Friday, September 23, 2011

Blue Ridge Relay Recap- Part 7- Of Mountain Goats

Scott and I were bouncing up and down on the spot, trying to at least look as if we were excited about running the upcoming leg. We didn't even know whose headlamp was going to show up first as we looked back into the darkness. As it was it was Greg's voice we heard first. What a run from the debutante! Hold on though, there's another flashing light right behind. Yes, it's Dave and yes after 30 legs of racing the teams were almost neck and neck, one van rotation and some very tough stages to go!

I headed off into the darkness with the shouts of my teammates ringing in my ears. The first mile and a half of this leg is pancake flat as you run along the bottom of the valley. You feel how a Tour de France rider must feel as he rides along the valley floor in the Pyrenees preparing himself for the inevitable and relentless climb ahead. I knew Scott was just seconds behind so I just tried to relax into a good tempo and wait for him to inevitably pull alongside me. Misery loves company, right! We hit the base of the hill neck and neck. Two dogs scurried out of the undergrowth towards us and gave us brief pause for thought before they sensibly decided that they had no need to be running up a mountain at 6:30 in the morning. The climb started, Scott and I just focussing on the road ahead, the only sounds the patter of our shoes on the road and the gradually increasing breaths being exhaled. My Garmin beeped as we knocked off another mile. I looked down and it read 6:50 pace for the last mile. That was a pretty similar pace as I had run for the leg last year in breaking the previous course record. I was feeling pretty good but still couldn't imagine running 3 and a half more miles up this darned hill!!

Scott had got a step on me now but I focussed and dug in and clung to his tail. I figured that if I could keep close to him on this leg I would be handing over to Bob in a good position and we all knew what he was capable of. All 4 vans passed us and cheered us on. I heard Asheville shouting for Scott to show the Charlotte guy how Asheville got it done. I was determined to not let that happen. Halfway up the hill and we were still stride for stride. I would occasionally take the lead myself just to show Scott that I still had some gas and this is how almost the whole climb played out. The top of this beast is the worst part! The grade steepens and it becomes switchback after switchback. Still we were alongside each other, no quarter given or asked. About a quarter mile from the end of the stage Scott finally put some hurt on me and grabbed a 19 second lead but I was pleased with my effort. What a run from Scott who had beaten my leg record from last year by 6 seconds. I couldn't have given any more myself- I now have the second and third fastest times on ths notorious leg and had given Bob something to work with....

1 comment:

  1. Amazing job on that leg, and what a leg Scott had. Wish I had been there to see it, but you've done a great job capturing what it must have been like.