If you’ve never done a 31-hour relay running race, let me sum it up for you in one picture:
….And three words: bad hair night. This earned me the nickname Sammy Hagar, but I’m personally not seeing the resemblance. Okay, maybe a little. I’m getting to old for this crap.
Our 200-mile adventure started off swell enough on Friday morning. I wore my cheetah skirt because it fit with the whole “Here Kitty, Kitty” (our team name) theme. And, yes, I did do the whole race in my flip flops. I hear they are the up and coming minimalist shoe. I think my favorite relay team names included “Whisky Dicks”and “Crotch Biscuits” – people are so inventive!
Everyone was chipper as could be because we hadn’t yet started smelling yet. We even spotted a Greek God running the course. He scored the nickname “Adonis,” but I just called him “tits.” I think I was just bitter that his were more developed than mine.
My first leg was a mere 7.4 miles. Here’s Kate giving the hand off:
I’m going to be honest and say the three H’s kicked my ass:
- Heat (95 degrees)
I seriously cannot remember a run where I felt so mentally defeated. The first part was steady climbing, but when I turned a corner at about mile five and saw a 2 mile ridiculous climb, I actually yelled out loud (to myself, no one else around) some major obscenities.
After that run my stomach started cramping like no one’s business and I gave my team mates (some who did not know me well) an authentic introduction to SUAR. I did this by apologizing as I let the hugest fart fly in the van. There was an immediate freak out complete with gagging sounds and heads hanging out the window. One of my team mates, who was very pleasant and polite, patted me on the shoulder and said, “Well, I certainly hope that made you feel better.” It did not. In fact, it would take two more visits to the porta potty before I got some relief. I’m glad I set the tone from the start: I WILL be farting and it might be often.
On a side note, those of us who do races know the drill. You get in and out of the porta potty as quickly as possible, breathing through our mouths the whole time (which causes the stench to cling to your teeth, btw). But, don’t you hate it when you actually have to sit in there for a bit to get it all going? I think the Japanese used to use that as a torture tactic during World War II.
We started heading up into the hills. There was some serious climbing going on at this point. Between Ken and Steve, there were 14 miles run and 2,500 feet of climbing. If those numbers mean nothing to you, that’s like running 28 Heart Break Hills in terms of elevation gain.
Ken’s run took him up to the top of Dead Man’s Hill at 10,269 feet.
It really was a dead man’s climb. While running, Ken actually saw a runner cramp up so badly he fell into a ditch and couldn’t get out or move. His team had to come rescue him. Running is dangerous and you should never do it. Or, so your grandma said.
Deadman’s Hill was so gorgeous. The sun was setting and we saw a bunch of moose up there, including a mama, papa and baby. This was a highlight for me. Not the best picture, but you get the idea.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The sun set and we were all running through the wilderness in the dark. I’ve run in the dark before, but I wasn’t prepared for just how desolate my night run would be and how much it would freak me out. Here’s what it looked like.
I started running around midnight on a back dirt road through northern Colorado and into Wyoming. This is a relatively small race, and due to our late start time, many teams were ahead of us. There was not one other runner on the road for 7.2 miles. No cars, no houses, no nothing. I was literally out there on my own with the coyotes howling. Some may think this sounds cool, but it scared the crap out of me. I swear, if even a chipmunk would have jumped out on the road I would have crapped my pants.
The long night of six people trying to sleep in a van began. Some of us (most of us) were having major stomach issues and felt crampy and queasy. All of us had ungodly B.O. (except me because my sweat smells like Loves Baby Soft). Some of us snore and make orgasmic noises in our sleep. Temperatures dropped well in the 30s. We were cold, cranky and crass.
I “woke” up (can you do that when you were never asleep) and just felt sick from lack of sleep and too may Clif bars. But this was nothing that couldn’t be fixed by some gas station hot water and a Starbucks Via. I literally became a new woman even if I don’t look like one.
This is my second relay and the third leg is the hardest for me (that’s what she said), but I knocked it out and drank beer and life was good. The end.
Our van finished by 11:00 a.m., and our second van still had to run their legs. We drove into Steamboat Springs and waited at the finish for them. Total time: 30.5 hours.
This entire race, it was so hard to know where we were in the scheme of things. At one point we even thought we might be in the bottom ten. But turns out we were 47/115 teams to finish, so we’ll take it. Next year we’ll be in the master’s division and we will make that our bitch. No doubt.
Ken and I still like each other and are not getting a divorce after sharing a van for 36 hours. My key to a happy marriage is finding stuff you love to do together and CAN do together until you get really old. It makes for great bonding.
If you want a new challenge and to move WAY out of your comfort zone, consider a relay. These days you can find one about anywhere from Cape Cod to the Florida Keys especially if you do one in the Ragnar series. It’s not just about the physical part. It’s more a test of your social skills, your ability to function with little to no sleep and your willingness to let go of modesty and unnecessary things. You also have to really be able to laugh at yourself because you will be made fun of several times over the course of the race. But, the camaraderie and the depth of friendships you develop makes every stinky ass moment worth it. Plus you learn a lot about people you thought you knew.
- Ken enjoys a good bidet and wishes we would have brought one in the van.
- Jen likes Barry Manilow’s, Copacabana and can’t function without her morning coffee.
- Steve enjoys turning off all the lights and hiding on the side of the road while I’m running in the dark. For the record, he is not a pussy.
- Joie can fart worse than me and that she sleeps with a Rudolph pillow.
- Eve really likes to run down hill and skip while she’s doing it.
- Brian, team captain, is a bad ass who seems to have no ability to become tired or to be in a bad mood (how does he do that?).
- Julie is almost willing to flash her body parts for a cup of hot coffee and makes a mean road trip playlist.
- Carolyn, all quiet and sweet, has sudden moments of busting out white girl moves to Rihanna.
- Rafe is an eavesdropper with sound advice.
- Tom should be a professor in the art of Twittering (twatting?).
- Kate is a sound sleeper who can snooze through WWIII.
- Keith doesn’t mind when dogs sniff him at night.
Thanks team mates, you guys were amazing friends on this adventure!
What’s something people would or have learned about you during a relay? I think they learned what you see is what you get and that I’m afraid of the dark.
Do you and your significant other train and/or race together? Does your lover even like to run?