March 2, 2011

Del Sol Ragnar Relay

So... the big-time running team from Mobile, Spiridon Runners asked me to fill in a spot they had on their relay team for Ragnar Del Sol in Arizona. I happily accepted, as I've been wanting to do one for awhile now. Little did I know what an adventure it would be.

They did start time based on how fast each team was expected to finish. Our team had the last possible start at 3:00 Friday afternoon. Out 36 legs, I was scheduled to run Leg 9, Leg 21, and Leg 33. Upon looking at the profiles for my legs, I noticed the difficulty of Leg 9 (400 feet incline, with no flatness or downhill) and that my other 2 legs appeared to be cake walks. We go to the start and see off the first van, followed by wait, wait, and wait for our turns to run. It begins to get dark and at 10:15 p.m. I am ready to start my leg. So... the run is the dessert and it is pitch black. This is a "no support" leg, which means that the van can leap frog you, but not stop or hand you anything. 2 water stops were scheduled during the 9.4 miles. I get the slap stick and am on my way. Immediately we start going up and I notice how SLOW my pace is- 7:00. No one is near me, and then garmin goes dead, leaving me completely and utterly alone. Even the night runner in me gets a little scared. The van is on the other side of the median, and there are no other runners near me. I'm just climbing, climbing, and climbing, with absolutely no idea of my pace or distance. It feels like torture, insanity, misery. It feels like forever. I go through the first water stop and they say it's only 4.4 in. I remind myself just to focus on a medium hard pace and zone out. It's just running; it's just dark... I get to the water stop and they say only 1.8 left. Phew, still no other runners! And it's DONE.

After our van finishes that set of legs, we go to the rented house for a 2 hour nap and shower. What a tease. We then head out for the next set of legs, which I'm scheduled for a measly 3.7 miles. One guy in our van had recently hurt his back and didn't even know if he'd be making the trip. Before he starts his 2nd leg (the one right before mine), he says that he doesn't know if can do it. We plan to check on him very soon after starting and see how he's feeling. If he needs to bail, I can jump out, finish his leg, and continue through the transition to my 2nd leg. Right off the bat, we can tell he's struggling, so at 0.4 in, I hop out and take over. His leg is 4.4. This time, it is still dark, but there are a lot more people on the road. I am passing folks left and right, with the Ragnar term "road kill." I am running medium-hard again, but this time it feels good, unlike torture. I was cruising along and all of sudden tripped on something, near busting. It was an old, nasty tire! Immediately after that, likely b/c my footing was off, I slid on some gravel. Luckily, no busts, just stumbles. Still no pace or distance data, but knowing the 2 legs together is about 7 miles. I passed 9 road kills in all on that time around.

We all try to rest in the van for awhile, but unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, we are too keyed up to sleep. My last leg soon approaches, a short 4.2. Someone else took over injured guy's last leg, as we didn't want my mileage to go too high over 20. (I had done a 4 mile warm up that morning.) For the last leg, finally light, I decide to open it up wide. In non-runner's terms, that means go as fast as you can. I start off and notice it has really heated up! This time, I am on a mission to really race this thing, fatigue and all. My body feels kind of numb/giddy, just plain weird. My legs are like lead. It's a good thing I don't know my pace. I do know that I am passing tons of people- a man in a banana suit, some hard-core girls w/ mean looks on their faces. I'm reminded, though, that no one's slept much, and we are likely as ill as hornets. I am caught by a red light and this really ticks me, as a girl catches me. (In the rules, it states that you can NOT run through red lights.) The moment it turns green, I am off like a rocket. The team, knowing I am without data, shouts that I have a little over a mile to go. I am wide-open at this point, likely kicked too early. Passing people, off the sidewalk, around in the grass, whatever I can do to get around. I am like an out-of-control mad woman, likely only running high 7s, who knows. I see the finish chute and no one is behind me. Something inside me, though, wanted me to sprint it all out. Any reserve energy from this crazy relay was GONE.

After that, only 3 more from our van have to run. We get to the final leg, and our whole team runs the last 100 meters together. Crazy experience. I am wind burned and exhausted, giddy, though. We got 5th out of 305 teams, and 2nd in the coeds. Our overall pace was 7:05 average for the about 200 miles. We finished in a little over 23 hours.

Wowzers, crazy runner, people...

In other news, we are SOOOOOOO close to finally hiring a company for track repairs. I found out today that our school system is officially taking bids and will hire someone within a week to get the job done!!!!!! And, my own running is okay. I have gained a bit of weight that's slowing me down, but I am healthy, so hopefully the weight will come off soon. I am still building back lost fitness, but once again, just thankful to be running pain-free!


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  2. Here's to health, progress, and new experiences!!

  3. What a great report, such a crazy run! Relays sounds like a blast but hard and weird as hell. :-)

    Congrats on the track!!! Can't believe this is finally happening. So very happy for you and the team.

  4. I was excited to read this since I'm doing a relay in a few weeks as well! What a wild experience.

    That's great news about the track too.

  5. great stuff .. well done