What an adventure we had this past weekend! This weekend’s Rouge-Orleans Race was, without a doubt, the most physically demanding endeavor I have EVER accomplished! I could not have asked for a better team to run with. Jason and Ben are both solid runners with great attitudes. We had a great time. Even in the wee hours of the morning when we were tired, beat up, and hurting, we got along great and laughed a lot. I appreciate those guys and hope to run with them again. Jason’s brother, Rodney drove for us and was such a huge help and encouragement. He was such a blessing.
About the race….
First off, the race was well organized and information was given out in abundance. Kudos to Jeff and the rest of the team.
The conditions need to be explained. Ever run when the temperature is in the low 30’s? Ever run into 20mph winds when the temperature is in the low 30’s? Ever run on gravel into 20mph winds when the temperature is in the low 30s? Ever run at night, with only a headlamp to see, alone, on gravel into 20mph winds when the temperature is in the low 30s? Ever run…well you get the idea. Holy smoke! I found out a whole lot about myself this weekend. We knew as the week progressed that it was going to be cold and did our best to dress accordingly, but it was tough. The solo finisher from CANADA, right after he crossed the finish line said, “It doesn’t get this cold in CANADA!!!” The hardest part was leaving the warmth of the vehicle to run your next leg of the race. It was pretty brutal until your body warmed up.
Here’s the way the race worked for us. The three of us were to run the 126.2 miles in relay fashion. There were 30 exchange points throughout the race set up for 6 man teams. We exchanged runners at every other point. Our Suburban would bring the team to the next point for the next runner in line to exchange. Below is the breakdown of each of our runs. Jason was runner 1, Ben was runner 2, and myself as runner 3.
Our wave started at 1pm on Saturday. We all ran really well for our first legs. I averaged a 7 minute/mile on that one. After my run, we had to wear the required night running gear: A reflective vest, headlamp, and taillight. The temperature dropped drastically as the sun went down. One problem with running in the cold is that you forget to hydrate properly. I didn’t realize how much I had sweat out on the first leg, so 9 miles into my second leg my calves began to cramp up. Also, as you can see above, my second leg was supposed to be 11.854 miles. Well, when you are cramping, every step counts! When I got to where some groups had made the exchange, I didn’t see my crew. I called them and they informed me that the actual exchange was about a mile further! I wasn’t happy with that situation. My second leg ended up being 12.68 miles with a large portion of it running into the wind and alone. My face was so cold, I could barely talk, and I was so fried I couldn’t put my thoughts together to say anything. I sounded like that kid on Fat Albert who talked funny (Mushmouth?). By that point, I had run 22 miles with another 22 to go. Lesson learned – HYDRATE! and replenish those electrolytes. I took my salt tablets with a bunch of water and drank a few Powerades as I massaged my legs in the back seat of the suburban. I was much better about drinking during and between my segments.
From talking to Ben, we were both having that weird cramping in the same place in our calves where we’ve never cramped before (inner calf area). I think it was partially due to the fact that we were running in gravel and using those muscles to keep ourselves stabilized.
The rest of the night was somewhat of a blur. We were either resting from just having finished a run, helping the guy who just ran, or getting ready for our next run. Before we tagged the next guy we had to consult the maps to see if we were going to have to make any detours or anything on our run. I managed to catnap a couple times for a at most 30 minutes total of shut-eye.
My most interesting segment was that I got to run through the Bonnet Carre Spillway. It was somewhere between 3 and 4am and it was pretty cool running where the historic waters had flowed not too long ago. Other interesting sites: A major shooting star, cows, factories, and HUGE boats cruising alongside of you in the Mississippi.
I spent the majority of my runs alone, in my head, thinking, focusing on where I was stepping, trying to think warm thoughts, and questioning my sanity. The distance wore on me. My pace dwindled.
Leg 1: 9.33 Miles – 3:43PM-4:49PM – 7:01 pace
Leg 2: 12.68 Miles – Times unrecorded – 8:07 pace
Leg 3: 8.92 Miles – 11:10PM-12:28AM – 8:44 pace
Leg 4: 7.39 Miles – 2:51AM-3:55AM – 8:36 pace
Leg 5: 8.27 Miles – 6:55AM – 8:07 – 8:43 pace
The other tough mental game was the fact that EVERY one of my segments ended up longer than it was supposed to be. I was measuring them using my Garmin watch and Runkeeper on my iPhone. They both agreed on all distances(except leg 2 – my Runkeeper freaked out on that one). I was supposed to run a total of 42.922 but ended up running 46.59 miles! Which is really cool, but messes with your head when you think you’re almost there and feel like you’re about to die.
I had the privilege of running the last segment of the race. The finish line NEVER looked so good! My team joined me to run through the finish line together! What a joy! We rejoiced in accomplishing our goal!!
We finished in 19 hours and 3 minutes for first place for the 3 Men Relay “Men’s Running Store” category and second place in the 3 Men relay category!
I realized how much the run took out of me when I got home. From the end of the race until I hit the scale at home, I had consumed: 2 pulled pork sandwiches, 3 Powerades, a banana, 2 cups of coffee, a pastry pie thing, a Rally’s bacon burger, large fries, and a large sweet tea and still weighed 6 pounds less than when the race started the day before. I’m happy to tell you that after consulting with Dominos Pizza, Mr. Whey protein, Jiff, some of their friends, and lots of liquids that I am back at my pre-race weight.
I was asked right after the race if I will do it again or if I would do it solo next year. My first inclination was to shout with every fiber of my being, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” Instead, I simply replied, “I need time to forget about the pain of this one.” One day post race if you were to ask me again I would say, without hesitation, “Absolutely!”
Crossing the finish line with Ben and Jason!
The final results are in: We finished in 19:03:32
With an average pace of 9:04