Well here goes!!
As I had mentioned previously-last year’s Need For Speed relay was such a hit with the Flyers, that there were 3 teams formed for this year!! 1 was “competitive” and was looking to score big. The other 2 were fun teams. I was originally on the White team, captained by the same one as last year…til the week before, the Black team was 2 people down due to injuries and called on someone from our team to come over…so much to the dismay of the White team captain, I stepped up to the plate (I felt bad letting him down, but I am glad I wound up on the team I did.)
So around 6:45 on Sunday morning, I meet up with the team van over on the west side. You will notice here-the meetup time was 2 hours later than last year!! Part of that was because this year, a wave start was instituted…so instead of a 7:30 start, our team actually had an 8:30 start (next-to-last wave…based on predicted times, fastest teams start last) So even though I brought a pillow to nap in the van, I didn’t need it.
We made it to Bear Mountain without incident and saw the other 2 Flyer teams, preparing for battle. 8:15 came and went, which meant the 1st Flyer team (White) was off. We were up in 15 minutes…unfortunately, we had to get the van outta there before that wave started, so we couldn’t see our leg 1 runner, JW, start. The announcer described the first leg and me and DM were hysterical laughing about the fact that this leg included the “Goat Trail.” On our way to the first exchange, we stopped to cheer on other runners. We saw JM who was running the 1st leg for the White team, running well. Then we saw JW, who looked pretty damn good as well!! We then drove to the exchange area…through quite a few hills and thought “oh shit, he actually has to run up all of these?”
We got to the exchange area and the Leg 2 runners-RB for our team, Trakmaniak for the Red team, prepped for battle. Trakmaniak was caught on film with a game face like I’ve never seen before. Anyway, JW came in, and probably not even 5 minutes later, PD came in for the Red team. On the way to the next exchange area (in addition to laughing about “Mount Airy Road”…due to a certain TV jingle,) we were speculating as to whether RB was gonna run the “leg ‘o shame”-meaning he’d be passed by the Red team. That was the case, as Trakmaniak came flying in to the exchange area first (and his words about this leg-“harder than a marathon!”) RB came in and sent BS on his way to run leg 3. And RB commented on some chick in his leg…who passed him near the end and commented snidely “Next time don’t go out too fast.” (What-ever.) But what concerned us the most was that rumor had it that several people-including the other JW from the White team had gotten lost.
And speaking of getting lost, those driving directions sucked!! We had to turn around so many times. First off GW was navigating, but then I made the executive decision to take over for a coupla legs. And GW was anxious about us getting to the next exchange area in time…he had the 2.9 mile leg 4, and needed to warm up. Well, we got there-and thankfully we saw that White Team JW did find his way home and was safe and sound. BS did a great job on leg 3, and handed off to GW…who I don’t think was looking forward to that big-ass hill at the beginning!!
Now GW is a speedy one-especially with short distances, so we knew that time was very limited to get to the next transition area!! We just barely made it…I think it was maybe a 2-minute difference between the time we got there, and GW made it in and sent DG off to run leg 5. On the way to the next exchange, we passed both DG, who was running very well, and DL from the Red team…and looked like DG was gaining on him!! (And DL beat Lance in the marathon!!…but he was feeling under the weather this day.)
Got to the next exchange area and DG finished strongly and handed the chip bracelet off to our captain, SW. Looked like she had quite the interesting leg to run…wove through a cemetary, among other things!! I started prepping at the next exchange area…I was up next for my team. I found out I would be “against” JD for the Red team on this leg, so less pressure on me (c’mon, the guy runs a sub-40 10k!) I also ran into El Profe from the Rez Dogs…we wished each other luck and he commented he’d probably see me out there and I said “oh I doubt it, I need to take it easy today” (plus he had a 5 minute head start.) They called out the team number, meaning SW was coming in. She handed the chip bracelet to me and I took off on what was to me, a familiar route…
Well at least they sorta corrected the distance-I knew this leg was more than 4.7 miles last year, this year they had it at 5.1 miles. I was taking it easy, my legs were quite tired…quite a few people passed me and I just let them go. Though my legs loved the parts of the trail that were on dirt (as opposed to being paved.) Thankfully this year there was a water stop on this leg, right where we exited the trail (about 3.5 miles in.) Though the day was cool and cloudy, it had warmed up by my leg, so the water was very welcome. By the time we had turned onto the last straightaway, I was ready for it to be over, so I picked up the pace a little bit. And then, I started picking off runners…including a couple who passed me early on (but I was classier than a certain lady…I said “Good job” instead!) Near the very end of the route, I saw the back of a Rez Dog shirt…I had caught up to El Profe and it was a dead heat between the 2 of us to the end of our leg!! In the end, I guess fresher legs prevail as he outkicked me, but at least it helped bring me in strong!! I handed off to GW, who was running a second short leg.
Why does it seem like we get the most lost on the short legs, when we have less time to waste? Yeah, we knew it was going to be very close again, especially since we saw GW out on the course. We just barely made it in time…probably less than 5 minutes before he came in and handed off to DM to run the final leg!! And some drama took place on this leg…apparently a cop was not letting runners go and said they “had to be patient…” and GW crossed I guess a little too soon and the cop yelled “I got your number-you’re disqualified!” Sheesh. The funny thing was-everyone thought if anyone would get us DQ’ed, it would be me (good thing I got all cursing out in the van and not during my leg!!) On the way to the van, we saw a little playground and snapped a couple pics of us acting like children 🙂
Time to hurry to the finish line!! We maneuvered our way there, parked in the free parking garage, and rushed to the finish line to cheer DM in!! We saw that the Red team had already finished, and pretty highly overall!! Not too long after, DM came around the corner, and crossed the finish line for our team…net time a little over 7 hours!! As the anchor leg person, she got to wear the finishing “sash”…all Miss America-esque. :-p We got our goody bags, and some food and more importantly, beer!! The White team came in a little while later and joined the party. Soon, the results were up-the Black team did pretty damn good-12th overall, 6th in our division!! (and thankfully, no DQs!) But the Red team did what they set out to do-4th overall, 2nd in their division (meaning 1st, since the real 1st-place team in their division was one of the top 3 teams overall.)
We stuck around to see the Red team accept their medals, then we hit the road. We made it back to the city, thankfully without too much horrendous traffic. After the van dropped us off on 86th and Broadway, me, DM, BS and JW made an impulse decision to grab a beer at The Parlour and tell war stories from the day. Good times.
Once again, another fun day (I am still laughing about our antics,) and I can’t wait to do this relay again next year!!