Thanks for following my race coverage. This is the last post…I swear.
So I had just run 6.9 miles in the middle of the night, took an hour long nap in the back of the van and now it was 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. If you are keeping track, that hour now puts me up to a total of 6 hours of sleep since Thursday night. Yes, I was hurting. We still had 2 runners that needed to complete their sections before we could drive to the next major exchange to sleep and eat.
Eww. . .eating.
By this point in the race my body was starting to rebel against me. My stomach was in tight knots and I couldn’t tell if I needed to eat something or try and avoid food. Most of the other women in the van were also feeling sub par. No big surprise there. Between the seven of us, we had to stop at every port o john or gas station bathroom that we passed. No one warned me about this part of running a relay. I didn’t sign up for this! There was much discussion of bowel issues in our van, but I’m going to go ahead and skip that part. You can thank me later.
I have to vent a little right now about equality in terms of sleep time between the 2 vans. Because of road construction, the race course was changed slightly a few days before the race. Most of the runners in van 2 lucked out with shorter distances to run during the night section, which at the time didn’t seem like a big deal. It was a different story at the race when we realized that after running all night long, we only had 3.5 hours to eat and sleep. Our break was from 5 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. This is where I wanted to cry but sucked it up.
Here’s a photo of some highway running:
We arrived at the next exchange point which was at a jr. high school. They were charging $15 for a shower, pancake breakfast and to sleep on those good old wrestling mats. I paid my money and headed to the cafeteria with a friend. Her stomach was also hating her, so we shared one breakfast (which was disgusting btw) and I tried to choke down the flavorless carbs. I didn’t even bother to shower before I grabbed my pillow and blanket from the van and made a bee-line to the gym. I vaguely remember taking my shoes off before my head hit the pillow. Sleep came before I had time to think of how weird and gross it was to be laying on a wrestling mat with 50 other sweaty strangers.
My friend woke me up at 8 a.m. (2 more hours of sleep) and I was having a hard time following her ramblings. She was saying something about gross old men with their shirts off, and I could only answer with a whimper. I had to keep saying to myself “don’t cry K, don’t cry”.
Even though I was going to run in a couple of hours and get icky again, I thought a shower might help wake me up. Yep. It did. Only because it was FREEZING cold! Between all of the runners coming in throughout the night and morning taking showers, there was not any hot water left. I took the fastest shower ever in my 32 years and grumbled all the way back to the van. Time to go. Again.
Here is a picture from my perspective in the back seat. The way back seat:
Sitting there, I decided that this might be a good time to see what was in store for me. We were all given copies of what our sections looked like on a graph and a map, but I didn’t bother to really look mine over prior to the race. Preparedness is not one of my strong-points. All I knew was that this last leg was supposed to be my most difficult and apparently it had a big hill. If you click here you can see what all of my legs look like on the course map. (I’m runner 3 so my legs are 3,15 and 27) When I looked at this, I glanced over the map and graph and didn’t think the hill on mile 3 looked too bad. I was so wrong.
I got a little concerned for this leg when we pulled off the main highway onto a dirt road to find my starting point. It was way over 80 degrees and runner number 2 looked pretty miserable when we last passed her. At the exchange point I saw the road I was intended to run on. It looked like a typical road in the desert. . .for a four-wheeler! Now I noticed the little description on the map that says “gravel road”. Ugh. I could only see the first 40 feet of it because the road led straight up and then disappeared. I started to sweat even more.
Just in case you were wondering if Yoda was there. He was:
Other runners were coming through the exchange point looking like they had been through a battle. I tried to hide my fear from my team and cracked jokes about them having to come to find me before the vultures did. I was only half joking. Our runner came around the corner and I slapped on the bracelet and started to run. The road was very hilly and I was worried that my already sore knees were going to give out. I was glad that I had thrown back a handful of Ibuprofin before I started running. I was in serious pain and could only imagine how bad it would have been without those.
I had only gone one mile and thought I was going to die, but I didn’t want to stop and walk until my van passed me. (I know, the vanity!) Every time my team would go by they would snap pictures or take video and I did not want to caught walking. As soon as they passed me the first time, I stopped and dumped some water down my back. I was glad no other runners were close because I thought I might throw up at any minute. After a couple minutes of walking I started running again and soon passed my van. I must have still looked pretty bad because they kept asking if I was ok, or if I needed anything. I thought I was doing a good job of masking my pain, but apparently not.
As I was approaching mile three I got to see the hill that I would soon be climbing. I was about a quarter of a mile away and could see the van waiting at the base. Our driver was standing outside of the van taking video footage of the hill that will forever be called “the hill of death” by me. The van started climbing the hill, that was more like a small mountain, and I saw it fishtail slightly as it made it’s way over the gravel. It looked so steep!
I really wanted to push myself and run the entire length of the hill, but after only a few minutes I had to stop and
hike walk. I honestly think if I had run the whole thing I would’ve passed out from the heat and the elevation change. It was so steep that my ankles were getting sore even walking. After I caught my breath and was about half-way up the hill, I decided to start running again. I was thinking to myself that I had actually picked this section and so there was no one to be mad at but myself. Why do I always do things the hard way?
I was panting extremely hard when I reached the top, but I was smiling. The worst was behind me and I was thrilled about it! I practically flew down the other side of the hill. I was trying to make up some time lost on walking and I also hoped the momentum would keep me running for the last few miles. My plan worked and I was still running (and smiling) as I crossed the exchange ropes. I was officially finished running! *Happy dance*
As soon as I stretched really good and downed a Gatorade, I got in the van and ate everything in sight. I had an orange, a bagel, some crackers, some chocolate licorice and some kissables that I had forgotten were in my bag. I was a giddy little girl in the back seat with all of my goodies! I didn’t even care how tired I was; I was able to eat real food without worrying about having to run after.
It was so much easier encouraging the rest of the runners knowing that I was done. The day seemed to fly by as we went from check point to check point. After runner number 6 finished, we had a couple of hours to shower and relax. We went to a friends house who lived close to the finish line, so we could use real bathrooms (It doesn’t sound like a luxury until you have been without it!) and shower. It was so nice to take our time and be out of the stinky van. I’m sure you can imagine what it looked and smelled like by the end of the two days! Yikes.
Soon it was time to make our way back to the race, and I have to admit, it was a little hard leaving civilization. The one advantage that we had being in van 1, was that we did get a chance to shower and primp before meeting van 2 at the end of the race. It was exciting to hear our team being announced as our last runner made her way around the final corner and into the park where we were all waiting. We grabbed our team flag and joined her in the last few yards of our race. I felt such a sense of accomplishment as we all ran together as a team across the finish line. . .in our flip flops!
Time to go home….