It’s taken me a few days to actually sit down and write this for a number of reasons but here goes…
This weekend was the North Face Endurance Challenge DC in which I was participating in the marathon relay. Friday afternoon, I got myself down to Penn Station to catch an Amtrak train to DC. Since Matt had already picked up the race stuff, we didn’t have to worry about that when I got into DC, and we had just the right amount of time to walk to get something to eat and watch the remainder of the Islander game.
The alarm went off pretty early on Saturday and I woke up completely out of it. This is partially due to the dream I had about being late in the morning and making Matt mad. In the dream, I was doing my best to get ready quickly but I had all these layers of sweatshirts on and I couldn’t peel them off fast enough. So yea, since I was paranoid about waking up late and making Matt angry, I kept tossing and turning and waking up to check the time to make sure I wasn’t late. Good times.
By 7 am (on time, btw), we were outside a breakfast place to meet up with other November Project DCers ready to race the North Face Endurance Challenge. It’s there where we met up with Mike (another one of our teammates) and realized that we were missing our fourth relayer (an outsider that none of us actually knew).
There was still time before the race officially started (10am) and our missing runner was supposed to run the 2nd leg. Post breakfast (which consisted of an amazing blueberry muffin and a banana for me), Matt and I got in the car to the race hoping that our missing runner would show up soon.
Once we got to the race village in Algonkian Regional Park, we set down our stuff with the rest of November Project DC and then I hugged more strangers than I’m comfortable admitting. Seriously, it was an all-day-stranger-hugfest. (Side note: I originally typed that as “hungfest” which would have a completely different meaning. Glad I caught that one.)
My biggest fear going into this race was that I was going to fall down a mountain or get lost. Or get lost and then fall down a mountain… and then be lost and injured at the bottom of a mountain. That being said, I definitely needed some psyching up at the start of the race (especially as I was running Leg 1).
Luckily, November Project did not disappoint. They do this thing called “bounce” – and if you’re not a NPer, you probably have no idea what this is (I didn’t either so I just stood back and watched). Basically they bounce and chant and at first you don’t really know what it is you’re watching but then you get all sorts of strange tingly feelings and you’re like oh hey, this is cool, I could get behind this.
If there isn’t already a definition for it, I give NP permission to use mine right there as I’m obviously so eloquent with my words. You’re welcome, November Project.
FIRST LEG: Me
So my biggest fears of falling down a mountain and/or getting lost were completely useless. Instead, my fears should have been running through deep mud and hot temperatures that my body has not run in since last summer. The course was incredibly muddy and by a quarter-mile in, I had already ran through ankle-deep mud.
The course was not mountainous as I had expected (hell, it wasn’t even hilly) but it sure was muddy and wet. There were a few instances in which I hopped on top of rocks in order to avoid a stream of water and elected to walk across some super rocky areas in order to avoid rolling my ankles.
It was not my best run but I definitely had fun out there and met my goal of finishing in under a 9 minute pace with an average pace of 8:44. Not too shabby.
SECOND LEG: Matt
Our missing runner (who was supposed to run the second leg) had yet to show up so Matt stepped in to run Leg 2. He was also prepared to run a second leg, totaling over 12 miles for the day, a distance he has never run before. He’s either completely crazy or a great team player. Jury is still out.
While he was out there running, we didn’t know if he wanted to run the two legs back-to-back or let Mike run the 3rd leg and then run again after a bit of a break.
This is him signaling that running back-t0-back was a no go:
Average pace: 6:36. LIKE A BOSS.
THIRD LEG: MIKE
My favorite part about waiting for Mike to finish his leg was waiting with his wife, Fabienne. We stood along the finish line course and watched as the 50k and 50M runners came running across the finish line. I had many #ImTooEmotionalForThisSport moments and I was really thankful that I was wearing sunglasses.
Luckily, our missing runner got to the start line with just a few minutes to spare so we were able to signal to Mike as he came running up towards the finish line.
MISSING LATE RUNNER
We stuck to the finish line area as we weren’t sure how long our fourth runner was going to be and it was also really cool/inspiring to continue watching the 50k and 50M runners come in. Again, I was grateful for the sunglasses. #ICryAtFinishLines
We ended up finishing 36th overall out of 100+ relay teams. I’ll take it.
After we finished, we stuck around the race village, hung out in the beer tent for a bit, and waited to watch the podium winners for the marathon relay, 50k, and 50M distances.
The rest of the day consisted of finally showering the mud off, stealing a quick nap, and going out in DC.
So that’s that. It was fun. I will probably go to NP_NYC now. And I’m definitely glad I
invited volunteered myself for this race.
Until next year…
A big thanks to Fabienne for taking all the photos, since, like the worst blogger ever, I forgot my phone… as usual.