I got short legs

I spent a pleasant 90 minutes yesterday evening enjoying drinks (for the record, I had water) and nibbles with the majority of my Green Mountain Relay team, plus one interloper/potential spy from the Hash House Harriers’ team (girlfriend of one of our team members, and pretty darned charming — as spies so often are).

We assembled on the 14th floor of the Library Hotel on 41st St and Madison, in the Bookmarks cafe (notice a theme?), with a little table and benches under the skylights. We were sternly warned beforehand that if we all didn’t get there at 6:30 we’d lose our special area and have to drink with the riffraff at the bar (which was noisy, which means I’d have no chance of being heard).

This meant that I had to take a train that got me into Grand Central at just before 6:00, which then meant I had to kill time. So I wandered the streets, walking to the 41st St. branch of the NY Public Library to gawk. Then I couldn’t take these mindless perambulations anymore and just went on up. I got there at 6:20 and saw, sitting in our space, a bunch of fat, pasty complexioned people in conservative business attire. “Oh, shit,” I thought. “Are these my teammates?”

It turns out they were cubicle jockeys who were squatting our reserved space. The hostess summarily booted them out. So I got to sit alone, awkwardly (because that’s how I roll), awaiting the hopefully not fat, pasty-faced arrivals. They trickled in, all looking fit as fiddles, and I recognized the two I’d met about a year ago at our Blogging Runners meetup.

Anyway, it was nice and they were nice, as I’d no doubt they would be, since at least one of the team captains, TK, seems a good judge of character (she likes me, doesn’t she?). And I know the other captain, [B.], is at least generous, as he paid the bill, and also has a sense of humor; we already have an inside joke involving Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute. Yes, I think this will be fun. Once I sort out the logistics of how I’m going to feed myself and maintain an acceptable level of personal hygiene during this odyssey, I should be good.

The “legs” in the title of this post refer to the three sections of the race that have been assigned to me, not my actual legs. My legs aren’t long, but I wouldn’t say they’re short either. I’d say they’re just right. And very sturdy. Sturdiness is going to count for a lot in about a month.

My “leg” is Leg 4. Which means I’m Runner 4. But everyone seems to just say “You’ve got Leg 4.” The way the relay works for a 12 person team (there are “ultra” teams made up of 6 people, but that’s too much fucking running) is that you each get one leg consisting of three separate legs, or the distances of the entire 200 mile race that you’ll contribute to by racing your little heart out along them.

So, let’s review: there are 12 runners and each of us runs three race distances staggered throughout a total of 36 sections of the race, and our collective three legs are also known as a “leg.”

Still with me? Okay, now, to further complicate things, the legs (meaning the collection of three) are given a rating from 1-12 based on their overall difficulty, as determined by distance and elevation gain. Difficulty score 1 is the easiest and Difficulty score 12 is the hardest. My leg, Leg 4, is also conveniently rated “4″ in difficulty. I initially wasn’t happy with this, since I’m an overachiever and like to work hard and didn’t want anyone feeling that I either wasn’t pulling my weight or — worse (and I worry about this) — giving me a lameass leg because I’m old(er).

But after some thought, and examination of my, um, legs, I realized that what they gave me is perfect, both in terms of what my strengths are as a runner in general and the distances I have been racing lately. (Incidentally, there’s one leg that ends at a brewery. I didn’t get that one.) Here’s the breakdown of my legs’ vitals:

Leg 4 (section 4): 6.6 miles, Difficulty: Hard, Elevation: -657/+633
Leg 4 (section 16: 4.0 miles, Difficulty: Medium, Elevation: -247/+354
Leg 4 (section 28): 2.9 miles, Difficulty: Easy, Elevation: -309/+197

I warned them that I am a godawful downhill racer and actually preferred uphills given the choice. I’m only doing 13.5 miles total, but that’s fine because I think I’ll be able to actually race all of them at a decent effort given how they’re ordered. I had planned to run the first, whatever I ended up getting, in the 80-85% HR range so I don’t fry myself, and then focus on cleaning up in the final two with a full effort second race and whatever I’ve got left for the third. Heck, it’s less than 3 miles!

The subject of the Mini 10K race, which is week before the relay event, came up and there was much excitement, with at least one team member having decided to spectate rather than run it given the presence of Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher, who will be doing it as a fun run since they’ll both be fairly pregnant by then. I admitted that I’m planning to race that one like a rabid animal (since now I have team scoring to think about), regardless of the physical commitment I have a week later. No eyebrows were raised in worry or judgment.

13 Responses

  1. Great post. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was like a race report, but about drinking. A drinking report?

    Anyway, it looks like we’re going to have a really fun team again. I’m looking forward to getting up there and running my also “just right” legs.

  2. “I’m Leg 4.” Get used to saying it. As you see, that’s how relayers talk.

    Also, have some familiarity with leg 27; if someone drops out it’s yours.

  3. Good. Both years I did RTB I ended up having to change legs because of injury on my team. And Van 1 is better in that you get started and you finish sooner. You can relax once you get the first one out of the way.

    Also, if between now and then you happen to get an engagement ring, leave it home. One of our team lost hers; it was recovered about a year later.

  4. Sounds like a blast! (for someone else to do) This’ll be great fun to read about since it already is and you haven’t even started yet.

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence. But don’t get your hopes up re: blogging in real time. All us bloggers were talking about this last night and figured we probably wouldn’t blog during the event because: a) it’s stressful; b) any time we spend writing about the experience means missing experiencing the experience; and c) no one gives a flying fuck.

  5. Unscented baby wipes and a toothbrush. That’s about all I had time to do, anyway. Starbucks oatmeal was a godsend, too.

    We did a lot of cell phone twittering/facebooking from the road, which was fun to look back on later.

    We’re finalizing our roster to repeat as Bourbon Chase co-ed division champions this year. =)

  6. When you need a headlamp to find and use a port-a-san, personal hygiene isn’t at the top of the list of things about which you need be concerned.

    You’ll get a million suggestions. As I think I’ve said before, three plastic bags, each with what you’ll be wearing for a leg. It’s really hard to pull your stuff together in the middle of the night. Then you can put the worn stuff back in, tie the bag up, and you’re good. And fill empty seltzer bottles with tap water, to be used for a make-shift shower after each stage. Not great, but beats the alternative.

  7. I could very well be wrong on the specifics of this, but I think I remember reading that when Paula was six months pregnant with her daughter, she “jogged” a 10k race in 43 min or so… I mean, normally I would say that it’s kind of annoying to be racing alongside someone that taking it easy, but how cool would it be to have Paula and Kara as your pacemakers (and, not being with child, blowing by them in a sprint to the finish)?

    • Well, that’s interesting, since I’m hoping (barring hot, humid weather) to run right around a 43:00 on June 12. Maybe if I start right behind the elites I can use them as pacers. ;)

  8. If it ended at a Pure Blonde brewery it would be the perfect leg ;)

    You’re going to have a lot of fun perambulating around the countryside!

  9. [...] Flying Finn”), a twentysomething runner, triathlete and soccer goddess. Amy and I met at our GMR drinks meetup last month. I had thought at the time that she was reserved, verging on staid. But I quickly [...]

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