Well, it’s been a couple days, so I think I can properly reflect on my race experience now. My muscles are barely sore and I believe I’ve erased the sleep deficit I built up Friday and Saturday. The hard patches of the race are fading in my memory already and I am still focused on the bright spots.
Let’s see…G and I dropped Lucy off at day care and met up with the 3rd runner in our vehicle, Valor. We headed up to Bellingham and arrived with tons of time to spare. Our other vehicle left earlier as they ran the 1st three legs of the race. We waited for them to arrive at a lovely seaside park in Bellingham. There were numerous teams hanging out and lots of great costumes, decorated vans, etc. Eventually, Anand ran in to the exchange point and Valor took off on his 1st leg. G ran next and flew with sub 8-minute miles for the full 11.2 miles he ran. Wow. I took over a little before 8 pm for my first leg. It was also 11.2 miles and started along the scenic Chuckanut Drive. I even ran by a strawberry farm where the berries were fullly ripe. It smelled amazing. This section of my run was one of the highs: Chuckanut Drive at sunset. Gorgeous. I started off way too fast and my first couple miles were at about an 8-minute pace. I gradually slowed down, though my average was still 8:30/mile. By the time I finished, it was pretty dark and I happily handed off to Craig.
G, Valor and I set off to find food in Anacortes. We made the dubious decision to eat Mexican food and I suffered for it throughout the rest of the race. I didn’t have any major issues, but lots of stomach cramps and generally feeling yukky. After our hasty meal, we drove to our hotel room to try and catch a very brief nap before Valor’s next leg. We only had about an hour, and I was never able to sleep. I did lay there, which is more relaxing than not, but the hour was up way too soon.
At midnight, we quickly gathered our things and headed off to the next exchange point. Valor picked up running before 1 am and had the least pleasant leg of the whole race- 16.8 miles through the dead of night. Poor guy. G took over for a quick 7 miles through residential Anacortes. My night leg began around 4:15 am and was a very hilly 10 miles. I started off more slowly this time, though still struggled up some of the hills. Lack of sleep did not help my energy level! It was mostly a beautiful run, all along the coast and in some nice wooded areas. I love that time of morning, before the world has started to stir. The moon and stars were bright and the temperature was nearly perfect. The best part was crossing the Deception Pass Bridge as the sun started to rise. Totally breathtaking, and a tiny bit scary. The final stretch of that leg was all downhill (thank goodness, I was getting really tired!). After I handed off, we made a beeline for the hotel as we had a longer break and wanted to try to rest.
I decided to have a quick shower before laying down. Valor and G were already sleep by the time I finished. Sadly, I was not able to do more than doze for the next couple hours. Before I knew it, it was 9 am and time to get moving again. We grabbed a quick coffee from a rather incompetent barista and made our way down Whidbey Island to the next exchange. Valor struggled in his next leg and COMPLETELY ran out of energy. He walked the last mile or so and was as white as a sheet when he came in. I made him eat about 1,000 calories and he bounced back in no time. G again amazed us with his speed and finished up his last leg of 11.2 miles. My turn again. The last section of the whole race was mine to run. Just 8.1 miles (though my GPS said it was 8.4). Definitely the hardest, and also the least scenic. I slogged through it and only walked up one hill. Finally, the finish was in sight. G and my other 4 teammates were waiting to join me and we all ran the last few hundred yards together.
All this was followed by picture taking, some beer and pizza. We didn’t linger too long as G and I were anxious to get home and pick up Lucy. We were just in time to put Lucy to bed, then grabbed some food and showers before crashing ourselves. Lucy was a dear and treated us to 2 great nights of sleep in a row. Boy did we need it! The whole event was a great experience. I’m not convinced I would do the ultra version again (as an ultra team we ran twice as many miles as we would on a regular team), but otherwise it was a lot of fun. On one hand, it’s nice to do a different kind of event w/ gorgeous scenery and largely friendly teams. The down side is you actually do a large portion of the running completely alone.
But yes, I’d do it again. And we did surprisingly well in the overall results– 85th out of 142 teams (only 7 of which were ultra teams).
Prathap’s photos (he was on another related team)
Michael’s photos (also on the other team)