When Tim and I got home from the Demo Tour last year, I thought it was really cool to be able to say I had run in 10 different states over the course of the summer. But now I can say that I’ve run in 6 states over the course of a weekend, which is clearly way more awesome.
As you know, I ran the New England Relay last weekend with the amazing Nerd Herd (you’ll read more about them in a moment). At 220 miles, NER is the longest relay in the US, so we had to start bright and early (6am, ew) on Saturday morning to make sure we’d have enough time to finish. We took off from Rhode Island, ran through Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and finished in Maine just before 5pm Sunday evening. It was quite an interesting adventure.
The Nerd Herd
The team consisted of four people I had run my first relay with–Diana (our fearless leader), Joanna (Diana’s fearless co-leader), Mark, and Brian–and seven people I had never met before–Jenn, Jess, Chris, Zulfi, Mai, Barbara, and Justin. I had the pleasure of sharing Van 1 with Jenn, Zulfi, Jess, Chris, and Joanna.
My half of the team was a fun mix of seasoned runners (Joanna, Jenn, Jess, and I have all been in lots of races, and the three of them each have a few marathons under their belts) and newbies (this was both Chris and Zulfi’s first race), and it was fun to see what all of our strengths were.
Jess will forever hold the “Queen of the Hill” title–she got stuck with all of the worst hills, yet she hardly bitched about it (“fucking hills” did come out of her mouth a few times, but it was totally understandable) and she was always smiling when she got back to van.
I’m convinced Jenn and Joanna are both half machine; they ended up running the most miles–Joanna had the “marathon” spot to begin with (26.2 miles over the 3 legs) and picked up 6 extra miles along the way, while Jenn picked up enough extra miles to come pretty close to marathon as well–and had some of the worst weather conditions to run in. But they refused to quit.
Chris was sure he’d have to bail partway through his first leg, which was 9 miles. He was recovering from pneumonia, and hadn’t run that far in at least a year. But once he started going, there was no stopping him…and later we found out that the leg was actually 9.9 miles! He even picked up a few extra miles later on, too.
Somehow, I was the “speedy” one. I have no idea how that happened, other than the boys were both first-timers and I’m pretty sure the other ladies were still in marathon mode (slow and steady), and I had so much pent-up energy from not running for so long that I was like an excited little puppy once I started going.
Sadly, Zulfi got hurt about halfway through his first leg. (Jenn hadn’t changed yet and was able to finish it up for him.) When it was time for his second leg, he took some ibuprofen and set out on a mission to make it as far as he could–three miles–which I was super proud of him for; a lot of other people probably wouldn’t have even tried. He was out of commission after that though, which is how the rest of us ended up with additional miles.
I’m pretty sure everyone in Van 2 had raced before, and all three boys had actually just done Ragnar Niagara Ontario the previous weekend (animals!). As far as I know, they all made it to the finish relatively unscathed, though I did hear some rumblings about someone puking (it was waaayyy too hot to run hard, but she did anyway). Brian and Justin each got lost at some point, but they’re both super fast, so it didn’t even really matter.
I’m fairly certain we’re the most badass group of nerds you’ll ever meet.
The other teams
One of my favorite things about relay races is seeing how creative some of the other teams are. This race was small–only 32 teams–and most of them were pretty funny. It’s hard to say who my favorite team was in this particular race, but it was definitely either these guys, because of their name:
…or these guys, because of their shirts:
Because of some funky timing issues, the first vans ended up running together each time we started our legs. This was definitely odd, but also fun because we got to know the other runners around us–and by “got to know,” I mean we saw them frequently enough to fully analyze their running style, come up with funny nicknames for them, discover that we had run some of the same races, and care enough about them to check up on them in the same way we checked on our own runners on the really long/hot legs. This certainly gave the race a much more intimate feel than either of the Ragnars I’ve done, and I can’t say I didn’t like it.
(Note to self: stop describing races as “intimate.” It’s probably weird to do that.)
I’m sure you’ve realized by now that I’m super geeky and love numbers (so obviously I belong with the Nerd Herd). Every time I run, I can’t wait to finish and find out my distance, pace, splits, heart rate, and calorie burn…and every time I race, I can’t wait to see how much better I (hopefully) did than the previous race. I was really happy with my numbers this weekend–especially since I had run only twice since Wapack, and had some pretty terrible stomach issues throughout my final leg.
They haven’t posted the final results yet, but I know we didn’t finish last…and, as always, that’s really all that matters to me. I’m still anxious to find out what our official time was, though, and I’ll definitely keep you updated (because I know you all care SO much).
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been a little anxious last Friday afternoon. I really just wanted to relax all weekend and I was afraid I wouldn’t have a good time, mostly because I was nervous about re-injuring my foot. But I should have known better. Despite how stressful relay races can be, they’re still always so much fun.
I owe several people some big thank-yous for making sure last weekend was a blast…
- Diana: Thank you for putting the team together and being so organized.
- Joanna: Thank you for being awesome and letting us all sleep at your house on Friday night.
- Chris: Thank you for letting us use your vehicle; I hope it doesn’t smell too bad.
- Sue and Bill: Thank you for being willing to chauffeur a bunch of disgusting, sweaty runners around New England all weekend. You really have no idea how much we all appreciate it!
- Van 1: Thank you for not hating me too much for being able to sleep so effortlessly, and for being so understanding while my stomach wreaked havoc on the rest of my body throughout Sunday morning.
- The whole Herd: Thank you for being such a great team, and for giving it your all…this race was a beast, and 220 miles is *a lot* of miles, even divided between 12 people. You are all amazing in my book!
- The race directors/organizers: Thank you for doing what you do. There are a lot of kinks that need to be worked out for future races, but I know you did everything you could to make this race run as smoothly as possible.
- The volunteers: Thank you for giving up your free time to make a gazillion cookies and vats of Ramen noodles to make sure a few hundred runners you don’t know stay happy.