Coming off of a weekend being surrounded by fast trail runners makes me want to be fast(er).
Bryce and I and four other friends did a trail relay race up on Orcas Island at the beginning of the month. The Moran Constitutional Relay definitely did not disappoint.
There was such a positive spirit among all the runners. We stayed in bunks right next to the main race head quarters, which was where the start/finish was, so it was all super convenient — and allowed us to soak in everything in a relaxed manner!
The race is about 70 miles total, divided into 12 legs. So, with a team of six, we each ran two legs. Mine were legs #1 and 6, which were both on the first day so I actually had no running on the second day!
The weather was perfect on Saturday. Cool in the morning but the sun came out. I had breathtaking views at the top of Mt. Constitution during my second leg.
But, let me start from the beginning.
I kicked off the race for my team at 7:30 am and although I tried to start conservatively, everyone started out super fast, so I ended up going out way too fast. I found myself completed winded and out of breath after a mile. This leg was 5.9 miles total and I quickly started delving into a “dark place.” What if I have to walk the rest of the way? What if I finish last? What if I can’t finish?
There were rolling hills and I definitely walked a lot. But, this helped in lowering my heart rate and mentally calming myself down. Several runners passed me, saying “nice job” or another form of encouragement. I carried on.
Eventually the course flattened out — thank goodness! I started getting into a groove and dug myself out of my “dark place.” About at the half way point, another runner passed me but I could always see her up in the distance, which was helpful. I no longer felt completely alone.
Part of the leg went alongside a lake. It was still not that bright out since it was early morning but the calmness of the lake was nice. I could hear cheering as I got closer and closer to the exchange point. With about a mile to go, I really kicked it in and picked up the pace. And, not that it really mattered, but I passed a good handful of runners in the last half mile or so. What a difference the beginning and the end of my leg felt!
My team was waiting and cheering me in when I got to the exchange. Alex started on leg 2 and my job (for now) was done.
Around noon, I started leg 6, my last leg of the race. Because my teammate I was exchanging with was a speedster, Maria was waiting for me at the exchange when I arrived! As soon as we saw her waving her arms, adrenaline kicked in and I was frantically taking off my jacket and sprinted towards her.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry I’m late!” I yelled at her as she handed me the timing chip.
Despite the frantic start, I enjoyed this second leg much better.
It was uphill all the way — 1,724 feet elevation gain — but I went into this leg knowing I would be walking/hiking quite a bit. This leg was 3.1 miles total.
The first mile was definitely the steepest with mostly walking sprinkled in with just the tiniest bit of jogging. I passed two other runners who were chatting together.
The signage on the course was great so I never was concerned about getting lost. However, as I progressed up the mountain, I suddenly started coming across other runners … coming towards me. I continued along the path but, of course, was worried I had made a wrong turn. Why am I the only one going this way and everyone else is running in the opposite direction?
Well, turns out that the next leg goes back the way I was going. All these runners coming towards me were running a different leg! Phew, I felt better once another runner passed me who was doing the same leg as me.
The last bits to the top of the mountain were draining but the views were so worth it. I wanted to stop and take it all in but I knew Bryce was waiting at the top to run the next leg. I kept going and was rewarded with this view at the top.
Day 2 of the relay didn’t have the same great weather. It was cloudy and rainy off and on. But, my team still killed it.
We surprised ourselves and ended up placing 13th out of 52 teams! Also, our day 2 standing was 9th overall. Not bad for a group of friends that included a new trail runner, someone who joined our team a month from race weekend, one who was coming off a cold and a few who “didn’t really train.”