Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Baton Rouge to New Orleans Relay Race - 2015

This is a race along the Mississippi River levy from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.  I have run a couple of races on the levy, in February, and they are always cold and windy.  The levy is raised (no-duh) and has not shelter or wind block. The river acts as a wind corridor.  I packed 5 changes of running gear including 3 long sleeved shirts for running at night.  I checked the forecast one last time and it indicated that the high, during the day would be 70 degrees and the low would only be 48 degrees.  I repacked and 86’d the long sleeved shirts.

There were 6 of us in a van.  Originally we had a driver but we overlooked the fact that the driver was not over 25 years old – not permitted to drive the van.  Oops.  It would work out for the best – with 6 in the van and all of our gear it was already tight.


Race headquarters.

Some of the Krewe 
(one of these guys would lose a couple of socks and gloves on the run - don't ask)

Charles started us out.  His strategy was to start out hard since we would surely fade as the night came.  Well, he went out hard and we each followed suit.  It was hot, while the levy is flat it is also gravel – this made for a tough run.  Miraculously, after about the first 20 or so miles, when Jason brought the fifth leg home, we were first overall.  We were elated and did not really know what to think.  This was a shot across the bow of the younger faster teams.  Unfortunately, they responded in spades.  We gradually slipped back a couple of paces per 10 – 20 miles.  Team fancy pants – a group of co-ed kids with tie-dyed running tights grabbed a bunch of time from Keith’s second leg.  We were now in third place.

The last bathroom I would see for 17+ hours.

Then the race got hard.  Day turned to humid night and in most legs we were all alone.  On my third leg Charles was neck and neck with Team Mercedes.  He handed off to me and I was 10 steps behind.  I paced the runner.  Our van roared past me on the river road below and ridicule was spewed from the open windows.  They were incredulous, how I could be behind.  Breathing hard I eased up to the runner and said that “yes, these were my friends”.  He understood – he has giving more than he had in hopes of not getting the wrath of his own team.  I pushed passed him and put in a very respectable effort – weight graded this may have been a new PR.  I arrived a couple of minutes in front of the disgraced runner to zero fan fair.  Jason had become the relay Sherpa – no one else was even getting out of the van at this point.  Half way done!  That'll do pig.

We were passed by Team Mercedes in the next 10 miles or so and were finally regulated to fourth overall.  We could not make up time on the front runners.  We just had to maintain pace to stay in fourth (we had all but wrapped up the masters division (40+)).

We called them Team Mercedes because they had one of these.

Keith ended up taking an hour or two powernap and holistically healed his broken body with sheer will and cold beer.  His last two legs would be his fastest of the night.

We were ahead of our predicted time by 20+ minutes but ended up giving about half of that back.  We finished the 126.2 + miles in 17:10:48 with an average pace of 8:10 minutes per mile.  We were 13 minutes behind 3rd and about an hour from first overall.

If I had to pick one word to describe this race, the first word in my mind is not fun.  It was a challenge and much harder than I thought it would be.  We raced hard, every one of us for every leg.  Once again, it was a challenge.  It was satisfying to finish the race.

We made a good team.  Thanks - Charles, Terry, Jason, Keith and Jim!

This would prove telling.  I caught a flight right after the race.  Southwest has open seating.
  No one sat next to me on either flight - go figure.

Good thing I had it covered!


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