Dare Mighty Things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

RI 6-HR Relay

Finishing lap #4 of the RI 6-HR Relay
[courtesy of Scott Mason]
"The older I get, the better I used to be." - Lee Trevino

Warwick,  RHODE ISLAND -- Among the many things that acidotic RACING provides is the chance to be a part of something great.  Sunday at the Rhode Island 6-Hour Relay, hosted by our friends from the Tuesday Night Turtles, we had the chance to defend greatness.  Last year our 5 person relay team won the event and set the relay course record by running 22 laps (59.4 miles) in 5:54:00.  Four of those athletes including Rich Lavers, Danny Ferreira, Charlie Therriault, and myself would return accompanied by newcomers Judson Cake and Chris Lalmond.  Top to bottom we had at least as strong of a group as 2010 and we had our sights firmly fixed on a record breaking 23 laps.  Judson led the event off and put down a very fast first 2.7 mile lap establishing an early 90 second lead.  And we were off.  Charlie, Danny, Chris, Rich, and then myself took turns looping the gently rolling Warwick City Park bike/walking path negotiating the tight turns, ultra runners, and leashed 4-leggers.  Heading into the event I felt a little tired from a busy year of racing and aside from some annoying nagging hamstring tightness quite healthy.  I opened with a 16:01 (5:55's) and felt comfortable doing it.  When I got back to our team area word had it that Chris' foot issue was a much bigger deal than originally thought.  His opening 16:51 was very uncharacteristic and not at all representative of his immense talent and very high fitness.  As we clicked off the laps our lead began to grow as our nearest competition from Fuel Belt was running a man down with only five.  In the sixth position it was certain that I'd only run three laps total so I attempted to repeat my first effort on my second lap.  At 16:07 (5:58's) I was a little off pace but felt like I ran in control and consistent.  Sitting down to recover between laps the word came that Chris would be forced to withdraw from the event because of his foot.  Although he was obviously disappointed it was certainly the correct decision.  Our overall lead was secure and through a dozen laps we were actually a little ahead of record setting pace.  Knowing I had a little less time to recover and would need to run a 4th lap I adjusted my race plan for lap #3.  Not having any experience running 4 laps at this race I chose to throttle back for my third loop and ran a very conservative 16:45 (6:12's).  By the time I finished I could almost tell my goose was cooked.  I quickly headed to our rest area to hydrate and get my sweats back on my legs to keep them warm.  Laying down I elevated my feet and began to wonder what I'd have left to give on my 4th lap.  As is typical of my aR teammates they gave nothing less than everything they had and their tenacity was infectious.  Everyone was obviously feeling the effects of 5 1/2 hours of very hard racing including Charlie who due to a calf injury could barely manage a stiff legged shuffle during his warm-up only to snap out of it miraculously once he got up to race pace.  Judson was rock solid as always, Danny stayed on course, and Rich exceeded his #5 placing putting in one fast lap after another.  Then with just shy of 30 minutes left in the race Rich handed the bracelet to me for our 22nd and record tying lap.  In order for Judson to have any chance of putting in #23 (and breaking our own course record) I would have to run at least 30 seconds faster than my fastest lap of the event.  I'm as positive as they come but I'm also very realistic about my athletic ability.  I took out of the transition area determined to 'show up or blow up' and to give Judson at least a fighters chance at the record.  I hit the mile split in 5:50, ccertainly faster than my Lap #3 split but not fast enough to run sub 16:00.  I ran as hard as I could but was struggling to find a rhythm.  That was until I met Danny and Rich who had doubled back on the course to intercept me and pick me up for the last 1/2 mile.  Danny immediately got 3-4 meters in front and shouted encouragement while Rich hung back to pace teammate Ryan Welts who was finishing the ultra.  The course rolled over those final few hundred meters and I felt Danny's energy pulling me forward.  Finishing in 16:29 (6:06's) there's no question that without his help I probably would have repeated my 16:45 Lap #3 performance.  Judson knew that 13 minutes and change didn't leave him enough time to complete a full lap but he headed out to cross as many timing mats on the course as he could.  We didn't officially finish that record breaking 23rd lap but we did set a new course record of 22 laps (59.4 miles) in 5:47:33 (5:51's) breaking our own mark by 6.5 minutes and defended our title!  I'm so proud of my teammates for the toughness they displayed including ultra runner Ryan who finished 11th overall running 37.8 miles in 5:48:50.  Just incredible.  For our victory we won three cases of Harpoon beer and a cool RI6-HR Relay pint glass.  A very heartfelt thank you to our hosts Bob and Jackie Jackman from the Tuesday Night Turtles for another fantastic event. 

(L-R) Chris Lalmond, me, Judson Cake, Rich Lavers,
Charlie Therriault, Danny Ferreira
[courtesy of Scott Mason]

NEXT UP:  Hallowiener Hustle

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