Monday, June 18, 2007

Great Midwest Relay - Part III

A new day...sunrise in Racine, WI over a calm (gasp) Lake Michigan; the second (and final) day of the GMR is always a big challenge because fatigue has truly set in. We had 90 whole minutes of sleep again in Racine - what a difference 90 minutes can make. After that we are off again. Thru the night Van 2 of the Greater Chicago Running Team were running people down. When they handed off to Kevin O'Neil in Racine, Kevin set a blistering pace and in the first two miles caught SEVEN teams who had left before us. This became our morning theme. "Super Dave" Cameron caught and passed at least another four teams. Jason, although he was missing at the start (looking for his GPS device when Dave came in) he scortched his last leg more than making up for the lost 20 seconds. Jason averaged 5:20s on his last run! That should be illegal. He made a mockery of some of the other teams best runners. (I'm so glad he ran with us, what a great guy too.) Our fourth runner was Michelle who (on a very tricky section of the course with poor course markings to boot) wound up running an extra mile. As she came in (see above) she was apologizing for getting lost. I reassured her, "Don't worry Michelle. I'll get us back." A bold (or stupid) statement for a guy who had run (counting last nights two runs) three times in the last three weeks due to illness and work - not exactly fitness leader behavior but good example of team leadership and sportsmanship.

Off I went into a now very warm, sunny Saturday morning 5k. Our other runners put me in a good position to go hunting. Even Michelle's extra mile worked to our advantage as two teams were only about 0.20 in front of me as I headed out. To be honest, my only focus were great running mechanics and turnover. This kept the negative self talk away and kept my focus on running. Once on the main road I saw no less than six targets! The Van 1 crew passed me, honking the horn and yelling, "Catch the van Bob!" As I passed the slower teams I would smile at the person (sort of) and give them the thumbs up. Think the smile from the giraffe in the movie Madagascar.
I was firmly in the mid-90% effort level now. I remembered that the last little section was thru a neighborhood (and about 0.43 miles). Once I made the right turn I found I had caught another target and in the distance I could see my friend Liz (Jeff's little sister) who I had swam with when I was in my later years of club/university swimming. I had almost caught her! "This really a strong effort! I almost have her!" I thought and the pain went away and I caught one more person who left quite a while before me. She was none-to-pleased to see that I had caught her only a whisker from the finish (200m or so). Kevin O'Neil kept me clued in on traffic on this fairly major four lane road so I wouldn't have to break stride as I transitioned to a short uphill and grass run to hand off to Bill. Below, "Super Dave" asks me how it went as I suck in one more big gasp of air before answering.
Bill blasted off on his final run with a world record of Bio-Freeze attached to his hamstring. His effort on his last run is nothing short of heroic. (Another really cool guy by the way.) My running is now complete for this race!

We handed off to the Van 2 elite team of our group.

Well...ok, this isn't them...this is...(missing Jim Stein and Bill who was still running his last leg.)

We were 4th Overall and 2nd in our Division averaging 6:42/mile for 190 miles on trail, road, bike path and thru the dark of night. Our overall time for the 190 mile trek: 21 hours 29 minutes and 38 seconds beating last year's champion by a full 13 minutes. (Too bad some faster teams showed up in 2007!) If we were in a more appropriate division we would have won by over 90 minutes...but we raced the best (and the young, under 23 college runner crowd) and still were 4th.

This is a great group of people and I hope to race with them again next year.

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