After a few days to decompress, the world is definitely less blurry than it was when I got home from the Colonial200 Relay Saturday night. I was sore for a couple of days, dead tired, and I can’t seem to shake the sniffles, although I’m chalking those up to allergies from the dusty weekend of running on dirt roads.
But I wouldn’t change a thing. The race was an absolute blast. My team, Team Vacabellos, was an awesome mix of seasoned runners and occasional weekend warriors. About half of us were repeat offenders to the C200, so we knew what we were getting into. The others? Well, they seemed to be happy to be along for the ride. Plus, they were willing to overlook our offbeat senses of humor — or, even better, most newbies took part in our joking and harmless competitive trash talk.
The race itself was well run. The race directors were organized and easy to contact, if needed, which is important for something that can go on for 30+ hours. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Last year it was humid and rained through a good portion of the overnight legs. This time around, the humidity was low, temps were fairly low and, despite having some welcome clouds to block the sun, it didn’t rain.
I really lucked out on my legs:
Leg 1 (AKA: The Banana Chase): I was really lucky to get my long run done early in the race. I ran 8.89 miles around 7:45 Friday morning. I had a fairly busy road to content with for the first 2-3 miles, then I turned onto a gravel road that was definitely the road less traveled. The gravel road started uphill, then when I reached the peak, I broke through the trees and was greeted with rolling hills, foggy foothills in the distance, and more bails of hay than you could count. I smiled when I got to the top, and smiled for the rest of the run, until I turned off that dirt road onto another main thoroughfare. The traffic wasn’t so bad. The fact that it was 2+ miles uphill (about 2.5% incline) is
what made me drop the smile, furrow my brow and get serious. That last couple of miles was tough, but I finished, sat back, and enjoyed the ride for a few hours until my next run.
- Leg 2 (AKA: The Return of the Skunk): My second leg was a night run. I set off between 9:30 and 10 p.m. I had to tackle 3.75 miles, and since I had been awake since 3:15 a.m. (we had a long drive to get to the start line), I was sleepy for this one. I rarely stay up past 10 or 11, to be honest. For the C200, you are running on team energy and adrenaline, so it helps push you through some of these sleepy moments. This year, I was able to eat better (plus, I was hungry from my morning 9-miler), so at least I had some fuel in the tank for this one. The night runs are unique. You can either immerse yourself in the experience or play head games with yourself. Me? I just fear getting sprayed by a skunk. Let’s be honest: Who on my team is going to let me ride with them if I smell like that? Last year, a skunk scuffled across the road near the tail-end of my last leg. I froze. Then, I slowly shook my head from side to side to make sure my headlamp
got the full skunk-body outline, which also reflected its beady little eyes. That’s when it ran into the corn field next to the road. Next, I flew up the road feeling like I had escaped the zombie apocalypse. This year, I caught animal eye-glare in my headlamp and, as I turned to see what I was sharing the road with, its little black-and-white skunk body turned toward me, like it wanted to charge. I did what any level-headed, overnight running, sleep deprived person who is clearly lacking good judgement would do: I sprinted like hell. Finished that leg before the team captain had projected me to finish — and I think I started that leg later than I was supposed to. A fear of skunks will make a person do things she didn’t know she could do (#winning!).
- Leg 3 (AKA: “I must break you”): This was the repeat leg from last year — my 5 a.m. final run then and now. Last year, I was tired, physically and mentally. I walked a lot, making this one of the longest 5.3 miles I’ve ever logged. If this were a movie,
before setting off this year, I would have raised an eyebrow to someone important, like the President, and said something about having unfinished business (queue dramatic music). That’s how I felt about it — and that’s how I tackled it. It was still the third leg of an overnight relay in which I had only had about two hours of sleep in more than 24 hours and had already run more than 12 miles. I still managed to shave off seven minutes from last year — and I’m pretty happy about that. No skunks. No walking breaks. I just ran under a big bright moon and knew I was making great time compared to last year.
So that’s the race. Well, that’s my race – the surface stuff, at least. I really hope to be back for a third year and cannot wait to bond with my teammates, yet again. Coming back from this event is a whirlwind of relief and grief, so I look forward to another year — and maybe another undertaking of leg 3…
As for my running this week, I haven’t followed my plan too well. I’ve had the sniffles so have decided to take it easy the last few days. Maybe today I’ll take on the scheduled mileage.
More photos. Enjoy!