Monday, July 31, 2017

Race Recap: Burning River 8 Person Relay

Burning River is a 100 mile race largely on trails. You can run the whole thing (if you are crazy), the front half or the back half (if you are half-crazy), or in a 4-person or 8-person relay. This year I ran Leg 5 of the 8-person relay with the Mother Runners.

I met the Mother Runners for drinks and dinner at the Sheraton on Friday evening after packet pickup. We had a great time together despite the lousy food. Paying 26 bucks for lukewarm pasta and peanut butter cookies is not my idea of a great food experience. For sure next time I will be spending that money elsewhere.

Remember my friend Joy? She ran Leg 7 this year.

The Mother Runners
The Mother Runners had a lot of teams this year, and it got very confusing as we neared race day. The initial goal was for Teams 3, 4, and 5 to run together the whole way; this was why I signed up to run with the Mother Runners. Anyone can run a trail race solo. Joy and I both did it when we ran the Ragnar West Virginia Ultra Trail Relay. I wanted to enjoy myself for this race, and I wanted to run 16.2 miles with my sisters. It took some finagling because some people weren't on board with the Mother Runners' goals, but Leg 5 managed to stick together.

This is EXACTLY how we look when we are NOT running BR. Candice, me, Kristin.
 We showed up at the Ledges in Peninsula, which would be our ending point, and then I drove us to the beginning point, Boston Mills Ski Resort, where we prepped for our leg.

I look confused, right?
After a bit of waiting, the runners from Leg 4 came in, and we took some pictures together:

This is EXACTLY how we look when we are fresh and ready, not tired and stinky.

 The atmosphere at Boston Mills was a big party with lots of people, noise, music, and food.  It really got me pumped up for the run. When Leg 4 came in, we had just a few minutes to change the batteries on the group Go-Pro and make sure we had everything and then BOOM!  We were off at 5:30 pm.

The first stretch of the run was Towpath--nice and flat. Then we turned onto the Bridle Trail for a while. The first aid station came really soon--too soon for me--at 3.5 miles, which was just after Brandywine Falls. Of course, we had to get pictures at the Falls:

Kristin is in charge of the Go Pro.

 We didn't waste too much time at the first aid station because we were just getting warmed up, so we took off in a timely fashion after cramming some chips and peanut M&Ms in our mouths. I LOVE the fuel in trail race aid stations. Nobody eats gels here; it's all peanut butter and jelly, candy, pop, chips.  So much awesome.

We had some long uphills on the trails, and there was a looooonnnngggg, sunny, gravelly hill right by the expressway. After slogging up that hill, I asked Kristin to film my signature move: I threw my fists in the air and yelled, "Yes! I made this hill my bitch!"  I don't know why other people don't see how funny this is.

Our next stop was at Pine Lane, which came after miles of uphill trails. We stuffed our pie-holes there  with junk food, wiped our faces and necks with iced towels (thank you, Volunteers, for being geniuses!), and refilled our water bottles.  That was our last aid station until the end of the leg.

Let me pause a moment and thank all volunteers in the Burning River race. You were all amazing. I felt a little awkward asking for food and water considering I wasn't running 100 or even 50 miles, but you never made me feel like I was unworthy. You commented on our shirts and told us how fabulous we are. Races can't work without volunteers, and you guys are the best.

Ok, I'm done being sentimental now. We left Pine Lane and hit the trails for a while. We passed quite a few 100 milers, and they all seemed to be in great shape. One of those 100 milers was Ron Ross, who is a school board member at the district where I teach, and this year he ran his 10th 100-miler. Amazing! He wasn't even grouchy when we saw him; in fact, none of them were ever grouchy when we passed. We were able to joke with some of the runners because we kept crossing each other, and I even discussed the Ragnar WV Trail with a nice man whom I threatened to smack on the butt as I passed.

One thing I really love about Leg 5 is that there were at least three long stretches of flat road or path that allowed me to stretch my legs: there was the Towpath, a road, and the Bike and Hike. Candice and I took turns going full steam and then walking until everyone was together again. I consider this interval fat-burning work.

About 2.5 miles away from the finish, we turned back into the woods, and this was the point where we needed our headlamps. Once we were in the woods it got dark pretty quickly. I tripped once, but I managed to regain my footing without hitting the ground. Luckily, none of us had a spill, and we made it to the Ledges safely and happily where a huge party awaited us. We took pictures and handed off to Leg 6:

We are a little delirious right now.
And voila! 4 hours, 5 minutes, 20 seconds later it was all over for us.

Candice took me back to my car, and I got home at the same time as my husband, who saw I was whipped and made me a quesadilla while I showered off the bugs and sweat. And then I crawled into bed, exhausted but too excited to sleep deeply.

I got up at 5:30 AM to get to the finish line with the other Mother Runners.

Joy looks like a rock star after her leg. I had time to shower and comb my hair and I still look like a hot mess.

We ate breakfast at the Sheraton (which was better than the pasta dinner) and then waited for our last Mothers to come in. During that time I saw my friend and fellow Cleveland Ambassador Pam (@HopRunner) bring in her superstar husband Steve, who completed his first 100 miler. I can't believe he was coherent and smiling when he came in!

This weekend was definitely a whirlwind, but I so enjoyed it. The philosophy behind the Mother Runners is that women empower women. We stick together and we raise each other up, and that is what I experienced at this race. Special thanks goes to Kristin, who made me a Mother Runner and stuck with me. Thank you to Candice for jumping in when we needed you and not bailing on us when things got funky. Thank you, Mother Runners, for the fun and for the inspiration. You are all amazing.

By the way, I'm thinking of forming a 4-person relay next year. Who's in? Anyone? Well, regardless of your racing or running plans, I hope you Run Happy, Peeps!

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