Did I mention it was in the mountains? With huge, huge hills?
Kevin and Chris are crazy enough to have committed to running the Blue Ridge Relay race next month. Check out their team’s blog here. Basically, here’s the scoop: They are going to run 234.2 miles in a 24-hour period. There are 6 runners on their team and 36 legs, so each runner gets 6 legs. Kevin is runner #3 and Chris is runner #6. Kevin’s total mileage is something around 25 miles, and Chris gets to run something around 31 miles.
Kevin invited me to run with the team but I was scared of committing to a 9 or 10-minute pace, in the mountains, for 25+ miles. A small part of me is a little jealous I didn’t agree to do it. A huge part of me is really relieved I didn’t.
The 3 of us headed up to the mountains this past weekend to check out some of the legs and do some hill running in general for practice. I figured with Charlotte’s Thunder Road marathon coming up, and marathon training starting today, that I could use any running practice with running partners I could get.
We arrived late Friday night at Kevin’s in-laws’ cabin in Saluda (seen at left as the guys’ did some pre-run stretching), then we proceeded to enjoy some homemade beer and some non-homemade beer. Saturday morning before breakfast we went for a 3-mile run near the mountain cabin, and boy, those hills were tough. I had been running around Greenville all week while visiting my sister and I had learned that the hills there were tough, but boy, these were brutal!
After the 3 miles we headed back to the house and had some breakfast, then drove to Asheville to hit up REI so Chris could get a water belt. We then drove to Kevin’s hardest leg in Barnardsville, N.C., (I’d never heard of it). It was a mere 5.2 miles -no big deal, right? The description of the route that Kevin printed out mentioned it was a steep 4-mile climb at the beginning, and so we decided if we were going to endure the steep uphill we should also get the benefits of the downhill. So we all would run the course, both up and down (as opposed to one of us bringing the car to pick up the others.)
Kevin rocked that leg and was soon out of my sight. Go Kev! I had picked up a neoprene wrap for my ankle since it tends to get sore sometimes, and I was trying it out. Half a mile into the run my ankle felt great but the wrap was hurting my foot, so I stopped and took it off. Thank goodness for my awesome water belt – I just looped it to that and kept going.
Chris and I ended up keeping the same pace – I was taking it slow due to the massive mountain we were climbing, and he was taking it slow due to pains in his ankle and hip.
The best part of the run: Meeting the guy in the car who pulled over to ask us if we needed any water or anything and then told us he was running the BRR too – this was his wife’s leg and he had dropped her off and was driving to wait for her at the end. A few minutes later his wife approached on foot and then, um, passed us. She was fast! Kevin said she only was about 20 seconds behind him at the end!
The worst part of the run: The hills that were registering 30% grade on my Garmin watch and we could barely even walk them, much less run. The Garmin registered these stats: Elevation Gain: 2,525 ft Elevation Loss: 2,488 ft. Check out the run here.
The most interesting part of the run: The fact that every other house on this road had beagles or some other type of hound dog. I figure it’s because their howling is so annoying that they all have to go to one place where people don’t mind (I own a beagle mix, so I say this lovingly). Kevin says it’s so they can hunt, but whatever. I blame the howling. Also we encountered a couple of people that made me a) glad Chris had waited on me so I wasn’t alone, and b) glad I haven’t seen Deliverance.
Chris and I didn’t make it the entire 5.2 miles. His injuries were really doing a number on him so we stopped after 3.75 miles and turned around. The downhill was awesome! My max speed registered at 6 minute miles. I loved it! We ended up running 7.5 miles total on that run.
Ate lunch and waited for Kevin, who did make it the entire way (10.4 miles total), and he was hurtin’ by the time he was finished. We decided then not to push it and run Chris’ route, but to go drive it and see what it looked like. We couldn’t find it, though, so we headed back to the cabin to meet up with Jeff (who was smart and didn’t show up till after the big run!) and cook dinner (burgers and hot dogs on the grill)
Once we got there, Chris and I decided to hit the road one more time and ran 4.5 miles. A total of 15 miles!
When we got back, though, his ankle was swollen and really hurting him. He should not have pushed it that far. He’s probably going to have to take a couple of weeks off now, and with the BRR so close, that’s not fun at all.
We celebrated our accomplishments with more beer (oh, and they had bourbon – yuck), and Kevin and I joked about running again at 1 a.m. (after lots of beers), and I think we almost actually did it. I think we would have except Chris insisted he was going too if we did and we knew he was stubborn enough to do it even with a hurt ankle. He better watch it or else he’ll end up looking for a replacement for his relay race!