We spent the night in Chattanooga on Thursday, and we headed to the start line for our 9am start. Here is the team and our awesome van drivers at the start of the race.
I was in van 2 this year to get a change of scenery. Because of that, the start was a little anticlimatic. We had quite a bit of time to kill until we would take over as the active van. First, we went to Cracker Barell and had some coffee and breakfast. Then, we made our way to Jasper, TN where the first major exchange was located.
We stopped at the CVS (one of few places in Jasper to stop for any reason), and a sheriff pulled up to ask us some questions about the race. Several team members decided to have a little fun and pose for pictures by the car when he wasn't looking. Another man walked up and actually had handcuffs and anklecuffs (I think we was a retired sheriff or something), and he offered to let us put them on for some funny pictures.
We headed to the major exchange and checked in for the safety meeting. I volunteered to be the person to hold everything up during the meeting, so that made it a little less dull for me as I practiced my Vanna White skills. Then, I was able to catch up with a few people I knew on other teams who were still hanging out at the exchange.
Before long, we were finally taking over. Our first runner was the brave soul who had to run all the way up Monteagle. I was not envious of his leg. While we waited at the top, I found what may be Jasper's main tourist attraction.
I was runner 10, so this meant I ran 4th in our van. We finally rolled into Tracy City, and I started getting ready to take over and run my first 6.4 miles. It was close to 4:30, so I had to go on and put on my vest and blinky light. Fortunately, I'd finish the run before it really got dark.
One of our teammates had a magic wand, so she blessed me before my run.
And then I thought it'd be fun to take some photos with the eagle. Before long, we saw Sandra running in. I grabbed the slap bracelet, and I was off!
About 30 seconds later, I rounded a corner and found two medium-sized dogs who started barking and chasing me. I started running faster and assumed they'd just kind of chased me for a second and back off. Then I felt something in my calf. I started yelling at them and running faster, and one of them kept jumping at my calf. I felt teeth and screamed at the dogs, and they took off. I got a little ways down the road and paused to check... I definitely had a scratch of some sort, but I was ok and just kept going.
I listened to my music and tried to enjoy the perfect running temperatures. I had a bit of adrenaline from the whole dog biting me thing, and before long I was closing in on the exchange. I managed to run an average 8:25 pace! I guess dogs do make me run faster. I had a few hills, but it wasn't terrible so that may have helped, too.
I told my team that I had two kills and that they were men. We rejoiced. Then I told them I had been bit by a dog. We cleaned up the scratch with some alcohol pads (it was bleeding so it stung like crazy), and then put on some neosporin and a band-aid. I was sure it'd be fine, and it made for a good story. Battle wound so to speak.
It started getting dark, and we soon turned it back over to van 1. We found an Italian place in Cowan, and we enjoyed a really delicious meal. By this point, my team had started cracking jokes about whether or not I was going to start foaming at the mouth... or I'd sneeze and someone would tell me it sounded like a bark. I think what I love most about relays is how your vanmates become like family. I hadn't known any of them except one guy who was in my van in Chicago before the weekend, but now we're all old friends.
We were able to rest a bit, but then we took back over again in Lynchburg. My second leg was 4.1 miles through Shelbyville around 3am. It was eerily quiet and lonely out there, but I flew through it (and over the hills) and clocked an average 8:38 pace. I even had a couple more kills. I'd been telling the team that the sooner we all ran, the sooner we got to sleep. We all took that to heart!
We soon turned it back over to van 1, and we headed to a teammate's home near the next exchange to climb into beds and nap for two hours. I woke up feeling ready to go.
We took back over again for the last time in Cool Springs. I was ready to get my last run behind me, and before long we were at my exchange.We snapped some photos before I took off again...
I took over and set out on my last 6.1 miles.
Don't worry, I caught that girl right away.
My last leg was through the Belle Meade area. It's not too far from where I live, and I run around there frequently. I was feeling strong for the first four miles, and when I passed my team in front of Percy Warner Park I was thankful we didn't have to run IN the park.
I started fading over the last 2 miles. I had some tough hills in this leg, and it was almost 2pm on Saturday. The temperature was very close to 70, and I was WARM. I kept pushing, and I soon rolled into the exchange after getting a couple of kills and averaging a 10:00 pace.
We had two more runners to go. It wasn't long before we sent the last one out and headed to the finish line on riverfront in downtown Nashville.
We soon saw our 12th runner, and we joined him to run across the finish line. We did it!
We enjoyed some free pizza and beer, but we were all exhausted and ready to get home. I think we looked pretty good considering we'd only slept about 2 hours in the past 34 or so hours.
I had SO much fun running in this event again. Relays really are a blast. It's definitely not about winning. It's about getting out there and having fun while running and when you're hanging out with your team. I have met so many new people from running these relays, and they are all so much fun and such a pleasure to know!
I crashed hard Saturday night, and then I took it pretty easy on Sunday. Recovery from these events is a bit tougher for me than it is after a marathon. I'm always just so exhausted from not sleeping... and hungry all the time!
On Monday, I found that my dog bite had bruised. I went on over to the doctor just to be safe, and he thought it was healing nicely. He did want to give me a tetanus shot since I hadn't had one in who knows how long, saying that there could be bacteria on the dog's teeth from chewing on things, etc. Now my arm is more sore than anything else! I also don't think I'll ever have any trouble remembering when I got my last tetanus shot!