This is part two of my 2010 Blue Ridge Relay race report. If you missed part one, you can find it here.
2. Rotation for Van1
Van 1 took over around 6.30 Friday evening. This post is going to have much less pictures than the one before, because taking pictures at night doesn't really work with that camera and my abilities. Also, because I tend to take less pictures the more tired I get. Same goes for general reporting, since things get a little fuzzy in my memory starting in the second rotation, I can hardly keep the rotations apart basically, but I'll try my best.
So Alex took over in Blowing Rock for his second leg. He was about to embark on 7.1 miles rated "hard" for distance and elevation changes. It was also routed along a very busy road and we were loosing light fast. Certainly not the safest conditions, but equipped with blinky lights, safety vest and last year's team t-shirt in neon yellow, it was the safest way possible. While we were waiting for Alex to come to the "Blue Moon Station", we saw this cowboy getting ready to run as well. He was part of an ultra team that ended post a 7 something minute mile for the whole course. This guy took off for a 10 mile leg with a pace that most people run a 5K.
When Christina took over the wristband, it was almost dark. So no pictures anymore. She was about to head out for the Grandfather Mountain Leg from the Blue Moon Station to the entrance of Grandfather Mountain State Park... 10 hard miles with a total of over 800 feet climbing, through the woods in the dark with last year's report of bats still in our ears. Do I need to say more? We decided that we are going to wait 45 minutes before we are going to drive the leg, so we could see how things are going and support her with water and whatever else. By the time we finally caught her, she was much further along than we thought she would and even better, she was in great spirits and feeling good. So we just took one additional cheer stop and then went ahead to the next exchange zone.
80% of the elevation that Christina climbed over her 10 mile leg, I was about to loose in my next leg over 2.3 miles. ALL DOWNHILL! I got staffed out in my blinking safety vest, that I bought specifically for this relay, and soon was glad that it was a short leg because the safety vest was too big and moving around too much. Luckily, I brought my cheap safety vest with me for my long leg later on. Anyways, I was running downhill for 2.3 miles. I got passed once and I passed on girl. Other than that, I didn't see anybody around. I was just plucking along, trying to keep a high cadence. The leg was over before it really started and I was done in under 18 minutes, clocking a 7:45 minute mile... I never run under 8... But this was probably the first time ever that I was running downhill for that kind of distance! My quads got a serious beating and I was basically instantly sore... Not bad (yet), but I definitely felt the burn.
And now things start to get really fuzzy.
I handed off to Jeff and he took off for a short and sweet 3.4 mile run that in total didn't gain or loose a lot of elevation, but he had one quarter mile 9% grade to climb not even a mile into his run. But in usual Jeff performance he plowed through that leg like a champ and handed off to Ken.
Ken was about to do a 4.9 mile "moderate" leg. Which is kind of not really moderate considering that he had to climb for 1.5 miles half way through his leg. It was also one of those spookier ones.... Kinda dark, in the woods etc etc... yikes.... Oh yes and of course he was sandbagging again when giving us his projected time for the clip board! ;-)
Last one up for that rotation was Joel. Close to 6 miles and basically one rolling downhill. Well, there was one juicy climb too!
I don't have much memory of this leg, because we headed out right after Joel left and traveled to the next transition zone to meet up with the other half of the team and also to grab some of the turkey sandwiches that the volunteers at the Plumtree Presbyterian Church exchange sell.
2. Break for Van1
Pretty much all of us grabbed one of these sandwiches and then we chatted some with the other van until Joel came in. Actually, I might have left the group early and took a little cat nap in the van until Joel was done with his run.
After we wrapped things up at the Plumtree exchange, we moved ahead to the next transition zone at the Bakersville Fire Department. They sell pancakes there, but I just had the turkey sandwich and wanted to sleep more than I wanted to eat. So we found a spot at the back of the parking lot and Alex set-up his tent, Christina and Ken an air mattress, I pulled out my camping mattress and the remainders of the group set-up shop in the van. After maybe two glorious hours of sleep on the soft and mushy grass, I woke up and the first thing that I saw was a big fat old spider crawling over the grass maybe two feet away from my face. I am glad that happened after I woke up and not before I feel asleep, otherwise, sleep would have been impossible... at least outside.
We got our stuff together and waited for the last runner from van 2 coming in.
I skipped the pancakes again... Not a good idea if you are planning on running a 9-miler in a couple of hours.