24 June 2010

Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay 2010

Year 2 of the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay did not disappoint. Our team's name this year was “Here are some who like to run.” - a play on a line from Dr. Seuss's “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” which reads “Here are some. Who like to run. They run all day long. In the hot, hot sun.” I put together a simple design of Things 1-12 and we had them printed on white tanks. We also decked out our vans with tall striped Seuss-like hats, red bow ties and long black cat tails.

About half of our team were members returning from last year's team(s): myself, Sheree, Melodee, Shelah, Lyn, Marinda and Stacy. We had to use 5 alternates, which were new to the team this year. And they were one of Stacy's friends - Janee, one of my old college roomates - Erin, her little sister – Lindsey, Erin's friend - Brooke, and one of my friends from here in Austin – Christy. Melodee, Christy, Sheree, Stacy, Janee and I were in van 1 together, and we had a lot of fun. There was little drama and a lot of determination to do well. Everyone pitched in to drive and offer support to the other runners , load/unload the car, get meals together for each other. I think the quick comraderie that develops is what I love most about this race. There is no “every man for himself” when you have to work together to reach your goal.

This year I was runner 3. My 3 legs totalled 18.5 miles – about the same as last year – but involving a lot more hills! My first leg was 5.6 miles through Hyrum. Pretty easy leg with a gentle climb towards the end. And some beautiful areas in between. Because it was my first leg, I was a tad nervous. So I was pretty inward and focused on just trying to keep a steady pace. I handled the altitude very well! That was my biggest concern. Last year I had about 4 days to get accustomed to the altitude before the race. And I was also able to run in the high altitude a couple times before the actual race. This year I flew out with only 2 days to spare, and I had trained pretty hard here in TX. So I didn't get the same chance to become acclimated to the elevation that I had last year. However, I felt good. I felt real good. I maintained my goal pace and I finished strong. Remarkably stronger than last year, particularly on my first leg when emotions are running high.

I don't remember much about my second leg. Because all I could think about was how lucky we were to get there for it! We 'd pulled into our 1st major exchange and changed clothes, ate lunch, and caught a short nap while the other van ran all their first legs. When the time came for us to run these second legs, our first runner (Sheree) went ahead to start her 8.5 mile nonsupport leg while we snoozed a little longer. We got back in the van when she was about halfway done, and … dun, dun, dun... it wouldn't start. We all about died. So we asked for a jump from a nearby van of guys. They didn't think it was the battery, because we were getting lights and sounds ok. But we had no manual and it was all we could think to do. That or stand there scratching our heads! The indicators flashed “theft” and “check engine” at us. No help, whatsoever! Our next runner hopped into a van with another team to get to the beginning of her leg, which bought us some more time. After much debate we called Sheree (who thankfully runs with her cell phone), who also happened to be the owner of the vehicle we were driving but was blissfully unaware of our situation.  We just wanted to see if there were any tricks to starting her car that we didn't know about. Haha. She was sufficiently freaked out, calling her husband and trying to think of a way to get us another car. All while running down a huge mountain! Bless her heart. She didn't have any advice for us, nor did her husband. I was super stressed, thinking we'd have to forfeit or something. Then I had a hunch to ask one of the guys to start the car. I hated doing it (I am so NOT a fan of the damsel in distress scenario). But the theory in my house, at least, is that if a man touches it, it will work. And I was right. I was right, dadgummit! He gave the lever a nudge first to make sure it was all the way in park, and it started. Relief washed over us and we rushed me to the beginning of my leg. It was 4.9 miles through a residential area in Morgan Valley. This was also a fairly easy leg, but I felt a little depleted going into it (for obvious reasons).

My third leg was a difficult, hilly 7.9 mile route that went by the Jordanelle Reservoire. Pretty, but dang it was hard to get through on 3 hours of restless sleep! That's right – 3 hours of sleep on cold wet grass near a busy parking lot of teams coming and going all night long. I'll stop the pouting right there since we got 2 more hours of sleep than van #2. But I was feeling a bit like a zombie. I hated that my hardest leg was my last leg, but what are you going to do? Drink some caffeine, take a multi-vitamin, down a PB&J and a few shot bloks, that's what I did! And it ended up being my most memorable leg. First of all, I am a beast on the downhills. I know, I know – everyone is faster going down. But I have a little trick that always, always gives me an edge. I run toe first, just like the ballerina I used to be, and I killed (passed) 6 people no problem. While their quads became jello from running uncontrollably, heel first. Of course, shortly following the downhill came the uphill. I wasn't feeling so speedy then. But neither was anyone else! I found a couple people to chat with as we all trudged our way up, about 1.5 miles straight at one point, before levelling off again. Those people helped me keep my mind off the fatigue that was setting in. I have to admit though, I gave up a little after that first hill. It just looked so daunting coming upon it that it was hard to keep my heart from sinking when I slowly began my way up it, and it just kept going. And going. The sad thing is, it paled in comparison to what some of my team mates had run. But I did have to walk a bit. It's always harder to begin running again once you stop. Your legs get heavy and your muscles begin to burn and your body resists you starting back up again. So I made little goals as I tried to regain my previous pace. Get to the bend in the road and take a short break. Get to the next cone and take a short break. And before long I wasn't taking breaks anymore. Not even on the final ascent to my exchange. In fact, I was able to finish strong and pass a couple more people!

After my final leg I took some time to stretch really well. I was feeling the first signs of soreness, especially on the right side of my knee. But we had 3 more runners to go so I hopped back in the car and began to massage the rest of the way. After the next 3 runners finished their legs van 2 began their final legs. We hit another exchange and I got in line for a free (bless them) chiropractic adjustment. I told the guy about my knee and he said my IT band was rather tight. He was able to make a small adjustment that he said would help loosen it up. After that, and more massage, I felt better. Momentarily, at least. We got showered and ate lunch and prepared to meet van 2 at the finish line so we could all run across it together. It was then – as we crossed the finish line (not 100 meters) – that I felt excruciating pain in that right knee. I have no idea what had hit me, but I'd done something very, very wrong. And we were a long way from our car (getting to the finish line was so difficult – lots and lots of people coming and going – in fact, only half our team was there to meet the last runner on our team because the lines to get into the parking lot were so ridiculous). But I limped and held back the tears. It made for a very emotional ending to the race, however, and I blubbered as I said goodbye to my old college roomate, Erin. I was so upset, thinking I'd be out of commission for a few weeks at the least. Not something you want to consider after such a high, such a taste of success, such an accomplishment!

We took some final team pictures and parted ways to change into street clothes and meet back up for dinner (which ended up being only 1/3 of us). I got an ice pack, took some ibuprofen, and began to feel better again. I enjoyed a real meal (and a delicious one at that) with Lyn, Stacy and Sheree at Cafe Trio. And that definitely made everything better. *smile*

Within a couple days the IT pain was gone. I still haven't run on it but it's only been 4 days. I think I will take the rest of the week off just for good measure. But I am really hopeful that it was just a strain! And that I simply needed to stay off of it for a bit. Or at least take a break from the 30 mile weeks. ;) Sat. I'll test it out on what will hopefully feel like an easy, breezy, FLAT 4 mile run! Ha!

Our team placed 29th out of 127 women's teams, 17 in our division! I am so pleased with that! Our finish time for almost 190 miles was 30 hrs. and 51 min. Woot! I see another relay race in my future, for sure. It's where I seem to perform my overall best!

Want to see pictures?  Ok then.

Our van:

Don't you love the hat and cat whiskers? So creative. :P





Our van (minus me) with the final runner who's poor van was still in line for a parking spot.  That's Janee (Stacy's friend) on the right end and my college roomie Erin on the left:


The whole team:

02 June 2010

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