Yesterday, I completed my first relay race: the Ragnar Bourbon Chase!
The Bourbon Chase is a 200-mile race that starts in Clermont, Kentucky and ends in Lexington, Kentucky. There are 36 legs, with each member of the 12 person team running 3 legs each. There are two vans on a team, so 6 runners are in each van. Then you keep switching!
I was in Van 2, and I was the last runner in the Van. My first leg started at 6:22PM on Friday and was a total of 3.3 miles. My second leg started at 3:16AM on Saturday and was a total of 8.7 miles. My last leg – which was the last leg of the entire race! – started at 2:22PM on Saturday and was a total of 4.9 miles. So, in total, I ran almost 17 miles!
A year ago, I never would have thought I would do something like this. In fact, after my first marathon, a few people I had been training with were talking about a relay race they were training for, and I thought to myself that it sounded crazy. Then, last year, some people I was running with were doing the Bourbon Chase. This time, I said out loud that I would never want to do it.
I also remember saying I would never to a full marathon after my first half-marathon. And now I’ve done 2!
I feel like God laughs every time I say “never”.
This was one of the best race experiences I have ever had, so I definitely want to do it again.
Oddly enough, my favorite leg was the one in the middle of the night, which also happened to be my longest run. I had to wear a headlamp, a bright vest, and a few other lights on the vest to make sure that people driving could see me running since it was an open road course. I’ve never run at night before, especially not by myself. (Well, I wasn’t exactly by myself. There was always someone running a few feet ahead of me, or someone behind me. But not close enough that I could have a conversation with them.)
I started the run by praying the rosary. I forced myself to slow down when I said every piece. I matched a word or a syllable to each footfall. And since I’m a pretty slow runner, it forced me to pray the rosary much slower than I usually do. Overall, it took me about 30 minutes, which was about 3 miles of my nearly 9 mile run.
Next, I listened to an episode of the Catholic Feminist Podcast. That was another 40 or so minutes, so it left me with 2 more miles to entertain myself.
Finally, I decided to play some music by Ed Sheeran. The first song that come on the shuffle was Thinking Out Loud. This was so appropriate, since the opening line is, “When your legs don’t work like they used to no more.” I definitely felt like God was acknowledging the pain in my legs, and yet encouraging me to remember His love ans keep going. Not to mention that there’s a line “kiss you under the light of a thousand stars.” And since I was in the middle-of-nowhere Kentucky, I could see the moon and the stars much better than I could in a town or city. In that moment, I almost felt like God had made the beautiful night sky just for me.
That quiet time alone was exactly what I needed for that leg of the race. But God also knew that, for my last leg, I needed some human help. Unlike the second leg, the third one was in the middle of the day, so it was much hotter. I was at least 30 seconds per mile slower because of that. Even though I started praying the rosary again, it didn’t feel as meditative or as helpful the second time. Thankfully, there was an older man called Mark who caught up with me. He was struggling because of the heat, too. So we decided to stick together for the entire time. We didn’t talk too much, but we didn’t need to. It was still a tough leg, but having some company kept both of us accountable to sticking with it.
I’m still too excited after the race. But it will be nice to run without a particular goal in mind for a few weeks. I won’t be training for anything new until Advent.
When Advent starts on December 3rd, I’ve decided to start a #catholicwomenrun challenge!
I’ve created a prayer journal for Catholic women who want to train and strengthen their faith through running. If you want to be empowered to become a more perfect disciple of Christ in the world, sign up here!
Currently there’s a plan for a 5k and a half marathon, but any distance is possible! I recommend you start with the 5k if you’re new, though. 😉