Sunday, June 21, 2015

Relay Iowa June 5-7 2015

UnSANE Michael BOLTenZ
This one will be a long blog...  339 miles, 3 days.  lots to cover.  Go get a beer and sit back and enjoy :)  

I will apologize in advance for some of the off color topics and some language, but at the end of the day it is what it is...  Lack of sleep and pure exhaustion fueled this race.  It was a no filter weekend. I think our team motto was "that's what she said" ha! 

Not exactly sure when this plan came together.  It was at least 6 months ago when Dave and Joe asked and asked again about going to the relay.  I think it ended up where Karen said "If Amy goes, then I will to"  That was all it took - as you can see, the motley crew met up in Iowa 6/4/2015 for a weekend of running and shenanigans.  You all know that I know Karen very well (for those of you who don't know, she is my sister) and I know Joe from Umstead 2013 and 3rd coast 2014 and Dave from 3rd coast 2014.  I have not met Eric, Scott or Alex.  We corresponded through facebook and email for months.  I knew it was going to be a good team and a great time. 

I woke up at 3:30am Thursday to catch an early flight out of Raleigh.  Many many thanks to Paula for picking me up at home and dropping me off at the airport at that early hour and taking care of my kiddos!!  :)

Both flights went well from Raleigh to Chicago and from Chicago to Dubuque.  Little did I know that Dave was waiting for a flight in the same "G" terminal that I was in and was a totally missed connection.  Didn't figure that one out til my plane was boarding.  Bummer deal!  Woulda liked to have had a beverage before getting on the flight...  (cue Dirks Bently)  See we are runners...  some might think we are not the smartest people on the planet... I just might agree.  And this missed connection is a good example. lol!

Makin plans.  Dave seems serious looking at the handbook...
Anyhow....  My flight came in on time from Chicago around 11am Thursday.  I texted everyone "The Dragon has landed" - I was getting random, off the wall texts from Scott, Eric, and Karen as they were on their way in to pick me up in the Dodge Durango (from here on out called the Dingo). Hellos were exchanged and I knew that it was going to be a most excellent weekend.  

We drove to Cedar Rapids where we met up with Joe and Dave.  (Did the Dingo need shocks?  Struts? Was it a bumpy road? Was it the driver? Hey! stay on this side of the wake me up bumps - lol)  Joe had picked up the rental van earlier and we started our journey to Souix City.  

Eric and I - cheers!
We stopped at Wal-Mart on the way to get some ultra road food and costumes.  Had PBRs in the parking lot before shopping - keepin it classy!  After the beers I had to make a stop in the little girls room...  Eric had to go too so we both went inside together.  He joked like he was going to follow me in the womens restroom - I was like - um no!  lol!  We got back outside and he told Karen that he tried doing that and her response?  "no way she told you no, I know my sister better than that" - LOL!!!  Yes, all in good humor.  Life is way to short to take life too seriously.  Joking around is the best - especially when its making fun of your own self.  Someone called me a-dork-able at some point.  Pretty much spot on...  I always end up doing something dumb in the midst of trying to be graceful....  ha!

Shenanigans and joking around well underway! 

Of course I had to stop in the adult beverage section as no run like this with friends would be complete without it ;)  I was in the liquor section and asked if anyone drank the hard stuff.  Turned out someone did - so we got a bottle and  the evening began. :)  

We got our supplies and hit the road.  We all talked and shared stories on the way.  It was good to have this time to get to know them better.  I *may* have passed the bottle around and chased it with coconut water.  Not sure I remember too clearly tho... Was there a full moon ?  I do remember laughing - a lot! 

From Karen:  I'm trying to remember everything from picking up Dragon at the airport to meeting up with Joe and Dave. All I remember is we were laughing non stop! And Scott was a "professional driver!" Ha! 

I know the pic is fuzzy but yeah, we were havin a great time!
We stopped in Souix City and had dinner at Olive Garden.  None of us were feeling much pain - there was so much laughter - and we all did some good carb loading.  

Finished up dinner and got to the hotel.  Sat at the bar there for a while and got to know some of the other people who were on other teams.  There were several guys that were quite entertaining, and clearly were having a good evening fueled by alcohol and it had me laughing - ha!  One of them asked me out for a beer.  It was already 11:00 by then and I KNEW that I could not stay up much later or drink much more - sorry buddy...  maybe I will see you during the race?  Turns out that many people from several teams "tied one on" the night before.  Good strategy right?  3 days, 2 nights 339 miles on the just a sunrise away, and staying up too late taking in the good times.  :)

chillin at the bar and getting our 'uniforms'
I only got a few hours of sleep that night, woke up, packed everything up and headed downstairs for breakfast.  Coffee please?  I needed to get rid of this headache - *how did that happen* ha! ;)

Packed up the van and the Dingo and drove to the start.  

We got registered, picked up our shirts, got a team picture taken and in no time Alex was off - 3 days in the corn had officially begun.

In this relay there are no set exchange points.  Each person on their team can run as far as they want in whatever rotation.  We were going with 3 mile segments.  Some a little longer depending on places to park.  

So we have a team mascot - his name is Hootie.  He was created from our mascot last year at Third Coast relay.  There are no words, only that he is something out of a nightmare... ha!  

Joe also came up with this handshake to do for each exchange.  Tap right foot, tap left foot, high 5 and butt smack.  LOL!  We had fun with that.  Funny, the more tired we got, the more we messed up on the moves....

All day it was mostly sunny and hot.  It was breezy. We had a lot of fun.  Decorated the van and the Dingo with window chalk.  Meanwhile the inside of the vehicles was deteriorating with each segment run....  

On average each person was running every 3 hours.  So there was a lot of down time.  And a lot of laughter and shenanigans.  It is so nice to be able to step away from reality with great people and just simply enjoy life and laughter.  I had also never been to Iowa so it was great to see a new state.  Like all of it!

Yes, Iowa has hills!
Things that Scott says "Scottages"  Here is a Scottage for u:  "I love relays cause you get to flirt with pretty girls and they can't run away from you.... well they can, but only 3 miles at a time, then they wind up right back where they started"

I was surprised at the hills.  I thought it was flat farmland.  Nope!  Lots and lots of farms.  This area truly does feed the country.  Lots of hay fields, corn and soybeans, cows, pigs and chickens.  And the smells....  Mostly good but yeah, some not so good :/  I was running one leg and smelled roadkill.  Big roadkill.  Several yards down the road I saw it....  It was a deer and I will spare you the details but it was none too appetizing....  The cow and pig farms were more than a tad strong too. ugh...

Food, dirty clothes, whats that powder doing there?  lol!
From Alex:   there was a face painter - I think the face painter was more interested in someone's (Dave's) kilt ;) She pulled up just staring and I looked over at her she asked about what we were doing, as we're talking I noticed something off about her face I asked "are you wearing a mask?" She replies "it's face paint, I do face painting, it put me through college" All the while she's just got her eyes glued to Dave.... And from Dave:  ...all the while I kept envisioning the seen from Stephen Kings to say, "that girl wasn't quite right!"

We ran through mostly back roads.  Most everyone either drove a truck or tractor or semi.  Most everyone was friendly and waved.  Iowainans in general seem like a very friendly group of folks.  Many stopped and asked what we were doing. Most thought we were crazy once they found out... 

So who wears it better, Dave or me?  Good times!!
Later that evening I pulled out the Alice in Wonderland costume.  Mind you it is getting to be about 6:00 on a Friday night.  Lets just say that there were a lot of waves and laughter when I was wearing that!  There was one guy that passed who honked and kept a thumbs up out the window for prolly a quarter mile - lol!  That's the thing with this team.  Just doing what we can to make it through the miles and have fun doing it.  

Scottage:  "I only know 5 words in Spanish, uno, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis...  Dave:  "what happened to Dos?"  Scott:  "whats that mean?" Dave "so you've essentially counted to six in Spanish using only 5 words"  

The sun went down and we switched gears.  We rotated 3 people and let the other 3 drive up 24 miles, sleep and the other 3 ran 8 miles each for the next segment.  I ran two, 4 mile segments.  

Thankfully at the end of this section was a place to get a shower.  Granted it was cold but man it was nice to wash some of the miles off!  

When it came time to sleep though, I didn't.  We rested but I didn't sleep at all. So it goes...  

Dave:  ...there was a classic Eric line during dark night #1...Eric "so if we don't see them at the exchange then what?" "well we keep running"... Eric: "makes sense, what are we gonna get more tired?!" Of course this exchange is deep into the witching hours after we failed at our attempt to sleep in the public square during Fri night movie night!! #boygeniuses

After long night #1
The sun came up the next morning and we were all tired but happy.    It was cloudy but windy.  Like windy like at the beach where it doesn't stop.  There are no trees to block the wind and it seemed that it was always at our faces.  

So Eric texts me to see if we got any sleep.  I tell him no...  He says "Just now we got a little sleep.  I am a bit crabby.  I think I need to go for a run"   

From Eric:  Scott is out running his segment.  Dave and I are cruising to our next stop -- three miles down the road.  We are talking comfortable and slowly like old friends that have no need to create conversation.  Not long after we pass Scott who waves good naturedly to us and flashes us  his big goofy grin, we crest a small incline and begin a long descent into a valley of some sort.  I tell Dave that Scott is going at appreciate that long downhill because it will help keep his 9:17 min/mile pace intact.  Dave looks at me with a look that tells me he knows something that I don't, and something that Scott probably won't like.  He tells me this is "The Pit". Dave tells me of his own "Pit" nightmares  and how that nice long descent is followed by almost a mile of killer incline. I look up at the hill.  It glares back at me.  I wince.  Scotty's pace will drop. I feel sorry for Scott.  Like an old dog that senses is owner's every emotion, Dave pulls over at the bottom of the valley.  It's hot out. Scott has been putting everything he has into each segment and Dave is a sap.  He'll cut Scott's segment short and pull the hill instead, saving Scott's legs for another battle.  Dave puts on his running kit and as soon as we see Scott barreling down the hill, Dave crosses the road and gears up for his war with the hill.  Scott is flying now and he quickly closes the distance.   At first he seems confused.  He knows he hasn't run close to three miles.  And then it hits him.  Without missing a step or even slowing down to a 9:20 min/mile pace he flies past Dave screaming, "Fuck you Dave! This is MY hill!" Dave ambles back across the road, slides into the passenger seat, looks at me and says, "I'll never hear the end of this now."
From Dave: ...that neuron still has some life!...don't forget the addendum to the pit story, as We drive past Scott he says "I'll see you at 3 miles!" To which we reply "no you'll see us at the top of the hill" which was a wee bit longer than 3 miles!!!
That pit was scary.  Yes, I am glad that was not my leg.  Scott made it his bitch tho!   Well done!!

The van and the dingo - our home for 3 days
At some point I was stretching out.  Trying to touch my toes...  trying - lol!  Karen said Hey Dragon or Amy or something so I turned and gave her a glance not coming too much out of the stretch and she said "if that's not a pin up pose"  LOL!  so there is that...  hmmmm...  

We got into a town that had a stop where they had pancakes and eggs for the runners.  I had to get mine to go cause I was next to run and would eat it afterwards.  I put the Alice costume back on and logged another 3 miles.  It was not fun running in it in the wind...  Just sayin... 

After that leg I took a break to eat my breakfast for what was now lunchtime.  Then I realized something...  Yep, must be time for an ultra...  Hello mother nature...  Awesome timing as usual :/ I knew it was about time for it to start but sometimes if I am running enough it will "wait" a few days... not this time...  boo!   

no dumping... go figure!
So we are standing around, talking and laughing as usual.  Flies buzzing all around (there are a LOT of flies in Iowa) and a certain Eric Church song comes on.  And I am ready to run though it is not my leg to run - lol!  Funny how music can do that...  

Joe:  Many Iowans also asked if we needed help (broke down van).  Nope, we were doin just fine....  

Eric:  Random thought in my head while running past the stench of a pig farm: In a state that smells like shit, there is no place to take one."

So I am stretching out - my hamstrings are sore so I am touching my toes, or trying to....  Karen yells out "Hey Amy or Hey Dragon" or something and I turn and look while still half stretching and she says something like "wow, if that isn't a pin up pose"  lol!   so there is that... 
tryin to rest n keep my feet up til the next exchange...

Several hours later I caught a brief "nap at the wheel".  We all took turns driving and many times I wouldn't get out of the Dingo but just sit there and chill between exchanges...  I was on the verge of falling into a deep sleep but we had to drive again to the next exchange...  so it goes... 

From Alex: We had stopped at a store to use the bathrooms and several people were in line, Scott comes out of the bathroom with a perplexed look on his face, he's asked "are you ok" he replies.  "Yea.......when did we have corn?"  HA!!
Hey Karen, where you 'going'?  lol!

Speaking of going.... this is funny.  Sooooo in Iowa there is a lot of corn.  but in June the corn is only about 4" tall.  That is inches, not feet...  so if you have to "go" you have to find a place...  the only place was some weeds that grew between the road and the fields.  Those were about 2' tall.  They line all the roads as far as the eye can see.  So you can "go" with some cover but your head still sticks out.  Everyone at some point had to "go" into the weeds.  So I was "going" and a runner from another team happened to be running by.  So there is that... so in my dorky humor when he looked over and saw my head sticking up out of the weeds - I cheered him on from right there and said "good job!" and he pointed at me and said "way to 'go'!"  LOL!!  I nearly lost it.  Yes Ultrarunner humor is crude but it is funny!

So Scott is up for his leg.  He is all ready, lighted vest on, all decked out. Ready for the exchange.  I say "are you running in flip flops?"  Oops!  Forgot one little thing... shoes!   

Joe: "I am saving that song for yesterday"
  So the sun was getting ready to set on night number 2.  This was the part that was new to me.  I have done ultras where I have to face the night after a long day and I don't like doing it at all.  The first night went fine tho.  No issues at all with meltdowns or anything.  I figured it would be worse on night number 2 so I was a little worried but tried not to let it show.  
  The other team was going to run their 8 miles each first then sleep, so we drove on, went and got showers - yes showers.  It was amazing...

We got back to the van and drove to our exchange spot and parked.  The radio was playing quietly on a local country station as we tried to fall asleep....  The Eric Church song came on again....  so there is that....

From Karen: After being deliriously happy for 2 days watching you all beat the crap out of your bodies I remember pulling into our "sleep area" and being almost asleep. Then bursting out hilariously about one of our random moments from the day, waking up anyone within earshot. I still can't remember which awesome moment I was laughing at....

but then we all drifted off into an exhausted sleep... 

I was out for 2 1/2 hours til Dave started texting saying that they were almost to the van where we were at.  

waitin out the storm LED vest on - soakin wet

It was hard to wake up.  I was in a daze, I was the first runner up (ha ha) and had to quick change and get out there.  I ran 2.5 miles just to try to wake up.  Man it was windy!  Gale force windy!!  The radar was lighting up and we knew that it was a storm rolling in....  Joe took his second run, then Scott.  I hopped out of the van and we did our handshake in the headlights of the van and in the beginnings of a sprinkle.  I think he was concerned cause he gave me a hug.  (from Joe:  Scott saw you were freezing and gave you a hug to warm you up...) We knew that there was a bad storm that we had to run through.  Within minutes the heavens unleashed.  Was it wise to be out in it?  no....  it wasn't, but there was something crazy cool about being in it.  The rain was intense.  It was "sting-ing rain" (think Forrest Gump) and thundering and lighting.  It took me 23 min to run 2.5 miles but during that time I waited in the van for the lighting to pass for 15 min...  I took 3 breaks in that time waiting out the storm.  Joe went out after me and had his moment of being mad at the storm. We were frustrated with it and it was really slowing us down.  The rules state that you can wait it out and drive up to the spot where you lost time, but we didn't come out to drive Iowa, we came to run every step of it.  And so we did....

From Joe:  Dark Night #2 (Rain) (Joe's tantrum):

Lots of wind and lightning...
We slowly came woke up...Amy ran her 3 miles talking about the wind...I thought whatever during my leg THROUGH the town until I found the wind outside of town...During my first run Karen drove over and said, "You're going to get dumped on"...I thought to myself fuck no, not on this my first of 3 runs...Everyone asked me if I wanted to see the radar..."HELL NO"...Scott's first run he came over to the van laughing..."My legs are so fried!"...Amy's second run sky closed rain and lightning came...We are watching Amy literally duck at the lightening strikes...we were counting to determine the distance from us...We have to make some safety choices and I am in the WORST POSITION EVER...dry and knowing in an ultra the only rule is you can't stop...correct call for safety is us stopping...but I am looking out the window at misery...NOT EXCITED...I made a deal with Karen...if I crossed the road away from oncoming traffic that meant I wanted back in...I wasn't ready to run, but was boiling inside from waiting...just as I about convinced myself..lightning...grrr...I pink ducted taped some wal-mart grocery bag gaiters and was convinced enough was enough...rain wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined...I got the train moving and would count after every lightning long as it was further than 2 miles I was a go...Things went well and I felt like I was moving a while and then lightning within 2 miles...I was FUMING...the last thing I wanted to do was sit and wait to finish this my second of three runs (i felt like i had made good progress)...I start walking to the other side throwing my hands up using many choice words...not that a soul in the van could hear...then I was like screw it I am walking...I am not getting back in that van to wait...that was when I realized I was walking in a puddle gaiters don't matter anymore...many more choice words...then said to hell with it I am going back to the other side of the road...start jogging then far DO i have left...walk back to the van...still in 8 year old tantrum mode...yell at Karen who can't hear me...get her attention and she says a half mile..."well...fuck it I am going" and take off running again...

While Joe ran, I laid on the filthy floor in the back of the van, soaking wet from the storm with a wet towel on me and my head on a bag of dirty clothes.  It felt amazing to lay down even in this mess.  I dozed off for a bit... Funny how exhaustion - mental and physical can make something like this makeshift bed a good thing. 

Went out for another run with soaking wet shoes.  I didn't bring another pair so I just wore new socks to soak up the water....  Needless to say, this leg was a bit slower...  Still got it done.  :)

From Dave:  dark night #2 conversation in the Dingo while we were cruising thru Independence and I had to frame a shower choice vs a sleep choice to our occupants...we rightfully selected the sleep choice! Then the selection was further solidified as we all began to share the same hallucinations, hence the reason we stopped short of 24 miles!

end of Dark Night #2...

Joe group texting the DINGO:  (It is about 4 am)
Wake up Fuckers! We be rolling!
Hey you guys!!
Quote Scott...the toads are crazy out here!!
Wake up!
Wake up!
Wake up!
Wake up!
Wake up!
I'm not sure if you're getting this...but it's time to open your eye balls
For reelz!
Charge your phone!

(keep this story in mind... for some reason Alex was not answering her texts for Joe or myself....)

Joe still:  Then we find the Dingo...I tell Karen "Don't worry...I got this" and exit the Mother ship...They are all sleeping so I start beating on the van...nothing...I double time my pounding...nothing...I change rhythm to a hands at once beating...slight movement from Eric...then he slowly moves to the window to roll it down...
  So the sun is coming up on day 3.  We are tired and still happy.  Very punchy.  And The Carpenters comes on next on the endless list of songs on the iPod.  And we all start singing her song "On Top of the World" - no- you can't make this stuff up!  LOL!  Joe made a huge playlist of songs that we had been emailing him over the past 4 months.  It totaled 294 songs for 19 hours 24 minutes of eclectic road music.  And this song just happened to come on... 

Scott, Hootie and the wheelchair.... 
This is also the same place where there was a big trash bin full of recycles.  There happened to be a wheelchair in the mess...  So we pulled it out and Scott sat in it next to hootie.  

The next leg gets interesting... We pull into this driveway/road at a farm.  There is a guy in a skid loader working and looking at us like we just dropped in from out of nowhere.  Hes working on the farm and keeps looking - sees the crazy decorated vehicles, and the runners dressed in all kinds of strange outfits and finally he turns around and asks us what in the world we are doing.  Joe does his best to explain that we are running across the state.  He stays put in the skidloader because I am sure he feels much safer in there than getting out and getting closer to the crazyness!  He then gets on his phone and calls his buddy and we overhear him say "you gotta get down here, you are going to laugh your ass off!"

It was about this time that Dave was running in and I was next to run.  Skidloader Mike watched the crazy handshake butt smack.

Skidloader Mike
From Dave:  ...running Dragon (Amy) story, I remember it was windy: about to leave Skidloader Mike I say "well we better get going so we can catch her at the exchange" SM: "will she just keep running if you aren't there?" Me: "oh she'll run something, and we'll never hear the end of it...ain't nobody got time for that, we're almost to the finish!"...SM: "oh, does she talk a lot?" "what woman doesn't especially after we've disappointed them? But this is different cuz she will fly away and then I won't have to listen to her!"...SM "yeah she is pretty petite". I know he thought we were crazy!  

They met me at the next exchange and I didn't have to run farther. I didn't even have the chance to whine or run my mouth - ha!  Here is a video of that exchange:  we were gettin tired...  much less energetic...

I think it was on of the next 2 legs that was flat and I was feelin good.  After the exchange I took off.  Someone was in front of me and I wanted to pass them.  So I did ;)  that team was exchanging every mile so a mile ahead they switched out people - fresher legs - more challenge - I stayed ahead of them.  Next exchange?  I passed the team van and about 1/10 of a mile later the new person started.  That is when I heard the team cheering on their runner "go reel her in"  oh hell no!  Really? Thems fighting words! ;) I ran all the way into my exchange up the hill and made that set of 3 miles sub 9.  Gotta admit, it felt good to open it up on day 3 and be competitive.

Scottage:  "I finally get to run through town and they are all in church and can't see me!"

Spongebob exchange Sunday am
From Joe:  Scott running into the town of Dyersville for the Spongebob twins exchange... Scott finished and had his head down between is legs breathing pretty good...Scott: "Joe, does this town have a washroom?" Joe: "No, but good news next stop is the field of dreams." Scott "Does that have a washroom?" Joe: "No, but don't you like I how I build up your dreams...and then squash them!"...then I realized he meant was way to formal talk for the 3rd day into the relay...then I said "yeah...I will take you now" We actually found restrooms at Field of Dreams too!

From Dave:  Another Scottage..."Dave how come every time I turn around It's my time to run again? Do I have to carry the whole team??" "no Scott you do understand that when we poured over the satellite images of the route Joe and I picked out all of the hilliest sections for you!"...Scott : "knew it, that's why I don't ever get to run thru a city!"...hence, the reason Dyersville was so funny!!

Ran the bases at Field of Dreams

Eric went out on his leg and we all made a quick stop at Field of Dreams while he was running.  We all ran the bases.  "Is this heaven?  No, its Iowa"  Guess I need to go see the movie again.  I think I saw it years ago, but because - as Dave put it so well at 3rd coast relay - Better tell Karen, cause Amy suffers from "cant remember shit"  lol!   Das what happens when one gets a concussion at the age of 8.  That's my story and I am stickin to it!  

My shoes dried out more with each leg that I ran.  but I was also in more pain with each leg.  My lower back and upper glutes were just about done with 3 days of running...  

I took a quick pee stop in the "shelter" of some tree limbs. Mind you, we have moved from the fields to an area that has more homes and yards. Really nice area.  I heard Alex yell something to the effect of "WTF ARE YOU DOING OVER THERE" really loud, and I thought it was the owner of the property and I freaked out!!  She was actually making the turkey that was in the fence "talk" and making it say what in the world are you crazy people doing in my yard - lol!  Talk about an adrenaline rush!  thought I was going to get in trouble for going in someones yard....

At The Turkey Exchange
From Joe:  The turkey exchange...we pulled over at a hidden spot in the nice neighborhood and not sure if the Dingo followed or not...I thought...well Alex will answer her phone...

Rings...Me: Hey Alex
Person: Hello...who do you want?..
Now I recognize this male voice not Alex...and it doesn't seem like anyone from our van stomach drops maybe 2 feet...
Me: Who is this?
Person: Maybe I should be asking you the same thing.
Me: I am Joe Brown...
Person: Oh so maybe you can explain the interesting text messages I received this morning...
I know there is no point in explaining myself...
Me: I apologize for that, I apparently had the wrong number...
Long pause and no response...I think so he could drag out the awkwardness...
Me: Again sorry and I will delete your number right away...

Turns out...having the last number wrong is not close enough...and Eric was the only one who received my text messages.

This was also when I realized that there was a reason why Alex didn't text me back when I landed in Dubuque...  I was using the same phone number that Joe had....  uh oh... 
Suck it up buttercup - you are almost done!

I took off on one of the last legs and it nearly had me in tears from the pain.  Any bit of a downhill was excruciating.  :/

When I got back from that leg I texted the number I had for Alex and apologized.  I said that we had the wrong number and that it was an honest mistake.  He replied back that it was ok as long as it was truly an honest mistake and I texted him back assuring him that it was....  

Skiing or running with trekking poles? ha!
The closer to the end we got, the hotter it was and the hiller it got.  It was like the foothills of NC hilly.  I was told that there were hills there but honestly didn't believe it.  Beautiful country. 

The last 4 miles or so, we divided it up into half mile segments so it would be an "even" amount of legs that we all ran. Tell you what, that last half hour flew by.  The 3 days of being on the road was coming to an end.  We were excited about finally seeing the finish line!

Joe and Scott took off for the last part of the race and the rest of us drove up to the finish, parked and ran in with them.  There were several teams at the finish that cheered us in.  That was really cool.  There was food and tents.  We got our pic taken by the Mississippi River and went to get some much needed good food.  
6 runners - 1 crew - 339 miles - 3 days - done! 

We basically dumped everything out of the 2 vehicles and made piles of everyone's stuff.  It was a big mess of dirty clothes, food, supplies and props. 

Sortin the mess out
Scott and Eric had to leave that day with the Dingo (boo!) and the rest of us stayed in town.  

Before heading to the hotel we went to get Alex's Jeep.  She parked it in the HyVee parking lot for the weekend. Long story short, it got towed :/  So for about an hour we were figuring that mess out.  Everyone was pretty chill about it all things considered.  The plan was to go to the hotel, get dinner, and get the Jeep in the morning.  

And that is what we did.  We went to the hotel and all got MUCH NEEDED showers.  (no chafing - wooo!) We found this good Italian restaurant and went back to the hotel and slept very well.  3 days with about 5 hours of sleep total will do that...

We got up, picked up Alex's Jeep (one sweet ride from one Jeeper to another), and found this great diner for breakfast.  

After breakfast Alex and Karen headed back to MI.  Of course there was a tearful goodbye - Karen started it tho!  Seriously, I love spending time with that girl.  She means the world to me.  So happy to have spent this weekend with her.  
Cleanin up the van...

I stayed with Dave and Joe and we cleaned up the rental van - vacuumed it out and ran it through the car wash.  We hung a few of the air fresher trees in it but not sure that helped the smell or not.  That van will never be the same...  

They dropped me off at the airport in Dubuque where I waited out the afternoon for my flight.  

It was a very chill afternoon. I needed it.  I spent a lot of time uploading pics, uploading the data from my Garmin, downloading music from the trip, and catching up on emails while looking out at the tarmac over a couple brews. Good for the soul. 
Chillin n bloggin at the airportin Dubuque

Until I heard that my flight was delayed.  Several hours....  Apparently there was a big thunderstorm in Chicago and had all the flights either cancelled or delayed.  I sat in the airport talking with a couple people - turns out one of them was going to Raleigh as well.  So we decided to go through the ordeal together.  

I started worrying about my kids and who would take care of them if I didn't make it home by morning.... I was fine til I finally got on the plane and called Paula who was watching my 2 youngest at the time.  I had a brief meltdown... and of course she was there for me.  She said "I will take care of things on this end until whenever it is that you get home.  If its tonight or tomorrow morning, I have it covered..."  I am very blessed to have such a great friend...  
cheers from the G terminal in Chi town!

Of course the flight going to Chicago was short so there was no "on board hospitality".  I wanted something at that point to take off the edge....  Oh well.  I dozed off during the flight...  When we got to Chicago, I hit the Cubs bar with the people I met in Dubuque and we proceeded to have a late night dinner of loaded nachos and "green line" beer.  Let me tell you, that hit the spot.  Cue Dierks Bentley and Lady Antebellum....  Dave was texting me to be sure I was doing ok.  He knew I was in terminal G with a beer in my hand.  It was all good. 

Thankfully my flight was not cancelled.  It was delayed several hours though... It got into Raleigh at 1:40 am and Paula was there to pick me up.  I got home and to sleep about 2:30 and the alarm went off at 5:30 for me to wake up and go back to a full day of work.... and back to reality....

~ What a great weekend with friends - old and new...  Wouldn't trade it for anything.  Doing things like this is what makes life worth living.  Finding the joy.  Living the crazy.  Living your dream...


ahh the love!
And just like that, it was over.  What just happened?  We were kinda in a daze over what we just accomplished.  3 days.  6 runners and 1 crew.  339 miles.  3 hours of sleep.  One big thunderstorm.  50+ hours.  

Like Dave said "We took something hard and made it look easy"  I completely agree with that.  We had the best time and kept joking around and laughing. It was a weekend long ab workout.  We each had our moments and struggled through as every runner does.  That storm?  Did it defeat us?  No, it inspired us because there was no way to avoid it, just go through it.  Through the whole thing we kept a positive outlook.  

What a great team.  Did I know everyone? No... Of course I know Karen - She is my sister that I spent so many years fighting with and we finally made up 6 years ago...  Now we are making up for lost time and she is my best friend.  I met Joe at Umstead 100 2 years ago. He is the one who started these crazy relays - third coast with 3 runners and this one with 6! Yeah, my kind of crazy!  I met Dave at third coast relay last year.  Then this year I met Eric and Scott and Alex.  I haven't ever run a relay where I knew everyone ahead of time.  Even with the Colorado relay I didn't know anyone before the race other than through email and facebook.  It has always worked.  

Tired but still rollin!
Would I go back to Iowa?  Yeah I would.  It was a great race.  No set exchanges.  I like that you can set your own mileage and run as little or as much as you want - BUT - at the same time, it makes it hard to meet the other teams....  Typically you meet other teams at the exchange points.  We didn't meet too many other teams like we have in the past... It would be nice if there was a band at the end or something to keep the teams around a little longer and give us time to meet and hang out for a while.  Seems everyone dispersed quickly after they crossed the finish. 

The route was VERY well marked.  I managed not to get lost - says a lot - lol! :)

From Eric:  Title of my new book: "How Relay Iowa Destroyed My Running Career." or "WTF Just Happened?"

So happy to be here experiencing this with my sis!
From Dave: To paraphrase Jenn Shelton: "good campfire stories seldom start with "we were so skilled and prepared", instead, the best campfire stories are born from sheer idiocy! So if you see a van w/a gorilla head next to a pregnant lady holding a Michael BOLTen w/Hootie on the grill. stop by...they may just have a tale to tell that may entertain you...even if you're not on a skid loader!!

This was taped to my fridge and front door for months before this relay.  Dave sent it in an email: "Don't worry about miles per week as much as getting to the starting line semi-healthy" It seemed to be a long winter and everyone's mileage was down.  I dare say we did it tho as one heck of an ultra team. 
love this girl - I'd be lost without her!

All in all it was a fantastic weekend.  Can't wait for another adventure.  

Until that time, cheers!

Monday, June 8, 2015

NCRC Classic Half Marathon - May 17, 2015

several of the volunteer pacers for this event
Another opportunity to pace! 

A good opportunity to redeem myself for not bringing my peeps in "on time" at Tobacco Road. I still have a hard time with that one, but am ok with it only because I was still able to bring in a new runner who otherwise might not have finished.  

Pacing is something I love to do.  Is it easy?  For me its not hard...  It takes some work but I love doing it.  For me its about giving back to a great running community and helping many first timers through a tough race. 

Race morning dawned with good weather.  A little warm but not too bad.  

Justin and I
Amanda was the pace group leader.  She "set me up" with another pacer named Justin for the 2:20 group.  Each pace group had 2 people this year.  I thought it was a good call!  

Umstead is a tough course to pace.  Lots of hills to take into account.  Last year there were no mile markers so I had to rely on garmin only for distance but this year they had mile markers so it was much easier!

We started off with a big group of folks.  I did my usual thing with the runners and Justin and we laughed and joked and kept a good pace going.  For a while we didn't have anyone running with us so it was just him and I talking and checking up on folks who were walking or having a tough time.  Gotta make sure that the runners are doing good!   

Water stops were energetic and had great volunteers!  

Brought in the first timers!  :D
We saw both the pacers for 2:10 drop.  We considered letting Justin move on to the 2:10 group and me keeping the 2:20 but he didn't have the 2:10 sign and that idea was dismissed. So we set a new goal to bring the peeps in between 2:10 and 2:20 but closer to 2:20.

The last few miles we had a good group of folks.  Many first timers. Together we talked them through it and got them to the finish - 2:18 and change.  Not too bad considering the hills :)  Its tough to pace!

Good friends!
Stayed for a long while afterwards hanging out with friends and taking it all in.  Another good day at Umstead and with good friends.