Last year I had some friends run this 188 mile relay race from Logan, UT into Park City, UT. I had just started running myself and found a lot of inspiration in their experience with it. So I signed up to do it with them this year. It was the furthest I've ever run in a day, but it was divided into 3 legs (spread out over about 24 hours), which made it a little easier. Each team of 12 (divided into 2 vans) completes 36 legs of varying degress of difficulty and length totalling 188 miles. My legs alone totalled 18.4 miles.
On Thursday afternoon (June 18) I headed over to Shelah's GORGEOUS new house (right around the corner from my IL's, where I was staying) in Holladay. While waiting for Linsey and Co. to come pick us up we sat and chatted about our expectations for the race, and our poor husbands left home all alone to fend for themselves. When Linsey arrived everyone hugged like pros and briefly acquainted themselves before stuffing her poor Yukon to the brim with all our crap (I had never met a lot of these girls, but we'd been keeping track of our training on a message board for the past few months). I admit I over packed, and yet still managed to have to swing by my ILs to pick something else up – the 2 dozen cookies I'd made for our team.
Soon after we were on our way I began getting really bad stomach cramps. It seemed like it might be nerves or anxiety – not unusual for me - so I just tried to relax and let it pass. But by the time we'd arrived at the Olive Garden for dinner, I was worried. And I felt a little anti-social because of it, so sorry if I was quiet ladies... you didn't bore me or anything, lol! I managed to tackle Emily with a big old hug before racing to the bathroom, because I'd been waiting forever to meet her.
This is Emily. :)
I could only force down about a 1/3 or so of my dinner. It was then that I realized that I'd maybe overdone the carbs (particularly grains) that week. In an effort to load up my energy stores I seemed to have backed up my intestines quite nicely. Lovely, huh. You know how they say to stick with what you know and are used to on race day? Well next time I'll freaking remember that! Ugh.
So we headed to our hotel after dinner... had a meeting/made introductions, took team pictures, and decorated our vans (thanks for letting me doodle all over your cars, ladies!!!) But I was anxious to get to bed. Emily was one of my roomies and showed the concern of a lifelong friend . I used a heating pad until about 2 in the morning when my stomach finally, FINALLY relaxed and I praised Jesus (to whom I had been praying constantly for relief so I could STAND, let alone run the next morning).
We woke up around 5:15 in the morning to get ready to meet our team downstairs for breakfast. But I was afraid to eat anything! It was blasted cold outside. I definitely wasn't feeling 100%, but I was excited to get the show on the road nonetheless (and knew that running would keep my bowels moving ).
My 1st leg was the hardest for me... not because it was long (5.1 mi.) or hilly, but because I obviously didn't have a lot of energy due to poor sleep and food intake (and I'd expected that DURING the race, but not before). And the cold air (plus altitude?) had me huffing a little too soon into my run. So I was disappointed. BUT I felt pretty good when I was done and my van was great with the encouragement.
After my first leg
So let me introduce the other runners in my van here – I passed the bracelet on to runner #2, who was Ashley (furthest on the R in the above picture)... one of the alternates to join our team within the last couple weeks. Ashley was SPEEDY. Speedy with IT band issues. Seriously, she impressed me! And was hilarious. Runner #3 was Shantel (to the L of Ashley). Also very speedy... she held a 7:30-7:45 pace during all 3 of her legs! Regardless of hills, or heat, or a rogue team van (Lol – Shantel was so fast in fact that SHE waited for US at her first exchange... for like 4 min.!). Next runner, #4, was Kimberlee (also from TX) - there to help me anchor a van of Westerners with her Southern sweetness and charm. I loved getting to know her and see her in action. Such a hard worker. Kim passed on to Deanna (#5 - to my R) – who I could literally see eye to eye with (we're both 6 ft. tall). Let me tell you, this doesn't happen often for me! So we had an immediate connection. And that girl is a machine. I was amused by her gentle shoulder pats and words of encouragement as she SMOKED the male runners, left and right. Lol! And Deanna saved Ashley from her knee and her last leg by covering an additional 3 miles. Amazing chick! Last but not least was Sheree, runner #6 (to my L). Let me say this, I adore Sheree. Sweet and real. And an athlete to boot! She was like a little energizer bunny on her late night run! Our van made for an excellent team. We got along FABULOUSLY – never a dull or quiet moment in our van. Everyone was eager to help and encourage. It was awesome. And our DRIVER! EMILY!!! You are the best, girl. THANK YOU for saving me with your perfect running tunes (my stupid shuffle wouldn't work), AND for taking pictures of my butt whilst I was kissing my hubby (which I'd like to preview btw).
Onto my other legs, which got better! My 2nd exchange was my longest and “most difficult”. It was 8.5 mi. long. I was handed off the bracelet by Malinda (runner #12 from our 2nd van) – who, poor thing – was dry heaving at the end of her treacherous hill climb (and you want to do this again? You are my hero girlfriend!) I had only the last mile of her mountain to climb, and then took a 7.5 mi. plunge down, down, down.
Running downhill is not all it's cracked up to be. Sure, you can go faster than usual, and that's fun for about 20 min. But if you ever plan to WALK again, you'd better be careful. I think by mile 3 or so my quads were jellifying. So out of the van pops good old Sheree with some Icy Hot. She lathered me up good, and suprisingly? It helped. (And didn't run down my legs – all I could think about was Ross in that episode of Friends where he's trying new things to spice up his love life, among them leather pants? Lol) I was able to continue on, sucking down Gatorade and water like you wouldn't believe (I had the sun on my back the whole time, with nary a tree for shade, and now - from behind - I look like a Mexican).
Soon my toes began going numb, and then cramping. That felt good. Lol. So I had to stop a few times. I was super annoyed. I mean, of all the things to give me trouble! Even my knees were cooperating (and THEY were the thing I was worried about). But I dug in and kept going. My 8.5 was finally over and I passed the bracelet on to Ashley again. I was fairly exhausted so I took some time to cool down and walk it off. And stretch. I so knew I was gonna be hurtin' later (in fact the soreness in my legs did not go away until Tues., and I was very afraid of stairs until then!). To my relief there were sports chiros offering free adjustments at 2 of the exchanges! Without that I am not sure how I'd have made it to my 3rd leg.
taking a walking break for the damn toe ;) smile and fake it lei!!! LOL
My 3rd leg (4.8 mi.), ironically, was my best. We got a few hrs. to sleep and shower, which did wonders for me. We headed out again around 4:15 a.m. (I think? It's all foggy now!) and again it was going to be freezing for my run. But I won't dwell on that too much since I didn't also have rain and hail beating me down (poor van 2). On this fine morning I got to sport not only a fashionable reflector vest, but a head lamp and butt lamp as well. I looked stunning, I must say. The best thing about this last leg was that I didn't have to walk (I only stopped briefly for a shot blok halfway through) AND my sweet hubby was waiting for me at the end of it. I was anxious to collapse in his arms! I rounded the final corner and saw him standing there, video camera in hand. Some chick thought this an opportune moment to pass me by and I said to myself “hells no!” and picked up my pace. In my mind I was really hoofing it, but when I watched the tape later, it was not nearly as impressive as I'd imagined it. I guess I was pretty beat at that point. Lol. And for whatever (smelly) reason Andrew didn't want to carry me off and make out with me, so I reluctantly hopped into the van with my team and headed out for the others' FINAL LEGS! Which they rocked!
me in my fancy get-up
I LOVED running this race. My favorite so far. And I am excited to do it again! I enjoyed working as a team - fetching water for each other, taking unflattering pictures of each other (lol), and squirting each other with spray bottles! We ran in some beautiful areas. There were kids out on their lawns with hoses and popsicles. It was awesome. I even enjoyed some outlet shopping afterwards with my teammates... only I lasted about 15 min. before I was done and ready for a big old dinner and more sleep.
check out the scenery!
the whole team!
Now we are home in Texas, back at sea level, and I am between races once again. I've come full circle! In a couple months it will be time to train for the San Antonio Rock n' Roll Half Marathon!