The 5 Vay-K and the Woes of Building the Blue Ridge Relay Team

We’ve been back from vacation for weeks and I’ve just now found a spare minute or two in which to sit down and tell some running stories. Grab a coffee and enjoy.

The 5 Vay-K

Our story begins with a family trip to the Outer Banks. Laura, the Dubs, and I all crowded into the SUV and headed down to Corolla Beach to share a rental beach house with the elder Linebergers (Laura’s folks), the Hicks (again, this is actually their name, not a description – Laura’s sister’s family), and the younger Linebergers (Laura’s brother’s family). The ride down was relatively uneventful except for the one police stop (I didn’t do anything wrong, I swear! Laura forgot to renew her tags!) and the occasional Pokemon Go outburst from the backseat (“I just got a Squirtle!”)

Shortly after arriving, our sister-in-law Hannah told me, “Hey, they have a 5K on the island every Wednesday morning.” As I am desperately struggling to get back into shape in time for the Blue Ridge Relay, I thought this sounded like a good way to force me to run something at faster than oh-dear-god-I-forgot-how-hard-this-is-so-I’ll-just-slog pace. The next morning, Warren (the newest runner in our family) and I drove down to register and find the site of the race start. Which we did – I pried him away from Pokemon Go just long enough to fill out a registration form.

Wednesday morning arrived and I dragged the dubs out of bed and piled them into the car. Laura had gone for a bike ride earlier and planned to meet us at the start, but as I was driving down, the phone rang, preventing Warren from catching a Charmander or Weedle or whatever the fuck latest Pokemon demon he was trying to procure. And then he yelled, “There she is!” as I looked where he was pointing and saw Laura on the side of the road with a flat tire. If she had to get a flat, that was about as convenient as one could possibly be – I whipped the car over, she threw the bike on the rack and jumped in, and we continued on to the race.

Those of you that know me even a little will not be surprised to hear that I headed into this silly race with amazingly ridiculous delusions of grandeur, i.e. thinking I might have a shot at winning, despite the fact that I’d only been run/walking like 15-mile weeks for the last couple of weeks. I’d also gained a ton of weight in the first few days of our vacation – apparently sitting around on the beach and drinking beer and eating chips leads to rampant weight gain – who knew? Despite these mitigating factors, I thought to myself, “This is a tiny little race in a tiny little town on a Wednesday for chrissakes. Who could possibly show up?” I tried to repress the idea that it wouldn’t take an Olympic gold medalist to knock me off the podium. Hell, if Warren had a good day, he might get me.

As we arrived at the park where the race would begin, any stupid notions of winning I might still be clinging to quickly evaporated. There was a much bigger crowd of runners gathered than I’d anticipated, and among them, I noticed quite a few thin guys in split shorts and singlets. I saw a tall, thin, approximately 18-year-old kid wearing the aforementioned uniform of the serious runner, complete with a funky tie-dye singlet. And while I almost never win a race, I frequently succeed at picking the actual winner – I pegged this kid as the one. There was another thin kid in shorts and a singlet who was warming up at a pretty quick clip so I predicted he’d be the runner up, with a third gentleman, older, but with a winged-foot, a tortoise, and a hare tattoos so he rounded out my anticipated podium.

I warmed up through the park and enjoyed its idyllic beauty. I ran on a little boardwalk along the ocean and tried to gauge how significant the knee pain was – it felt relatively minor so I gave myself the okay to ‘race’.

We lined up in the starting corral and a fit-looking, high-school-aged, kid asked me what time I was looking to run. I just laughed and said, “I have no idea. Something very slow. Don’t worry about me.” Then I pointed to tie-dye kid and said, “Just follow that guy.” Tortoise and hare guy heard me, laughed, and cracked a few jokes with me until the race director started the countdown. He reached zero, the horn sounded, and we were off.

I felt incredibly good out of the gate, but I knew all too well that this feeling was a mirage fueled by starting-gun adrenaline coursing through my veins. I was waaaay too close to my predicted podium guys – I glanced at my watch and saw sub-6 pace and a heart rate that was skyrocketing rapidly. “Oh my god, you are the dumbest runner ever” I told myself and immediately backed off this suicide pace.

The good feeling wore off very soon. When the 5K pain began, I thought, “We should be nearing the mile”. When I glanced at the watch again, to my chagrin, I noticed we had traversed about a quarter of a mile. Uh-oh. Very uh-oh.

We were still in the park at this point where Laura snapped some pics:

Look, the fat old guy is winning!


Let this be a lesson to you. Never trust a picture from the internet.

Warren (far left) looks relaxed at this point.

The agony that is the 5K (and let me tell you, it’s much, much worse when you’re out of shape) set in and I struggled. Add the fact that it was like 192 degrees out there, with 210% humidity, and I struggled mightily. From a quarter of a mile on, all I could dream about was finishing this race.

I started out thinking maybe I could run under 7-minute pace. When I missed this goal for the first mile, I adjusted the goal to 7:30 which I missed at mile 2. And I just slowed down from there.

I got passed by little kids. I got passed by fat guys. I got passed by little old ladies. It wasn’t my slowest 5K ever, but it was easily top 5. But hey, I finished, and it was [barely] faster than a slog – mission accomplished!

I can see the finish line. Oh thank god.

I can see the finish line. Oh thank god.

Fat old muffin-top man with his fast stepson

Fat old muffin-top man with his fast stepson

And that was that. Finish race, get medal, rush back to beach and start pounding Golden Girl (that’s a delicious Triple C beer you sickos!!)

OrthoCarolina 10K

Here is my OrthoCarolina 10K race recap. I ran a very, very slow race (Pre-race I told some folks if I didn’t beat my slowest 10K of all time that I would shoot myself. Anybody got a gun I can borrow?). Chad’s cool-down was faster than my race pace – he had to slow down to accompany me for the last quarter or so of my race. I drank lots of good craft beer (Legion and Lenny Boy) after the race with Chad and Adam and others. Mike Danenberg of Performance Therapy worked my kinks out. The end.

The Woes of Building the Blue Ridge Team(s)

For you folks that have never organized a Blue Ridge Relay team before, let me tell you something – it’s hard. I started building our teams the day after last year’s race. For one of the teams, I thought I had assembled the greatest mixed team to ever step foot on the Blue Ridge course. Then the mass exodus began. Here are some actual quotes I’ve received over the last few weeks from actual team members . Note these are all from people who not only committed to the race, but have already paid their entry fee:

“I was running and tripped on the sidewalk smashed my foot and went down hard. Haven’t run since.”

“I just got word that I have a physician conference…unfortunately job commitments come first.”

“…so they’ve asked me to participate in some speaking engagements with Deena Kastor…it will either fall on the day of Blue Ridge or the following Friday…so I need to back out of Blue Ridge…”

“I need to bow out of the relay…it doesn’t look like I will be running anytime soon…”

“I broke it…need 3 weeks in a cast…”

“I had the weekend off but then something popped up…I’m screwed as far as getting that weekend off now…”

One of these ladies was all set to run for the JITFO Blue Ridge Relay team until she got injured. Rob has no idea the bullet he just unknowingly dodged...

One of these ladies was all set to run for the JITFO Blue Ridge Relay team until she got injured (and I know y’all think this is a joke, but it’s not, this is actually 100% fact). Rob has no idea the bullet he just unknowingly dodged…

Yeah. Good times. So yet once again, with less than two weeks until the Blue Ridge Relay, I am scrambling to find fast lady runners. If you’re reading this, this is your chance ladies (especially fast ladies) to ride around in a van for 24 hours with yours truly (wait, did that sound bad? That sounded bad. You know what I meant!) Comment to this post with your email address (I won’t share it publicly) and let me know if you’re interested!

You probably won’t see another post from me until after Blue Ridge. In the meantime, I need to spend less time blogging and more time recruiting. Talk to y’all soon!





2 Responses to “The 5 Vay-K and the Woes of Building the Blue Ridge Relay Team”

  1. cltrunner Says:

    Love it. As usual you make the running experience come alive! This one particularly since I was out a year with an injury and beginning in March able to run three 5K’s very slowly. Sorry I missed you at OrthoCarolina.


  2. Bethany Says:

    But ortho was so fun 😀 I think the beer helped after the hill misery?

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