Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Here's my review of my first time running in part of 186 mile relay team...


The Red Rock Relay is a 186 mile foot race. Each relay team has 12 members that switch off running so you average about 15.5 miles each during the course of the race. some team members run a little more, some a little less. The terrain is mountainous, cold, hot, dusty, dark, all depending on the time of day and where you are.
Our Team name we chose was "WTF" for: Witness the Fitness!
There are 2 vans on each team. I was in the Snow van or van 1. Van 2 was called the sun Van. The Sun Van consisted of:
Mark Thornton and his wife Holly, Randi (Sanderson was her maiden name - forgot the married name - sorry), Elizbeth Killian, Marlene and another Kim.

In van 1 were: Me, Kim mower, Wendy Smart, Erica, Sheila and Connie. the latter 3 I just met on this event. Van one drove up to Cedar City and Met up with Robin Sanderson and her daughter Randi. Randi was running on our team but in Van 2 and Robin was going to be following in her support vehicle with food and love and picture taking! yeah! These ladies are good friends of mine and I was happy to have them on the same team as I was on.
the 8 of us shared a room at a resort hotel in Brian Head and tried to get some sleep before the big day. I don't sleep well in a hotel with a bunch of silly girls. Kim Mower seemed like she wanted to stay up and giggle and chat. Go To BED KIM! She even made cookies at 11:00pm - really? I love you Kim - BUT GO TO BED!

We started off at 8:10am in Brian Head from the top of a mountain on a bike trail. Our team rode the ski lift to the top to wish our first runner good luck.

Erica twisted her ankle right away as she jumped off the ski lift in 30 degrees Freezing cold without warming up or stretching and slipped on a rock on the bike trail. She kept running and nearly beat us back down the hill on her 3 mile trail run.







we were taking pictures at the bottom of the hill when one of our racer said "here's Erica!" ALREADY? crap! Kim was next and the slap bracelet/baton was handed off. Kim's run was titled "Diablo" for good reason - all of it uphill! not a nice gentle slope but a mean climb in the mountainous terrain of Brian Head.






The bracelet kept switching runners a couple more times after each runner on our team finished their miles. Then it was going to be my turn. I was nervous. My training had been minimal to none and I was unsure about my ability to keep up with my team and their running efforts. I did not want to disappoint them. As I saw my relay team member climbing up her last stretch of her run "coach Michelle" kicked in. "Run Sheila! don't let that guy beat you! Kick his trash!" We were laughing alongside a team of police officers also cheering on their man "Get her! don't let a girl beat you!" It was all in good fun. We were all laughing as we were competing with this group of men.




I felt great starting my run. then the altitude problems kicked in. Breathing that high up was hard. I was focusing on my breath and forgot my form. I never felt like I could completely catch my breath. I saw the police officer ahead of me several yards and knew I could "kill" (pass) him. I felt amazing overtaking him until I notice the taped knee. I no longer felt as cool as I had before. Yeah, passing an older man with an injured knee...





I passed a couple of people and a couple of people passed me. I think I am an average runner. not great, not bad.
Here I was in the woods and I couldn't see any other runners around. My team had gone up ahead with the van to give me support a couple of miles later so I could have some water. But it was mostly just me, the wilderness, the road and my thoughts. (Oh and some Beastie Boys music blaring through my ipod)
My thoughts became "what if a bear attacks me? who will find me first?" I was happy to see other vehicles occasionally as they waited for their runners.



I felt amazing coming to the homestretch of my first leg. I was happy to see my van, my team and the switch off point. I loved running through the dirt portion of just a few yards. Dirt running loves my legs much more than road running.
I handed the bracelet off to Wendy Smart and she started her leg. It would be several more hours before my second leg of the race. Now I could eat some real food and relax and stretch. I felt awesome! I beat my estimated time by a LONG shot and was feeling on top of the world. No sweat! 3.9 miles down and feeling good!
no problem - yet... 2 more legs to go.






Wendy was running now. I LOVE Wendy. Her story is awesome. She is one of my first bootcamp clients. A year and a bit ago, she came to me at 166 pounds and WAY out of shape. She would be winded when running around a playground - not even 1/4 mile! Now she is doing the red rock and down to 130 pounds and is amazing!

Anyway...
Back to the Redrock. so Wendy is on her way.
After She finishes it will be time to switch to the other Van (the Sun van) to do their legs of the race. We met up with them at the switch off point and their first runner took the bracelet from Wendy and headed off. We also went to the next transition point after that to see the switch off to the next runner and to See Mark finish his first killer leg of his race. The cop team was way ahead of us now and we wouldn't see them much from here on out.


Robin Sanderson busted out the goodies - chicken salad, fruit, yummies of all kinds. she took good care of us.
Then we Drove off to SUU in Cedar where we were hoping to get some sleep before running our 2nd legs of the race. The view on the drive was amazing! the pictures I took could not do the justice of capturing the scenery we were enjoying on this amazing adventure.
So we got to SUU and tried to rest.
Yeah... sleep... Great concept... didn't really happen. There was this LOUD band playing... and people all over... and well... adrenaline... just really tough to sleep when you need it. I was also starting to feel my calves a little and needed to keep my legs stretch and pliable.
We did however, giggle, visit and have a great time getting to know each other. I think I closed my eyes for all of 30 minutes? if I was lucky. Some of our team was able to shower. I didn't want to clean up just to get out and run again. So I rested as much as my mind and the noise would let me.






Van 2 caught up with us at SUU a few hours later and it was our team's turn. the sun was starting to set by now. Connie was the first runner on the 2nd leg of this portion of the race. She would run from SUU to somewhere west of there about 5 miles later where I would start my portion. It was now time for head lamps and reflector vests and it was dark!
I hate running in the dark. It was nice and cool but not cold so I felt good still. My music was on, and I was off! This was the longest leg for me. 4.9 miles. not too long but long enough that it was about the extent of my training I had done so far. But in my other "training" I had had plenty of rest and hadn't run 3.9 miles before that. So... yeah... I didn't do as well as I planned to do. I did take my walking breaks and tried pacing with some really good runner that caught up to me... bad idea. Trying to keep up with her exhausted me a little too quickly so I held back a little more and kept a pace of about 9-10 minute miles. I only took a couple of walking breaks and then the hill showed up. I didn't think there was that much of a hill in the outline they gave us - but there it was on the last portion of my dark long leg of my race. I think this was when I forgot to watch my form once again. I was yelling and swearing at the hill but I ran most of it and only took a short walking rest. I had to dig deep a little and swore that next time I would do some hill training. I kept pretending I was at Bootcamp and Kim was making me do hill sprints. It was what helped pull me through. Thank goodness for Hill sprints at bootcamp. I enjoyed the pain of that hill when I went to that place in my mind.

I didn't take anymore pictures during the night since it was dark and I wasn't used to Bill's camera. But we had a LOT of fun during the evening portion of this race. we blared the music, got out and danced like fools, sang loudly, and laughed til we cried. I hope someone got some pictures that I can use later...
This late night portion of the race was on a dirt road. The van was kept to around 10 mph to avoid stirring up dust for runners. Most other vans honored that same code of trust. But there were a couple of Vans that sped by and kicked up a bunch of dust leaving the runner with a cloud of crap to breathe in. nice. Kim and Sheila and Erica got the worst of the dusty dirt road. The rest of us had mostly pavement.

Our 2nd legs were up around 1am and we went to a church in Newcastle to meet up with the other van as they started their 2nd legs and we were able to get some... sleep... ?... we hoped...
It seemed like forever before we could settle down into our beds. Erica and Connie slept outside, Wendy's hubby had volunteered at this site and Wendy was able to sleep in her own vehicle and Kim, Sheila and I attempted to sleep in my van.

Every sound kept me up. People talking outside our van, other vehicles starting up to drive off to their next leg of the race. my legs were now starting to really hurt. not my knees or joints or shins, but it was my calves.
We had set our alarms for about 5:15am to drive off to Veyo for the next van transition. Wendy was concerned about being late and woke us up about 30 minutes early. A good nights sleep was not to be had. So we were off again. As we started driving out of Newcastle I heard this weird crunchy rasping sound and we realized our bike rack had fallen down! what the ... (WTF?)

To go off on a little side note here - MOST of the people we met were amazing people. MOST of the teams that were competing were really really cool people. MOST of them...
BUT... there were a few - very few that I would not choose to spend a minute with outside of the race. One team had a few people that gave us dirty looks. They had the same team initials as we did and when someone on our team mentioned it excitedly to them - they gave dirty looks - hello Junior HIGH!
THEN - there were the Jerks that were speeding along the dirt road as they ran that dusty length of road.

So, when we got out to take a look at the bike rack I realized that the ONLY WAY it could have fallen was if someone had pulled out the pin. It took us several minuted to get the bike rack back up and get thing lined up and adjusted in the dark. we missed our next runner by about 15 minutes. It makes me wonder... who would have been that dishonest and downright filthy. we weren't in the race to win - just have fun. we were not a threat to anyone. kind of creepy.

I was the next runner. it was my 3rd leg (which reminds me of a funny story...)
I met my hand off runner in Veyo and started up a hill toward Dameron Valley. Most of my first push was uphill. I actually enjoyed it. I was able to run most of it. There were a LOT of people training for the marathon on this strip of road since it is part of the St. George Marathon route. It was 6:00am and perfect running time. This was my time to run normally and it was back in the desert I am familiar with. I LOVED being familiar with the run. My legs were sore from earlier running, but once I got started, my legs were warm and I felt good once again. It's funny that it's when you STOP running that it hurts. as long as I was running my legs felt fine.
I met up with a runner that seemed to have a similar running pace and started chatting with her. She would be doing the Marathon next month and was training for it. She was keeping a 9 minute mile pace with walking breaks - perfect! My loaner garmin battery had run out so I paced with her and took a walking break with her.

after a while she was taking more walking breaks than I needed so I moved on and passed her and thanked her for assisting me. I was able to get up the hill fine, and move on to the nice more even terrain. I had several "kills" which surprised me. I really didn't think I would even survive the 3rd leg. But I felt great! The sun was rising over the hills and it was getting to be a gorgeous morning. my ipod battery had also died. so it was just me - the road and the sunrise. It was spiritual. In a way I was glad to have no Beastie Boys blaring in my ears. But when it got tough, I wished I had some music going to pump me up a little. There was the transition point in the distance. I was able to "open up" and run a little harder and make a couple more "kills" as I came in - that always feels good. Then it was Erica's turn. Erica and Connie had the prettiest and best places and times to run - sunrise from somewhere around Dameron valley into Snow Canyon Park and then Snow canyon Park into Ivins... Gorgeous! Perfect temperature - perfect places!






I was done and able to rest in the van and watch my team members. NOW my legs hurt! I had thought I could handle another leg if needed. I had heard a rumor that Randi (in van 2) was in too much pain to continue. previous to my 3rd leg I felt like I could take her leg on as well if needed... but not anymore. Now I had stopped running and I new I was done! my 3rd leg was over and my legs were finished!
I was glad to be done. Now it was time to support my team and cheer them on.
Sheila picked up the race in Ivins and was going to run toward Skyline drive. On paper it didn't look all that hard. But then there was this hill and the sun - her last stretch was rough! The sun was now out and our team was running in the southern Utah desert with the sun starting to get full force and we still had to get to Zion National Park.







Sheila finished her uphill transistion and met up with Kim Mower.
Kim got Skyline Drive into Middleton and her Husband met her halfway through her race and ran with her (with his cigarette hanging out of his mouth the whole time - nice). Then Wendy picked it up in middleton and finished off the last 2.1 miles into the Washington rec center. Her last leg was rolling hills all the way in - but she did great.
Our VAN was NOW officially done - but our TEAM still had about 36 miles to go... in the heat of the day through the desert up to ZION. We were not finished.
Our van took advantage of the hours we had until we would see the rest of the team. some went with nearby family - most of us went to IHOP for breakfast/lunch. I was SO HUNGRY! It seemed like I couldn't get enough food. I seriously could not make up my mind what to eat. I was soooo tired of cliff bars,cheese sticks, jerky and trail mix for the past 2 days.

After Breakfast we took Erica home, Connnie had already been dropped off with her family and then Wendy went home with her family. It was down to just me, Sheila and Kim in the Van. we went to my house and showered and then headed up the hill toward Zion where we hoped we could rest once again while we waited for the rest of the team in Van 2 to cross the finish line. This was the hardest stretch of the trip for the runners - uphill to Zion in the mid afternoon in the desert. It was cool for this time of year: 90 degrees. very hot when you are used to running in the early mornings when its 60 degrees out still. We saw our team member Holly on the road looking red and flushed. we had no idea how far away the van was for her support so we stopped and gave her some gatorade and cheered her on. She was grateful and swearing she would never do this again. we drove on looking for the support van #2. Kim got in touch with them and found out that a number of them were too exhausted or in too much pain to last an entire 3rd leg. So they were piggy backing each other or leap frogging to finish it up. One runner would run a mile and then switch with another runner from our team. It was a tough stretch! I learned later that we weren't the only team that had to resort to that. apparently a lot of teams were hitting that exhaustion point. this is where the real test of the teams stamina and endurance kicks in. I was glad I was done and in van 1. I guess that's why I want to do it again next year. I don't know if I would feel the same if I was in van 2.

The entire team (minus Erica) ran across the finish line with Mark around 5:15pm on Saturday. We were DONE!
It felt so good to cross that finish line and call it a day. The sun was hitting the hills. the scenery was beautiful and we had accomplished a great thing. It felt good to be able to say that I was a part of the Red Rock Relay.





My kids and my husband came to Zion Canyon to hug me and congratulate me.

Bill asked me if I wanted to do something fun like hike...
I limped toward the playground and said "let's let the kids play, and I will just lay here... and sleep."




My family went home from Zion after 7:30pm. On our way through Springdale, we still saw a handful of runner still finishing up the race. wow! What a fun party!

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