Relays and Christmas and Hills. Oh my!

The Blue Ridge Relay has become one of my favorite events. All year, I look forward to a weekend spent doing something crazy with friends who think it is just as fun as I do. Our team (the 12 Things of Xmas) has the MOST fun and the BEST team spirit.

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Oh yes, we’re staying with the Christmas theme! Look for the 12 Things of Christmas in 2014. We’re doing icicle lights next year.

My teammate Gordy always puts together an awesome slide show/video, and this year was no exception. I offer you the 2013 12 Things of Christmas video (and would like you to especially note just how dark it is at night, even with our rockin’ strings of battery-operated mini-lights):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC63iSST3Hs

Recently, I was surprised to be chosen to be one of the official bloggers of the Blue Ridge Marathon. The race has been on my radar for some time, because a) My friends Matt and Amy do the half every year and have told me how great it is, b) I recently saw Matt’s race t-shirt, which says “You run hills. I run mountains.” and c) Mountains! The course looks gorgeous. And, Matt is doing the full this year.

I’ll be hosting a contest on my blog the week of November 4-8 for a FREE race entry. Since you are one of literally TENS of readers, you have a great chance of winning!

Since the Blue Ridge Relay has a formidable amount of elevation gain and loss (27,000 ft over 208 miles), I figured that the Blue Ridge Marathon was a good comparison. Only I have to run farther, and there are no breaks. On the upside, I don’t have to drive, or climb in and out of a 15 passenger van 287 times.

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I don’t think this was actually on one of my legs, but it may as well have been.

This is my third year doing the race and I’ve done a different set of legs each time. In 2011 I was Thing 1, last year I was Thing 11, and this year I was Thing 10, switching with Thing 9 for the last leg. I ran a little over 19 miles and had 4000 ft. of elevation change (mostly gain). And I can say with certainty that this year’s legs were the toughest I’ve run. I definitely wasn’t in as good shape this year either, which played a part too.

My last leg included the steepest hill on the relay, which had a 10-16% grade for over a mile. For me, it was not that tough, because it was not actually runnable. Even doing run intervals seemed impossible, so I mostly power-walked it.

The Blue Ridge Marathon (26.2 miles) has over 7000 ft. of elevation change. Hmm, how am I going to pull that off? Hill repeats every week? Twice a week?

I love hills, but this is crazy! Stay tuned for this marathon journey. In the meantime, I’ll be training for Richmond, which has a very reasonable elevation profile.

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2012 Blue Ridge Relay with 12 Things Gawn Fishin’

Writing a race report for a 210 mile relay in the Blue Ridge mountains in September, with 12 teammates, two 15 passenger vans, 27,000+ feet of elevation change, over 30+ hours is a bit like:

1. Answering an email from a student that states: “I was absent yesterday. Did I miss anything important?”

2. Trying to explain to my folks why I would run a 40 mile trail ultramarathon, and why I loved it (believe me, my parents aren’t the only ones).

3. Explaining to my 9 year old at bedtime (when else?) why it is likely that life exists on other, Earth-like planets.

Rather than attempting this insurmountable task, I instead present you with the awesome video of our experience, put together by my 12 Things teammate Gordy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eg4X6Z6uINY

A few notes for those of you who may not know the 12 Things:

+ This was the second running of the BRR for the 12 Things. We will always be the 12 Things. Last year we were the 12 Things I Hate About Running. This year we were 12 Things Gawn Fishin’.

12 Things Gawn Fishin’ at the start! And yes, we are all wearing pants.

+ We have the most fun and best support of any of the 145 teams on the relay. We entertain our own runners and other teams with lots of silliness along the way.
Some of the treats we left in other teams’ vans.

+ Gordy manages some kind of cinematic magic to turn a group of 12 wacky goofballs into a somewhat cool, but completely dysfunctional family. Though I’m harboring a twinge of regret over some of my costumes. Ha ha! NO I’M NOT!!!

What?!

We can’t wait for 2013!