Lake Winnipesaukee Relay – Legs 5-8

In this continuation of the Mansfield Trail Runners’ recap of the Fred Brown Lake Winniepsaukee Relay, my teammates will cover legs 5-8.

Leg 5 – Sarah

Wow!  The Winni relay exceeding all of my expectations-  I had a blast getting a chance to bond with fellow Mansfield runners and was impressed with the scenery of New Hampshire. Oh, and the run kicked my tail 😉  Many thanks to Warren for sharing this unique race with us and to Rachel for organizing so many logistics.
I ran leg #5–10.6 miles from a ski area to Morgan Farm.  I waited with team members at the ski area for Alicia to arrive.  Around 1:30, I lined up very seriously in the exchange zone and was stoked to see Alicia finishing strong. I grabbed the baton and took off, but then my visor flew off!!  So I actually had to turn around and grab my visor. Geez, I’m a klutz!  That inspired me to take off a bit quickly.  After a few minutes, I passed a dude wearing a purple singlet.  It was hot and the sun was glaring down on me.  The course was on the side of a somewhat busy road. I was sweating a lot and had to deal with the extremely slick baton.  I felt like I was running pretty strong and powered up a couple short hills.  My first two miles were under 9 minute pace.
It was getting hotter, and I drank water at every opportunity. At a couple spots, folks were stopped on the side of the road, handing out water, and their cheering really helped out.  I could see a couple runners ahead of me, and I was glad that I wasn’t lost 😉  By mile 4, I could tell that I was expending a lot of energy. The course was scenic- going by farms with traditional New England stone walls.
At mile 5, I took a gel.  I was a mess during this race!  I was running in a sports bra and shorts and was still boiling. I guess that’s what happens when you race in the middle of the afternoon!  I started dumping water on my head to cool myself down. I did NOT want to overheat. I pretended that I was doing an Ironman- where they end up running a marathon in hot, brutal conditions. There were some extended downhills, and I knew they’d shred my quads but I also wanted to make up some time. I tried to let myself float down those hills.
At mile 7, I had to bribe myself to get to mile 8. I checked my garmin a ton, hoping that the miles would click along.  Fortunately, there were a few shaded sections of the course and some clouds rolled in.  I passed a couple people and crossed my fingers that I could stay ahead of them. I sang a few Lady Gaga songs in my head. I reminded myself that my comrades from Connecticut were waiting for me and that really, really motivated me to keep running. It made a huuuuge difference to be running as part of a team.
By mile 9, I knew that I’d make it to the finish. I wanted to finish strong.  My leg ended with a downhill, and I forced my jello legs to move to the exchange zone. I was elated to hand off to Stacey.  I couldn’t believe that I survived this race.  Apparently, Lake Winnipesaukee means the”smile of the Great Spirit.”  I think someone was smiling that we had the moxy, the fierceness, and the sense of humor to run all the way around this fine lake.

Leg 6 – Stacey

My leg was #6 which was 6.4 miles that was relatively flat (some minor inclines).  It was on a course that started out on a country like road (at the farm) but ended in a stretch of highway that had lots of traffic and not a whole lot to look at.  I was very fortunate to run at a time when the sky was getting cloudy as it would have been a lot harder if the sun was beating down on me- it was just plain humid!! (I feel sorry for the others before me that had to run in the hot sun).  It started to sprinkle but did not rain during my leg.  I also got a chance to ride around the entire course and I thought that my leg was a great match for me. (running any distance in heat is challenging).  It is really a perfect match for someone who only runs short to moderate distances at a time and who does not like downhills.  I did find the baton hard to hold as it felt slimy, so I ended up lacing it between my fingers.

Leg 7 – Jack

Well….actually it was about my leg at least partly.  An occasional chronic Achilles issue did bother me, but did not stop me. What a fun weekend.  I wanted to get this written down before I forgot the significant stuff.  My leg was #7 and 8.5 miles which I rounded up to 9 in my log book

First a couple observations about the relay from my perspective….  I’ve run for 30 years but never an event like this.  A race that I did not know really when I would be running (sometime between 1 and 4PM) or the conditions….or even the terrain.  I did have the benefit of driving around and seeing my teammates legs and figured it would be something like theirs.  Maybe a two mile hill up Gunstock like Laura….or maybe a 90 degree slog like Rachel., even a rolling changeable 11 miles like Sarah.  We had gotten in late and missed Rachels elaborate spread sheet of expected times, conditions and contingencies.    But I found it odd that although we were at Winnepesaukee……we barely ever had sight of the lake.  A glimpse here and there, but mostly the race takes place on busy two lane highways with fairly wide shoulders and busy traffic….my leg was no different…except for the weather.

So….my lovely wife ran leg 6 and handed me the baton at a school for my own little race at about 4:00PM.  It was sort of over already in the sense that we had no hope of making the 5:00 cutoff for the last leg and I knew Warren would be running before I could hand him the baton (race rules).  At this point the baton has been with 6 other people and was fairly slimy and not fun to hold…..I decided it was most comfortable to shove it down the back of my shorts where my butt crack would hold it secure……believe me it was better than the other places it had been earlier in the day.  We may have to invest in the baton holster next time.   The first few miles were an uncomfortable and increasingly painful slog along another two lane highway.  I had no idea where we were competitively since other teams had finished hours before….and a few people passed me right away….but I settled into an even…if slow pace to try to accommodate my leg pain.  But around mile 4 I got lucky.  A light rain quickly turned into a torrential downpour.  It changed everything for me. Its odd…..I just love running in the rain…and this was more than that.  Eventually it was a driving downpour and the road runoff was just little rivers that were fun to splash through and lubricated my gait, my body and my attitude.   Ahhhh….after the whole day stuck in the car, cheering and waiting, this was my turn.  Although the race itself was long over, I did manage to pass Lori from Silk City Striders and splash my way to the transition.  Of course there was no one there by then….but the timer guy got out of his truck with his umbrella and told me I was done.

So…lessons learned.  After many years of running, its nice to find so many things I can still work on and try to improve.  How to eat and hydrate before an anticipated and indefinite start time.   How to be competitive with a coed, mixed open/masters/senior team.  And how to have fun and enjoy whatever the race day and the weather can deliver.

Leg 8 – Warren

My leg started at 5 when all the last leg runners   teams   that had not reached that point had to leave together. It had the feeling of a race within a race. It started on a steep downhill so I positioned myself near the front to take advantage of my downhill “prowless” At the last minute I shucked my beloved MTR shirt because of the impending rain and warm temperature (about 80 degrees). I  got off to a good start and actually led the group down the first hill.I will summarize  the rest of the leg under “ugly”, “bad” and “good” categories. THE UGLY: This had to be me plodding up the three long steep hills. The first was one and one half miles long with nearly 350′ of vertical rise. The other two were “only” 1/2 miles long but just as steep as hill #1. THE BAD There was a torrential downpour for most of the leg. It was like running in a river.  And there was a constant stream of cars going by the whole leg. THE GOOD For each uphill there was an equal and opposite downhill where I was able to pass the runners who passed me on the uphills. I was actually able to have a finishing kick on the last up hill to the finish. In spite of the uphill trudging I was able  to average 9.5 min/mile average! Finally the enthusiastic greeting I got from Laura, Rachel and Marc at the finish.
All in all I felt the weekend was a great success!! It was a pleasure to bring back some old running memories and to share the Winnipesaukee Experience with my MTR buddies. I agree we need to go on more road trips.