Tomorrow I will take part in a 208-mile relay race, the Colonial 200, for the second year in a row. Here’s the gist: It’s a 200+ mile relay from the beautiful, foggy foothills of Crozet, Virginia to Williamsburg. My 12-person team starts Friday at 7 a.m., we’ll run all day, all night, then all day again — finally, running across the finish line around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
That’s 12 runners; one big, stinky van; three legs each; 24+ hours; 200 miles; cowbells; no showers; little to no sleep; tired legs; midnight country road runs; a lot of port-a-johns; making fast friends with new teammates; sleep-deprived giggling fits; avoiding 3 a.m. skunk encounters; and praying it doesn’t rain (again).
It’s really fun. Really.
It’s one of those experiences that, when all is said and done, you are so proud you did it. You have really great memories and new bonds.
And during the runs? Well, you are scared (because it’s 10 p.m. or 5 a.m.) and you’re running on a dirt road by yourself; you are exhausted (because you haven’t gone this long without sleep since last year’s race); and you really miss your bed — and your family, and all the comforts you take for granted every other night of the year when you’re doing anything but being stuck in a van with 11 stinky friends.
I love this race.
And, as if the sleep deprivation and tired legs weren’t enough last year, my final leg is the same 5.3-mile route that was my final run last year. So, what’s a runner to do?
I believe the line goes a little something like this:
Last year, that was the slowest five miles of my entire life. I had no idea how tired my legs would be or how freaked out I would be running at 4 a.m. I also didn’t realize how hard it would be to stomach any sort of fuel by that point, so I ran, walked and bonked — more than once — along that route. But I also ran by a quiet cornfield full of deer. I felt humbled to be out in the world running under the moon in the wee morning hours. I passed a runner from another team. Walking felt just as exhilarating as running, and at one point, I felt true peace. Finally, I relaxed knowing I was slow but would still finish what I started, and I ran it in on that last long, dark mile.
This was all before I saw the skunk, of course.
Race report to follow, but until then, here are my distances, route categories, and approximate run times:
- Leg #2: Friday, 7:40 a.m.: 8.8 miles (hard)
- Leg #17: Friday, 9 p.m.: 3.76 miles (easy)
- Leg #26: Saturday, 4:50 a.m.: 5.3 miles (medium)
What’s the toughest race you’ve ever done — mentally and physically?