The Wolfson Children’s Challenge Ultra Relay holds a special place in my heart. We owe a lot to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, for their compassionate and successful treatment and care of little man, when he was born with pinholes in his heart. I am always happy to participate in functions that give back to and provide awareness for the hospital and its patients and staff.
This year, I was running under Empower Coaching & Fitness for Team Jack & Luke.
The twins’ story is miraculous, and I have the privilege of knowing the boys (and their family), and was so honored to be running for them.
There were some changes in setup and course for the Challenge this year. Participant and sponsor tents were set up inside the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (rather than across the street outside of Everbank Field). And the 3.1 mile course loop would incorporate more of the area around the two stadiums, rather than being out in downtown Jacksonville.
With a 7:00 AM start time, I arrived around 6:30 to meet up with my relay team. Relay team members had to sign a roster to be submitted at the start line, and I wanted to familiarize myself with the lay of the land. I was scheduled to run fifth in the lineup, but I was also going to be pacing some of the other runners that day. I was scheduled for a long run, and I was happy to accomplish that distance alongside friends.
I was also glad I brought my snuggie and a chair along, to wait out the cold.
I hooked up with Heather – she was one of the first runners, and I was ready to get warmed up. She also saved the day – for some reason my Adrenalines were eating my socks, and driving me insane. She had an extra pair of color run knee socks in her pack and loaned them to me for the day.
Even though it was in the 30s when we started, we had a great first loop. Things heated up really quickly once the sun rose, though, and I was sweltering in my layers. I asked Heather to tell the next runner (who I would also be supporting) that I was just going to change really quickly and would meet her along the route.
With about 4.5 miles down, I got a little break before my own scheduled loop. Jen and Stacey joined me for that run, which was good, because the course was getting a little old. However, I still felt strong and we all had a really great chat about my future training goals and my race anxiety. I honestly had no idea what my overall time or pace was, but as we neared the finish line, I could feel the familiar feeling of nausea and tightness in my throat. It didn’t matter that we were out there for fun, and logging miles, I was still anxious. Which then led to joking about me doing an ultra, because then I would just keep running and running and not have to worry about the finish line. (We’ll save that bit of insanity for another time).
I was able to take a little break before my final loop. By this point, my legs were getting tired, but I only had a few miles to go to hit my planned nine, so I shook it off and joined Emily for her leg.
At the end of the morning, I had logged about 9.4 miles, and was ready for lunch!
I got to spend a quick minute with Jack, Luke and their adorable sister.
And even got to say hi to some members of the 501st Legion.
I think Spiderman and Elsa were ready for lunch, too!
Once again, this was a wonderful event for an even better cause. It was well organized and well run, and my only complaint (which I even hate to make because the cause is so awesome) was about the course. Obviously, keeping the streets closed for half the day in a major metropolitan area is a tough feat, but the course was rather dull, looping through access roads and part of Everbank Field’s parking lot, before heading down to a narrow strip along the riverfront, complete with bricks and tight corners. At one point in the morning, the start of the course was cut (rumor has it a wedding was being held in the church across the street from the baseball grounds) and I’m not sure how or if the distance was made up. It’s a minor thing, but I did prefer last year’s course as more scenic and easier to run, even with the treacherous and steep pedestrian ramp over the river.
Huge thanks to the race staff and all the wonderful volunteers who came out to make this year’s Wolfson Children’s Challenge great. I had a blast, and am ready to do it again next year.
Have you ever run a relay?
What’s your favorite cause for which you run?