also full sized teams which means they get nice breaks between runs, hydration and fuel are not a concern and running 18-24 miles over the course of the event is a good bit different than running every 3 hours or so until you’ve completed the event) then you seem to be rubbing it in my face that you are running faster than me.  In the history of any running race, only one person gets the honor of standing in front of the field and if they choose to, could say they were the best and fastest.   The difference in this is, that one person rarely says anything arrogant or that would take away from the accomplishment of others.  Running is not about the elite, while they are amazing, they aren’t as inspiring as the everyday running person who puts in their best to get a PR or place in their age group.  A little sportsmanship goes a long ways.  Having little sportsmanship doesn’t.

I have vacated my soap box.  I have not vacated my spot on this great team – here’s hoping to no one else does either (ahem John!).  If for nothing else, for the great quotes that come from being stuck in a van for 35 hours with good people (“I don’t know what’s more annoying, Sutton’s endless burps or the fact that Whitney continues to be shocked by it.” -Anonymous 3rd Runner).  Until next year, enjoy the pictures.  I’ll log a follow-up post to capture my food log for this race.


Click here for a slideshow of our 2011 BRR race.

Thanks again KT Tape – you were very kind and supportive with your sponsorship of us!


One Response

  1. […] Alex, and Whitney finished the 200 mile race with just 6 people on their team, thus the team name Team 4tunate (to have 2 more […]

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