This is my third year running Burning River with the Mother Runners, and this year I decided to try for a new goal: I ran in a 4-person team instead of an 8-person team. After all, I thought, I've already run 4 marathons, and this is just under marathon distance. I got this.
I wasn't really worried about the racing factor; my team is usually around last place. I don't consider Burning River to be a race; I look at it like a great big community event where I see every runner I have ever known either on the course, at the finish, or at the aid stations. It's a tremendous party. . . that involves a tremendous amount of pain and suffering. Speaking of parties:
|Mother Runners Intersect with Trail Sisters: Me, Marta, Jennifer, Melissa|
Photo Credit: I don't know, but it's Melissa's phone.
|Trail Sisters at the Pre-Race Dinner|
Photo Credit: Steve Pierce
I chose leg 4, which consists of legs 7 and 8 (25.7 miles) of the 8 person team, for several reasons: 1. I love night running, and this would be an all-night run. 2. I've already run leg 7 in the past, so I would be familiar with this part. 3. It would be nice to come into the finish.
I predicted that each leg of our team would take roughly 6 hours, so I thought I'd start around midnight and run until 6 AM. That would give me plenty of time to fuel properly and rest before waiting for the previous leg. Of course, in my world, things never go as planned. My daughter had her wisdom teeth out the Thursday before the race, and by early Saturday morning, she was screaming in pain from a reaction to the combination of ibuprofen and antibiotic. That was fun. So, no rest for Stephani. (Punkin is fine, by the way.)
As for the fueling, I did a pretty good job EXCEPT that I didn't drink any water at all for the three hours I waited for my team mates. This turned out to be a big mistake.
Anyway, my partner Tamra and I took off from Pine Hollow at 1:07 AM when Amy and Erica came in. I was able to see Marta come in from her legs 5 and 6, and I saw Jen off for her legs 7 and 8.
|Marta, Me, Renee after Marta's finish|
Photo Credit: Steve Pierce
I had spent the last hour in the heated bathroom fighting sleep and questioning my life choices.
|This is EXACTLY how I look when I am in a bathroom at midnight questioning my life choices.|
|Nick is a pirate. Or an admiral. Or something. Photo Credit: Marta Pacur|
We went out for our second loop through the woods, and I felt awesome by then. Again, I wasn't drinking enough water, but I thought that I had drunk enough at the aid station. We showed up again at the Covered Bridge, and I ate another square of grilled cheese and drank some Mountain Dew. At this point we were at 11ish miles, and I felt really awake and happy. We thanked our awesome volunteers and started out for the next aid station.
|Kelleigh is a great volunteer! Photo Credit: Marta Pacur|
These five-ish miles weren't as scary as I had remembered them to be; maybe it's because I was so jazzed from night running, or maybe I have better training under my belt this year. Anyway, we pulled into the Botzum aid station, and I was a little bit delirious at that point because I remembered that I wasn't finished this time. I still had 9.6 more miles to go. The volunteers there were amazing. One woman took charge because I looked confused, and she asked me what I wanted and if she could fill my water bottle. "I don't know what I need," I said, "and my water bottle is full, I think."
"Then you aren't drinking enough water," she replied. Then she got me some warm ramen broth, and that was perfect with a piece of watermelon. It gave me liquid, salt, and sugar: the three very things I needed at that point. We thanked the volunteers and ran outta there.
As we ran, the sun started rising. We were now on the Towpath, and I was able to turn off the headlamp and Knuckle Lights, which was a relief. We passed my friend Felicia, running the Back 50 with her boyfriend Michael, and my friend Ken, also running the Back 50. They all seemed in remarkably good spirits.
We arrived at the last aid station, Memorial Parkway, and I got a nice surprise seeing my friends Sydney and Teresa. They took pics of us.
|I have food in my hand, of course. Photo credit: Sydney Chinchana|
|Tamra and I are a bit dazed, I think. Photo Credit: Teresa Sroka|
We ran through The Chuckery with some wicked steps and uphills and then some flat parts up until mile 25.
|I'm running away from the previous 24 miles!|
Photo Credit: Tamra Harrison
Anyway, we made the turn onto Front St., and my heart sank when I saw that we had to run uphill toward the finish line. I ran about half of the hill, and then I saw Angela and Melissa, Mother Runners, waiting for us to run us in, and that is when Tamra and I let it out. It felt good to finish strong.
|Renee meets me at the finish line. I'm too emotional to talk.|
Photo Credit: Marta Pacur
|Tamra, Me, Lisa, Melissa: Mother Runners!|
Photo Credit: I forget, but it's Melissa's phone. Sorry!
|Which picture do you think is post-beer?|
Photo Credit: Michael Szloh
I'm pretty sore even two days later, and it took a while for the headache to subside. I've managed to swim, walk, stretch, and even run a little bit since the race, but I admit that these trail miles took a toll on my body. I told the Trail Sisters that I thought it was stupid on my part to run a 4 person relay when I could have stuck with one leg and volunteered at the aid stations. . . But the reality is that race amnesia has already set in, and I'm thinking about doing it again.
This is such a fun race. The route is gorgeous and the volunteers are amazing. I will definitely run the relay again. . . but which one?
How's your running? I hope that no matter where, when, and how far you run, you run happy, Peeps!
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