Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Holy DOMS, Batman!

So, I raced in the Fall 50 fifty-mile relay event this past weekend, and apparently my souvenir was a nice case of DOMS. No, that is not some weird disease or a hangover from drinking too much Dom Perignon, which of course I drink all the time - not! No, this is delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.

If you have never experienced DOMS, consider yourself lucky. It's extremely painful and frustrating. I feel it in my quads, which makes going up and down stairs excruciating and even putting pressure on my thighs hurts. Yesterday my son went to sit down on my lap, and I almost cried out loud. DOMS is frustrating, because you usually don't experience it until about two days after the trigger event. I.e., you think you are free and clear, and then - BAM! - it hits you. I know from past experience that by day five, it will be mostly gone.

For me, the weird thing about DOMS is what triggers it. I ran a marathon a few weeks back and never experienced delayed muscle soreness after. In fact, I haven't really had a bad case of this since last summer when I was doing a crazy amount of different kinds of exercise and then topped off an especially hard week with a hike up our local state park's observation tower. I actually think it was the hike down the steps that did it.

My team.  Too early in the morning for us, I think.
Similarly, this past weekend I think the run set me up for it, but then stairs drove the final nail into the coffin. In Saturday's relay race, I had an extremely hilly first leg and by hilly, I mean hilly. The description tells you to "go up Hairpin Hill and right on Gibralter Bluff," if that gives you any idea. Follow that up with a six-miler as my second leg that I really did try to push, even if I didn't succeed one-hundred percent, and my legs were set up nicely for their fall. After my second leg, I knew I was going to be in trouble, as my problem knee was killing me. Walking down a hill after my leg, the knee really screamed in pain. (It even made dancing later that night hard!)

Anyway, combine the hard hill running with dancing, little water, and too much beer at the after-party, and I was set up nicely for what turned out to be the last straw - an easy hike in Potawatomi State Park, followed by ... drumroll, please ... yes, a jaunt up their 75-foot observation tower. I don't know what it is about me and towers. I can run a marathon and be fine, but going up and down observation towers does me in. As it was, I felt fine coming down the tower, but then when I went to get into the car, there it was - that feeling of cramping coming on in my quads. Bummer!

The reason I do this: shirt and bling.
Ah well, it was worth it. The Fall 50 was a great event - once again. This is the fourth year that I have done it, and it is a ton of fun. Running is usually such a solo sport. Even if you participate in group runs, which I do, you are still really only concerned with how you as an individual do. A team relay is a nice change of pace. 

One for all and all for one - and all that.

Saturday started bright and early for me, as I met two of my runners at the finish line in Sturgeon Bay, so that we could drive up to the start - 50 miles away - together. On the way north we picked up a fourth team member staying in Ephraim, a town around the half way point, finally meeting our final team member at the start. There we followed through on our plan to randomly draw legs out of a hat. That worked out nicely, except for the fact that we then all traded. I was originally planning on keeping the two legs I drew regardless of what they may be, but after drawing back-to-back legs, I exercised my right to change my mind. Although, to be honest, I don't know if trading my relatively easy 3.8-mile second leg was a real even trade considering the six-miler I ended up with, but oh well.

The other reason I do this: the party tent after the race!
The gun went off at 9 a.m. with our first runner on his way. The rest of us then began the day's game of leapfrogging our way to the finish. As it turns out, while I had taken my watch with me, I forgot to wear it on both my legs. So, I have no idea how fast (or slow) I was going. My feeling was that I was giving an all out effort, but I also know I got tired in the second leg. (I don't think I am fully recovered from the marathon yet.) The rest of the team was smokin', though. When our first runner came through the first exchange point, he was something like the fourth one through. We were all taken by surprise by that, and he was quite pleased to have had a good run. In fact, all of my teammates showed up that day. We finished the relay in 6:58 and change - so just under seven hours. That's way faster than we have ever done it before.

Aside from the running, part of the fun of the Fall 50 is just the creativity that people exhibit. Some folks decorate their cars elaborately, and we all have our vehicles painted. The best line I saw on a car that day?
"Your pace or mine?"
Team names are often interesting, too. There is, after all, a team name contest at the end of the race. For us folks who don't have a hope of winning the actual running event, the team name contest holds some allure. I thought we were clever with our name of 50 Miles to Beer in the Fall, but we never win. It seems to me that the winners almost always have something to do with body parts or bodily functions. I am going to have to think on that for next year.

Colors ran but looks sort of Halloween-ish, right?
All in all, it was another great weekend spent with running friends and seeing folks I know outside of running who surprised me by doing the event as well. I love the fifty-mile relay. It's just the right length somehow. Seven hours goes by relatively quickly doing something like this. I don't know if I could do one of the longer relay events. Doing this overnight doesn't hold a lot of appeal for me, but who knows? Never say never.

Have you ever done a running relay? Would you consider doing one?

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