Exciting, Exhilarating, and Exemplary! Three words to describe my second year participating as part of the Bearfooters in the Blue Ridge Relay. Our first goal this year was to NOT get lost! :) It took team work, great leadership, athletic support, and a sense of humor to make this team come together. Each team member provided a unique contribution to the overall performance whether it was homemade cookies, dirty jokes, navigational skills, organizational skills, creativity and great athletic ability. Our second goal was to have fun and enjoy the breathtaking views of the scenery, especially driving up Leg 31, the mountain goat hill.
Congratulations to the Charlotte Running Club for their performance at the relay. You made the Queen City proud!!! :)
I was on a team for the BRR as well, and it was a blast. A couple other CRC members were on it with me, Joey Church and Kay Allen, our team name was Finger My Toes. We came in at 27:49:13. 26th overall and 10th in the open division. I have no idea how you guys find everyone's times in races in the club to put in the newsletter, but I also did the Big Red Shoe 5k and was not listed, and the BRR. I know there are a lot of people in the club who do races so I'm sure it's a hassle to find everyone.
BRR was a blast, and I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys running. You really get a BRR high once it is all completed, somehow the lack of sleep over 2 days just disappears. So much fun! I have a bunch of pics of our team as well I can send a few.
The People: If you have a lousy team, then it probably wouldn't have been fun; we didn't. It was me and 11 awesome people who wanted to have fun. Sure, we ran hard, but more than anything it was a great bonding experience for all of us. We all supported each other and cheered for each other. In between the runs, there isn't much else to do but talk and share stories, so what better way to get to know someone? I think that Michelle captured it best at one point: after my van was done with our 3rd legs, she exclaimed that she "absolutely couldn't wait to see the other van" and hear how they had been running. With limited cell phone reception we had no real clue what was going on with the second fun and were all super pumped when we met up with them, sleep or no sleep! I was pretty sick and running a fever by the end of the day Saturday and was probably one of the people who wanted to get home the most, but the group's decision (which I initially lamented) to stay in Asheville for a little extra time completed the trip. We all went to Mellow Mushroom and shared stories from our journey together over pizzas and beer. I've run with some great friends over the years on both my high school and college teams, but in terms of how much fun I've had with a group of people on a trip, this ranked right up there at the top! Thanks guys!!!!!!!!
The Challenge: Why do any of us run? Mostly b/c of the challenge, right? For me, this was the most mileage intense running, not to mention racing, I'd ever done before. And I loved it. My second leg was the 10 mile climb up to Grandfather. I won't say it was fun, I was hurting pretty bad, but at the same time I took enjoyment from knowing that I was pushing myself to the limit and running as strong as I could. I don't have a desire to run a marathon right now, mostly b/c I don't have the motivation/time for the training it takes to run one well, but this made me appreciate more why someone would want to do one. And to again quote Michelle: "wow guys, it feels SO GOOD to be done!!!!" And man, it sure did...
The Scenery: The Blue Ridge Mts are beautiful. My first leg mostly rolled downhill on a small backwoods gravel mountain road that meandered past idyllic pastures and picturesque farm scenes. I would love to go back to that road someday and drive slowly down it to really soak it in again. My other 2 legs were at night, but the driving during the day took us through other amazing terrain. And even the night had something to offer: my climb uphill had some very exposed spots where, when I felt like I was almost in trouble, I would allow myself the luxury of temporarily ditching my focus on the run and glancing up to enjoy how many stars I could see above me. True, the night also offered a large mangy dog that chased me for awhile and some bats that dove on me, but again, all part of the adventure!
The Atmosphere: Everyone I talked to along the way was incredibly nice. During the day everyone cheered for each other. On my 10 mile leg one van kept pulling ahead of me and cheering. Was it my van? Nope, it was the van of our rivals, Norm's Maggots. True, they were mostly pulling ahead to get in position to cheer for their guy behind me (and possibly to get a split on the difference between him and I) but they still were great sports and shouted encouragement to me as well. When you're alone in the dark for 10 miles, a little can go along way. I was also very impressed by the volunteers. During the day it was a lot of families, and at night it was high school kids and the local volunteer firefighters and EMTs. I don't know if they got paid or not, but they were all kind and helpful and willing to give up a night's sleep to help out a bunch of smelly, tired runners. Also, there is something pretty surreal but cool about getting ready to runin the mountain mist at 3am with a bunch of strangers around you doing the same.
The "Mind over Body" Moment: We've all had them before, and I think a lot of us had them over the weekend at some point. When I was trying to get loose enough to run my 3rd leg, I could barely manage to jog let alone do a sub 7 minute stride I was so sore and tired. As soon as Brian handed me the slap bracelet, it was as if I had fresh legs again and I was able to roll along. The first hill took a lot out of me again, but I ran a lot faster than I thought I might. I really enjoyed my last leg mostly b/c I was so excited that I was actually running! I think that most of my awesome teammates experienced similar feelings: I know Ben "i've been throwing up and might drop out before my last leg but instead am going to tow the line and kill it" Hovis did!
So yea, you can keep me on your list of people who came back gushing....Thanks for listening!
So I signed up for this race thinking it sounded cool. Then as the months passed I thought to myself "WTF did you sign up for?" See, I hate vans/cars and long car trips (I get carsick), I get cranky when I don't sleep, I can't sleep well if I'm not in a bed, I have a very finicky stomach that can't handle most foods before a run, oh and I despise hills. So as you can see, I rightly began thinking that BRR was not for me. It actually kind of sounded like my worst nightmare. Yet, I loved every moment of it.
From the moment the race started we were all in this weird experience together and it was fantastic. You don't realize that you're crammed in a van because you are so excited to drive down the road and cheer on your teammate and in some cases direct your teammate lol. It goes by very quickly. Once your turn to run comes up it's exhilerating in a way regular racing isn't, because there are 11 people screaming for you and pinning their hopes on your run. If that doesn't motivate you to power up those hills and stay focused nothing will.
Sure the van starts to smell and people are tired, but once you get out of the van and get ready to run the electricity in the air from all the other vans and people running around just takes over and you're not tired. Even though it's 2am and you're warming up in pitch black, there is a common feeling that all of us are in this together doing something pretty darn crazy. You just end up having so much fun. There is something incredibly serene about running up a small mountain road in the middle of the night. Very relaxing and, dare I say it, fun.
I won't go so far as to say it was a holy retreat where I saw the next life, but I thought it was awesome. It just ended up being so much fun. Our team had great people and we all really bonded screaming for each other, staying up all night together, and talking about things that can only be talked about when you're functioning on 2 hours of sleep (b/c otherwise decency would take over and you'd know it was an inappropriate topic). I would definitely be in to do it next year. I think the CRC needs to send up 2 teams. One to take down the women's record and one to take down the Maggots. :)
2 club member blogs about BRR: