Yesterday was the big day for me and my relay team. Of course it was not without incident but I'm happy to say that we all finished our legs and we finished the race!
Thursday night I spoke to Jade who informed me she was working on Friday until 10:30 or 11 pm. Cue freakout one. She also informed me that she and her fiance wouldn't be leaving until Saturday morning. Cue freakout two. I immediately became convinced that not only would there be construction resulting in immense amounts of traffic but she would also get a flat tire and then get into a slight fender bender with no injuries but 3 hours worth of waiting for insurance and law enforcement officials. Early Friday morning I got a text from Tiffany that she had been up sick all night and was still planning to come but didn't know if she'd be ready to leave at 2 like we planned. Cue freakout three. An hour or two later
Autumn sends me a text saying her stomach is really upset and that she wasn't feeling well but was still coming. Obviously, cue freakout four. At this point I was considering going up to Indy and seeing if I could sell our bib because this was looking hopeless and I was in no position to run multiple legs especially since I was already running the second longest one. I talked to Autumn on the phone and the more she talked the more confident I felt that she would be ok for her leg but I was nervous since I was still unsure about the other two. Me, Autumn and Tiffany did end up rolling out around 4.
We got up to Indy and checked into our hotel which just so happened to have free dinner, drinks and popcorn! (insert shameless plug for Drury Inn) My two counterparts wanted nothing to do with food but did nibble some popcorn at least and get drinks. I was really excited to find something vegetarian friendly behind the meatballs and jumbo hot dogs and ended up with a simple penne pasta with tomato sauce. After we ate we headed out to packet pick up which is always fun then back to the hotel to lay around and watch tv (a perfect pre race evening). It was around this time that Tiffany got hungry! It was a big moment and a sign she was feeling better. Our hotel was like 300 feet from a Cracker Barrel so she ordered some carryout and we walked over to pick it up. While waiting I came across this gem:
Finally it was back to the hotel and for me and Tiffany, time for bed. In the morning we learned that Alexis pretty much never went to bed because she was a little sick and had some heartburn. We were up at 5 and left around 6 to get to our 6:40 shuttle. Jade sent me a text around 5 letting me know they were on the road and that helped ease my nerves a bit. We left our hotel just to drive to the race sponsored hotel where the shuttle would pick us up.
There were 2 shuttles to the race site and we "lucked" into getting the 6:40am shuttle instead of 7:25. Did I mention the race didn't start until 8:30? And that it was 39 degrees before sunrise? Actually it was 41 degrees but the wind made it feel like 39. Same difference if you ask me. If there was any aspect of any race I've done that deserved a gold star it would be the race committee's excellent use of fire pits. The biggest perk of the early shuttle was that we got front row seats next to the middle fire pit and it felt soooo gooood.
Jade met us there around 7:30 and I instantly felt better to have the whole team together. We stayed warm as best we could and watched the sunrise and the clouds move out. It had been raining all day on Friday so it was a welcomed change to see sun again. We walked Jade to the start and handed off our gear bags.
Autumn held onto Jade's bag, Tiffany held Autumn's and I held mine and Tiffany's. At our exchange Tiffany would take mine back to the finish. We managed to get one quick team photo and then Jade was into the starting chute!
I'd be lying if I said I missed being in the starting chute. Another perk of being the anchor (which I was) would be that I didn't have to do the start line shuffle or get nervous being crammed in with hundreds (or thousands) of other people. Shortly after the gun
Autumn walked over to her exchange zone and Tiffany and I went back to the fire pits. It was strange to think that I still had 3-4 hours before I'd be running. I was due to take a shuttle to my exchange zone by 9:30 so I snapped a few pics of the pretty fall colors and then me and Tiffany parted ways. This was by far the most gorgeous course I've ever run.
I saw Jade again before I got on my shuttle and was so proud of her! There was a lot of badassery on her face. The shuttle ride was easily 20 minutes and all of us anchors were anxiously chatting and checking our phones obsessively for updates. Here's a word of wisdom for anyone thinking about doing a relay style race, don't put the worrier in the anchor leg. I had anxiety until it was my turn to run and even then I was a little nervous. I nervous pee'd 3 times between 10:45 and 12:30 and turned my phone on and off about a gazillion times. Not that I didn't have cause to worry. Sleeplessness and illnesses seem pretty valid to me. I especially freaked when Tiffany text me and said she was worried she hadn't seen
Autumn yet. Minutes later I got the word that she was in sight and a few minutes later Autumn reassured me that the hand off had been made. She was slower than either of us expected but it was still a great clip and I was glad she was feeling alright. I got off the bus and had about an hour and some change to kill before my hand off was expected. It was still cold so I was trying to keep warm and busy instead of watching the clock. I mentioned to one of the other anchors that according to the clock I had about an hour before I was going to really start worrying and no sooner had the words left my mouth than Tiffany came around the bend. She looked tired but again, was beaming badassery. We made our exchange and off I went. The absolute best part about being the anchor in a marathon relay (aside from getting to cross the finish line) is that you get to pass and not be passed back. My leg started at mile 19 to the end and by then the marathoners are usually tired but also in a slow and steady, relatively consistent pace. I was doing 7.15 miles and had just been hanging around for 4 hours so my slow and steady was finally faster than someone's! I came out right behind the 5:30 pace group and passed them early on. After that I literally picked people off left and right. I told them all good job and when passing a particularly spent looking woman who said she wished she had my energy I made sure to tell her that I was in the relay and had just started. Not sure if that made her feel better about herself or just hate me but either way, I didn't want people thinking I was someone I wasn't. My first mile was 10 minutes flat and the next a little over 10. I wasn't feeling nearly as great as I was last week so I backed off a bit to around 11 minutes but it wasn't long before I was wishing for those compression sleeves. My shins started pulling maybe 2 miles in which made 5 more miles sound not so great. Around mile 23 the cramps set in and lasted for another mile and a half. I still ran my intervals but backed way off of my pace. I just wanted to finish as best I could but also kept in mind that this was my longest distance run since a 10 miler in April. I trotted along and just took in all of the fall colors and before I knew it I saw mile 25. I finally got excited which made mile 26 come up quickly. Not long after I saw the mile 13 mark (for the half marathoners) and could see the finish .1 of a mile away. As I made the final turn and kicked it into full gear (which was, um...still slow-ish) I saw Tiffany and Autumn waving and cheering. The announcer even talked about me! So what if he called me by my sister's name? It was so exciting to be finished and to see my other teammates feeling better. We stopped by the post race cookout (where they had veggie burgers!!!) before loading the shuttle and heading back to the car. We went over to the YMCA where the race had arranged free showers for all competitors (amazing!) then we headed home. I had so much fun despite the anxiety and can't wait to hopefully have an encore next year!