Red Rock Relay - RRR 2009
You might remember when I posted about this relay experience. Ragnar was a blast and I had a great time with Team Insanity Prevails. They definitely broke me in for doing a large relay. Laurie, the team captain had sent out and email generating interest for the Red Rock Relay event, but at the time I was dealing with IT band issues, and not sure I could be ready.
Time moved on, I started feeling better and being the lucky duck that I am, got invited by a good friend, Lisa, at the gym to join their team Legally Dead. They also needed a driver and invited Splenda along to take that duty. Wahoo!! I can't even tell you how excited I was to do this! To do another relay, with more totally cool people (I guessed, I didn't know any of them other than Lisa and her husband Kris), and have Splenda by my side? Best.Ever.
Splenda and I headed down south Thursday night and crashed in a cheap-o hotel for one last good night's sleep before the ordeal. Let me say this. Beaver, UT is not a hip-hopping place, but the breakfast in the morning was superb, and honestly, where else can you see this in an gas station bathroom? Aren't they such team players?
The suburban picked us up at 7am and we headed right for Brian Head. I met Kris again, Lisa's husband, and also Kevin, the BYU track star, and Rocky the Bishop. Things were boding well with these guys, I was getting a good feeling!
We made it to Brian Head and hooked up with the rest of the team. Wayne for whom the team name Legally Dead has reference (he's an attorney), Shalayne, Julie, Jamie, Nathan, Tom, and Jared. We began getting the vehicles decorated, making small talk and getting psyched to start.
At 8:50, our first runner took off! Jamie made an impressive run to the tram. There the tram took her to the top of the mountain and her leg began by winding her way back down on the trail. She was great and in no time was handing the slap bracelet to Jared.
Jared's leg didn't get support since he was all trail in the back woods. We wished him well, made sure he had his water bottle and then drove up to meet him at the next exchange. Dude kicked it!! I was definitely feeling more than out of my league with these guys since so far, two legs in, they are killing it!
Jared handed off to Shalayne and I was crying a little inside for her. Up hill. The entire way. At an altitude that made it difficult to breathe. She was amazing! Ah, the blessing of youth right? She took that mountain by the horns and showed it whose boss!
Meanwhile,I started getting ready. Stretching, setting the podder playlist, gum, lucky baseball cap, and nerves. I had already swigged my Monster earlier, so my last task was to make sure my bladder was empty. I saw Shalayne head towards the exchange and now I was up. She handed off the bracelet in great fashion, and away I went.
Immediately, I felt the altitude. Who knew it could have such an effect? Really. Sucking air. I pushed and legs felt fine, just couldn't keep air like I usually could. Oh well, nothing to be done, just keep running. I would mention how far my first leg was, but now I can't remember, I think it was just under 6 miles or just over 6 miles. Something like that. Nothing too far.
Felt good, but not many other runners on the route. In fact, there were only 58 teams, so we knew going into it, there wouldn't be many road kills. It was a lot of running all by oneself. I past a dead deer, noticed the beautiful mountains around me and tried to enjoy what was going on.
By now, I had adjusted to the thin air, and was settling into a good pace. Not my fastest certainly, but a comfortable one. I did notice some dark angry clouds up above, but so far, they served a great purpose in keeping the sun off me.
I enjoyed them too soon. Next thing I knew, the rain started. Within a few minutes, the rain turned to hail. Yep. HAIL!! What the H? I was thinking, what is this stuff slapping at my legs? They weren't huge chunks, but pelting nonetheless. I was grateful I had my hat.
I turned a corner and saw a bunch of cars and white cones. YES! The exchange!! I am ready to get out of this crap! Unfortunately as I neared, it was clear that it wasn't the exchange at all, but a visitor's center. Talk about a psych out! But since this was just my first leg, still going on an adrenaline high, I shoved the disappointment aside and kept going.
Finally. FINALLY, I saw the exchange and Lisa ready for the hand off. She was donned in a rain poncho and set to go. We made the exchange, and I walked it off. Clearly the altitude kicked my trash. My average pace was only 9.11, and yes I was mad at myself. I am capable of doing better, and I was determined on my next leg to atone for my poor performance.
And what was everyone else enjoying while I battled the air and elements? This:
After a runner completes a leg, they earned a stripe. Basically a black marker stripe on their calf or arm. I chose both.
I think it complimented the ChestLick tongue fake tattoo I had already applied to my other arm. Such a rebel I am.
Lisa's leg was short and all downhill so we headed to the exchange to wait for her. By now, the hail had stopped and the rain was letting up a bit. She came in looking fantastic and handed off to Julie, our last runner in our van.
Julie had a wicked mean hill right off the bat, but once she got past that, she was cruising and looking great. The scary part of her leg was it was in a heavily traveled canyon with very little shoulder. Her every turn was frightening with the on-coming traffic. But she did awesome! Totally rocked!
We met at the next exchange with our second van. Now so far, the second van was just staying with us the whole time. It was so fun to have the WHOLE team there cheering you on. Rocky was quite the numbers cruncher and would let you know your pace so that was cool.
Once Julie came into the exchange she handed off to Kevin and off he went. I have never seen such a sight. The dude runs for the BYU track team. He is a sprinter, so these distances were a little more than he was used to, but he was giving it all he got. Road kills were coming!
We quickly made it to his watering point, and he was looking fabulous. I don't even think he drank water, but I could be wrong. We took off for the next exchange and he kept going strong. Funny little thing about Kevin. I quickly forgave him for his BYU'ness. I let him know I would still like him and we could be friends. After I saw him run, the deal was sealed. However, Once I saw what he snacked on post race? I had to re-thinkyes, friends, that is canned cranberries. Right out of the can. Straight up high fructose corn syrup. I think I threw up in my mouth a little. Really, what are they teaching our youth there at the Lord's school anyway?
When Kevin came in, he handed off to Nate. Nate had quite the hills to look forward to. NGL - I was so glad it wasn't me!! As Nate took off, we were talking to Kevin and poor dude! He was required to wear a reflective vest because of the traffic on the canyon, but he didn't have a shirt on underneath so that vest just rubbed and rubbed across his nipple. ARGGHHH!! The dreaded nipple chafing!!!
One really nice thing about having the second van doing thier legs, was that while we stayed with them and cheered them on, we could also take in the beautiful scenery.
After Nate's impressive run up hills, he handed off to Tom. Tom had more hills ahead of him. Again, I was so glad it was van 2 that had this portion of the race. The legs they had looked just plain awful!! But props to Tom, he did a fantastic job, before handing off to Wayne.
We were now high in a beautiful aspen country. It was gorgeous, but the skies were still looking ugly and nasty. Jared who was in my van is an archaeologist and works down in that area. This was his stomping grounds and he assured us that this was just afternoon heating and that by about 5 the skies would clear. We joked that we totally didn't even need a GPS system. We had Jared who was our JPS system. He pointed out all kinds of cool and interesting things that we either didn't know or didn't notice. It was great having him there.
The hills these guys were running now were called Diablo. And the devil they were! I can't imagine tackling those at that altitude! Seriously! Wayne finished his leg strong and handed off to Kris. Kris took off and at this point, they had been and were continuing to be on trail. Due to the previous rain, it wasn't too dusty, but the skies still looked bad. We kept teasing our JPS that he better be right about the 5pm deadline and that we were totally holding him to it.
A couple of miles into Kris's leg, after his support van had assisted, we passed him and was heading to the next support stop. All of a sudden a HUGE crack of lightening and the boom of thunder. The rain which had started a little prior now came in a downpour deluge! In fact, we were watching a runner in front of us when the lightening hit and I think it scared the crap right out of him! He ducked and then jumped into the nearest van.
We turned our van around and went back looking for Kris. With lightening, you want your runners OFF THE COURSE! It was pouring rain and hail. We passed a lady and offered her help, she waved us on. Props to her - I would have totally jumped in!
We found Kris who is a freaking machine! He was still running and running strong! Splattered in mud, slipping on the wet ground, but running strong. We asked him if he needed anything. He yelled for Gu, we Gu'd him and he kept going. Not even slowing a bit. No poncho, nothing. Just running. This will be one of my many memories. His strength and will during the hateful environmental circumstances.
Kris was finally able to pass off to Rocky. Rocky was the last of our twelve runners. Still raining, but Rocky took off and immediately was in a great pace. I tell you, these dudes are amazing. Every guy on our team, had tough legs but KILLED them!
After some support for Rocky, we headed to the next major transition and exchange. It would be time for our van to take over again. Rocky, came into a cheering crew of cows. They made me smile! They would moo at every runner who passed them around the corner!
I took the time to change my clothes and start getting warmed up since I knew my turn was now 3 legs away. Rocky, passed off to Jamie, and away she went. Again, she ran strong and steady.
At this point we were entering Zions National Park so there were some rules about when a runner could run and when we had to shuttle the vans. So there was some hopping in and out for the next two legs. It did give us time to enjoy some more beautiful scenery.
Jared lucked out with a quick one, and Shalayne rocked hers like nobody's business. Before I knew it, it was my turn.
By now it was dark. So I donned the reflective vest and attached a head light to my baseball cap. I warmed up, stretched and since this leg was rated easy, I was determined to quicken my pace and not embarrass myself again.
Shalayne passed off, and away I went. We were running up a fairly heavy traffic canyon. There was a wide shoulder, but now I was dealing with headlights in my vision. Ever since the Lasik, I still see some halos around lights in the dark. It gets better and will eventually go away, but I still see them. So, as cars came towards me, I just ducked my head for the few seconds until they passed, and then would look up again to watch where I was going.
The moon was full, but with the storms, it was hiding behind clouds for most of the time. It still was pretty when I would get a sneak peek and at this point, I was so enjoying my run! The temp was perfect, I love running in the dark, and there were enough runners that I even could garner a couple of road kills. And then........
See, here's the deal. Your support van can stop off the shoulder where you want them to and offer water and any other aid you need. I had asked my van to stop after 2 miles and water me, and give me an orange slice. A mile into my run, I began dealing with vans pulled off on MY side of the road. Not many of them were way off the shoulder, so I would have to run into the road to get around them. Worse than that though, were the stupid cars that left their lights on! And a couple even had their brights on or would flash their brights as I approached to see if I was their runner! WTC???? REALLY??!!! Any idea that is BLINDING???? For the love of all that's holy, I was started to get PISSED OFF!
As I passed more and more who were just lolly gagging about with their lights, brights, or even flashers going off in my face, I had HAD IT! I started saying something as I went by. "Please turn your lights off" "Hey, turn you lights off." After I had been blinded so badly that all I could see was dots all around me, I reached my breaking point. I passed a van who had their brights on and this time, I wasn't very nice. Unfortunately the beast in me came out and I screamed at them as I went past "Either turn off your damn lights or MOVE TO THE OTHER SIDE!!!!" I heard them yelling back at me as I continued on. I have no idea what they were saying since my ipod was loud in my ears. But I was steamed.
I think that anger spurred me on, because I could tell my pace was much much faster. I was hoping Rocky was around to give me numbers. I certainly didn't remember what time I started, so if he didn't have it, I wasn't going to get it. I was just so motivated to finish and finish strong that I really pushed hard. It felt great!!
Splenda and Lisa were there to water me and unfortunately, Lisa saw a side of me, that I am sure she wished she wouldn't have. Yup. I let one go. Expletive. A bad one. After I launched it, and passed. Silence. No words from Splenda. No words from Lisa. S.I.L.E.N.C.E. And I deserved it.
I approached the exchange and handed off to Lisa. There was a police officer leading them across the road, (their leg was to go back down the canyon I just came up), so once he had a spare minute, I let out a tirade! Poor cop. Whoever you are, I am so very sorry....... some other runners concurred that it was awful and that they also struggled with the lights being shone in our eyes so he radioed to someone to go talk to the support vans. I vehemently protested them being on the left side of the road, but was quickly reminded that there were now runners come down the other way, so they had every right to be there. Ooops. I was appropriately reprimanded.
I was still steaming when I got to the suburban so I just stayed outside for a few minutes. Cooled down, stretched, walked around a bit and then started feeling horrible for my behavior. Certainly not my finest moment. I finally crawled in the suburban, apologized to my teammates who looked a little shell shocked, and settled in the front seat. I wanted one last chance to spew my anger so I called the Shark. She listened to me rant for a few more minutes, validated my anger and then gloated she was eating an Iceberg shake. I couldn't have asked more of her. A true friend right? Gloating about her shake when you are writhing with anger. Love her.
Lisa tackled her leg in fine fashion and before we knew it, she was passing off to Julie, our last runner in our van. Julie had a great run, was strong and swift. She continued coming down the canyon so it was little harder in the dark and with the bank on the turns. She ended up really hurting her foot, which in turn hurt her whole leg. By the time she finished, she was really in need of a rest.
Van 2 had left us long before so they could get some rest before they started again, and now it was our turn to rest. We handed off to them, and Kevin to go run like the wind again, and we headed to the next major transition exchange which was a rec center in Hurricane, UT.
We got there about midnight. I wanted a shower, everyone else wanted sleep. While they headed outside to bunk down, I headed to the locker rooms and took a much needed, much loved hot shower. Just washing the sweat and stink off of me was a delight in and of itself, but I also took that time to rethink and review the past couple of hours. Had a little chat with myself about my reaction to the lights and my lack of self control. Will be better. Get over it, it's done. Move forward.
Then took stock of how I was doing physically. To be honest. I was hurting so bad. My entire left leg was in serious pain. No IT band issues like before, the knees were feeling fine. There was pain high in my inner thigh right by the pelvic bone that was excruciating. I could barely walk. I was really going to need to evaluate what I was going to do, but for now, I wanted sleep.
I found Splenda outside already asleep, I settled down next to him and tried to conk out. No go. My mind was racing. My leg and hip were killing me, I couldn't get comfortable, I couldn't settle down.
Within minutes, there were some flashes of lightening and cracks of loud thunder. I just started to think of our poor guys in van 2 who were doing their legs now and was hoping they were safe, when the rain started AGAIN!
I rolled over to Splenda who just took a raindrop on his face and opened his eyes. We quickly gathered all our crap and headed indoors. After some serious noise making and adjusting, we settled back down to sleep in a dark, cold HARD room. Splenda was out within seconds. I laid there. And thought. And thought some more.
My mind was still racing. My leg hurt so bad I wanted to cry. I gave up. I slipped out quietly, grabbed my Lortab and headed to the concession stand to purchase a bottle of water. I found a chair to sit in, took my drugs and waited for the blessed relief to begin. It was time to have a serious discussion with myself. Self, I said...... you know you are hurt. You are injured in some way that you don't know how to rehab. You are hurt enough that there is no possible way you can continue running. My heart hurt. It hurt bad. I cried.
After a few minutes, I pulled it together and formulated a plan. I loved this team I was on. I LOVED them! I didn't want to let them down and no way could I ask anyone else to take my leg. That just means they have to run more and EVERYONE is tired. I knew I could push through the 3.8 miles that was my last leg, but then I was going to have to be done for the season. No marathon relay on the 12th and even worse, no marathon on the 19th. I have been looking forward to, training for and planning on this marathon since early this year.
This was to be my summer of firsts. My first triathlon. My first half-marathon. My first Century Cycle ride. My first open water triathlon. My first marathon. I wasn't going to be able to meet my goals. That hurt. I had some more heart aching, and crying and inner talk with myself to reconcile to the fact staring me in the face. I was injured and there was nothing I could do about it. What injury was plaguing me, I had no idea, but I felt in my gut that if I kept pushing it, I was going to be seriously sorry.
By now the Lortab had kicked in and taken the edge off the pain. I went back into the dark cold room and laid down next to Splenda hoping for a little bit of sleep. We knew we weren't going to have much. Van 2's legs were relatively short, and they were all fast, so our respite would be quick. I last looked at my phone and the time was 1:58. Next thing I knew, Lisa was waking us telling us that we had 30 minutes to be ready at the exchange. It was 2:30. I think I might have squeaked out 20 minutes of sleep.
It was still pouring rain when we headed to the exchange. Jamie got ready and we watched for Rocky to come in. Here is it pouring rain, lightening, thunder, and the dude is running strong and SMILING!!!! I tell you, I love these guys!
Jamie took off and we headed out to begin our last 6 legs for our van. Julie was quite hurt herself and she was due to run last, but kind JPS, offered to switch her legs, and he took her last tough one, and she took the baton after Jamie's strong finish.
We were now in St George, the temps were okay but the rain had made it humid. Julie was on the nice running trail that is alongside Riverside drive in St. Jorge. I have seen this trail many times when I am down there for work, but never ran it. It's dark and I usually run so early, there isn't anyone else on the trail and I was just too nervous to do it. She started off strong. You couldn't even tell her foot was hurting, she just stepped up and ran like a champ.
We parked on the other side of Bluff street, where she would emerge from the trail. A police car kept circling making Splenda a little nervous. Jaime, walked back along the trail to meet and pace with Julie. And we then found out why the cop was there. Apparently someone had called in with a complaint of hearing an assualt take place on the trail and a strange man on a bike riding around harrassing the runners. I was glad Jamie had gone back for her. They emerged from the trail, we watered Julie, and she kept going.
This was supposed to be a very short run, but they ended up adding another mile to it. SURPRISE!! Auugh! Can you imagine? We finally reached the exchange, and realized she is going to be going farther than she thought. Hopefully, she'd pull through. She did, and did it well. The hand off to Shalayne went fine and I began my stretching and warming and getting ready. I was loaded on Lortab and ibuprofen and figured I will just do the best I can. It's a short leg, I can do it, and then be done.
Shalayne finished strong - she is amazing, and handed off to me. It was still dark, my headlamp was starting to fade, but the clouds were dissipating so I was getting some moonlight. I took off and immediatlely could see, this wasn't gonna be good. Every step was painful. I let the van water me at 2 miles and then they went on ahead to the exchange so Lisa could get ready.
I was now on the trail, completely alone in the dark. I got passed once, which further stabbed my already crushed self-esteem, but I really had no choice. I wanted badly to just stop and sit down on the side of the road. I figured when I didn't show up, someone would come looking for me. But, the competetiveness in me won out. I wasn't going to let my body win. No way, no how! I didn't care that I was barely jogging, and was likely posting a 25 min mile pace, I was going to finish.
I will say this, the moon was beautiful at this point!
I limped the rest of the way in, handed off to Lisa while profusely apologizing for my poor performance and headed to the suburban. I stretched, cooled down, and loosened up my IT band. Knees were feeling good. I was happy about that. But the whole inner thigh, pelvis thing was enough to make me cry. Even stretching hurt it. Weightbearing at all, was killer. I crawled in the suburban and we headed for the next watering site.
Now, in the meantime, Splenda had taken off with JPS's mom to be a volunteer at an exchange. Each team must provider two volunteers or be disqualified. They were given their volunteer t-shirts and assigned an exhange to work at.
So at this point, no Splenda in the car. I mostly stayed quiet and kept working things out in my head.
The 2 mile mark where we stopped to water her had a great aid station. We were suprised as there hadn't BEEN any aid station to this point. But these guys had water, gatorade, bananas, Gu, cookies, pretzels. Awesome! We indulged, watered Lisa, grabbed goodies for the way and headed out.
As we were waiting at the next 2 mile mark to water Lisa again, we noticed runners coming the opposite directions. Wha??? HUH?? We check our maps again. This isn't supposed to be a back and forth run. What in the world??? We noticed then that these runners bibs were a bit different. After asking one of them what they were running we realized that there was a completely different event happening and that wonderful aid station? Totally their's. We bogarted their aid station!
Lisa finished her leg strong. And hers really sucked. Climbing, climbing, climbing. At her exchange we hooked back up with JPS's Mom Loralei and Splenda. They were now done with their volunteer duties so Loralei could watch her son finish his last leg. Lisa passed off to JPS and away he went. Again, strong as an ox!
As we drove ahead, I was so glad that I didn't have this last leg. It was just a brutual continuation of what Lisa had just done. Climbing, climbing, and more climbing. JPS's first water stop though, he was looking great!
We moved forward to his next water stop. I got out of the car and about fell on my face. My left leg was of no value whatsoever. I could barely limp. I hurt and decided to take another Lortab.
After watering JPS once more, we headed to the next exchange and this was the last major transition. Our second van would now take over and finish up the last 6 legs. I limped to the exchange cheered on JPS finishing and Kevin taking off. Kevin had covered his nipples with duct tape to avoid the chafing. I think that's hysterical.
Our van loaded up and headed into St George for some breakfast. We settled for food from Smith's grocery store and then went back to the finish line which was at a school outside of Snow canyon and Tuacahn.
We found some shade, laid out our blankets and pillows and tried to sleep. Of course, Splenda was out in a second and happily snoring away.
I couldn't settle down. Couldn't get my mind to calm down or my pain to subside enough to relax. I settled for talking on the phone and watching other teams finish up. We finally got the call that Rocky was about 15 minutes out so we started to get up, gather around and watch for him to come into the finish. Once he rounded the corner, our team jumped in and crossed the line together.
What a great feeling!! We got our medals, did lots of picture taking, and then headed to the vans. Re-arranged gear and bodies. Some of the team was staying in St George for the night. Nate and Tom's wives had come so they were leaving with them. Kris, Lisa, Kevin, Rocky, Splenda and I loaded up, and met JPS and Loralei at the Golden Gorral for a post race protien and REAL food feast. It was a kick to swap stories, jokes and recap some of the more memorable moments.
All too soon, it was time to hit the road. They dropped Splenda and I off in Beaver, we got our car, made a bathroom break and headed for home. After a rest break, getting my car at Splenda's work in Spanish Fork, I went straight to the Instacare.
I had begun worrying about a pelvic stress fracture. It would explain where the pain was, and the weight bearing issue. It would also explain why it kept getting worse to the point of almost complete disablement.
Instacare did an xray but was quick to explain that stress fractures in the pelvis are rare, and do not show up on xray. The only way to confirm it would be bone scan, but no bone scan until we see if it gets better with other treatment first. Made sense to me!
He did a physical exam and his manipulation of my leg made me cry. And then, bless his heart, he gave me the diagnosis straight up without mincing words. "Your tendon is trashed. TRASHED." Complete rest for at least 5 solid days. No running for several weeks. Lecture on listening to my body, paying attention to pain indicators.....blah, blah, blah.
I knew all this. And luckily for me, I had already had my "come to Jesus" talk in that rec center back in Hurricanein the early morning hours. I had already hurtled the mental feat of not running for awhile. But NGL - I had held out hope for a miraculous different answer. He was emphatic on the rest. He said, "athletes like you tend to push through things and end up causing more damage." He called me an athlete. Me. I wanted to kiss him.
They gave me a shot of Toradal. Nice, strong anti-inflammatory. A prescription for more anti-inflammatories and the instructions for ice and rest.
I hung my head, thanked him under my breath and shuffled my way out to the car and drove home. Even though, I knew what he was saying was true and there was nothing I could do. Having someone else verbalize it stung like a thousand bee stings.
I got home to a welcoming committee of my Sissy! We crawled into her tent and she talked and talked. A little bit later, the doorbell rang and there stood my Shark with a big bag of Skittles. She KNEW! She knew I was in desperate need of sort-n-soothe. If I could have moved, I would have jumped on her and hugged her!
Final stats for our team:
1st place for van decoration (Legally Dead has it down to a freakin science. They rock!)
25th place out of 58 teams.
27 hours, 25 minutes.
It was an experience of a lifetime! The scenery was beautiful, the team was.....well I could rave on and on about the team and their wonderfulness ad nauseam. They were 12 of the best people I have met since Ragnar. Just being around them made me want to be a better runner, a better athlete, a better person. Having Splenda there to experience all this with me was priceless. Thank you, thank you, thank you Legally Dead for allowing me to come and play.
For now, I am following doctors orders. Resting, taking drugs, no running. I'll start back slowly and approach my training a little differently. I figure I've got all fall and winter to get my self back into racing form. I will do it. And then, I hope that Legally Dead might invite me and Splenda again.