Monday, September 17, 2007

Slightly Stiff Summary - Part One

Well... we made it. It took a hell of a lot longer than usual and longer than planned, but we did it... again. My 5th RTB is in the books and I have to say that it was as fun as usual. Here's somewhat of a recap and I'll post the leg summary in the next post:

Our start time this year was 11:20 a.m. on Friday which was unusual because we had a slower predicted time than last year, but this was almost an hour later than last year's start. I think it was partially due to the large number of teams and might have been because we were a veteran team so our risk of being really off from plan was lower. The drive up was uneventful and we arrived with plenty of time to sign in and get runner 1 ready. Funny story from the way up: We got close and we suddenly saw at least a dozen runners running on Route 93 S against traffic! Sucks when you take a wrong turn on leg 2 of the race. I wonder how far they got before they realized it was wrong. Oh, and their leg was already over 9 miles without a detour... sucks to be you kids. I was in van 2 so we headed out to get gas, kill time, and hang out where we were starting. We finally got into action at something like 4 p.m. and the fun was on. Lowlight from our first set was my lovely wife coming in with her leg covered in blood. Turned out she stepped in a pothole and went down, banging her knee pretty good. To her credit, she shrugged it off as a momento of the event and still ran every step of her 15 miles for the race.

We had about a 2.5 hour break at the next starting point for us and we all tried to doze a little until midnight when we got going again. It didn't really work, but we tried. Literally just as we were taking the handoff for our second set, the rain started (it wouldn't be RTB without it). I was probably the most fortunate as most of my leg was in sort of just a refreshing drizzle. A couple people got totally poured on. We finally finished up this set at sometime after 6. We hit a DnD for some snacks and then it was off to our "big" block of sleep. Hysterical story from DnD... we're in there and a guy comes in impatiently asking if he can cut the line. We notice he's wearing the wrist band (baton) from the event. Turns out it was his turn to run and he was cruising by and thought an iced coffee sounded good. He grabbed it and continued on and we saw him a mile up the road with a huge smile carrying his iced coffee. We headed off to our next starting spot and I had to pull over part way there to get someone to drive since I hadn't slept yet and was declaring myself dangerous to drive. We got there safe and then I finally got a massive hour and a half of sleep which, by the way, made all the difference.

By now the team as a whole was about 45 minutes behind plan due to a number of things including the rain, some murderously hard legs, and some digestive issues going on with some people in my van. This event really is a matter of, shall we say "plumbing management" and it can be a truly miserable experience if you don't keep your stomach and the ins and outs that are connected happy. We started up again at maybe 11:30 a.m. for set 3, but 2 of us still had 2 legs to go since the team was a runner short. By the time we got rolling, the rain had stopped, the sun was coming back out, we were getting close to done, and the conversations had just turned ridiculous as they only can with a bunch of really exhausted runners.

The way the last 3 legs were working was that van 2 finished our 3rd set, we handed back to van 1 for one leg, then they handed back to us for the final 2. It's all part of our carefully orchestrated plan to get the right people doing the extra work while taking advantage of the rules on dropping people. The downside is that if people get hurt at the end, the few who are left in are screwed and they also get very short rest. I basically finished my 3rd leg, toweled off, put dry running clothes on, drank and ate as much as I comfortably could, and then had to loosen up to go again. I think my total break was less than an hour and a half.

The sight of the ocean in this event makes you feel like you could run another several miles and this year was no different. I had the final leg and I was just waiting for that bend in the road when it's just there in front of you. The bad part was that as soon as I got onto the boardwalk I could also see ALL the way down the beach to where I had to go. I just tried to keep chugging and prayed every step that the twinges in my quads wouldn't go into full cramp mode. I did make it, but not without one final "event". Since teams like to cross the line together, they started giving the final runner a baton at the entrance to a chute that they set up so nobody could sneak across and pretend like they were done. Well I was hauling since I could see the line and when I got to the guy handing them out, he wasn't ready with one. I got by him and he yelled to take one so I had to turn back a little to get one. The problem was that the chute was along a sand dune and there was this shrub thing on the right side of it. Between turning back hurriedly and then spinning around again, I had wandered off the path a little and was literally in the shrub. I just high stepped it through, but ended up with scratches all over my right leg from it. Oh well... it'll be a longer lasting reminder.

Ok, fingers need a break and then I'll type up the report of my legs.

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