The Colonial 200 Relay, Sept 2012
What an Adventure It Was
When the idea of running a 206 mile relay came about, I thought “sure why not…how tough can this be?” The answer would lay in wait for the next 6 months.
Running from Charlottesville to Jamestown, VA was physically and mentally challenging. The true adventure came in battling the elements, the isolation of a country road at 1 o’clock in the morning and exposing yourself to the varying terrain and population along the route…THAT was tough.
Tough was the start. The start of a marathon can be intimidating. In a marathon that first step is the beginning of a 26.2 mile battle. In a marathon you may run along with a crowd, but the battle to finish you fight that alone.
When I started the Colonial Relay…I was very aware that I was taking “our” collective first step, one that would be followed by 206.83 miles and one step that would start the race for five other people. I was also very aware that my own success or failure could impact the team that I was running with. Coming off a knee injury that had me down for 6 weeks, the extra pressure of an unproven body made this start tough to handle.
The next 35 legs of our adventure would provide new challenges, new memories and some tough running at every turn.
Tough was the times I was not running. As crazy as it may sound, running for me was the easy part. When I was running, when it was my turn to run I felt in control…it was the time in-between that for me was the toughest. For nearly 35 hours we were wet and damp, packed into a van unable to really relax or stretch out after laboring over 5, 6, 7 or 8 miles. That was tough.
Tough was getting out of our support van SEVEN times to run our parts of the relay. It was challenging to exit our temp home on wheels stepping onto an unfamiliar road, into darkness and an unknown environment. The situations we placed ourselves into were not always runner friendly. We also learned our bodies could be tough to deal with over the long haul.
Tough was keeping your body (stomach) in control. Most long distance runners get attune to their needs for fuel and rest. They know how to feed the machine over a grueling race. They know how to get the maximum amount of work out of themselves. They know when to rest and recover. For this trek across Virginia we asked our bodies to cycle from ON to OFF and back ON again between four and seven times throughout the day/night covering our respective legs from 20 to 40+ miles sometimes with as little as an hour of rest.
Feeding the machine meant keeping your stomach under control as you tried to consume and burn nearly 8000 calories. Then there was the battle to deal with all the nagging injuries, chaffing, blisters, and the little aches and pains along the way. Our bodies made this adventure tough on us, but the reward at the finish line was worth every uncomfortable hour, longest of miles and the loneliness (yes, I was scared) of a dark road along the way.
TOUGH WAS OUR TEAM! Our Ultra team of 6 rocked the 206.83 miles in just under 35 hours. Tough was the way our support crew of Mark and Eddie cared for us. It was comforting and reassuring knowing that they always had our backs…we just had to run, they took care of everything else.
Tough was the mutual support of our team. When it was difficult to get out of the van, when it was hard to climb the next mountain, when it was challenging to run in the pouring rain or when the night seamed at its darkest…the team kept things light and positive.
Tough was that no one on our team was a slacker…other teams complained about running too much, our team of runners wanted more miles.
Our team was tough…we may not have finished first, but our Team was TOUGH.
And finally TOUGH was realizing it was over.
Crossing that finish line was a great accomplishment. I was so happy to be done, so happy to have been part of this event and happy to have been part of this team. BUT I was also very disappointed that it was over.
Tough was being alone after the van was unloaded and we all went our separate ways. Tough was driving home with just the quiet solitude of being by myself. No jokes, No laughter, No pep talks…nothing.
Tough was dealing with the silence.
Tough is Josh, Cara, Jon, (myself) Tim, and Terri.
Tough is Eddie and Mark.
Tough was trying to keep this blog post at a manageable length, because the stories we made could fill volumes.
The Tough chapters would include:
The missing foot long sub
We lost a runner
The Indy 500 drive to the only gas station open in five counties
The VA Creeper and his Bride
The chasing dogs
The disco lights
That’s my pocket
It’s Yoohoo not Yoo Hoe
The horse whisper (aka Eddie)
Someone here smells.
Oh, what an adventure it was. This one will be tough to top.