We had a blast on Sunday running across Chittenden County as Team Skirack. No one got lost (on our team), no one cried and we didn’t even have a team fight. And I worked on that whole toughness issue that I’ve struggled with before.
It was a very chilly Sunday morning (and day), but thankfully the rain held off for most of the run. We all piled into my car at CVU just after 8 am on Sunday after cheering Kyle on over the start line. After a coffee run, we drove along the first leg to cheer Kyle on as he climbed 3 miles up and over to Richmond. At the first transition point, Kyle tagged Eric and established our official team tag-off butt slap. Eric barreled towards Cochran’s and Sarah and I both prepped for our upcoming legs. We raced ahead of Sarah (she had a short first leg) to Camel’s Hump Middle School where I attempted to warm up for my leg.
I came into Sunday on dead legs, after running 20 miles on Saturday. I felt good, but knew it would be a grind to get through 13.6 on hilly terrain. Still, I somehow underestimated the hilliness of my route, despite coaching in that district on those roads. The first two miles were hilly, but manageable. It was the screaming uphill in mile 4 that I completely forgot about and where I realized just how tired I was. I was determined to be at or under marathon pace, however, and ground out a first leg at almost 10K PR pace.
The 90 minutes between my legs passed quickly; I rehydrated and fueled as we wound out of Jericho into Essex and like others in the car, felt pretty darn stiff as I warmed up at Catamount for the second leg. The first mile was a breeze; downhill and flat with the wind at my back. I caught a person dressed as a fox. And then things got worse. With the climb over 89 and the long, grinding hill afterward, I was a cranking teammate. I distinctly remember saying to someone “I’m not really having fun anymore.” Somewhere around mile 4 of my second leg, however, I decided that I was going to work on using the mantra I plan to use both for the MCAT on Saturday and during VCM: I am grateful to be here.
I reminded myself that I was grateful to be running with friends, that I was grateful for healthy legs and lungs and for the opportunity to explore backroads near my home. Whether it was the mantra or the downhill, the last few miles flew by. My only major tactical error was at 7 miles, where I turned into Lake Iroquois, the transition zone. With the downhill and the finish in reach, I dropped the hammer down and started to push. Only to hear my watch beep for 7 miles and realize that I had half a mile left. Instead of backing off, I decided to push through instead and somehow held on for another unexpected half mile. I managed to better my pace on this leg, finishing firmly under marathon pace.
In the end, we finished 2nd overall (and to an all male high school team, SO unfair) and had a blast. It was refreshing to run in a new place so close to home and to compete as a team in an unconventional way. It was also good for me to practice pulling myself together even when my legs felt horrible. I highly recommend this race for first-timers and experienced relay teams alike.