Tuesday, August 12, 2008

catskill mountain 100k relay: race report

the catskill mountain 100k relay came together for us in only a few weeks! emmy, myriam and pam, worked out the logistics and assigned the course legs to each team member. each member of our 5 person team, emmy, myriam, pam, don and i, would run two 10k legs. myriam would take the first and sixth legs, pam the next two, i would take the fourth and eighth, don would take the fifth and ninth, and emmy would handle the seventh and tenth (final) legs.

our team, "trying to catch the wind," was scheduled for a 6:30 a.m. start time. in hindsight, we should have started with the 6:00 a.m. wave. the staggered start times are intended to keep the bulk of the runners near each other on the course during progress the race. as a consequence of the later start time, we spent large chunks of the day running our legs solo - hardly any interaction with other runners or teams.

emmy and don met me at 7:15 for the 2 hour drive to phoencia. again, in hindsight, we should have left at 6:45 to be on the safe side. despite the fast drive, it took just under 2 hours, because of a miscalculated estimated start time for the fourth leg, we arrived 7 minutes late! i went straight from emmy's car into myriam's, and from myriam's car to the road, where i took over for pam! in the blink of an eye, i'd gone from a passenger at the end of a two hour car ride, to the abrupt start abrupt start of a road race!

my only real concern was the need to make a bathroom pit stop, which i did after the first mile. all i knew about this leg of the course was that it was "hilly." that euphemism should henceforth be banished and replaced with "mountainous!" i say that in all seriousness because when i reached what i thought was the top of the hill, emmy was there to give me some water. the first thing she said was, "i just drove that hill you have to do. it looks pretty tough, but there's a downhill finish to the leg."

was she speaking in the future tense? didn't i just climb "the hill?" apparently not, because after a sharp right turn, the course seemed to proceed vertically! to put it mildly, i was shocked to see the elevation profile of the remaining stretch of leg four. i just plowed forward, power walking as forcefully as i could. i found out later, from brian cavanaugh himself (who measured and certified the course), that this stretch of road included 1000+ feet of elevation gain at a 10% grade. i remember thinking to myself, "wow, all i need now is a walking stick and an oxygen tank. then this would be no problem at all!"

i survive the climb intact, and actually flew down the quarter mile downhill into the exchange area, where i handed off to don and he started leg 5. after that kick-off, the rest of the day was a breeze (with a small thunderstorm tossed in for good measure). emmy, myriam and i hopscotched along the 5th leg, offering don water, gaterade and whatever support he needed. but within a mile of the next exchange, the skies darkened and within minutes the heavens opened up! that's when things got really interesting.

myriam took over from a don - both of whom were totally drenched. emmy handed don a towel, jumped into myriam's car and proceeded to follow her along the course. i got behind the wheel of emmy's car and picked up don. the rain started to come down even harder at that point - and we couldn't get the defroster to work. nor could i get her car seat to slide back since it was broken. after a mile of cramped and zero-visibility driving, i pulled over to the shoulder and don took over the driving. we made it, uneventfully, to the next exchange point and waited there for myriam and emmy.

by the time myriam arrived, the rain had dropped down to a drizzle. emmy took off on leg seven, don draped myriam in a towel, and myriam remarked that we all looked like participants in some sort of roadside wet tee-shirt contest! after a few minutes myriam took off to support emmy, and don drove me over to the next exchange point so i could get ready for my second leg. amazingly - and it just proves that truth is stranger than fiction - we reach the next exchange point and it was alongside a cemetery! hopefully, that was merely symbolic.

but i did get myself into some digestive trouble after my first leg. emmy had offered me a bag of organic corn chips - which i had munched on for a while. those little chips would come back to haunt me - like the cemetery couldn't - during my next leg. also, the wind had picked up considerably, since we were again at the top a hill. so despite having changed into a dry shirt, i felt a bit chilly. i switched from short to long-sleeves to warm-up. emmy, who posted our best time of the day on that leg, handed off to me and i started leg seven.

after checking on me during the first mile, myriam went ahead to the next exchange. don and emmy kept an eye on me for most of that leg, until emmy drove don to the next exchange area. this was the easiest (albeit very humid) running of the day for me! except for the taste of corn chips that kept following me for miles - i was in a happy place. myriam checked on me with 2 miles left to go, then emmy and myriam were at the 1 mile to go mark. but the best was when emmy told me, after i turned a corner off a small bridge, that there was only a quarter mile left!

well i decided to do some sprinting at that point. i ran hard for what i was pretty sure was a quarter mile - only to see the exchange point still far in the distance! a quarter mile away, in fact. so i kept going as hard as i could, handed off to don, and then heard emmy say, "oops, i meant to say half mile away" in a sheepish little voice! still, after getting that second leg done i felt exhilarated! myriam went off to support don, and we followed right behind her. when we got to the final exchange point, myriam went ahead to the finish

i believe there was only one more team behind us. but despite all the ups and downs, we were still smiling! a lot can be said for keeping a positive mental attitude! emmy took over from don and then, after checking on emmy midway thru the last leg, we headed to the finish. there we were reunited with pam! she really surprised me with some pizza that she had brought over from her mom's house - and some excellent microbrews that her husband sent along in a cooler! what an amazing thing!

despite a cooler full of beer selections from a saranac summer selections 12-pack, she insisted i try the new ones! which i couldn't say no to - and immediately had a harpoon i.p.a. to start with. pam had just checked on emmy - who had said "if you guys don't see me at 3:45 - come and get me!" so at precisely 3:45, pam, don and i did just that - went out to check on her. emmy was less than a mile from the finish and doing just fine. so we headed drove back and cheered her on as she crossed the finish!

i'm pretty sure myriam said were came in second place in the mixed open division. and she was even kinder still not to mention that there only appeared to be two teams in the mixed open division ;) the finisher medals were nifty, and we posed for a group shot wearing them. all in all, we had a really great time. it may, however, require the passage of a bit more time before we decide to sign up for this relay again. but, in the end, it's all good :D

here are our unofficial splits, compiled by emmy and myriam.

team 'trying to catch the wind' (mixed open):

51.29 -myriam
53.35 -pam
56.20 -pam
66.41 -frank
52.03 -don
51:53 -myriam
50:09 -emmy
55:04 -frank
61:04 -don
52:47 -emmy

total: 9 hours and 13 minutes

check out the race photos.

check out don's race report.
check out emmy's race report.
check out myriam's race report.
check out pam's race report.


Just_because_today said...

love your report! might use it for the newsletter too.

Pam said...

Great write up. Thanks again for including me on the team. It was great fun. Next time ... I think I'll stick around for the whole day of exchanges ... but, this time I had family obligations. Glad I was able to hook back up with everyone at the finish.

CTmarathoner said...

very nice report ---you just can't make up stuff like us being late and you having to jump out of a 2 hour car ride to climb a mountain:)
hope Myriam does use this!!! I would have cried if we didn't get one of those colorful medals -haha --so we were in the right division after all.

DawnB said...

loved all your race reports you guys were awesome.