This weekend was the all-feared, quite anticipated, and most nerve-wracking, Wasatch Back Relay. And can I just say, regardless of the exhaustion, the pain, the lack of sleep, and having to use the locker room at a Jr High in Midway where the ladies have NO shame what-so-ever, I'd do it again!! It was awesome! I truly memorable experience! I'm glad I was able to participate with my great team: Run Dickie Run Jane, and have such a fantastic time. Here's a recap...and some pics...of course.
I was in Van #2 and thus, although the race is from Logan to Park City, our van started in O-Town (that's Ogden to the non-Utahn). I was the first runner for our team - and I can't even begin to explain the butterflies in my stomach or the feeling of complete dread that hit me about an hour before my leg started. It was blistering hot at 5:30 that afternoon and I slathered on the sunscreen as I trembled and waited for Vance, the last runner for Van #1, to appear around the bend, slap on the slap bracelet that was our "baton" and send me on my first 4 mile leg of three legs total. I started out "nice and easy" but the competator inside me urged me forward as I started to pass a few people. By the "1 more mile" marker I was a sweat ball of tiredness, realizing I had pushed a little too hard in the beginning, but couldn't slow down now. I finished my first leg - slapped the bracelet on Miranda (who I might add only joined our team 2 days prior to the race and was a champion!) - and drank a gallon of water. One leg down...two more to go. The rest of the team did a STELLAR job on their legs and we made GREAT time.
My next leg started in the middle of some canyon at about 2:00am. That's right - 2:00am. We tried to get a "little shut eye" when we hit the big exchange point at Snow Basin to send Van #1 on their way again around 9:00pm. Buuuuut nothing doing. We ate a burger (which I regretted later) and headed to the next big exchange point. The butterflies had not died yet and were renewing their fluttering as my time approached. Head lamp in place, huge reflective vest loosely hanging over me (it flowed behind me like a cape as I ran - I was a Superhero!), running tights secured, I started my next leg in the dark, taking it much easier than I had on leg 1, and hoping I would be able to make my 2nd set of 4 miles as memorable as the first. This leg was by far my hardest one, but also my favorite. Listening to my IPod, jogging in the cool evening in a absolutely breathtaking mountain range, lake on the right, sheer cliffs on my left, was in a a word, inspiring. I had several hills to conquer, and one lady to keep behind me. Yes, that sense of competition yet again. My team was there every mile to cheer me on, offer water, and push me forward. I finished up my 2nd leg and sent Miranda on hers around 2:30am. Phew - time for a little shut eye...in the cramped mini-van...with Dan and Mike hollering the whole way...sigh...okay maybe not. Go Team!
The team finished our second round strong, and prepared for the 3rd and final legs of our 184 mile race with some R&R at a middle school in Midway. Miranda and I went on a search for a REAL toilet (I seriously hate out-houses - and avoid them at ALL costs...well, almost all costs) and ended up paying $2 each for a shower. Mmmm. That's right! We rinsed our bodies off for $2 in the girls locker room. Now let me tell you - a bunch of women running a seriously awesome but grueling race - all rinsing themselves off in a girls locker room - equals NO shame for some of these womens. Seriously. I mean - there should be SOME sense of propriety no matter how tired you are or how nice of a bod you have. I feel a quick transition from nakedness to clothed should be a priority in such a situation - however "quick" was lost and "rummaging and arranging things inside bags while naked" was the outcome. Miranda and I were in and out quick. But with a rinse off, Luna Bar and trail mix in my tummy, a hour laid out on my sleeping bag on the school's lawn, under my belt I was ready for my last leg. I took a quick shot of "Goo" and started my last 4.1 mile stretch at about 10:30am. I was feeling rested and ambitious for some reason. I started out at a regular pace - and about 1.5 miles in heard a runner approaching me from behind. I had a deep and burning desire to keep this tall, long legged, running woman from passing me. So, I sped up. I pushed it. I focused through the pain and fatigue. She was on the cusp of passing me at one point - about a foot behind me - and I just couldn't let that happen. So I pushed harder. At the one mile marker I sped up even more. My lungs burned but I liked the consistent 4 foot distance between me and the grasshopper behind me. Seeing my finish line at the end - seeing my team there cheering me on - I broke into an all out sprint the last 100 yards of my run. I seriously considered vomiting right then - but instead slapped the bracelet on Miranda for her final leg and nearly collapsed in a heap. The runner who had been behind me the whole time put her arm around me and said "That was awesome! Thanks for pacing me!" to which I said "Thanks for pushing me!" Ah yes, a runners moment.
The rest of the race was grueling for my team mates. Mike and Dan had the task of "Running the Ragnar" which is an 8 mile stretch of high elevation, strait up death. These fella's are strong runners and pushed up this massive mountain, climbing in elevation almost 2,000 feet, at 3:00 in the merciless heat, eating car dust and exhaust the entire way. Kudos men! "Yer Doin It!" Our final team mate - Sommer - brought us all in at the finish line. We drove to the end and waited for her to turn the corner and head towards the finish line. We all ran together the last 50 yards and came in screaming and yelling! We did it! WAAAAAAAHOOOOOO!!! We booked, we cruised, we cheered and yelled and screamed. Clearly - we were the most enthusiastic all-be-it obnoxious team there! "Yer Doin It!!!" was are most over-used phrase of the entire race. Having your team scream and cheer you on as they stop every mile of your leg is a real inspiration. It pushes you harder and makes you want to do better. I had a feeling of accomplishment, comradery, and appreciation for my team mates and what we'd just accomplished: 184 miles in 27hrs 28min 52sec placing 166th of 545 teams total and 40th (40th!) out of 210 teams in the mixed division (as in fellas and chickas). Phew! We each got a medal and a t-shirt - but more importantly and cheesy-rific - we gained a fantastic memory and great friends. My legs are still weak and my mind is not quite as sharp as I'd like - but I'd do it all again in a heart beat! Yer Doin it! We pert near DID IT!!