What happens when you put 11 bloggers & readers on 3 teams? A marathon relay!!

north face endurance challeng

This weekend was the Mid-Atlantic segment of the North Face Endurance Challenge series. It took place in beautiful Algonkian Regional Park in Northern VA.

I had the pleasure of running a leg in the marathon relay with a lovely group of ladies.

running bloggers

My team: Run Bloggers Run!

run bloggers run

Meghann, Ashley, Me, & Jess

blogger shirts

Team Run to Eat lookin’ hot in their snazzy tanks. Leslie, Amanda, Gretchen, & Cara.

run to eat

And Team Awesome. They were missing a teammate :(. Brittany, Julia, & Amy.

team awesome

Before the race started, we learned how to hand off the ankle chips for the relay. (Take it off, put it on the next person….thanks guys.)

The website implied it was a tough & hilly trail course—it didn’t help that part of the pre race instructions included checking in at the aid stations so they’d know if you got lost, and to find your way by looking for the right color tie. (Red!) And that whole thing about copperhead snakes. (Don’t worry, just keep running!)

relay handoff lessons

I was expecting a huge crowd, but there were only about 20 relay teams.

The first leg runners getting ready to start:

 relay team start

And they’re off!

run start

Since I was running the 3rd 6.5 mile leg, I had a little time to spare. The race started at 11, which was a little weird for fueling- I ate about half of this bagel-peanut butter-sunflower seed combo (yes, again) before I got distracted by the 1st 50 mile racer getting ready to finish.

pre race snacks

There he is looking strong! This guy was flying- it must’ve only taken him about 6 1/2 hours. Seriously?!!!!

1st 50 mile finisher

Not much later the first relay leg runners made it back for the 1st hand off.

relay handoff

They reported back on the course- “flat, fast, & short”! They flew through the course!

 

Before long it was my turn to run. (By the way, check out how gorgeous this place is)

great falls park

The course started on a loop around a field, then down an asphalt path by a park. Then it narrowed and turned into more of a trail. Some parts got pretty narrow back in the woods, but I wouldn’t really say it was a difficult trail to maneuver. Just a couple small ditches and muddy spots. 🙂

marathon course

(I guess you have to run a longer distance to actually get to experience more “trail”. Next year anyone?!)

I started off great- about an 8:30 pace according to the guy behind me. (He was ahead of me but I made sure to stay on his tail at the beginning in case I got lost! Then I ended up passing him. And then he passed me. ;))

I was running sans ipod to enjoy the scenery. It was fun seeing all the other runners come by the other direction- 50 milers, 50K-ers, marathoners, relayers. The first (only) aid station was about 2.5 miles in. (You got to pass it twice.) I was more than ready for some water by that point. It was HOT.

Then I had a nice post race beer.

race tag

Oh did I skip something? How about the part where I completely lost it and it all went downhill? Oh yeah, that.

My stomach had been just a bit off earlier, but I thought nothing of it. All of a sudden a little more than half way through I couldn’t think of anything but my stomach. I’ll try to refrain from getting too graphic, but it was bad. As in, even if I was in the comfort of my own home I would’ve been suffering. But instead I was in the middle of the woods and couldn’t find a path off the trail.

Luckily Leslie came running up behind me and renewed my faith in life when she said there was a porta potty just past the aid station.

I’ve never been so happy to a stinky plastic building in my life.

I started running again, but realized I still wasn’t in good shape. I U-turned and hit the porta potty again.

At this point I was so dehydrated that I was dizzy, nauseous, and miserable. I’ve never wanted to quit anything so badly in my life. But obviously that wasn’t happening 😉 (Although I did imagine them sending a searching party into the woods…)

In case that wasn’t enough to deal with, my knee was all sorts of hurting. Pain so bad that it was shooting from my knee to my hip, and it actually hurt more to walk. I just kept thinking this can’t be good…make it 2 more steps….2 more…

Then she lived happily ever after.

Ok fine, I skipped ahead again.

Eventually I saw the finish line. I felt so bad for slowing my team down so much, but all I could do was finish as best as I could. Good thing we were just there to have fun!

And than I yakked my guts out. (Which was thoroughly embarrassing as you can imagine. I apologize to any witnesses.) A few sips of water and I was back to life.

See?

post race beer

So not my best race. Why can’t these things happen on training runs instead of races?! Oy vey.

Moving on. Post race snacks! (After I devoured most of them.) Bagel pieces, pretzel sticks, cookies, Skittles, and super delicious gummy bears.

post race snacks

We finished!! Go team RBR!

team rbr

No lie about the snakes either. Cara saw one “THIS BIG”!

snake story

Then we were off to chow down!!

We decided Mexican was the perfect post-race food, so we hit up Uncle Julio’s.

uncle julio's mexican

These were some of the best veggie fajitas- huge chunks of grilled zucchini, portabella mushroom, potatoes, peppers, & onions on freshly made tortillas. Yum!!

veggie fajitas tortilla chips

Plus chips & really good, smoky salsa!

Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye to new friends 🙁

bloggers

This was such a fun, fabulous day, (despite the not-so-good run) and I’m so glad to have all of you wonderful girls!!