"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places." Roald Dahl

Thursday, February 18, 2016

2015 Blue Ridge Relay Recap (Part 2)

It's difficult to split this event up into days, or even legs, because it was just one long thing that just kept on going... When I last left off I had just told you about my first and most difficult leg of the race... 
That leg was tough, but fun and I was able to finish strong at the pass-off point where I handed the "snap bracelet" to runner #5.  Yes, you read that right, our baton that each person carried was a good, old fashioned snap bracelet.  Just like the 80's.  It was amazing. 

 When we weren't running, we spent a lot of time hanging around at pass-off points, cheering for each other, and talking.  All while looking at the most beautiful landscape in the world.  

We also watched the runners come in and made sure to show our team spirit! 

My second leg started at the top of Grandfather Mountain...Before I tell you about my leg, I need to give kudos to the girl who ran 10 miles up Grandfather Mountain.  At 8:15 pace.  Wow!  It was an inspiration to watch and she slayed it!  

Serious face before the serious leg up the mountain.

We stopped to give some motivation (and food/water) along the way!  She was bookin' it! 

Anyway, back to my second leg... Like I was saying ... I started at the top of Grandfather Mountain and it was just about dusk.  Due to the time of day, I had my headlamp on, flashers on, and a reflective vest.  I feld like a total pro with all that gear.  The plan was to start out by going down the mountain for 3 miles, then back up for two miles.  

For a few weeks leading up to the race the whole team had been joking because, true to form, one of my biggest worries about the race was not about the actual run, but about the critters or animals that I might encounter while running in the middle of nowhere western North Carolina. They ceased my worrying by telling me that we would be running on streets, there would be people around, etc. and I shouldn't worry.   

Right before my runner came in, I noticed that people were in fact, not continuing on the road, but instead, veering off onto a path that lead into the woods ... y'all, my worst fears were coming true!  After asking a kind race volunteer, I learned that my second leg would, in fact, take place on a path down the mountain, with no vans, lights, people or houses to guide me.  

Luckily, I had no time to dwell on this new info, my runner was in and I was off.  I started with a tiny bit of light, but as the sun dropped, I immediately started thinking about all of the panthers that could be stalking me ready to pounce or the bears that I might run into (forget foxes and skunks - I was worried about the big things!).  I took out my headphones - to hear the animals coming - and ran three miles down the mountain in utter peace... while chanting Hail Mary's to myself on repeat.  

I am such a wuss.  It was a beautiful trail and I promise I'll pay better attention, should I get another chance.   I did get a chance to snap a picture of the sunset though.

Once the path bottomed out, I was spit out onto a country road and I began to breath easy.  For a few minutes, at least.  Then I started going up again.  It's an interesting sensation to go downhill for 3 miles and then uphill for 2.  I tell ya, try it sometime!  My pace was a tad slower than I wanted it to be, but the view was serene and it was a fun finish to the leg. 

All of my fears seem really silly in hindsight.  On a high from my second leg, we kept the adrenaline going throughout the night, with our van of 6 runners finishing our second legs around 11pm.  We were beat and ready for some sleep - 15 passenger vans are the new Ritz, didn't ya know?

...more to come soon on Leg 3 and the aftermath...

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