I should have blogged about this three weeks ago, but due to my parents visit everything has been put off. That being said, the island relay race was held on August 28th. Fifteen teams entered, including two teams representing the Peace Corps. The boys entered team "To a Samoa", and us girls entered team "Kope Keini" into the race. The much anticipated race began predawn for us girls, who although named "fast girls" had really anticipated a slow time. We arrived at the starting line just before 4am. Our Charge D'affairs, Robin, was incredibly supportive of our efforts, providing coolers full of snacks, refreshing drinks, fruit, and transportation! Honestly, I do not know what we would have done without her. The line-up was set with Kailin running the first leg, Erin running the second, Dana the third, Lili the fourth, me the fifth, and Corina the sixth and last stretch. As Kailin departed from the starting line a wave of nausea hit me: this much anticipated day had finally arrived, and over the next 10 hours, I would be running the distance of a half marathon. My stomach was in knots as each runner preceding me hit the road until finally my moment came. I strapped on my ipod and to the tune of Akons' "Freedom" got myself pumped up for my predawn run. As Lili approached, glow stick in hand, I grabbed some rocks (for the dogs), did a few jumps, and took off to the cheers of my teammates encouragement.
The first stretch was exhilarating but exhausting. Coming off of just a few hours of nervous sleep, I was awake enough to run, but it was still a challenge to tackle a 4.3km run at 5:50 in the morning! The day progressed at an alarming speed. Before I new it, it was time to run my second leg! I hit the road for part two around 9am and to my horror started feeling knee pain about 5 minutes into the run. I completed the stretch with decent time, took some ibuprofen and got some ice on my knee. Strapped into my knee brace, the third leg was smooth, but by the fourth leg my body gave up on me and shooting pain inhibited me from completing my portion of the last leg. I was devastated, yet my amazing team stepped to the challenge and like the true fa'amolosi teini they are, ran the extra kilometers to complete the race. Just over 10 and a half hours after we began our team gathered to run the sat few minutes of the race with Kailin in the lead. We crossed the finnish line miles ahead of the next fastest womens' team, taking gold for the Peace Corps girls. The boys powered through like non other, completing the 104km run in a record time of just over 8 hours. They passed us during the second to last leg, but there were no hard feelings from our team, just pure joy as two of the three categories were won with the Peace Corps name.
Peace Corps offers many personal challenges, both emotional and physical. This relay race was a landmark day in my life. I have never considered myself strong runner, yet after this day, I felt like anything was possible. It was so great to run with such a great group of girls, and next year, I look forward to doing it again. I have been resting my leg for the last few weeks since the race but plan to start strength training within the next month to avoid any knee problems next year. Go team go!