Friday, August 29, 2008
For me, this is good news. The challenge of 4 runners tackling 208 miles was exciting…and daunting. The idea of having 5 was much better, giving us all 43-44 miles, and in our search for another runner, we found two, making the race and a good time two things that could more easily go hand in hand.
We will now have two support vehicles. Van one will drive Kristi, Kandi, and David. Van two will drive Jason, Eric, and myself (Jane). Van one will run legs 1-3 and van two will run legs 4-6, continuing this rotation throughout the race.
I am thrilled with our new team and more excited now than I was before. The pressure of making the cut-off time and the fear of overdoing it are issues of the past. That doesn’t mean that we won’t experience fatigue and a strong desire to shut our eyes when we must open them and run, but it means we can give a little more and push a little harder on our respective legs that are now fewer in number.
As I write, our adventure begins in less than a week. I have trained hard and I feel ready. I’m ready for the challenge, ready for the experience, ready for the beauty of unseen mountains, and ready to spend this time with my husband and our good friends.
This time last year I was getting ready to get married. I married my husband, Jason Reneau, on Sept 3, 2007, which was Memorial Day. I can’t help but think it is fitting for the two of us as runners to begin our second year of marriage this way. Maybe it will be a new tradition – to try something new together each new year.
To me, this relay is a bit like marriage. It is longer than most races and certainly not the easiest one to choose. There are moments of joy, moments of hardship, moments of rest, and moments where one has to ignore how they feel and give it all they’ve got to succeed. In a relay, just like in marriage, one doesn’t run only for himself, but for another. It is a team effort, requiring all participants to work hard to obtain the goal.
So while this relay will most certainly be an amazing personal accomplishment, I don’t run it only for myself. I run to support my team, to give my all, and to celebrate another year of life with a beloved teammate.
This has been your Cheesy Moment with Jane Tortoise (and knowing me, there are probably more to come).
- Jane Reneau Tortoise
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Even though I want the US to win in everything, I can’t help but support other teams who have worked so hard to get to where they are. When the program does a spotlight on an Olympian, I start feeling like I know them and I want them to succeed.
From Liu Xiang, China’s hope for a track and field victory, to Lolo Jones who everyone knew had it in the bag, these stories broke my heart for these runners who had worked so hard only to have an injury or mistake that kept them from the gold in what should have been their finest hour.
And then I had a little mishap of my own that gave me a moment of panic and frustration last night. Not that I in any way compare to these Olympians, I don’t. But what we DO have in common is a goal of some sort that requires us to train hard, to push, to start even when we are tired, and to give it all we’ve got when the moment of truth arrives.
Tuesday morning I ran 9 miles, 4.5 with my friend Mimi, and 4.5 alone. I strategically placed Eastview (a murderous hill in Madison) in the midst of both routes so that I would have to climb it twice. The relay we are to run will have elevation similar to the hills of Eastview, and so I try to fit it in at least once a week, using Cecil Ashburn for the other hill-work day.
Even with 9 miles run already, I knew that for the relay I’d be running several times a day, and so a double or two each week would be a good idea. Jason was going to run the Cross Country Run Tuesday night, so I packed some clothes and planned to go too.
I hadn’t planned on trying to run fast, but it is hard to do when surrounded by other runners who are keeping a good pace. I gave myself a word of warning as we hit the trails. I haven’t been running trails at all, and while these are not the most difficult Huntsville has to offer, they are filled with rocks, roots, and plenty of uneven terrain.
I knew I should probably slow down, but I’d made up my mind not to let the runner behind me catch me so I ran as fast as I could, trying to watch my step as I went.
On the last mile of the run, my foot struck too close to the edge and my ankle turned inward. I yelped and corrected, still running. The pain wasn’t bad at first, just a little notification that something wasn’t right. As I ran, though, the pain increased slowing me down and letting the guy behind me pass (two guys, in fact).
By the time I finished it was throbbing. I looked for Jason trying not to panic. I wanted to cry, not from the pain, but because I didn’t have time for an injury and I had no idea if it was a bad one or not.
I told Jason and he looked at it. It had not started to swell and that was a good sign. He gave me strict orders to head home, shower, and get ice on it as fast as I could. I called my mom on the way home and she seconded his instructions. “Ice it until you feel like your bone is going to fall off,” she said.
I followed instructions and this morning my range of motion had improved. I’m icing it as I write. I’m planning to take today off, but tomorrow is Cecil Ashburn with Kristi and it has swiftly become my favorite run of the week.
Last week I ran a total of 57 miles. That is a first in the life of this running gal. I’m aiming for another 50 miler and then maybe a 40 before I begin to taper for the relay. I think this ankle will be fine, and for that I am extremely grateful!
Even though I’m no Olympian, I’ve still put a lot of time, training, effort, and hope into this race. I’m excited and I’m ready for the challenge, and whatever that brings along with it.
I think I’ll sit out any more trail running until afterward, however.
Monday, August 18, 2008
More has been done, of course, and more will be done. There have been greater and more amazing feats by people all over the world. But for this 28-year-old running gal, this is the most and the biggest and the longest event in my repertoire of great feats.
I, along with 3 other crazy heads, (who have engaged in various levels of insanity themselves) am running the Blue Ridge Relay, September 5 – 6, 2008. What this entails is the four of us sharing a 208 mile journey through the
I am the first runner in our race, beginning with a 4 mile leg, followed by Jason then Kristi then Kandi. We have to stay in this order until the last leg has been run, and so it is really luck of the draw as far as mileage and elevation difficulty. I will, Lord willing, run a total of 50.8 miles. Jason will get the most mileage with a total of 58.8. Kristi hits midway, with some HARD elevation at 52 miles, and Kandi will be running 44.9, also with some steep elevation losses and gains.
Our drivers are Betsy and Kalon, Kristi and Kandi’s mom and brother. They will drive us in their van, dropping off runners to start a leg as another runner finishes. We will do this until we finish.
Our team is The Tortoises and the Hare. Jason is of course our hare and we are glad to have him. However, we have a strong group of tortoises as well, and I feel confident of a good race.
I have never been a part of a team before and so this adds a new dimension to my running outlook. I no longer train with only myself and my goals in mind, but for a group of others who are counting on me to do my part. This is a great motivator when I’m feeling too tired or too sore, or debating sleeping in instead of running. I remember my teammates and this grand race for which we must prepare, and it helps me push a little harder, run a little farther, and get out of bed when I’d rather not.
We have a website, and if you’d like to follow us as we get ready for this event, and then as we run the event, our experiences and pictures will be posted here.
And as always, prayers and thoughts are greatly appreciated, as we hope to have a fun and safe race.
-- Jane Tortoise