|Annnnnd they're off! The starting line of AOR2015.|
The way this relay works is that each team has two vans with six runners each. Each of those runners runs three legs of the relay, so there are 36 legs total varying from 3-9 miles each. Still with me? Van 1 starts, and all six of those runners complete their legs, then meets up with van 2. Van 2 takes over and runs all of their legs, then van 1 picks up again...etc. until all 36 legs are completed. The running never stops!
|Karah (The Space Between) completing her first leg!|
Van 1 (left to right): Heather (The Heathered Nest), Beckie (Infarrantly Creative), Karah (The Space Between), Cassie (Primitive and Proper) - team captain extraordinaire!, Jessica D. (Dear Emmeline), and Jessica H. (Pace of Me)
Van 2 (left to right): Paula (Sweet Pea), Sarah (The Thriftress), Vidya (What's UR Home Story), Alexis (Flecks of Lex), Megan (Rhapsody in Rooms) and me.
I was runner 10 and had legs 10, 22 and 34. My favorite leg ended up being Leg 22, which was 4.5 miles through Antietam National Battlefield at 2am. I think I'll start running through more battlefields at 2am...just kidding :).
My hardest leg was the last one - it was 6.5 miles down the C&O Canal Tow Path. Although it was flat, I was beat and my muscles were tired. That was definitely a mental battle to just. keep. going. The scenery through Great Falls, MD was really lovely though:
My average pace across the three legs was about 8:20 mins/mile - faster than my goal of 8:30-8:45 mins/mile. I've honestly never felt prouder than I did on Saturday after finishing my last leg. I was so happy with how I did, so excited for our team and so sore!
Let's do a little photo tour of the highlights, shall we?
While van 1 kicked off the relay at the start, van 2 got to decorating our vehicle. GMC sponsored our "vans," which ended up being these awesome Yukon XLs. They spoiled us big time with two vehicles that had all the bells and whistles. #majorcarenvy They were so comfortable for all six of us and had things like wifi and USB ports that made life a whole lot easier when we were stuck in them for the better part of 36 hours!
We wrote our names on the sides with check boxes so we could mark off our completed legs!
Sarah (The Thriftess) and Vidya (What's UR Home Story) showed off our awesome packing skills :).
Then we got on the road! But first, a selfie:
We took over from van 1 after Cassie (Primitive and Proper) finished THE hardest leg of the race. Here she is transitioning to Sarah to kick off van 2's first set of legs!
Here I am on my first leg - we ran through such pretty countryside.
Checking off my successful first leg!
At each transition, there were volunteers checking in runners and helping us figure out where we were going. Our favorite transition was number 11 at a church. They opened their building for us to change, stretch and use the restrooms, and they even had food and hot drinks! A big thank you to them.
We finished up our first legs at dusk and transitioned back to van 1 to start the night legs. Here's the handoff from Vidya (What's UR Home Story) to Jess H (Pace of Me).
Our van grabbed dinner after that and hung out for awhile until it was time for us to run again around midnight. It was pitch black for those legs, and we had all kinds of fun safety gear and lights to help us find our ways. We passed off reflective vests, headlamps, knuckle lights, etc. to each other at the transitions like Sarah (The Thriftress) is doing here with Paula (Sweet Pea).
Once the night legs were done, we crashed at Cassie's house for about three hours of sleep and then went back to it to finish our third and final (!) legs.
Sarah transitioning to Paula...
Alexis finishing her last leg...
Vidya (What's UR Home Story) had the final leg, and our whole team met her at the finish line to run the last couple hundred feet through the end. Those last hundred feet were pure joy! We did it!
I still can't get over how amazing each of these women is and how hard they worked to be able to do this race. It was an honor to run with each of them and I HOPE we get a chance to do the American Odyssey relay again. A special thanks goes out to Cassie for organizing this team! We got to know each other quite well over the course of two days. We laughed, cheered each other on, and kept good attitudes even when it was tough. I have to give a shoutout to Megan (Rhapsody in Rooms): she got an injury a couple of weeks before the race and unfortunately couldn't run, but she was the BEST driver, cheer-er and she kept a smile on her face despite not being able to fully participate.
I also hope that this experience has inspired some of y'all to get in on the running game. This race pushed me to my limits and I was so proud that I conquered this challenge. We had runners of all skill levels and it looks like this race has inspired everybody to keep it up. No quitters here! So lace up those sneakers and get going. It's already looking like we'll have a team for next year. Join us!
One last thing...We couldn't have done this race without our AMAZING sponsors. They all contributed to making the race a great success by providing us things like a hotel the night before the race (our "Hometalk home away from home"), vehicles to cart ourselves around in (GMC), chia bars to munch on (Health Warrior), gear to run in (SIX:02), equipment to track our running (Milestone Pod) and so much more. Each of the sponsors below deserves a big ole thank you!