So here we are trying to get our runner to the exchange point by 7:15, but we’re stuck in very slow traffic.
You see, about this time in the race everything gets very congested. The fastest teams, which left later in the day, have caught up with the slower teams. And this is a major exchange, so there are double the amount of vans than there are at the minor exchanges. And it is night time. And the roads are narrow. And the vans are on the same route as the runners. So the vans are moving slow, which is a good thing for safety, but a bad thing when you are running out of time.
Since the next exchange was on the road in front of the Wild Turkey distillery, we dropped our runner off on the road at 7:04am and kept going. We knew we didn’t have time to park and walk to the exchange. It was a good call, since the #12 runner came through within 4 minutes of us dropping off Runner #1.
Since this was a 3 mile leg, we knew that we needed to keep moving to get to the next exchange on time. Luckily traffic thinned out and we were able to get to the next stop with about 20 minutes to spare. I had time to hit the porta-johns before stretching and walking to the exchange chute. While I was waiting, I saw a guy dressed up like a banana.
I took the bracelet from Runner #1 and left the exchange point wondering what this, my hardest leg, had in store for me. You see, I got a cold a couple of weeks before the race, and it was still hanging on. I was congested, and the early morning damp air wasn’t helping. Between coughing, sniffing, and spitting I could hardly breathe. I had already settled my mind on the fact that I would walk the hills if necessary. Our team does this for fun, knowing that we aren’t anywhere close to winning. It’s all about the journey, and accomplishment, and team building…
I know what I am capable of, and I will do what I can to do it. I may not have felt my best, but I would do the best with what I had that day.
The sun was just beginning to rise over horse country. I ran up the hills at a conservative pace, and ran down them at a pace I thought I could maintain without my heart exploding. There were many hills, and I figured that in this way I could maintain a decent average. I have to admit that I did walk a few times at the steepest portions, but for less than a minute each time. And over the course of this leg I passed 13 runners!
As I was passing number 10, they mentioned that they were glad to see “that sign”. I looked up to see a “1 mile left” sign. Although the leg was supposed to be 7.7 miles, I checked my watch and we were only at 6.36 miles. Could it be true that we only had one mile left? Did they mark the course wrong?
Since some of my earlier congestion had cleared, I decided to push it for the last mile of my race, which is an uphill climb. I constantly wondered if it was the right thing to do, since it seemed like the sign was too early in the race. But my fears were alleviated when I rounded a bend and saw vehicles in the distance. I pushed a little harder, knowing that this was it.
But as I got nearer, I looked closer at the vehicles.
I saw lots of them…but no 15 passenger vans.
This wasn’t the exchange point. It was a county park and it must be youth soccer day.
How much farther us the exchange point???
As panic began to increase, I checked my watch to see that I was within .3 miles of the 7.7 miles. I knew that I couldn’t slow down at this point. I had to just keep pushing. And luckily, the terrain began to drop ever so slightly.
I finished the leg on a downhill, yelling my number and the next runner’s name. There were people lining both sides of the road, with the chute in the middle. I wasn’t really looking, just running and yelling. Finally, I saw the next runner jumping up and down and waving her hands in front of me. I gave her the bracelet and watched her run off with mixed emotions.
I was glad to be done, but not ready to be done.
I had a good race, and that last mile was the 5th fastest of the whole 21.7 miles that I ran. Still, I got passed by several runners on that leg. Notably, a guy in a banana suit flew by me. As did a guy dressed up like Richard Simmons, complete with an afro wig. But I managed to complete the leg with an average pace of 8:52.
Going into the race, I had hoped to hit a 9:00 pace. So I was very happy to stay under that for the whole race.
We cycled through the rest of our runners, almost missing Runner #3 when they came through. Runner #5 came into Woodford Reserve distillery, and since we had some extra time I visited the gift shop and bought our driver a bottle of bourbon for driving us all over Kentucky without a hitch.
We went to a hotel in Lexington, showered, and then joined the festivities at the finish line while we waited for the last of our team to come through. The whole team ran through the finish line together, celebrating the accomplishment.
200 miles. Time 31:24:20.