June IM Training

Less than 13 weeks to go! I’m actually pretty relieved that June is over; it was a rough month for me. I started out the week after Raleigh with a nasty sinus infection which led to two weeks of insomnia for no reason. This led to some pretty ugly workouts but only one missed one (a swim, not a huge deal for me). But I made it through and got my sleep track back on schedule for the most part – definitely feeling better!

Also, it was hotter than blue blazes for the latter half of the month, much hotter than it normally would be in mid-June! Temps jumped up from the mid-80s to high 90s starting the week of June 15 and it was definitely a bit of a shock. Throw in that 90+% humidity and you got some fun running weather right there. This normally destroys my running but I was actually able to maintain (and maybe even improve?) through the last 2 weeks.

Here’s the monthly stats

SWIM: 28,500 yds
Just hanging tight here.  Coach has asked me to cut back in the pool over the last few weeks to focus on biking and running and I have not complained because when the weather got hot, the pool got nasty hot.  The Y has the capability to manage the pool temperature during the summer but they were unprepared and let it get up to 90 degrees before the lifeguards insisted that they get it together. Pool water that hot is just downright nasty. I also got in 3 open water swims (including a race) and one attempted OWS that got stormed out so we had pizza instead.

BIKE: 373 Miles
Starting to build here! Long rides of 60, 70, and 80 miles this month with one weekend off for the race.  80 miles is now my longest ride ever to date and it was a solid speed (17.2 mph) on a flat-for-Greenville route.  Lots of speed work, even in the long rides. Also no indoor rides, yay!  The weekday afternoon rides over the past two weeks have been pretty miserable because of the heat and much Gatorade has been consumed by all parties involved.  There still lots of focus on nutrition during all rides as well – practice during the 30 milers during the week helps get the long weekend rides right!

RUN: 82.5 Miles
This is a big running month for me! Drills are gone, replaced by monster 7 mile track workouts and evil long runs. Longest run was 11, but those weekday runs are definitely driving my total mileage up.  And I never just get a “go for an 8 mile run”; it’s 8 miles with a bunch of 1 min/30 second sprint sections. It keeps things interesting but OUCH. Also hill repeats and other horrible things. It all hurts but my coach seems pleased because instead of getting worse during the heat wave…I actually got better??? This has never happened so I am confident that I will improve if I keep at it.

RACES: Greenwood Tri – first tri of the year!

Other stuff:
-Going to China for a week in July for work. This is highly inconvenient and the coach and I are pretty much calling this a total recovery week because there’s not much I can do while I’m there and the trip is so short I’m going to be jet-lagged as all get out. But work is work, and I managed to wiggle my way out of a few days so I only lose 1 weekend day (and get to pick one up by taking July 3rd off). So it’s 5 days lost but this is one of those times where I’m very, very glad to have a coach because she will worry about training and I will just do as told rather than panic about it!
-No July races! I just need to train. Must. Not. Panic.
-My poor Garmin 305 finally died. I have no idea how old it is, but I’ve had it for almost 2 years and I feel like I got my money’s worth out of it.  Sad to see it die, though – it was a great device! I had to get a new one in a hurry though because my FR110 can’t do bike stuff really. After much consultation of DCRainmaker’s blog and amazon, I found a sweet deal on a new FR910xt with a new HRM. It came just in time for me to use it at Greenwood and I’m kind of loving the upgrade. I’m attached to my older Garmins but this new one is pretty sweet.
-I finally made time to see Pitch Perfect 2. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. The Green Bay Packers doing Bootylicious will be forever ingrained in my memory.

PS – Don’t forget about the discount code for the Asheville Marathon! STEPHANIE2016AMAROCKS good until the end of July!  Best rate you’ll get for the race.

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Greenwood Triathlon

Oh look, a triathlon! I actually did a whole race. My race schedule is very light this year (intentionally) because I wanted to make sure I would actually have time to train for my Ironman instead of racing every weekend. (Also, I know things come up that I didn’t initially plan to do, like Raleigh, so that plan left some wiggle room).  The only tris I brought to my coach to do this year was Chattanooga and Lake Logan, so she suggested this one as well. I figured if she thought it was a good idea, I should do it.

I had not done this race before (last year I was in France during this time), but it has changed from a one-transition event to a point-to-point race in the last two years which is always a logistical pain.  I had initially planned to just leave really early Saturday morning to make it all happen but one of my coaching teammates said they might have room in their hotel and I ended up sharing a room with 4 other people (affordable ftw).  Really glad I did since T1 was a solid 25 minutes from T2 so dropping my bike off Friday night was a very good idea.

That meant I didn’t have to get up crazy early on Saturday morning (with my 4 roommates).  The hotel was very accommodating for breakfast – a nice change from the last few I’ve stayed at – and we were out the door by 5:45 to T2 to drop run gear.  Then we caught a bus out to T1. It didn’t seem like there was any trouble related to the bus timing, though I heard some comments that the drivers weren’t….very safe. It’s always hit or miss with these buses.

Be prepared to sacrifice a pair of flip flops to this race because there’s a bit of a walk through the woods to get from T1 to the swim start. It’s not a long walk but it wasn’t paved and I was glad to have an extra pair that I didn’t have to worry about retrieving. The swim start is kind of cool though – you have to climb down some stone steps into the lake.

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SWIM (1500 m):

This is a pretty small race so there were only 3 waves: open, everybody, and then novice. This is great for me because I don’t have to worry about the wall of dudues. Unfortunately, the first 600 m of the swim is right into the sun which means…wall of sun? This made for some really amusing garmin files later. I don’t normally have a lot of trouble swimming straight but it was absolutely impossible to see the buoys (also they were green and matched the tree line). I swam for a while but finally gave up and stopped so I could figure out where I was. I’m very glad I did because there were a bunch of people who totally missed the first turn buoy and had to go back (and a few cheaters. but they’ll get theirs). Once I got out of the sun it was pretty much smooth sailing from there. My time seemed very slow (slowest ever for olympic distance) but my (fancy new) Garmin came out with over 1800.  I definitely swam a little extra but not that much.  The course was definitely long, but it was long for everybody and I was the first woman out.

Time: 27:44 (1/4 AG, 1/46 Overall)

T1: 2:03
Pretty quick transition. I had to take off my swimskin and stuff everything in the bag so that always takes a little extra time.

BIKE (40K):

I swear upon everything that I know that this bike was entirely uphill.

OK that’s an exaggeration.  It felt like it was all uphill. It was definitely net elevation gain.  For some reason, I let this course mentally defeat me. I know I’m strong on the bike. I’ve been training hard and 24 miles should not be a big deal. But for some reason I let the uphill get to me. I kept sitting up out of aero when I didn’t need to and I didn’t take in all the nutrition I was supposed to (hint: this is bad later) and it was just ugly. I averaged 16.8 mph which is just not that great for me considering I’ve done far more difficult courses faster than that. I’m not usually such a headcase so I need to get it together.

I also did get railroaded.  Luckily I was one of the last ones and was only stuck at the train for a little over a minute but there were people who had passed me miles before and had been there for 5-6 minutes waiting for the train to pass. It really sucks for them because it was <.5 mile from transition and completely cleared the swim and bike from those guys’ races.  Setup told us that they had a permit to prevent this but railroads pretty much have the attitude of “we’re going to do what we want and to hell with everyone else” so it’s no surprise that we had the problem anyways. Hopefully next year they’ll put timing mats at the train tracks or something.

Time: 1:29:30 (3/4 AG, 28/46 Overall)
T2: 1:27

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RUN (10K):
Remember how I said I didn’t take in enough Inifinit during the bike? I also neglected to grab a gel coming out of T2 because I was too busy gabbing with the woman next to me in transition (she’s a fellow swimmer/bad runner). Ya done messed up, Steph. I took Heed at all the run aid stations but it was way too late to fix the damage. If coach tells you to take in 250-300 kcal per hour on the bike…you should do that. I had about a half a bottle of Infinit…so like 150 kcal or so.

I started out feeling pretty good (hungry) but I knew the nutrition was going to bite me. And mile 4 was when it hit me. I thought I might die. It was hot but I feel like I barely noticed it because all I really wanted to do was lie down and take a nap. So, now I know you can hit the wall in and Olympic and it’s not any fun.

Other than that, the run course is actually kind of nice. It’s on a shaded rail-trail and is relatively flat. From what I hear, when the race was all out at the lake, the run was miserable and awful so I can’t complain about it because it was really not bad at all.

Time: 1:09:37 (placing unknown – some people had a timing issue at T2. But bad.)

Overall Time: 3:10:20 (3/4 AG, 27/46 Overall)

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Well, this was my worst Olympic time ever.  Except for Over the Mountain last year and it was and Olympic+ (extra long bike) so it doesn’t count. I’m pretty sure that is the slowest 10K I have ever run and it was pretty much just because I didn’t follow the coach’s instructions.

I was happy to get on the AG podium and I’m trying not to let this one bad race freak me out because I know it is not the goal for the year.  But it was a little frustrating.  I definitely don’t want to let one bad race keep me from doing this one again because it is a good one!

After the race, team Malone met up for pizza and beer which was great.  I haven’t had a ton of chances to meet some of the other athletes on the team so it was a nice opportunity before heading home :)

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Wonder Women Go To Raleigh

Did you see Wonder Women at Raleigh 70.3? I don’t think you could have missed her if you were there. She didn’t ride an invisible bike (that would violate USAT rules) but she sure looked good out there.

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A while back, two of my good friends decided that they wanted to do a relay at Raleigh 70.3 and reached out to our Greenville Tri Club community looking for a swimmer. I was still thinking I would do the race solo but then I saw the riff-raff (ug men) wanting to join them and decided to forget it. I did not want to do a spring HIM, I wanted to do this instead.

When we went to sign up, we had to come up with a team name and we settled on Wonder Women in honor of our cyclist (Kristin) who has done a number of running races in her Wonder Woman costume.  And so OBVIOUSLY we had to do this in costume too.

Kristin and Elizabeth found some cheap costumes online and tried to get me to get one too.  But I thought that might be just a bit too much drag for a swim (especially since they actually wanted me to be fast), so I went and tracked down this sweet suit instead.

So on Saturday before the race, we all climbed into Kim’s car (our spectator/chauffeur) and road-tripped to Raleigh. We got to the expo kind of late (probably were some of the last ones through) so we goofed off a good bit and came away with a lot of free crap. Then we drove out to the lake to drop Kristin’s bike and let me get a quick practice swim in. Then we headed back into town for dinner and race prep.

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Race morning! We got up with the intention of getting on the later buses to the lake since our wave start was last.  This was…interesting.  We watched some of the last big buses leave and….no one came back. There were still quite a few athletes still waiting (not just relays!). Finally they tracked down a couple small buses (and a church bus) and we had to stand and hold on for dear life onto an overhead bar for the ~40 min trip to the lake. Our spectator made friends with another spectator in line and rode out with him (a total stranger?? I was a little freaked out at first but he was cute).

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The bus mess left us with not much time to get out of T1 so I went in to help Kristin get her bike ready and we all got body marked. Then…we waited. Hung out in the port-a-potty lines a few times, chatted with people, watched the pro men finish swimming, hung out some more…I guess it wouldn’t have been much better if I had raced solo because the W25-29 wave was the one before mine.

FINALLY it was time.  I got in the water towards the front but not in the front row – I knew it wouldn’t matter much because it was already crazytown out in the lake. I tried to catch someone’s draft but it didn’t last. We started catching people from the wave before before the second sight buoy and by the time I hit the first turn there were people everywhere. From that point on it was just “don’t drown anyone”. I swam strong and hard but did my very best not to completely run anyone over. It was pretty good up until the approach to the boat ramp – the course was narrowed and there was just no room to budge! I got caught behind a guy who was going much slower than me but was doing everything he could to keep me from passing him (or maybe he just flails around a lot). Got up the boat ramp and almost ran past the relay pen where Kristin was waiting. I finished in 33:26 and was the 7th relay swimmer out! The time seemed slow but word was the course was 300 m or so long.

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After I finally navigated my way out of transition, I met Kim and Elizabeth so we could figure out how to get back to T2/downtown. We had planned to ride the bus back but the timing of this was not at all clear and it turns out they weren’t leaving until the last cyclist was out. Not going to work.  Luckily, we met another new friend/random stranger who was doing the relay and offered to take us back into town. So advice for relays at Raleigh – leave your runner downtown. DO NOT take them to the lake unless you drove to the lake because it’s going to be a problem.

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Once we got back into town, Elizabeth headed to T2 to get ready and I went back to the hotel to change for my 8 mile run (because my coach hates joy). I figured I’d have time for 4 miles while waiting for Kristin to finish biking then I could do the other 4 while Elizabeth was running.  I ran along a good bit of the run course and it made me very, very happy to not be racing because it was hot as all get out and not shaded. It was probably the worst 8 miles I’ve ever run.

Then we drank beer for a while and waited for Elizabeth to finish. Kristin biked in a strong 3:21:04 and Elizabeth finished in a speed 2:00:31 for a final time of 5:59:44. Good enough for 24th out of nearly 80 relay teams!

There were a lot of fun moments doing this race in costume. People wanted to take pictures with us (or of us) or just would come up and talk to us. There was a really cute moment after the finish when a little boy came up with his mom and wanted to get a picture with Kristin and Elizabeth who were still in costume.

So. Do a relay. Definitely wear a costume.  Make people laugh on a miserable hot day (because you can imagine those costumes weren’t hot at all yea?). I know there’s a lot of rumbling and grumbling about costumes at events like this but the fact is – it’s fun. We livened up the day and made it memorable for us. Rest assured, we will do this again!

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Asheville Marathon at Biltmore

A quick post today but I wanted to get this out there for anyone who was interested:

2016 Ambassador BADGEI’m an ambassador again for the 2016 Asheville Marathon and Half at Biltmore! I’m very glad to be joining this race again as I enjoyed the experience so much and was planning to race again (I gotta be faster).

For 2016, the race is moving to a 2-day format which is great for those who were not able to get into the race in the past because it was sold out. The half marathon will be on Saturday, March 12, and the full will be on Sunday, March 13.  You can also do the Backyard to Vineyard (both races) challenge if you’re feeling insane or just can’t get enough of that Biltmore scenery (or big hills). You can check out the race website here.

I would love to have you join me in Asheville – it’s a great weekend getaway whether you stay on the Biltmore Estate or head into the city – there’s plenty to do (and eat).  We expect the race to sell out again even though we’re doubling the amount of runners so if you’re interested, start thinking about it now!  Also, I have a 15% code that is good until July 31st – you can use it for the half, full, or both.

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Let me know if you have any questions or are planning to join me!

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May Recap

Oh well, less than 16 weeks left to Ironman Chattanooga. We won’t talk about that too much, but things are definitely starting to get more “down to business”. I’m determined to finish this recap before the end of June.

SWIM: 28,000 yds (plus or minus a bit – I didn’t really keep track at Y Nationals. Lots of pool swimming to prep for the swim meet plus one open water swim at Lake Jocassee with the team and the swim in Raleigh. Just keep trucking here!

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BIKE: 317 miles
I keep having mini freak-out moments on weekends where my coach doesn’t have me do a long run or bike but she doesn’t seem concerned about it so I try to chill.  Longest ride so far is 60 miles and I feel pretty good about that distance.  One week covered half of this distance (150 miles over 4 rides in a week) and it definitely made me feel like I was training for an Ironman. Also, I had one bike crash – right at the beginning of the month. I was out on a group ride from Cycle Haus and there was a big hunk of carpet in the road around a blind corner going downhill and everybody was stopping….but me. I was about to slow down but I lost control of the bike and down I went. Got some nice road rash and ripped up my back tire  so I was definitely lucky on this one!

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RUN: 54
Slowly building here – only up to 8 mile long runs but I’m moving back to workouts instead of drills all the time. I ran 8 miles after I finished my swim in Raleigh and it made me really, really glad to not be racing the whole thing because it was HOT.

RACES/EVENTS:
YMCA Masters Nationals – I really meant to do a post for this event because it was a ton of fun and anyone with a master’s team and the ability to go should, but I didn’t get around to it. I had some pretty good swims on the longer distance events and some pretty mediocre sprints (makes sense I guess). And I came home with some bling – 3 AG first places in the 400 IM (WHAT), 200 back, and 100 back. And lots of time was spent at beautiful Siesta Key beach.

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Greenville Spinners TT – The local bike club has a summer time trial series that’s free to anyone that’s a member (so I am now!), so I thought it would be a “fun” challenge to try it.  It was a 10 mile hilly out and back (how did they find 600 ft of elevation gain in 10 miles?) on an unexpectedly windy day.  My coach had me warm-up for a bit and her advice for the TT was “as hard as and fast as you can. I mean it!”. I really did and managed to finish in just over 30 mins which was just below 20 mph. I feel like I can go faster than that but my average HR for the TT was 186 so I definitely gave it my all on that day.

Rally in the Valley – What a great event! This is a cycle tour that starts in Walhalla, SC and is pretty much all out in the middle of nowhere. There was a 60 mile and 30 mile (so I did the 60) and it was just great. Mostly good road surface, great scenery, and very little traffic. The post race party was solid too – great BBQ and beer from Thomas Creek and Oskar Blues =)

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Raleigh 70.3 Relay – There’s no question that we were the best looking team out there.  I’ll eventually write up a full race report since it deserves one but I was the 7th in the relay division out of the water with a time of 33:26 and our relay was 24th out of 75+ relays. So Wonder Women can kick butt too.

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April Recap

I figure I better throw in an April recap before the end of May gets here! April was definitely a fun month.

Training:
SWIM: 31,250 yards
Little build in swimming during the last 2 weeks of April in anticipation of the Y Nationals swim meet.  First open water swim was at the end of April as well! The water was a bit chilly still but it was nice to get outside.

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BIKE: 204 miles
Biking was a little low last month because of all the traveling I did on the weekends – that really cuts into my long ride times. Plus I had 2 trainer rides (because of thunderstorms) so that probably adds another ~2 hours to the count.

RUN: 62.3 miles
Drills, drills and more drills. The first 3 weeks of April my workouts were 3 miles or less (except races) with the entire focus on form.  I’ve basically started from scratch and that also means starting at the beginning with distance. So it’s been a slow build.  But I think I am getting better so maybe there’s something to it! It felt very strange running so little, but I’m sure my coach knows what she’s doing so I’m sticking to it.

Crosstrain:  5 or so hours. Lots of function strength focusing on hips/glutes for running form.

Races:
Cherry Blossom 10 Mile
Smoky Mountain Relay
Definitely glad to have some fun races in here before the serious Ironman training starts in!

I probably did some other interesting stuff last month but I can’t remember. Coming up in May:

Y Master’s Nationals swim meet – Ok well this already happened because I’m slow but it was a mix of swim meet and Florida vacation so it was pretty great

Raleigh 70.3 relay – I’m joining 2 of my friends to be Team Wonder Women at Raleigh.  I’m swimming (obviously) so I’ll probably be training through this weekend. My coach is determined to get me into shape (or kill me, not sure).

And that’s about it for April!

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Smoky Mountain Relay

WHAT A WEEKEND. There’s a lot of this weekend that never should see the light of day but there’s quite a lot that’s already been plastered all over social media so we might as well just embrace that. We had a hell of a good time – the people who were on the team last year said that it was the best time they’ve had since, well, last year’s relay.

There’s some history here – last year, one of my friends emailed me about some people we knew looking for some people to join a team for this relay but I was already signed up for the Diva Half Marathon so I had to say no. But I definitely wanted in for another year! Unfortunately, a few of last year’s team had to skip the 2015 race due to injuries, children, etc so there were some spots that needed filling! And so I got to become a Blue Ridge Bootlegger. There was a whole lot of planning and preparation that went into making this happen and it sounds like it went a whole lot better than last year according to the Bootlegger veterans. But I’ll skip all that for know and get straight to the race because it’s awesome.

This relay is maybe a little different from some of the Ragnar events – though I’ve never done one. It goes from Nowhere, NC to Nowhere Else, NC with a whole lot of nothing in the middle. I mean, really nothing.

Really. Terrible

Really. Terrible.

Ok – the actual details for those wanting to check it out.  The start is about 30 minutes from Brevard, NC in the Pisgah National Forest and the finish is at the Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City.  In between? Well we’re not really sure because it’s seriously middle of nowhere but it is some nice middle of nowhere. It’s about 215 miles over 36 legs.

We packed our vans and left from Furman Thursday afternoon pretty early since last year they left way too late and missed all the fun at packet pick-up. It was in Brevard, NC at the Oskar Blues Brewery which is amazing.  We made sure to have a great time hanging out here for a few hours with the other teams and race staff.

We also made sure to have plenty of beer and food truck food. I had a Chubburger which was amazing and it was also the last good meal I would have for 36 hours so I’m really glad I ate it.  Once the party broke up, we headed back to the hotel for a quick team meeting before going to bed.

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Our team was with the first group of starters at 6 am Friday morning, so we got up bright and early to drive out to the race start. Even though I was in van 2 and we wouldn’t run until late that afternoon, we still wanted to be there to support our team! Unfortunately, this meant no hotel breakfast and the hotel staff was really rude to us when we wanted to take some of the dry goods (bananas and oatmeal) with us for breakfast so we had to munch on van food instead.

We got to wait around the start line for a while since leg 1 looped back around to the start. Our van decided that we would hang out with the rest of our team for the first few legs and then head out to the end of leg 6 so we could get ready.  So we hung around and cheered and got some great pictures.

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Once we got to the van exchange (a campsite…somewhere), the boring part started. As much fun as these relays are, you really spend a lot of time just…waiting around. There’s lots of boredom eating.  And cat napping in the van. Once we started getting closer to the actual van exchange, a bunch of teams starting showing up so there was a pretty good crowd cheering the incoming runners on. Finally our runner showed up and our van was off! Our legs were: 1) 1- 4 miles straight up, 2) 2 crazy technical trails, and 3) 3 easy peasy flat valley runs. Obviously, I had one of the flat valley runs since I am definitely not a trail runner nor in good enough shape for an intense climb.

Scenes from the first van shift

Scenes from the first van shift – Legs 6-12

A word of note for the exchange between legs 9 and 10 – Leg 9 is a really, really downhill trail run and the driving route to reach the exchange is like 45 mins minutes. We had to drive down from the Parkway and all the way around the mountain the get there and when we reached the exchange….our runner was there waiting for us. So our two suggestions would be to either take off from the exchange as soon as runner 8 is done OR send runner 10 with your first van and have them take that person to the exchange.  If you have a fast runner 9, the second option may be your only option because we didn’t dilly dally for long and he still beat us.

Anyways, we finished up at exchange 12 and met the rest of our team there for a quick costume contest photo before send runner 13 off*.

You can't unsee this.

You can’t unsee this.

Once van 1 took over again, we grabbed our pizza (one of our runner’s parents lives near this area – Cullowhee? and had brought us pizza for dinner) and then headed to Franklin where we had reserved a hotel room**.  We crashed for a few hours (also showers) – planning to get back out to exchange 18 for our next legs starting around midnight. Luckily we had cell service*** at this point because we got a text from the other van saying they were about an hour ahead of when we expected them to finish! So our captain dragged us all out of bed so we could hustle out to the exchange. It was raining (of course). Apparently it had pretty much rained non-stop since we finished running earlier that day. And the moment our runner started his first leg, it stopped! HAH. One bit of good luck from the rain magnet.

These legs were all in the middle of nowhere, mostly gravel/dirt packed road and very much in the dark (and fog). Leg 19 is the run from hell – so just know that. Legs 20-23 are moderate elevation change on pretty good gravel forest service roads – nice for running, but an….interesting van ride. Leg 24 was back on pavement but all uphill. I had 23 which was probably the worst quality road of all of them. It was very muddy, rocky with lots of loose gravel.  Some good things to have for these night runs: A headlamp (mandatory), reflective vest (mandatory), blinky red light (mandatory) and a running flashlight. We had a couple of these Nathan lights…they are the best thing ever. It definitely kept me from busting my face on the rough road and it was extremely helpful in the fog. There’s not much to say about these runs – we didn’t take any pictures or even talk much but it was really cool. Very peaceful and maybe a little creepy, but beautiful.

Exchange 24 was at the top of a ridge – you couldn’t tell at first because of the dark and fog but as it got closer to dawn, the fog cleared out a bit and you could see the mountains and so many stars. Really cool place.

The other van took over again for their last legs and we took off back to the hotel for one last little nap. We slept for a bit, then decided that a real meal might be nice so we packed up early and found some breakfast at a pretty good diner in downtown Franklin (at this point it’s about 9 am on day 2).

FOOD

FOOD

Then we went out to wait at exchange 30 to start our last legs.

Off we go!

Off we go! This runner had a doggie friend for her entire 7 mile run. One tough dog.

These last legs are more of what you’d expect – big hills.  With the exception of one (my leg, of course), these were all very challenging, include the appropriately named “One Tough Mother” leg (32, if you need to know). I had leg 33, which was 5 miles dooowwwwwnnnnnn. It’s a good opportunity to run fast, even if you’re tired because it’s 1200 ft of lost elevation.

Check out that totally improved running form

Check out that totally improved running form. I look miserable but I’m actually feeling pretty good. My quads hurt.

Once we dropped off our last runner, we took off for the finish line at the NOC to wait for her.

Yaaaaaaaaay

Yaaaaaaaaay

We rented a cabin at the NOC so after we finished our post-race beer, we went back to the cabin where a couple of the runner’s SOs had been preparing dinner for us (nicest people ever) and there was much celebrating (and eating).

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So, I don’t think I can say enough good things about this experience. We had an absolute blast the SMR team did a great job. I can only hope to encourage more people to give it a try because I’m pretty sure there’s nothing else like it!

Some general notes

*The goat story: This happened…sometime during leg 14. I wasn’t there but we got the story from our other van. Apparently one of the runners from another team was being followed by what they thought was 2 dogs and as he got closer…

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Yes, you will see that this is, in fact, not a dog, but a goat. Apparently it was very friendly, so it was someone’s pet goat.  Then some crazy lady tried to come and get the goat because she knew who it belonged to or something….it’s not entirely clear but it’s definitely the kind of story that captures what SMR is.

**Some notes on cell service. Most of this relay is spent with NO cell service. The race guide does a pretty good job telling you where there will be service but be prepared to keep it turned off most of the race.  If you’re concerned about safety, a CB radio may be a good idea -also good to communicate with your other van.

***The hotel room: This was the BEST THING EVER. Apparently last year they slept in some barn near exchange 18 and it was miserable, and this year the race director gave us information for a great deal on a Microtel Suites in Franklin. It was like $55 – split between 12 people, it was probably the best $5 we’ve ever spent. The hotel is about 30 mins from exchange 12 and less than 20 from exchanges 18, 24 and 30. Basically right in the middle of everything.

$: Costs. This is not a cheap endeavor.  I feel like this gets kind of glossed over but it’s important.  Race Entry, night before hotel, vans, gas, hotel on Friday night, food, cabins at NOC, t-shirts, more food. It definitely adds up.

^^: Elevation. Haha the SMR team picked on Ragnar a little because they were bragging about their hardest leg: 10 miles and 2800 ft of elevation gain.  Leg 19 (the hell leg) climbs 3000 ft over 5.5 miles and it is truly terrible.  This is a challenging race and training is a must. Lots of sustained climbs, trails, and rough roads. It’s not the Rocky Mountains, but these are no joke!

CaptureOk, that’s all. I know it was long, but I hate drawn out race recaps.  But I hope I convinced you that this is something you want to do in the future!

 

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