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.
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