I enjoy writing “race reports” in a short and to the point kind of approach. I don’t write about the “struggle” of any of this because it’s not a struggle. I don’t have those stories of overcoming self perceived odds to complete a run or race. I have stories of enjoying the frustrations that occur and finding out a bit more about myself each time I up the ante. If I honestly felt this was a struggle, I wouldn’t do it. I choose to run as a healthy habit and my mentality is that if it is a struggle, I should probably go spend my time participating in a hobby that I enjoy. So here is my take on the Colonial 200 solo finish from April 21st – 23rd.
Organization: Brian, the Race Director, was excellent. Besides the appreciated shout outs on social media and to the athletes participating in the relay run, he made some well appreciated changes in his schedule to help me out finish. Once the signs were up, I don’t think I could’ve gotten lost unless I was trying. I always kept my “leg cards” with me but after Thursday evening never truly needed them for anything other than a security blanket. And beyond that, he asked I kept him updated to help me stay safe and to cheer me on. He even kept the signs for the last few legs up for me and crew although I have a feeling it would have been easier for him to clear it all out before I had finished.
I Get Cranky: The first day resulted in a feeling for the need for a few apologies the next morning after sleeping in the front seat of the Dodge Charger. Long story short. After a final 3.2 mile leg for the night along a gravel road in Back Woods, Va (I don’t remember the real name of the town), a fellow neighbor of the church, that was serving as an exchange zone, decided a neighborhood watch initiative was in effect and kept his or her headlights beaming at us until we left. He or she also felt it necessary to follow us for a few miles back tracking (in the car) until we decided to just hit town (15 miles away) to grab some warm food. Let’s just say tempers got a little short.
DOGS!: Dog chases were an inevitable part of this run in my opinion and stubborn me didn’t carry any defenses for the first 3. I will mention that I define a dog chase as: “A chase by a canine in which a sprint is required secondary to true danger of being bitten”. And I don’t like being bitten.
Number 1: The first was at night and the pitter patter of four legs was definitely nothing I wanted to hear within the first 30 minutes of the run on Burnley Station Rd. I was happy to be running down hill 🙂
Number 2: I saw this one coming and made the switch to the other side of the road. That dog didn’t care and had quite the territory along the horse farm on Gilbert Station Rd. (Still the first leg of 36).
Number 3: Between an estimated 40 pound dog and an estimated 10 pound dog on Venable Rd. I was thinking the larger one was going to be the alpha… nope. That little brown shaggy dog ran me back about 1/10 of a mile and encouraged me to get creative. I timed a sprint with a passing car and made it to the road locked exchange zone at Byrd UMC Chapel panting. In hindsight, it really is funny. I mean, at 145 pounds, I was chased away by a 10 pound canine with 4 inch legs.
Number 4: Along Apple Grove Rd. in Some Town, Va. the final chase took place on the flats of a gravel road with the owner thankfully chasing after the four legged critter slowing him or her down at least a little. This guy or girl definitely chased me the furthest. Want to hear the funny thing… I had the air horn this time and the top came unscrewed so I was running with a useless air horn top in my hand pointed while shouting “I’m leaving, I promise puppy”.
Lesson learned was to stay safer and always carry at least an air horn regardless of time of day or area.
True Peace: With 3 days of my most significant responsibility being to get from “point A” to “point B” 36 times, I truly appreciated the time and while pace was consistently in my mind with respect to an unmet goal of 55 hours, I didn’t miss the honest weight lifting capabilities of doing what I have an absolute passion to do.
New Life: There was not but a brief thought of stopping around 137 miles. From the beginning until the end, my head was clear and I wanted to finish 200 miles regardless of the time. At leg 32, I had the fortunate timing of a downhill dominant 8 mile leg that just simply revived me. At leg 30, I said to my mother that the strategy was to just keep moving forward with an anticipated pace of 18 – 20 minute miles.
By the start of leg 33, it all changed and I found kick that I never thought I had. With a few sub 9 minute miles, a few sub 10 minute miles and the majority of the final 31 miles being at 11 – 11:30 minute miles, I was on cloud 9, 10 and 11. The final stretch along the Capital Trail was safe, beautiful and just the perfect end. After 45 hours of moving time and 17 hours of resting time, I jogged into the Jamestown Beach Event Park with no injuries, the energy to pose for a few pictures and most definitely crack open a beer of which the one mom crew had purchased for me along the last leg.
I will surely be therapeutically writing more about this awesome run but for now… all done. And apparently turkey, cheese and vegetable subs are my new favorite food. I think I ate about 3 feet of sub during the trip (18 inches of Subway after day 2). Cheers and run happy!