Monday, September 24, 2007

Leg 11 and 12

Leg 11: 6.04 miles – 8:43pm – 39:36 (6:33 pace)

A lot of things were going through my mind waiting for Brian to come in at TA11 (Brass Heart Inn). Most importantly, would I be the one that gets passed by Hello Kitty. Our incredible team had been holding off their runners for the last couple of legs but they were getting closer. I really hoped Brian would be the fall guy and not me (sorry Brian).

I have to admit, my running abilities were a complete unknown even to me. When I committed to this race back in March I was already coming back from one knee surgery and a blood clot a couple months earlier. Then in April I was struck (or run over) by the injury bug (or bus) again…tearing the meniscus in my other knee and having surgery on that one too. Needless to say, I was a little anxious when it was my turn to run.

My handy-dandy spreadsheet said Brian should finish at 8:45pm so I got lit up, did a couple strides and then figured it was pointless and proceeded to the transition area to wait for Brian. At 8:43 I see him racing up the hill with Hello Kitty guy right in front of him. I take the baton and I’m off, with Mr. Kitty right in front of me now. Since he’s the only runner I can see (it is bitch friggin black out) I try to stay with him as best I can. We run together for the 1st mile or so, some small talk and then I think he gets annoyed with me and picks up the pace. I feel pretty good, realize I’m probably running above my means but I keep pushing. It’s still a race and this guys pulling away. The next couple of miles had some killer hills and I seem to gain on him on the ups and that’s encouraging. Now deep down I know this is probably one of there slower runners but I don’t care, it feels good to be racing again. Van 2 is waiting just after ½ way, I think I grab some water and continue on. This is my first relay that I started in the dark, and this road is DARK. No cars, no runners (except HK) no streetlights, nothing. HK now has about 50yds on me and we’re starting to see an occasional runner, which we kill (in a roadkill kind of way). I have no idea what pace I’m running but I’m not holding anything back, applying the Delahunty race rule of go out hard and hold on at the end (note to self, not a good plan for a 3-leg relay). At about 5 miles we hit Rt16 and I know White Lake State Park (the next TA) is not far away. I also note I’m starting to gain on Mr. Kitty. I pick it up some more, getting closer and closer. I see the glow of the transition lights over the next hill and race down to hand off to Molly. She’s easy to spot, a 6+ft blond standing in the middle of the woods of NH. I hand off (or up) and keep on running a bit, having narrowed the HK gap to just a few yds. One down, two to go and I feel good about my run.

Overall time: 39:36 with an average pace of 6:33. Sweet.

Side Note:

It is true there was some disappointment when we got to the next TA and Van 1 was not there, having preferred to stay at another transition to avoid all that fuss that goes along with teams handing off the baton. I was disappointed because we were competing with the team that had won this race last year (even though they actually started a 1/2hr after we did), and we were having a lot of fun with it. It was definitely a mental letdown when we found out van 1 was not there. Yes, I was mad but contrary to what others have said or not said, I was not alone (just more vocal). I did not, as far as I can remember, show this anger with van 1. It was a mistake and I did get over it.

Leg #12 4 miles
By the time it was my turn to run it almost felt as though the race was just about over. My team had started about 7 hours prior, and I was just getting around to participating. According to the eerily accurate spread sheet, I was due to start running at about 9:20pm, which is past my bed time on a normal day. Instead, I lined up at the cones and heard Steve Wolfe calling out "292" from the darkness. I took the bracelet loaded with 11 prior runners' slime and took off. It began down hill, and I immediately recorded my first road kill. The man was likely in his 60's, but I'll take what I can get. Before I even had a chance to be happy about it, I was quickly road killed as someone flew past me at a pace I can't match. I am not much for running fast. I can go forever at a moderate pace, but my marathon pace and my 5K pace are way too close together. I possess no fast twitch muscles, so I let him go and continued on. I was running on dirt to start, which was difficult to maneuver with the light of a head lamp. I stumbled more than a few times but at least managed to stay on my feet before I finally made it back to actual pavement. I kept thinking I was seeing a police car's flashing lights up ahead of me, but I was actually slowly reeling in another runner who was decorated like a Christmas tree. At least his team would know he was coming. I passed him to at least get myself back into the +1 for road kills. There just wasn't anyone else out on the road. I rounded a final corner and saw the flashing lights of the transition area up ahead. I wasn't that tired, but I was happy to be almost done so I picked it up to finish strong. I saw Brian a ways out and he said something to me, but all I made out was something about taking it easy. What? Take it easy? I'm almost done! I sprinted to the finish calling out our team's number and searching for Steve Tomasi, who was supposed to take over from there. Instead I saw Steve Delahunty who seemed to really feel sorry for me (and the team) when he simply said, "They're not here." Great. All that work and I could've run some nice 8:00 miles and cruised in to save it for later. I'm probably the only one on the team who really works to run 7:00 miles. I was irritated at first, but I got over it pretty quickly. What can you do? I was just glad that at least the first one was out of the way and I finally wasn't the only one left who hadn't run. The other van finally showed up, just over 5 minutes later. I just hoped that the next time they didn't make the same mistake because at least once during the race I wanted someone to hand off to.

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