Okay, so I am dying to talk about the race I did last week, but I don’t have a good place for sharing running/race reports. So I’ll talk a little about the “why” and try to connect that back to wellness initiatives (or something). :-)
What is the Bourbon Chase? 200 miles. 12 runners. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
When the gun went off last Friday afternoon for our team to start Leg 1 of the Bourbon Chase relay event, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. What I got: sleep deprivation, sore muscles, new friends, and loads of fun and memories as a member of team Modern Bourbon Warfare IV.
I was runner #5 in our van of 6 runners. The way the relay worked was one van is active on the course at a time, so runners 1-6 would run a leg, then that van would go “inactive” for 5-6 hours while van #2 and runners 7-12 ran their portions (approximately 33 miles were covered each time a van was active). Each runner ended up with three legs to run, averaging anywhere from 13 to 19 miles total per person. My own total was 18.3 miles, and even though I’ve run that far on plenty of previous occasions, it still hurts a good bit when you run each leg as hard as you can.
I told our team captain that I liked hills. So naturally she gave me the one of the hilliest legs on the entire course. Whew. I ran the first 4.7 miles at a 7:34 pace, which was kind of funny, because the uphills were averaging two minutes more than that, and the steep downhills were measuring two minutes faster than that.
The leg was run just before it got too dark to see, so I got away with running without a light. It was just a pleasant afternoon run, and I did my best to keep plenty in reserve for my hard leg coming up.
After I finished and we picked up runner 6 at his checkpoint, we ate some food and slept in the van as much as possible. I’m normally asleep by 10pm, so it was very strange for me to wake up around midnight to get ready for our van to go active again.
My second leg was run around 2am on Saturday. It was 8.6 miles long, slightly hilly, and completely devoid of any streetlights or other man-made illumination. This is exactly what I wanted! I noticed as I was checking out the course map before this leg that this was rated as the #1 hardest leg on the entire course. That was a confidence builder. :-)
I took off from the bright lights of the small town into the welcoming darkness. I’ve always enjoyed running in the dark, and even though it would have gotten me in trouble with the race officials, once I got out of town and made sure there were no vehicles approaching from either direction, I would turn off my headlamp and just run by the light of the full moon. It felt surreal.
I finished up averaging just over 8 minutes per mile on the leg, and I was starving. I had a quick snack and we took off to catch runner #6 at his checkpoint. It was around 4am, and we were all very tired, but we were also very hungry. Luckily for us the town stayed open pretty much all night long during the race since there was so much pedestrian traffic. It was probably a bad idea, but when I saw the breakfast burrito on the menu I just had to order it! It was like heaven on a tortilla, and as soon as I got back to the van I nodded off to sleep.
After an hour nap, our alarms went off and we had to get back on the road for the transition. I finally ran my last 5 mile leg around 11am. I put everything I had into that, because I knew it was my last effort to support the team. I averaged 7:34 miles again, even though my legs kept pinging my brain with a recurring “Hey, dummy, what are you doing?” message.
Our team ended up doing pretty well, and I am still somewhat overwhelmed by the experience. One of my favorite memories is seeing runners come up to one of the smaller, desolate areas to transition. There was a really thick fog, so you couldn’t even tell there was someone coming until they were about 20 feet away. And the runners had no idea where they were going until they popped out of the fog at the transition. It was just a really neat thing to witness and one of those mental images that sticks in your head.
Tying it back to employee wellness
Why did I sign up for this event?
- Running is a social event event for me. Not that I’m a really social person, but it is a great place to find common ground (“Oh, you had blisters, too? Great story!” or “You think that cramp was bad, you should have seen the one I had…”). It’s just a fun, entertaining way to spend time with people. It’s socially engaging.
- I like socializing with people I work with. It helps me to understand them beyond their job description and by understanding them better, I can serve them better in my HR/recruiting functions. It helps me do my job better.
- I want to stay healthy, but just jogging or riding a bicycle aimlessly are not exciting for me. It fulfills an internal goal/desire.
When you’re thinking about wellness initiatives and how to get people engaged, you need to touch on these three things. The problem with many wellness programs is that some people just aren’t interested enough to hit #3 on the list, and that’s the one that is the most powerful leverage for getting your staff engaged.