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Monday, September 21, 2020


 In the early Sunday morning hours, I was really starting to struggle. I had a good break from running, but my stomach was causing problems. Everything I ate or drank went right through me. On a hunch I took a salt tablet - I had been religious with the Gatorade, but if I feel bad when I'm running in the Louisiana summer, I always turn to salt first. It helped a lot, but I couldn't eat any real food. I had coffee and skittles (never want to see another skittle again, by the way), then switched to a coke-and-Gatorade diet for the rest of the race. I also took two more salt tablets. Racing hard in upper 90's weather means dramatic sodium loss; even my Gatorade and salt tablet routine probably wasn't enough. At one point Kenny confessed he felt dizzy and I suggested a salt tablet. He took two, and felt like a new person in minutes. His response reminded me to keep eating salt! 

Setting up camp under the single shade tree

While we set up at the track - the same track where we hold so many workouts - I ran to Starbucks to pick up coffee. It was a bizarre feeling, entering the land of the living for a moment, then diving back into the insanity of the relay. We had divided into two teams, and each team planned to do 9 reps each before trading off to the other team. I was on team two, so by the time I got back with the coffee, team one was already up. My jaw dropped at the easy mid-60s they were dropping off sore and tired legs. The mood was subdued and tired at first, but then our support showed up. Sean with a karaoke set, doing play-by-play; Stephen DJing (he's actually a DJ in real life); high school coaches Drew and Casey handing out encouragement and advice; Wayne and Ivy, who had been there from the get-go. Our mood soared. If there is one thing I learned from this relay, it's how key your support team is. Ours was amazing, and their timeliness and responsiveness took a huge weight off our already burdened shoulders. 

Team one wrapped up their repeats in about an hour, and we cheered - their speed had moved us up several places already. Now team two was up - and so was the sun. Whatever, I was ready! We had under five hours to go! I had the pleasure of taking the handoff from Kenny, who calmly and smoothly ran 67 and under for every single lap. I was nervous about what was left in my legs, but I shocked myself with an 82-second first lap. I didn't feel terrible! And for the first set, I stayed right there: 80, 83, 82. We were just cranking out the 400s - cheering, handing off, grinding. Shockingly, no one fell off pace or slowed. We finished our set and we had moved up another couple of places in the standings!

Cheering Josh on

Jeff hands off to Josh

Jonathan handing off to Paul

Me handing off to Jonathan, who appears to have ditched the shirt by now

Time was winding down, and now the families started to arrive. David and the baby came for a bit, but had to leave for nap time. It didn't matter, anyway. I tried to hold him and had to give him back: I was so weak and tired I thought I would drop him. And I couldn't feed him because I had just pumped, taking advantage of our off time while team one took over again! Poor planning - I didn't know they were planning to come by. Our second set was much like the first: Kenny to me. Me to Jonathan. Jonathan to Paul. Paul to Will. Will to Pou. Repeat. Every time I finished a rep, I'd catch my breath and drink something sugary and try to recover. By the time this set ended, I was starting to limp. My left hamstring has been slowly healing, but my right was now developing a nasty knot and I was afraid it would tear. I honestly thought I might not be able to finish the relay. But I had to - our strategy was working, and we were now in 5th place in our division!

Rich and Kevin

The team cheering me on!

When team one took over again. they planned to do just three rounds of 400s and then hand back to us. We would do three each, too, and then the whole team would just go straight through until time was up. I had enough time during my rest for Jessica, Jonathan's girlfriend, to do some manipulation and work through some of the sticky hamstring muscle fibers (she is a PT). I think she saved the rest of the race for me: I was able to complete every one of my 400s. My stride was tightly restricted, and I was really almost limping, but I could finish. 

Speaking of finish..."FINISH!" is still ringing in my ears from Sunday. Casey came out to cheer and hollered that at each and every one of us at each and every lap as we rounded the 300m mark! We all joked later that we heard "FINISH!" in our dreams that night. As we entered the final hour, we lined up single file on the track and took turn after turn. We saw some amazing laps in those final minutes: Kenny somehow STILL dropping easy 67s, Will powering through, Jonathan running a 400m PR. Pou heard the times around him and decided it was time to break 70 seconds - and did, on his final lap of the day. I heard him tell Paul that, and I decided it was high time I broke 80. Limping, hamstring pull, total exhaustion - those were excuses. Kenny ticked around the oval, shouted Go, and set me on my way of my very last lap. I ran 79. It was the best I could do - but I was under 80! 


It was down to the final minutes, and we realized that Will would probably have the final lap. As he took over, we knew he'd have 10 or 15 seconds left. We made a split-second decision and told Will - who probably ran the finest that weekend - "Keep going!" Poor Will - he ran nearly a 600m final split as we all counted down. 

Done. Thirty-one hours and 15 seconds! We were elated but tired. We knew our times exactly thanks to the spreadsheets we maintained, but the TSP leaderboard was a disaster. We ended up not finding out our official place until Wednesday morning: fifth in the freestyle devision, eighth overall, first team from the USA. I am so incredibly proud of us. We completed this in terrible weather, with a bunch of misfit runners, and a lot of dedication. Every single runner performed beyond their expectations, and our team support was outstanding. And I was thrilled with my own running! I was worried I'd let my team down - instead gave them a tiny boost. My average pace was 46 seconds per mile faster than predicted, and even during the night legs I never ran over 6:40. It was a great team effort from everyone, runners, support, spouses, and the like, and I was proud to be a part of it! 
Back: Jeff, Pou, Rich, Kenny, Paul, Jonathan, me, Josh. 
Front: Will, Kevin
On the ground: Jeremy

Would I do it again? Actually, YES. You'd expect some hesitation so soon after the race, but I would totally do it again. Next time? Top three, baby.


  1. What a finish - so awesome that you guys moved up so much in the final leg of this. I am impressed that you want to do this again. Next time should be easier since you won't have a baby and *hopefully* we won't be in the midst of a global pandemic??

  2. Congrats to you and the team! It definitely takes a strong person to enjoy something as painful as this sounds. If you can do this, you can do anything.