Last Friday I participated in a super-secret test run for an upcoming relay race. Before participating I had to swear to keep this knowledge to myself so that none of the future competitors would have any advanced knowledge of the course. So, naturally I spent the better part of the run thinking of all the wonderful things I would blog about using secret-handshake code words, foreign languages, mad libs, and cryptograms.
It was a couple weeks ago that a blast email came out from a member of my running club asking for "beta runners". At my job I do lots of beta testing, and I can be pretty vocal about it. Just ask ScottyTri's. So when this solicitation came out asking for beta runners - to run a top secret course - I was pumped! Sign me up! Even better, another club runner signed up for the same segment so I had a pal on the course to run with.
The course was so top secret, in fact, that we weren't told where to go until a day before the run. Realizing it was a point-to-point run (which makes sense since it is, after all, a relay race), that presented a logistical problem of how to get back to my vehicle. I assumed the director had the transportation element all nailed down for me as part of her pre-work (as I would do in preparation for any test). Good thing we checked, because she expected us to work out our own transportation back to the starting point. John and I worked this out by meeting at the finish location, leaving my car there, and carpooling to the start. That way I could drive him back to his car afterwards. This ended up being an important detail, as I will share shortly.
I'm not exactly clear on the purpose or the expectations of this beta test run, even after completing it. (I can think of a couple top-notch project managers I work with that should be assigned to this next year!) They seemed to want to iron out transitions, which is why we had to wait until the bikers came in before we could start our run. I asked if we had any instructions, but our only purpose it seemed was literally to run from point A to point B. We were instructed to be ready to run at 11, but the bikes took a full extra hour to arrive, so we didn't head out until 12. It was a cool, breezy and sunny day, so I was really looking forward to getting moving!
John and I headed out on our 5k*2 (in other words: half marathon/2)-ish distance run. The time flew as we chit chatted and kept a nice casual pace. John has been a club member for...forever...so he had lots of stories to share. The course was just beautiful and took us down streets in my hometown that I didn't even know existed. (And since I can't remember the name of them, no worries there about spilling any secrets!) The scenery was fantastic as we passed rural land, farms, and classic New England stone walls. For a short period of time we were running down wind from a ripe cow farm which was a little tough to ingest, but when we passed by the farm and I saw all the baby calves I was completely smitten. In fact, if I wasn't being timed I would've stopped to take photos. It's a good thing the scenery was so amazing because it made up for the fact that the course was very ______ for the first ___ miles. Since John and I had driven the course in reverse, we knew what to expect. So, by the time we reached mile ___ we knew that it was clear sailing.
We continued our nice casual pace until all of the sudden something happened to make John stop in his tracks. Out of the blue he pulled a calf muscle and couldn't run a single step. We gave it a minute to see if it would work itself out, but eventually he told me to go ahead without him. He was forced to sit in the shade on the side of the road until I could get back to him with my car. I continued the last couple miles solo, and it wasn't nearly as fun. When I reached the transition area I informed the person meeting me that John wouldn't be finishing, and he thanked me for running. It was kind of an awkward end to the test. I don't know really what I expected but I thought at least I would be asked for course feedback. Instead, I ran back to my car and drove back to John, who was hanging out in the shade like a hitch hiker.
As far as dress rehearsals go, I thought this could be staged a little better. But, this relay race has been going on for years so maybe they have most everything ironed out already. In any event, the relay looks like tons of fun and I'm kind of regretting volunteering for it because it looks like a super fun race. And I got to spend a beautiful Friday afternoon running through the streets of _____, _____, and _____, so what could be better than that?