The sweet smell of a job well done. In the world of running relays, apparently it smells like Twizzlers and feet.
If you’re considering signing up for one of these relays, ponder no longer. Sign up and don’t look back. These things are way too much fun.
We met up in a sleepy fog in the hotel lobby in Columbia, SC at 5:30AM on Friday, piled into our still reasonably smelling vans, and headed for the starting line. At 6:30AM the Mimosa Running Club’s first runner crossed the starting line in the second wave of runners, and we were off. 30 hours, 25 minutes, and 50 seconds later we crossed the finish line together in Charleston, and moved on to the eating and drinking portions of the race, where we fully lived up to our team name. In between, we had a ball.
We came home with as many runners as we left with, and nobody suffered any injuries, so that’s a victory in my book. Here’s a quick recap of my 3 legs of the run:
Leg 6 of 36, 8.01 miles, 11:10AM start
This one was toasty warm. Not in an absolute sense, with the temperature only around 70 degrees, but in a relative sense to my typical training-run temperature over the last few months of somewhere around 35 degrees. This was entirely on paved roads, and featured one moderate hill, and one big, ugly, angry hill. Our team’s official uniform was either a tutu or a kilt, and since I didn’t have a kilt, I told my daughter I’d borrow a tutu. Never let it be said I don’t live up to my word:
The teams were still fairly bunched up during this run, and although I didn’t plan to go out running very fast, I couldn’t resist trying to catch and pass a few people. Managed to get by 3 people along the way, and really enjoyed running through rural South Carolina. I was the last of the 6 runners in our van, so once I finished and we snapped a few photos, we headed off to the starting point of leg 13 and took a nice collective nap in the sun.
Leg 18, 9.68 miles, 8:39PM start
By the start of this leg we were about 2 hours ahead of schedule, so my expected midnight-run was a little earlier than planned. It wasn’t any less dark, however, and definitely not any less remote. I started out at a decent pace, and noticed a light coming up behind me – the only light anywhere around. The runner came up to about 20 feet behind me, then just hung there for about a quarter mile. I turned around to see who was behind me, but with their headlamp I couldn’t really tell who it was. I asked if they wanted to team up, and got an enthusiastic ‘YES!’. At that point my new friend Megan fell in beside me for a long run in the dark.
I could tell she was really pushing to keep our current pace, so I told her to pick a comfortable pace and I’d stick with her. She thanked me for staying with her, and apologized for slowing me down, and I simply said there was absolutely no reason to apologize, I had nowhere I needed to be, and my only goals for the whole race were to make friends and have fun, and at that moment I was doing both. She was pretty spooked by the environment, and I didn’t blame her. It was very dark, and every farmhouse we ran by featured one or more barking dog that we could only hear, and could only hope was on a leash or behind a fence. Over the next 9 miles we shared running and life stories, and the time passed amazingly fast. Turns out she had gotten her masters in biochemical engineering two years ago, so I was feeling pretty intellectually inferior for most of the run. Once we finished we shared a high-five and a hug, and I grabbed a late-night sandwich with my team before piling back in the van for another quick sleep break before our final legs of the race.
Leg 30, 3.66 miles, 7:36AM start
My legs were feeling really, really tight for this one, so I set out very slowly. Turns out the slow running wasn’t the answer, so I picked up the pace, and the faster running made my legs feel much, much better. This run took me through a country-club neighborhood for about 1.5 miles. Beautiful setting for a run, but there was one small issue. At the start they said if you didn’t see a race sign at least every mile, you’ve gone off course. Apparently the country club wouldn’t let them put up any signs, so once I passed a mile without a sign I figured I had gotten lost. There were no other runners to be seen, and no support vehicles since the entrance to the neighborhood was blocked by construction at the end where I entered, I got more and more convinced I was lost, but I plowed ahead for lack of a better option. Finally, when I came out of the neighborhood I was met with a sea of signs. Apparently they realized everyone on this leg would think they were lost, and tried to make up for it with quantity. The rest of the run was uneventful, and when I tagged the next runner my race was done.
The finish-line and after party were outstanding. Loads of free beer, awesome Mexican-food buffet, and our own plentiful supply of our namesake Mimosas, combined with far too much sleep and far too many miles made for a great time.
I have to admit that the subsequent shower and nap gave the party a run for its money in terms of general enjoyment. Sunday morning we hit the restaurant ‘Toast’ for a crazy-good breakfast, complete with ….. bottomless Mimosas, of course.
The whole weekend was a great experience, and before we even left Charleston folks were already talking about next year’s run. The event was extremely well run, the teams we met couldn’t have been nicer, and the weather was a little warm for a race, but perfect for just about any other activity.
Another first in my running adventures, and a great new group of friends that get my crazy love affair with running. The wonderful and mysterious odors a group of unwashed, sweaty folks can create in the confines of a rolling support vehicle are just the icing on the cake.