2013 Palmetto 200.

(The long awaited review. Well, if you were even waiting for it to begin with.)

We started on Thursday evening with a big get together at a local restaurant to get to know one another. Going into this, I knew only one person. Out of 11 (other) people. This means, I got to meet my vanmates. And my running buddy. By the way, all of the above: totally awesome. At dinner, we had a superlative list to fill out. Which was super fun because it got people to open up and begin talking (some people needed no help; these were the ones that knew no strangers). Some questions:

First to complain about lack of port-a-potties long the course.
Biggest complainer.
First to argue with a race official or volunteer.

After dinner we all loaded up and hit to road to go to Columbia to spend the night so that we would be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the morning of the race. I tried to wear myself out so that I would get a good night’s sleep. The anticipation and excitement was killing me! So, when it was time for lights out, my internal lights were out too.

My alarm went off at 4:45 and I hopped out of bed like a bug just crawled across my face 1st grader for their first day of school. Pee. Pants. Excited.

By time I got down to the hotel’s lobby to meet everyone, I could just feel the electricity running through me. I could not wait! We all grabbed a cup (or 4, ahem, which comes back later…because I peed at. every. stop.) of coffee and a few bites to eat and off to the starting line we went.

Well, we tried to go to the starting line. We got lost. Three times. Fourth time’s the charm. Well, in this case, it is. We found it (luckily in time) and hopped out and got to decorating our van.

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No one took us seriously. I wonder why.

We took off at the 7:00 AM wave. And by we, I mean the first guy and his running buddy. We all hopped in the van to take off and meet those two guys at the next exchange point. We ended up reaching a block in the road. Literally. A tree fell across the road and was blocking cars. We had to find a detour (via interstate) to get to our next exchange point. Fortunately, because we finally got our directions straight, we made it to the exchange point before our runners did. Although, unfortunately for one of them, he came in with a wound. A wound that was bleeding. {Therefore, he won two superlatives: first to be injured. First to bleed.} Although I’m sure he wanted to tell people that it was because he tried to jump over that fallen tree or that he got into a fight with a bear in the woods. But that wasn’t the case. He got to a fight with the port-a-potty door. And the door won.

In any case, we exchanged out our peeps. Traded in the old for the new. And we were off again. I was super pumped. It was one more person. And then it was my turn! {Let’s fast forward to that part.}

My running buddy and I had a super long 2.7 miles to cover for our first leg. But it was a big. long. steep. hill. I don’t train on hills. I’ve only ever run hills three times. Ever. But we kept it steady with short steps and a good posture.

That was probably the worst run out of all 6 that we did. And if that was the worst one, I knew I could handle the rest. Although, that one and the two following it weren’t comfortable. And it didn’t have to do with the course. Or my running ability. Rather, it had to deal with internal body issues. *Ahem*bathroom*ahem* {This may be TMI: if so, then sorry. Not really. It happens. We’re all human.} I couldn’t go! Literally. I was stopped up. Have you ever run a total of 8+ miles knowing that you had to use the bathroom but couldn’t? Not just a total of 8 miles, but spread out over 12 hours? No matter how much water I drank, no matter how much I tried to relax, no matter how much I tried to bounce around between legs, it just wasn’t happening. I was so uncomfortable.

On our 4th leg, we started around 11 PM and were about 1.5 miles into our 5 miles run through a little town when it hit me. Yes. IT hit me. I needed to go. ASAP. And we were smack dab in the middle of town. Well of course I would have to go then because there were no trees to hide behind. So I found a ton of bushes behind a building that was not well lit. When I came out, I was a brand spankin’ new woman. I felt like I had taken on a new life. Amazing how such a simple bodily function can make a person feel so so good!

We finished our 5 miles strong. And I let all of my team members know why I had such a huge smile on my face.

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Our 5th leg was our longest at 7.5 miles. It was beautiful. We went from wee-morning hours to sunrise. On a back country road. It was glorious. I wished I had my phone with me to take a picture because it was beautiful. Its the kind of road that, when running, makes me want to run more. It was a life changing moment. Or maybe it was because we were beyond delirious at this point. I mean, waking up before 5 AM the previous day and we’re now at 6 AM with only 2.5 hours of sleep (not even at one time)… We had no choice but to be delirious. But it wasn’t the deliriousness. This road was beautiful.

We ran over marshes. Between forests. Birds were singing. Frogs hopping along the road. Vulchers eating some sort of dead animal. Glorious. I think we had the most beautiful leg. {Haha, get it. We’re runners… Nevermind. Just kidding.}

We were certainly on a runners high by now. And we could not wait until our 6th and final leg. It was a 5k length but it was a hot day. But it also meant that two runners later, we’d be d.o.n.e. Done.

Our final leg came up. We got our stuff together. Got our baton (aka – 1990’s slap wrist bracelet) and off we went. We all decided to wear our team shirts for our final legs. But it was cotton. And it was hot out. And I’m self conscious. But dammit, I couldn’t take it. And about a mile into our run, the shirt came off. Don’t like it? Don’t look at it. Fortunately, I didn’t offend my running buddy… *Phew* Although, I figured, if I hadn’t offended her by now, I probably wouldn’t at all. Because I am pretty embarrassing.

We ran through a very busy part of town. A part of town that we both knew very well. Our team stopped off at the half way point and offered us water. I didn’t want any. We had a good pace going and we both just wanted to get to the end so I tossed my shirt to one of our teammates and we just kept rolling with it. Better get it while the gettin’ is good, right?

We met our teammates at the exchange point. Gulped down a ton of water and got on the road to exchange out our last runners.

At the end, we all piled out of our dirty and smelly vans and met our last two runners. They came around the corner and we started cheering them on to finish strong and we all got in behind them and all crossed the line with them. One word: Emotional. I don’t know what it is about finishing (or sometimes starting) big races, but its definitely emotional.

We finished in 32:49:xx. And we had so much fun. We laughed until we cried. We made up phrases at 3 AM that make no sense to the non-delirious persona (i.e. a normal person). Some of us wanted to ingest BioFreeze. Some of us snored. Some never went to sleep. It was definitely an experience that I cannot wait to repeat next year! And its one of those “if I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand” situations. I never imagined that it would be as fun as it was…

If you’re into running and hanging out with other smelly people (‘cuz trust me, you won’t smell like a rose, either), then I highly recommend doing a relay race of some sort. Highly. Not into long mileage? Get a bigger team together. Or do a small relay.

{Sorry but not sorry for the length of this post and the lack of pictures.}

Have you ever done a relay? What are your thoughts?

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