My motivation :-)
Video Recap here
Team Franklin Thunder is ready to run; Andy, Todd, me, Brad, Chris, and Craig
We did it! Team Franklin Thunder really covered 195 miles from Chattanooga to Nashville, on foot, as a 6-man team + 1 driver.
We had fun decorating our van; our team name was Franklin Thunder
The 6 runners were Todd, Brad, Andy, Chris, Craig, and me, and the driver was Noland. We started running at 11am Friday at the river in Chattanooga, and we finally finished running at 3:33pm Saturday at the river in Nashville—28:33:42, which put us in 50th out of 154 teams and 6th out of the 17 ultra teams. I ran 32 total miles in 4h, 25 minutes at an 8:16 average—that's way faster than any marathon I've run, and if I could run a marathon at that pace I'd qualify for Boston!
We had previously assigned legs to specific runners and stayed on schedule through leg 27. Between legs 27 and 36 (the finish), we assigned legs or parts of legs to whoever felt good.
What I packed to run 6 times in all kinds of weather (I ended up taking only 2 pairs of shoes)
My first 2 legs were great. Leg 5, 8.3 miles, took me 1:09:46, 8:21 pace (6:21 best), 1,004 cal, 179 HR (192 max). Nothing really of note on this leg except that the exchange didn't have any porta-potties and that was not conducive to a pleasant start; but I got out there and ran it.
Ready to start my first leg...waiting on Chris who's coming up in the background
Leg 11, 5.3 miles, took me 43:53, 8:19 pace (6:51 best), 633 cal, 177 HR (198 max). This leg was great, but it was the last of my really feeling good during legs. Nothing else of note during this leg except that we knew it was going to get dark and harder soon.
Legs 16 and 17 were a double leg, 7.5 total miles, that took me 1:11:48, 9:58 pace (6:14 best), 825 cal, 167 HR (186 max) in the dark, scary night; it wasn't so much the dark that slowed me down, it was the ignorance of everything—where I was, what was coming up ahead, who was coming up behind, all that stuff. I tried to overcome that through focus and prayer, and I finished the leg (with hamstring screaming for the final 3 miles—the already 21 miles were starting to catch up to me). The guys asked me what happened when I got back way later than my projected time, and I said I fell apart. The mental aspect of this leg didn't totally overwhelm me, but it definitely played a part in the slow time, and the mileage at this point reduced me to the Ironman shuffle.
Leg 27, 6.1 miles, was 6 hours later, and during my time in the van (and 20-minute nap, all I slept all night) I was able to recover physically and mentally. I was ready to tackle this leg (daylight!), but the weather had another plan. This time of the morning was 28* (or below), and though I was dressed plenty warm—the feet and hands weren't frozen at all—I couldn't adequately breathe in the frigid air. I'd never had that feeling before and decided at mile 3.2 to ask for a reliever. Craig stepped in early and finished my leg as well as his own. My body was struggling at this point, and I knew I had a couple (nonconsecutive) 5Ks left in me but not more. This leg nearly demoralized me even though my legs felt great; my nose, mouth, and lungs weren't cooperating, and it's hard to run when you can't breathe well! I knew, however, that a lot of what I was feeling was fatigue and discomfort; I wasn't in pain, and I knew I could continue (especially since I had 5 teammates counting on me!). The part of this leg that I ran took me 26:52, 8:57 pace (6:41 best), 347 cal.
Leg 33, 8.9 miles, was not going to happen for me in its entirety. Chris flew over Lynwood Way/North Berrys Chapel and through the first mile+ of my leg before I took over and covered 2.87 miles, which was 24:32, 8:34 pace (6:39 best), 341 cal. Because of blisters and fatigue we were down to 5 able-bodied runners who still needed to cover 18.5 miles, and I got in the van after Craig relieved me and said, "That was great; I could definitely do it again, just not consecutively." There was a huge sigh of relief from everyone, and I was assigned the first part of the coming leg.
Leg 34, 6.3 miles, was split up among 3 of us. I ran the first 2.3 miles, which took me 21:02, 9:04 pace (6:14 best), 270 cal, and ended up being my last run until the finish line. Again, I could've repeated that, just not consecutively, but I didn't need to. At this point, we all knew we were going to make it and were running on that energy.
Team Captain Brad took us to the finish line after Todd ran up to 40 miles, and we met Brad in costume and ran across the line together (Todd: Johnny from Karate Kid; Brad: mohawk man; Chris: afro man; Andy and me: ghostbusters; Craig: Michael Jackson). It felt so great to be done!
Team Franklin Thunder has finally finished; Brad, Chris, Todd, Andy, me, and Craig
After spending a little time scouting out the lackluster finish line festivities, we headed home, cleaned out the van, and ate a great supper at Cool Springs Brewery.
Here are a few things of note, things to remember if we do this again or if Ragnar asks for input:
- Bring your own toilet paper.
- Not every exchange has porta-potties, and those that don't aren't noted in the Rag Mag.
- I recover quicker after short legs and run them (multiple, that is) stronger.
- Running at night is OK; not preferable, but tolerable with enough light and with support.
- Run a better-attended race (500+ teams) or put high finish/pace times to run with more people; seeing no one on the road for 12 hours, at night, is not fun.
- We passed lots of people, or at least caught them, starting at leg 26 (just before light); it was nice to finally start seeing people!
- Grundy County food drop-off wasn't highlighted, and we missed it.
- Running 195 miles is really long, even on a team.
- Having a driver is great because it relieves one element of stress from the runners.
- Bring already-made sandwiches or eggs or something substantial so that you can eat real food if you have lots of time between legs.
- We all got little to no sleep as an ultra team, even with doubling legs at night.
- Running multiple single legs is easier than running half as many double legs (we planned a little of both and it seemed to work OK, but mentally the shorter legs are better than the longer double legs).
- Knowing the route is helpful and relieving at night (especially since signs and lights can be stolen and your van might just drive to the next exchange and meet you there).
- Prayer is essential for survival.
Overall, it was an amazing experience. I loved it and will definitely do it again!