|A Dude, a Mountain, and the Road|
Back at the very end of July a running acquaintance, Nathan Daughtrey, who runs with a local running group called the Woo Hoo Crew contacted me to see if any of my runners might be interested in filling in three spots on his Blue Ridge Relay team. Three members had to back out for various reasons and Nathan and the Crew wanted to try to keep the team at 12 members. Most of my runners were in the heat of half or full marathon running so I didn't want to temp them into an endurance event like this during their training, so I volunteered. I figured it was a great way to check "Endurance Relay" off my bucket list.
Afterward, I though, "OMG! What did I just do!" But, a commitment is a commitment, so I tried to wrap my brain around the upcoming event. Because of my schedule, I wasn't able a attend any of the Woo Hoo Crew relay team meetings. Nathan did a great job of keeping me apprised of what was going on, but I couldn't help but feel a little like an outsider missing all the fun.
|Pre-Relay Dinner with the Woo Hoo Crew in Jefferson, NC|
Shortly before the race, I discovered that my last Leg increased from 4.5 miles to just shy of 7 miles and the difficulty rating changed from Moderate to Hard. Road construction and safety issues caused a route change increasing the mileage. So, now my mileage was closer to 24.5 miles. "I've got this," I told myself. In the back of my head, I kept thinking, "You're gonna die!" But I'm RunnerDude, right?
|The Woo Hoo Crew Plus a Dude|
|The Rainbow was so big, I couldn't get all of it in the frame!|
That night, was full of tossing and turning. I just couldn't get to sleep. My brain wouldn't shut off. I do multiple runs in a day, but not quite at the distance I was to do this weekend. The group was all about having fun and just completing the relay, not about killing themselves doing it. So, the pressure was self-induced. I may have gotten in about 2 hours of sleep when the alarm rang around 4:30AM to get up and get ready for the trek to Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia, the start of the relay.
|Getting Ready for the Big 10-Mile Leg|
As soon as my feet hit the pavement my nerves began to settle. The view was amazing! This route took me out of the park, across the state line and into some of the most beautiful mountain countryside I've ever seen. Most of the legs were along back roads, traveled mainly by locals. I got to run down curvy gravel roads through hollers with old farm houses tucked in the trees here and there. The roads winded up and down some rather steep hills but the view was a great distraction. I finished my first leg well under the goal time I had set for myself. A big confidence booster.
|My view for 10 miles up Grandfather Mountain.|
|Blue Ridge Relay Course|
Moral to the story. When you feel like your mojo is no more, challenge yourself. Do something out of the ordinary. Push the limits. Think outside of the box.
Trust. Believe. Conquer!
A huge thanks to all the members of the Woo Hoo Crew Blue Ridge Relay team who motivated, inspired, and put up with me last weekend. You guys are awesome!