Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay 2009- Part three

Time flies when you're having fun! After our breakfast we headed off to meet the rest of our team that finished running through the night and at the crack of dawn. You could tell we were feeling refreshed because Sarai got the whole bunny getup on to cheer our runners along the course. The adrenaline must have started to flow knowing it was our last leg, because I wasn't feeling tired at all. You'd never know that we only gotten a little bit of sleep.

There goes Tancy just crusisn' right along!

Waiting for Mel to come along.

You'd never know that this was AFTER her run! She looked great! It had started to rain by then. It wasn't too bad and in fact kept the temperatures down.
Tancy cheering for Sarai! She had the longest leg in this set of legs for our car and she did just awesome! She had 7 miles of big hill that she just kept going up.

Our car isn't looking so good after the rain.

Me and Ang right before my last leg.

The hand off. I started with the bunny ears on. It didn't last long.

My last leg was 3 miles of brutal downhill with a mile of flat at the end. It was raining pretty hard by now and the wind was the strongest headwind I've run against. It was so loud that even with my i pod turned all the way up, I could barely tell which song was playing. I just kept my head down (mostly so that my hat wouldn't fly off and so that I wasn't pelted in the face with the rain), took short quick steps and let the mountain carry me down the hill. I was running faster than I have ever run before, for a sustained distance, and at the bottom of the hill stopped to tie my shoe and then took about 20 steps to catch my breath.

I picked up again and tried to sustain a good pace even though the wind was now pushing me sideways. I was so excited to see the exchange point and know that I was all done. I pushed through to the end and passed the bracelet on to Cameo. Then I walked over to my teammates only to have to make a detour to the weeds and throw up. I had just pushed myself to its limits. It felt good. My average pace for this leg was 8:40. I made a quick cool down jog around the parking lot and got in the car. I was totally on that runner's high. And I was done!

We met up with the other half of our team to hand off for their last brutal legs.

We're all done with all our legs! Truly an awesome feeling. Now it's just a waiting game to all cross the finish line together! I really couldn't believe we were all done. The time had just flown by. I was almost a little sad. But not too much when I knew we were finally going to get to take a shower and eat real hot food. Which is what we did next.

Angie let us shower in her hotel and it was one of the best showers of my life. After I brushed my teeth I actually felt like a human being instead of a wet, sweaty monster. We went to dinner together and talked about what a great time we had just experienced. Our team really got along so well, even with being tired, sore, and did I mention tired? Everyone was so patient and cheered each other along the whole way. What a great group of women! I really hope we get to do it together again next year.

While we were in Park City showering and eating and enjoying ourselves, the rest of our team was really having a rough time. Those last couple of legs are the most difficult in the whole course and it was really raining down of those girls. The trail was muddy and on top of it all, the lightning started. Even after all that they had been through, 2 of the girls backtracked and found their runner who was pretty scared of the lightning and just wanted to finish. Amazing!

We all crossed the finish line together with the team behind us saying, "I can't believe we're getting beat by the bunnies!" We finished 27th of 82 overall the women's teams and 19th in our division. It was truly an experience I'll never forget, friends that will last forever, and one I hope to repeat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay 2009- Part two

The Energizer Runnies keep going and going and going....all through the night! After our brief stay on a church lawn we headed up to Snow Basin to exchange with our other van and give them a break. We even got to experience real bathrooms here instead of the delightful Honey Pot. Mel's husband was one of the volunteers here and she got to see him for a while. We met up with the other half of our team who had kept us right on track, time wise. Really, I can't explain how amazing the whole team was. We had some really accomplished runners on our team. I was grateful to be a part of it. It was getting dark and pretty chilly. But it was beautiful. The great thing about it being so pitch black was that the stars were stunning. I don't think I've ever seen so many stars or them shining so brightly as I did up there. It was incredible. Almost unreal.

Mel and the team chatting with her husband. It was really crowded and traffic was crazy up there.
Tancy gearing up for her first run in the dark. She cruised down the hill so fast that we missed her as we were parked on the side of the road. Everyone wore glow bracelets and necklaces so that we could see our runner coming. Somehow (maybe a little dozing...) we missed her and by the time we realized it we had to book it down to make the exchange! She put us ahead by over 7 minutes on this leg alone! By the end of all our nighttime legs, our team was ahead of projected time by 40 minutes! Everyone was amazing!

Mel all decked out and ready to run!

Sarai patiently waiting for her turn!

The hand off from Cameo to Angie-

Cameo finishing her 2nd leg! Go girl! Only one left!

A random runner who appreciated our lighting up the dark night!

Waiting for Angie to come by! Letting her know where we were!

There's the queen of the hills! 8 miler with a killer hill at the end! You're the WO man!

Showing off those guns!

The nighttime run was by far my favorite. I didn't have any music and was alone for most of the run. There were a few times I was worried that I had missed a sign to turn because I couldn't see anyone. But then a van would pass by and by the way it was decorated I knew I was on the right track. I could spot a butt lamp in the distance and that became my new goal. I passed 4 runners during my 4 mile run. I was having a great time and was in the groove. I had a particular song running through my mind that I kept repeating over and over. It had a good beat and my feet just stayed with it. I ran an average of 9 minute miles and felt great. I was pushing it but really felt good. If you've followed my times at all, you know that this is fast for me. Lately, on the last few training runs I've been able to run in the 9 minute area and it's been fun. There's something about the solitude, and the darkness and just trusting that you're on the right track and that your team will be there waiting for you in the end, that was almost spiritual. Lots of object lessons in that run- all the safety gear: reflective vests, headlamps, butt lights, signs on the road, rustling in the brush next to you, stars above, team mates cheering for you and keeping you on track, the last mile marker, the finish get the picture. I kept a prayer of thanksgiving in my mind especially during this run for the opportunity I had to experience this. Ten years ago I would never have believed it. Just goes to show you what the human mind, body, and spirit can do even when it doesn't know it yet.

After we completed our legs at 3:30 in the morning we had to drive 20 miles to our resting point. Our luxurious accommodations would be a high school complete with the most disgusting bathrooms (they had been well used by thousands of runners by this point) and non private showers and the gym floor to sleep on. Poor Mel couldn't stand the smell and slept in the van. The rest of us opted for the auditorium floor that wasn't as crowded as the gym. But it still was a sight. The stage, steps and isles were covered with sleeping bags and blankets with worn out runners. I really wanted to change into something that wasn't wet with sweat. A nice janitor (poor dude) let me into a small room and locked me in (it was a push door so that I could get out- I will admit that I was slightly nervous about this, although not nervous enough not to accept the offer) so that I could change in private. Needless to say that we took a sponge bath with baby wipes and ditched those nasty high school showers, ate a little something, brushed our teeth and tried to get some sleep. It wasn't easy with people moving all the time, zippers zipping, and me worrying about getting stepped on or something getting taken out of my bag. But I managed about a hour and a half and actually felt rejuvenated. We got cleaned up, ate a little breakfast, packed up the van again and headed out to meet the other half of the Runnies for our last leg. Clouds were rolling in and it looked like rain. Little did we know...
Part 3 to come...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay 2009- Part one

I've really been struggling to put into words this great experience that I've just had. It truly was one of the best things I've ever been a part of. It was wild and crazy and so much fun and pain all at the same time. I think one of the most amazing things that I saw and experienced was the teamwork and camaraderie that we shared. Everyone did a part, everyone trained for their specific legs, and everyone was patient and kind. It was an adventure that I'll probably be telling my grandkids about. I am simply amazed with the women that I was surrounded by. They were incredible and it feels like I have 5 new close friends.

Our team was the Energizer Runnies. Very last minute we all started talking on our blog about how to decorate our van and costumes- you know, the important part of the race. For never having met any of these women before, I already knew they were going to be amazing because of the ideas that were flying! I volunteered to make bunny ears. Mel got shower loofas for us to pin on as tails and she made an awesome drum out of a lampshade from a thrift store. Saria made a couple of battery packs for us to wear on our backs. Cameo came up with a great idea for the van and it was all thrown together two days before the race.

We met for the first time at Angi's parents house in Logan for breakfast and decorating and loading up the cars. Angi's folks made us french toast, scrambled eggs and had fruit, bagels, and juice. It was perfect for meeting everyone and then trying to match faces to names that we were all familiar with. We had two teams, 24 women, all of which I'd never met before. I'm not shy once I get to know you, but I'm pretty quiet if I don't. But it wasn't like that here. I felt like I'd known some of these women through their blogs and it was a relief meeting them in person.

Tancy- modeling the outfit!

The start! And we were off! I had thought we'd have a lot of free time in between running but I was very wrong. The time just flew by. We were not very good at giving support to our runners the first couple of legs. But we learned quick. The race does not provide ANY water at any point. We were in charge of supporting each other. Good thing Mel and Tancy were so patient with our inexperience. We almost missed a few exchanges, had some close calls along the way, but that made it all the more exciting.

Can you spot Tancy in the bunny ears? They came in really handy for finding our runner and for spotting the other team at the major exchanges. Plus it made for some really good comments that we overheard like this one, "Man, I just couldn't catch the bunny. She was just too fast and ahead of me the whole time!"

Mel- finishing up her first leg!

Sarai getting a drink during her first run.

My first leg about 3:10 in the afternoon- I was so hot and my stomach didn't feel good. It was a real struggle the whole five point something miles. It was pretty much uphill the whole way and I was so glad to see the exchange point! I knew if I could just get through that run that the rest of the legs would be o.k. I had a couple of surprises along the way. My family drove up to cheer me on and seeing them was great! They leapfrogged a while and I looked forward to seeing them in the distance. I also had a great surprise of my friend Jody coming to watch me. I was so shocked that she would drive all the way up there to support me. It meant a lot! I also got several messages on my phone from friends all along the race course checking on me and wishing me luck. I am sometimes just overwhelmed by the love and care of others. It makes me want to be a better person.

My exchange to Cameo. I ran an average of 10:20 minute miles during this leg. I started out too fast and I will admit that I walked a few times to catch my breath. Not what I wanted to do, but live and learn. I was so glad to be done!

Cameo finishing up her first leg! Wow, it was a crazy uphill the whole way with dust flying in her face. Some of the drivers were very courteous and drove slowly and others were not. Cameo didn't stop once! She rocked that hill!

Angie was next with a good section of uphill and then a wild, steep downhill that was on a rocky, rutted out road. She had to leap over sections of road. There were places where it was a tight fit with the cars and runners on the same road. Dusty, dirty for her too. But she again was awesome!

Our poor bunny van just doesn't look the same after all that dirt.

We had each done our first legs and you would think that we'd have a lot of time to rest and stretch our legs after all that running? Well, we didn't. We made some sandwiches and ate on a church lawn, changed out of our wet stinky clothes, and then tried to lay down and rest for a minute. We then realized that we didn't even know how to get to the next exchange point or how long it would take us. We only had about 3 hours in between those exchanges and that went by fast. We got directions and headed out for Snow Basin....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ever notice?

Running aint pretty. I know some of you may disagree with me. You're thinking of the smooth paced runner who looks like they're floating on the surface of the pavement. Or maybe you're thinking of the great bodies that grace the covers of running magazines. I am not that runner. I am the hair filled and dripping with sweat, knees knocking together, ankles scraping the opposite calf, gasping for oxygen, looks like they might trip themselves (oh wait, I've done that) kind of runner. My thighs don't look like I run. My calves might a little, maybe it just hasn't moved up the line yet. But that's not what I'm talking about.
I'm talking about the after effects of running. Not just the sweaty, stinky clothes that you have to peel off. (My husband asked me if I was going to have to cut my clothes off a couple of weeks ago...uh hum...I did not.) Not the limping around like you're a cripple or laying with ice on your knees either. I'm talking pure vanity here. Running has not been kind to me. And I have the tan lines to prove it. It's not just my shirt lines or my short lines that look ridiculous in a swimming suit (not that I've been brave enough to even put one on yet this "summer") but it's the shoe line that really gets me. I was in my cute skirt walking over to church in my cute little sandals when I look down to admire my toenails that are so cute and I get a glimpse of my lovely tan line. Not so cute. I might as well have been wearing my running shoes with my cute little skirt. I looked ridiculous. I know what you're thinking. Just sit out in the sun with your shoes off for a few hours and problem solved. O.k. maybe. But this is what really gets me. I have a tan mustache. Yep. I get it every year. For some dumb reason I tan right above my lip darker than anywhere else on my face. I even started this spring by putting sunscreen ONLY above my lip. Didn't help. I still got it. I try to use cover up under my make up on my upper lip. But it eventually wears off. I am totally aware of how vain this is and how unimportant it is in the scheme of the universe. But still. A tan mustache? Come on!
Now before you think that I've totally lost it...I haven't. You see I know I'm going to get these crazy tan lines and I still choose to run. Guess I don't care as much about my appearance as I thought. Truthfully, I am so grateful to be able to run. When you're injured you really get grateful and I'm trying to remember even though I'm not. The ability to run is something that should never be taken for granted. It might not always be fun. It might be hard. There might be setbacks and progress may not always be what we want it to be. But the simple motion of putting one foot in front of the other is a blessing. Running doesn't take any special talent. There's not too much coordination involved. Just one foot in front of the other. But what a blessing. So many are not able to do that simple motion. I'm so grateful for the chance to experience the exhilaration of feeling the pavement beneath my feet and the motion of moving forward. I really love to run.

Last week:
Tues. June 9th- 5 1/2 miles hills
Wed. June 10th- 6 1/2 miles fast
Fri. June 12th- 6 1/2 miles fast
Sat. June 13th- 8 1/3 miles
Taper time!
Mon. June 15th- 3 miles
Wed. June 17th- 2 miles

Monday, June 8, 2009

Marching on...

The race is coming up so quickly and I hope I'm ready.  This is the last week of real training and then the taper begins.  Then my marathon training begins!  I'm so glad my body has been able to hold it together.  (knock on wood!)  

Friday May 28th:  4.25 miles in the afternoon 82 degrees.  It was hard.  I was about a minute per mile slower than normal.  I was getting goosebumps and feeling nauseous by the time I got done.  I'm not used to the heat.  But I need to get used to it!  So... I'm acclimating!
Saturday May 29th:  10.5 miles late, late morning.  It FELT like 1000 degrees but the thermometer said it was only about 80 degrees.  My feet felt like they were on fire towards the end of the run.  I tried to make my pace be around 10:30-10:45 minutes per mile.  I reigned myself in early in the run because I threw in some big hills around mile 7.  It was a killer.  I still ended up doing a bit of walking up the last hill and then it was a struggle to even get home.  I was nauseous and dizzy and weak.  It was hard.  But I gotta get used to those hills in the middle of my long runs.  I'm sure the heat didn't help.  Hopefully it will get easier as the training goes along.  
Monday June 1st:  4.5 miles pushing the jogging stroller.  That should count for more.  I felt surprisingly great for how bad Saturday was.
Tuesday June 2nd:  25 minutes jumping rope.  I decided to count how many jumps I was doing.  (Am I bored or what?)  2000 jumps in 25 minutes.  I thought that was pretty cool.  Also did full body weights.  
Wednesday June 3rd:  5.5 miles with trail hills.
Thursday June 4th:  4 mile recovery run with full body weights.
Saturday June 6th:  morning run 3.75 miles fast.  7 miles in the afternoon.  5.25 miles at night.  I wore all my outfits that I plan on wearing in the race.  I also wrote a detailed description of this day on my family blog if you're interested.  Seriously one of the best days of running ever.  Especially the nighttime run.  Amazing.
Monday June 8th:  4.5 mile easy run.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

You Tube to the rescue

One of the girls on our team suggested checking out You Tube for videos of the Wasatch Back.  There are quite a few of them that are really good.  They have been getting me pumped about this race and the teamwork that will be involved.  This particular one gave me a new favorite running song as well.  "The Distance" by Cake.  Give it a listen, I bet you'll love it too!