The Best Rest of Your Life – AOR edition

american-odyssey-relayI’ll have a full American Odyssey Relay post within the next few days.  I want to have all the pictures and make a solid effort of putting it together before I post about it.  For those of you who don’t know about AOR, it’s a 200 mile running relay from Gettysburg to Washington, DC.  Teams consist of 12 people or less and each runner runs between 12-20 miles broken down in 3 different runs.  It’s a unique experience that is not for people who dislike leaving their comfort zone to hang with sweaty and disgusting runners.

stay-awake-all-nightWithout going in full detail of the relay, I will say that you get very little sleep throughout the process.  We started at 10:15 on Friday and finished at around 3:30 in the afternoon Saturday. That’s just the running portion.  All in all from start to finish, I was up at 7:30am on Friday and wouldn’t call the odyssey complete until I hit my bed in Philly at midnight on Saturday.  That’s about 40 hours of alive time.  During those 40 hours, actual sleep I got was less than 2 hours.  I was full sleep though for that period of time which was nice compared to half rest.  This isn’t a feeling that I usually get to experience.

I felt pretty good throughout the journey.  My running legs were all something I could handle and I didn’t feel broken at any point.  This isn’t to say I wasn’t tired but I know that being awake and hanging out is what makes the relay more fun.  At around 8:30pm we left College Park to go back to Philly.  Lisa drove which was awesome and I sat in the front seat and provided some company.  I knew I was starting to fade but I hung tough until she dropped me off at 11 pm.  I drove home, completely sober mind you, and had one of the craziest drives of my life.

cat sleep stretchTotal time from Warrington to Philly was 42 minutes with no traffic.  In hindsight, I shouldn’t have driven.  In my mind I just kept telling myself to break the drive down in little chunks.  Just make it to the Blue Route.  Hit 76.  Get to the Green Lane exit.  Left curve to 676.  I was so tired that this was incredibly challenging and when I parked my car I couldn’t believe or remember how I even did it.  When I think back to the drive, it was just like being blacked out.  I’m not one who gets many opportunities to stay awake for 40 hours but I have to write a post about the risks of doing so.  Fortunately I got back safe and after night’s sleep, I feel like a million bucks even though a million bucks is not what it used to be.  I slept for just under 10 hours and it was incredible sleep.  I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow and woke up near 10am without a moment interruption.    This gives me all day today and I have quite the agenda.  I’ll try to get an AOR update at the start of the week.  Stay tuned.

By |2014-04-27T11:25:33-04:00April 27th, 2014|My Life|0 Comments

American Odyssey Relay 2013 – Part 3

Part 2 here.

It was about 2:30 am and we didn’t really have a good game plan so we decided to head to the next part of the race which was about an hour away. In hindsight, I think we should have gotten some pancakes at the Bavarian House. Nevertheless, I got behind the wheel and SIRI sent us to a blank part of West Virginia and after an hour of driving we arrived at a deserted John Poole High School. Bob took the field but the rest of us huddled up in the van for a few hours of shut eye. I closed my eyes and instantly fell asleep and awoke 2 hours later at 6am. Much to my surprise, the high school opened exactly at 6 and I was able to drop the kids off at the pool which is always annoying at a relay like this. The timing of this made it so there was no line and no problems. The morning was cold but the sun was out and it started to warm up fast. I spent another hour in the school gym where Ck4 and I got an extra hour of sleep. I managed to sit in gum which ruined my pants but that’s the price you pay sometimes. With a perfect weather day lined up, we were prepared for our 3rd and final set of legs.

Nice pants David

David had managed to get a good night’s sleep in the back part of the van, which he claimed as his realm, and was in full effect this morning. Unless you get to spend some time with David this sentence won’t mean much but let’s just say he has a certain edge to him. With Chad hurt, we decided to give Bob a new set of legs (4 & 4.8 miles) and shift David to Bob’s legs (4 to 6.8). I had an 8.3 mile leg and give these guys tremendous credit for stepping up because I wasn’t in shape to do so. Bob received the transition from Fran and this set us on course for our final runs. At this point Nikkii was behind the wheel in a crowded parking lot and after some slowness in getting to van, she felt rushed. In aggressive fashion, she was urging other vans to get the flip out of her way and at one point was riding close to a set of trees to the left and other vans on the right. David’s line of “Make it Happen” made her floor it through a tight space and some branches managed to knock our side view mirror off. We were all hysterically laughing during this highlight. We caught up to Bob who was running and Nikkii got to hold the mirror our of the window and use her “looking good” line to Bob. Hijinks aside, Bob worked through the first part of his two legs, took some water at the transition, and made it through his 2nd leg for a total of 8.8 miles. Thanks for that.

Bob and I on the Potomac
potomac run

My 3rd run was a flat 8.3 mile run along a stretch of the Potomac. There isn’t much to comment on except that I got it done while finishing on E. There was no more gas in the tank. I did 6:40 miles for this leg and managed to pass about 10 people while enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning. I handed off to David who crushed his leg. I personally thought this was his best leg but he didn’t agree. Nikkii drove to the next part of the course and almost spazzed when the van had to clear a tunnel that’s height requirement was probably 6 inches higher than the van (why do we let Nikkii drive? Oh yeah, the stories!) We met Lisa at the next transition, who once again beat her projected time, and after her run handed off to Nikkii for the final leg of the race. We managed to head into DC without a hitch and awaited Nikkii at the finish line. There was some minor confusion during her leg but she finished without too much problem. Our finishing time was 27 hours and 32 minutes which was good for 6th place.

Our Final Leg

After finishing we got a beer and some food (which was sloppy Joe’s and a terrible choice if the race director reads this blog) and hung out for a little bit while we waited for the other team to complete their legs. This experience is truly one that I can’t describe only in this blog. You make acquaintances, have experiences, and develop connections in two days that you can’t find anywhere else. There is something about the sweaty, stinky, camaraderie of running that brings people together. As long as we keep fielding teams, I’ll continue signing up. I’m going to have one more post which will describe some of the randomness and better parts of the run but this 3 part post will give anyone who wants to know what happens in a 200 mile relay an idea. The first shower after this run is also one of the best you’ll ever have. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I liked being a part of it. Pictures here.

By |2013-11-14T19:06:31-05:00April 29th, 2013|My Life|0 Comments

American Odyssey Relay 2013 – Part 2

Part 1 here.

Without keeping everyone in suspense, CK4’s head popped up over the horizon at his precise projected time and he threw me the band to send me on my way. I hadn’t even looked at the packet to see what type of run I had but it was 6.3 miles of trail, easy right? Not exactly. I had 15 minutes of straight uphill climb which I’ve never done in my entire life. Towards the end of the hill my legs were feeling the strain but I made it up without walking or slowing down. I had about 10 road kills, 6:30 mile pace and felt pretty good as I handed off to Bob for the next leg. Bob completed his leg with no problem and I want to point out that he showed up this year much improved over last year. This guy was ready for AOR and picked up the slack in a big way which I’ll mention in a later post. .

Bob after finishing his leg

Bob handed off to Lisa who had an easy run through the country side… except that we have a feeling this leg was longer than indicated on the packet. Lisa worked through the leg though as we found ourselves along the Mason-Dixon line and some beautiful countryside.

Nikkii by the Mason-Dixon Stand

Lisa handed off to Nikkii who is also a much improved runner from last year. She handled her leg with little van support while David had to check the tire pressure on the side of the street. She made it to the transition point right on pace and we had beaten our Van’s projected time by about 20 minutes which was fabulous. This transition point allowed us to meet up with the other Van 2 and go out to a dinner at Vento’s in Boonsboro for the 2nd year in a row. Boonsboro is a historic town in the boonies that I have to imagine doesn’t get much action. With AOR in town they tend to find themselves a bit overloaded. Nathan entertained us with his magic tricks and Nikkii with her straw dog dodging bullets while we patiently waited for food. We ordered a few pizzas but nobody was really into downing food with only a few hours until the next set of legs. We went to the high school and started preparing while Van 1 was running.

David taking care of his sister Lisa

Something that I wasn’t aware of was that no matter what time you finished the 18th leg, you couldn’t leave Boonsboro before 11pm. I believe Fran finished 23 minutes ahead of 11 and we had a bit of a break before we were set to run again. I was running around trying to figure out where everyone was and trying to get a game plan but everything sort of worked itself out. Chad’s first complaints were about the hill on Leg 1 and now that he was finished that he started complaining about his “bloody nipple.” Once bandaged up we figured we’d hear the end of the complaining… At 11pm David started his leg with about 50 other runners and it was really a cool sight seeing many headlamps under a full moon making their way through quiet streets. David handled his leg with no problem and handed off to our X-factor Chad who said that if he didn’t arrive at 31 minutes into his run, something went wrong. He hands off to me so I was anxiously awaiting his arrival at the transition. 31-32-33… He probably just fell off pace a bit, 34-35-36, uh oh…finally he came across and his running odyssey reached uncertainty.

My night run went fine but it wasn’t as good as last year’s run through Antietam. I only had 4.8 miles and forgot to time it but was probably in the < 6:20 range and I amassed 15 road kills. I handed off to Bob on the next leg and we headed to the next transition point. We met up with him about halfway and this proved to be a bit problematic as it didn't give us enough time to meet up at his finish which was a bit chaotic. He got there about a minute before Lisa did but it was handled with fine temperament. Bob did manage to lose his license along the way somehow. I believe Lisa felt much better on this run as she beat her projected time by a bit and handed off to Nikkii who only had 3 miles which didn't give us much time. We got to the transition point fine but Van 1 wasn't there yet so we had no one to hand off to. Bob was contacting Howard and asking him where he was and this was annoying David a bit who was ready to jump through the phone but this little mishap only caused about a 15 second delay as Jim was there to receive the bracelet shortly after Nikkii finished. This concluded our second set of legs and had us a bit ahead of our projected pace. However, Chad made us aware that he wouldn't be able to run his 3rd leg and we had to decide how to handle this. The joys of AOR and compromising situations (I think this was a Skinamax show in the 90's.) Part 3 here.

By |2013-11-14T19:02:47-05:00April 29th, 2013|My Life|1 Comment

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