Well hello there.
I survived my spring funk and have many tales to tell of adventures therein.
The last two springs have been tough for me. Last spring there was a fair share of family issues going on, but this spring, I got no excuses. I just tucked my head down and slogged through whatever funk I was in. Straight into a hurtling mass of chaos otherwise known as Gulf Coast Interstate Relay.
My bestie Fallon likes to joke (I think) about how I’m the friend that talks her into doing crazy stuff. Entirely possible. But I did not expect to be captaining the very first relay I ever ran. I felt a little bad that I could only answer some of our runners’ questions based on other people’s experiences in relays, but that is how it goes.
Our final team ended up being: LB, Eve, Jordan, Jacque, Brandi, Keli (Van 1), Val, Me, Brian Fallon, Mo, and Kevin (Van 2). We made up Team Buck It.
So just to back up a bit: GCIR is a relay race. You can cycle it or run it. It spans four states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida). One of the teams told us that it is the longest running relay race in America at 263 miles (but I don’t know that for sure).
If you aren’t familiar with relay racing, each member is assigned legs of the race and the Van 1 starts off with the first six runners. They drop off their first runner, drive to transition and wait for that runner to finish and drops off the next runner. They continue this until all six runners have finished and they meet Van 2 at the point where the sixth runner finishes so that the second van can continue on with runners seven through twelve. Runners pass a baton as they complete their legs (our baton was a slap bracelet). When your van is inactive, you can sleep, eat, hang out. But mostly sleep.
Since GCIR is longer than typical relays, which are between 100 and 200 miles, the legs were longer, so it was hard to find 12 people who could make that commitment. We had a total of 6 members who had signed up at one point and then later dropped out for various reasons. I was pretty stressed over the last week making last minute arrangements securing volunteers (we were supposed to provide 3 but the logistics of volunteering was fuzzy), getting our van (my friend LB rented a van for her half of the team and Fallon seriously came through on borrowing a 15 person passenger van), and filling empty places. We even had a last minute drop out on Thursday (although she had a good reason) and had to find someone literally the night before. Big shout out to the Alexandria running community for in general awesomeness!!!
at the start
So Friday morning comes. We have 12 runners, 2 vans, and a ton of bottled water. All is good. I make it to the captain’s meeting, for which I felt woefully unprepared, as everyone else had color coded binders with the handbooks and transitions printed out. The race director, Nino, was giving details about each transition.
“So when you are approaching transition 19 there is a patch of gravel right before the sandwich board so you are going to want to hop on the sidewalk but avoid the purple fire hydrant and before you get to the transition you are going to want to slow to a jog, spin on one foot, and sprinkle the blood of three red head virgins on the ground.”
I leaned over and joked to someone, “Am I supposed to remember all this?” To which the man replied, “You aren’t recording this?” So I knew we were in trouble. It was great that there was so much detail, especially for cyclists, but bad because we were fresh out of red head virgins.
Our team was a mix of fast experienced runners and newbies, which was pretty cool. We had signed up as having a 10 minute mile average got the earliest wave time, 1:00, along with the only ultra team: Ultra Moms on a Mission.
Moms on a Mission and Team Buck It at the start
LB started us off. Van 1 hung around to watch her as she looped back by the starting line and Van 2 left in search of food. We followed the route and hung around at Turtle Landing (restaurant/bar), narrowly missing the alligator that was chilling behind our van, and safely arriving at Transition 6 to watch Eve hand off to Kevin around 7:30.
Turtle Landing Alligator right behind our van
Van 2 hanging out, Kevin ready to run, and Turtle Landing Cow
Our six legs were interrupted by an hour long thunder and lightning storm that the Ultra Moms powered through and we chose to wait out. Val ran a speedy 5 miles once the storm stopped. Mo’s first leg went over the Biloxi Bridge around 11 pm and my first leg started right at midnight. I didn’t end up taking any pictures because I was so ready to just get moving! Those 9.75 miles along the beach in the middle of the night were pretty cool though. It would have been even cooler if I could have actually seen the water, but I sure felt the sand. In some unexpected places. Poor Brian had been waiting about 12 hours to run his first leg and by that point, everyone was out of steam.
Fallon before her first leg looking fierce
LB starts her second leg while Mo shivers looking on
Van 1 crashed at a Motel 6 near our exchange and we grabbed their hotel key so we could catch a couple of hours of sleep sans van but got up bright and early Saturday morning. Once I had some coffee I was bright eyed and having the best time though. We were ready to meet Van 2 at the halfway mark!