Oof! That middle of the night leg was a beast, wasn’t it?
When we left off I was just about ready to crack! Eventually though, I made my way into the back seat, curled up into one of the comfy captain’s chairs, grabbed my pillow and was able to grab a little shut eye — at least 30 minutes worth — and man, was that a game changer! I say that without an ounce of hyperbole. The biggest challenge of this event, in my humble opinion is the lack of sleep. Part of that was maybe a little bit of poor planning on our parts (it was all of our first times though, so how could we have known?) but also, this is sort of the point. They don’t call these things endurance events for nothing — there will come a point where you (and your body) are expected to feel challenged to endure, ya know?
Anyway, the other game changer? Our next exchange INVOLVED A PLACE WHERE THERE WERE SHOWERS! AND A GYM FOR SLEEPING!
We didn’t have time for both, and honestly if I had to go back and choose – as gross as it sounds – I would choose to sleep and not shower (hindsight being 20/20 and all that) but right there on the campus of Canada College I took the most epic shower of my life! It felt amazing to finally de-gross-ify, sit under the hot water, and to put on my comfy clothes again. I washed my hair twice, just so I wouldn’t have to get out of the shower. And these were like low budget, glad I was wearing flip flops kind of showers but man they felt GREAT! We all waddled back to the car — quad and hip soreness was definitely setting in — (and at that point I was SUPER happy I had packed a pair of compression sleeves for my calves) and then we headed off to breakfast.
We dined at a place called to Alana’s Cafe which was much more memorable than our last meal out. It’s an old restored Victorian, very quaint and cute, and the breakfast menu looked delish! I got a huge plate of potatoes, sausage and eggs (ok, ok and rye toast. I’m a sucker for rye toast!) and began to chow down. Here’s the weird thing about events like this though: when you are going for so long and not sleeping and then running and drinking electrolyte stuff you wouldn’t normally drink or chugging Gu or whatever — your whole body just feels so out of whack. The fueling part was very hard to manage. What ended up happening for me was that I was so hungry when I sat down and so excited to eat, but I took like two bites and felt a little bit sick to my stomach. Not so ideal. The toast was the easiest stuff to get down, but ultimately all that gluten didn’t make me feel great either. It was a bit of a lose/lose. But I forced myself to just keep eating (and I’m glad I did) because I knew that was going to be my last “real meal” before I had to run again.
Right as we placed our orders our other van texted to say their 3rd runner was already on course. Uh oh. That meant we were going to eat quickly just to get to the next exchange on time. Garrett got ready in the car and , once again, got the hand off from Gina. Gina was doing one of the hardest and ugliest legs on the course that was basically 3 miles straight up hill in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was rough but she came up the hill smiling as usual. I think Garrett was still digesting his breakfast.
But just like every other leg, he just put one foot in front of the other and killed it. His last leg was 6.2 miles that was all down hill. “Hey babe, it’ll just a quick 10K,” I said. And he looked at me and said “You better have a better birthday present coming for me.” Oh yeah, didn’t I tell you? This was Garrett’s birthday weekend and I thought this event would be a fun way to say “Hey! You’re 32! Woo hoo!” Next year I will plan a couple’s massage or something. Haha
At that point we were in the Santa Cruz mountains so despite it being warm we were running through a lot of shade, which was nice. Garrett’s downhill leg was a challenge on tired leg/knees but he rolled into the runner exchange like a bat outta hell and passed off to Grace. We celebrated for a minute that, for him, this race was DONE!
Grace started her leg and about a mile into it she rolled her ankle on a tree branch. No bueno! But she powered through her leg like a champ and then it was my turn to get started. I have to be honest, even though I was *mentally* in a much better place than I had been the night prior, this run worried me a little because of its physical considerations. At 6.7 miles it was my longest leg and while it was mostly flat and downhill there were a few places with elevation change. The only thing that kept me going was that my last leg ended at a liquor store. (What’s up Ben Lomond Liquors!)
CrossFit Estes Park — I owe you one for that shirt! It’s gotten me through a lot of shit-tastic workouts/runs!
So I hopped to it and just told myself “It’s won’t be more than 90 minutes! You can do anything for 90 minutes and then YOU ARE DONE!” And really, that’s the truth of all of this stuff. It’s so much a test of mental endurance. If you can get your mind right — in fitness, and in life — it can really change everything. The whole weekend was one giant exercise in how the mind affects the body and while I definitely could have physically trained more (and therefore run faster) the mental training that I get day in and day out at my CrossFit box could not have been better for this event. Struggling through wods and having lots of practice at digging deep to find that place in you that just has no quit — that was what helped me be successful this weekend. And I felt really, really grateful for that on my final leg! (Also grateful for my awesome 90 minute playlist! It was such a nice soundtrack for running through the mountains.) I had a friend tell me that the running was the easy part of this relay, and while I didn’t believe her then – it is absolutely the truth!
I passed off at that last runner exchange at about 4pm and it was honestly the best feeling of the whole weekend! Just knowing that I had been doing this relay for 49 hours at that point, that I had made it (with no knee trouble – WOOT!) through 18 miles — well, that was an amazing feeling. We also coincidentally ran into our friend Matt (hi Matt!) at the runner exchange for my leg (he had a team participating as well) so that was fun to see. We got to swap stories for a second and then it was on to the next, because we had 3 runners left to go until we could finally sit in a hot tub with some cocktails.
The last legs were pretty rough for our runners – my friend Megan hurt her knee and Kalie’s race leg was probably not the most memorable run she ever had despite getting to cross the finish line — but in the end, we just celebrated BEING DONE! And that was priceless!
We met up with our other van on the beach at the finish line (which by the way — WHO FINISHES A RUNNING RACE ON THE BEACH? Sand in your sneakers is ANNOYING and not what you want to deal with after being awake for two days, let me tell you!) There were some tears, some high fives, some sighs of relief and also LOTS of blankets Did I mention it was freezing? The weather that whole weekend was so extreme!
It felt great to be done and it was time to head out to our awesome beach front hotel and toast the night away with some sangria and some hot tubbing for our sore muscles. Ok, ok and some pizza! Which despite being a total gluten bomb, was RIDICULOUSLY GOOD.
So, after all of this recap I’m sure you are wondering whether I would do this again, right? Had you asked me the night it ended I would have said HEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLL TO THA NO! And honestly, I’m still firmly in the “Probably Not” and “Once and Done” camp. However, the major challenges I had this time around mostly dealt with the fact that I was inexperienced – so the food/fueling and sleeping issues were INCREDIBLY hard to deal with – and also some last minute course changes by the relay organizers that made things harder to navigate for our van. So — maybe next time could be better? Or maybe running a more organized type relay like the Ragnar series would be better? I don’t really know.
I will tell you this: the experience was memorable. And in the end (now that it is over, ha!) I am glad I did it. But it was also incredibly stressful, and since I was ALREADY dealing with some incredibly stressful stuff in my real life, doing an extra curricular event specifically designed to Add Stress was probably not the best idea. But we committed in December and how could I have known all the changes that would happen during that time — I couldn’t. So in the end it just kind of is what it is. I love the idea of a team relay, but logistically I think I could have been more prepared. I love the idea of an endurance event, but practically speaking maybe I don’t need to be ENDURING for 2 days you know? I like running quite a bit, but whenever I have a running event looming on the horizon preparing for it undoubtedly takes me away from CrossFit, which is my first love — and I hate that. So the jury is still out if I would do it again.
But if you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I NEVER SAY NEVER.
(My mom just dropped dead reading that I’m sure. Hi, Mom! Sorry I do crazy stuff that you have to stress about. LOVE YOU!)
Any specific questions about this type of thing I can answer in an upcoming post that would be helpful? Let me know. Otherwise I think I’m ready to put this whole experience to bed. Oh man…beds! I have such a great appreciation for my bed after doing that relay. I LOVE YOU BED!!!