race report: wolfson children’s challenge ultra relay {1.31.2016}

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?

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24 Responses to race report: wolfson children’s challenge ultra relay {1.31.2016}

  1. This looks like a fun race for a great cause! You Floridians sure have a lot of races. I’ll be there next week for mine! Yay!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Running SerendipitouslyMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      We have great year-round weather. Most weekends, there are at least two or three races within a 60 mile radius. I love it. It’s a great way to stay motivated.

  2. I love it when we can use our passion for running and fitness to raise funds and awareness for great causes. Love it!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…3 Pre Run Stretches To Enhance Your Run In Under 5 minutesMy Profile

  3. That looks like a fantastic and fun event! I always wonder though, how do people run in some of those costumes? 😀

    • runswithpugs says:

      Oh, the 501st wasn’t running! They are a group of men and women who are obsessed with Star Wars (the dark side, in this case) – they create and fabricate their costumes, in accordance with very strict guidelines, and they also do appearances for hospitals and charities. They were on hand for the kids that day. It’s always awesome when they come out in full dress.

  4. Cassandra Smith says:

    I have never done a relay, but would love to some day. I’ve been invited to do this relay for the last two years, but I wasn’t able to get off work to do it. I’m hoping when it comes time next year that I will be able to. It looks like y’all had a wonderful time for such a great cause, too!

  5. I love knowing that you are racing for a good cause. It lights that little fire even more. I’ve never done a relay, but I have my eye on a Ragnar!
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…Why You Should Try Group TrainingMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      I would love to do a Ragnar, too. The closest one was in Key West, and that’s been canceled for this year, at the very least. I’m going to have to figure out another one to do.

  6. Such a great cause and event! Relays sound like so much fun, especially when doing it with friends.
    Artney @ My Pretty Brown Fit recently posted…Don’t Try This At Home and Gimme All the Washi!My Profile

  7. I love participating in events that support causes that mean a lot to me. I had no idea how your little man’s defect, so I can only imagine how much it means to you to run this race each year.
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…March 2016 Monthly GoalsMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      He was born was what’s called Atrial Septal Defect. We had absolutely no idea, and I am so grateful for the nurse who realized something wasn’t quite right and pushed for some testing. He was transferred to Wolfson Children’s 24 hours after he was born. They thought it was an intestinal blockage from swallowing meconium, but then he turned blue on the nurse, they ran more tests and realized that his heart wasn’t functioning properly. He was in the NICU for two weeks, and then spent the next six months at home on a heart monitor. It was terrifying and we are so grateful and blessed that the ASD healed on its own. So many others need to have surgery to repair it. The staff at Wolfson Children’s were the best, and we were in such great hands the whole time. We are always happy to give back to them in whatever ways we can.

  8. Becki S says:

    Love this cause and love that you not only got to run your miles but support and pace others doing theirs. Great job.
    Becki S recently posted…One More RepMy Profile

  9. Ivanna says:

    This looks like a great time. and I love the costumes also. Good job!
    Ivanna recently posted…HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED TO EXERCISEMy Profile

  10. Supporting children’s causes is so important. I’m fundraising for the Childrens Miracle Network Hospitals this year for the Cherry Blossom Run, and it’s really humbling. I always enjoy your race recaps – even though the course was a bit dull, you did a great job getting those miles in on your team!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Cherry Blossom Training Week 5 RecapMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      CMN is an amazing group. Jack & Luke were actually CMN babies and to this do so much for the organization.

      Race recaps are my favorite thing to write. I always hope that I have what it takes to make others what to get out there and run.

  11. Such a wonderful event and what a great cause you were running for. I love running our local CHAD Hero Half which raises money for our local hospital.
    Sandra Laflamme recently posted…Boston Marathon Training Update. Running Tired.My Profile

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