The Relay – Part Three

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!)

Oh yeah, and my favorite running shirt, of course:

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!!! :)

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12 comments to The Relay – Part Three

  • sizzle
    May 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I love that you ended up in The Cruz. What pizza did you eat? Curious. Congrats on finishing!

    • Holly
      May 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      Thanks lady! We just got Woodstock’s. Nothing particularly fancy but they delivered to our hotel room, brought salad and breadsticks and it was $11 a person. And at that point, when we heard that, we were like “HOW FAST CAN YOU GET HERE.” I love Santa Cruz. I need to go back just to relax…uh, when I can truly enjoy it! :)

  • Roberts
    May 15, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I’ll be honest this trilogy of posts depressed me. I kinda wished I had written your van a “how-to” guide for this. Even after just 2 years of this heading into my third I think I have this event down in terms of not only physical preparation, but course recognition and memory and expectations for rookies. We had 4 in our van this year and it was fun guiding them through the process and they seemed to enjoy it and I love this event. But I also have gone everyone of them with exactly 2 hours of sleep and no caffeine, so maybe Im just built for it from a stamina perspective. I hope you guys do it again, I know not everyone has the same preferences and goals in fitness but it was neat seeing other people I knew this year.

    • Holly
      May 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      Matt, don’t be depressed! It ended up being memorable, for sure. I just think the circumstances of this year (weather drama and road construction that changed the courses DRAMATICALLY) coupled with our team of ALL newbies (except one, our organizer Kari who was AWESOME but couldn’t be all things to all people, you know?) just made for a Venn Diagram of Suck. Also, most of our team was not only newbies to Relay Running, but to *any* type of race environment, so there’s so much to take in. Garrett, himself, is a good example: he’s run a 5k twice, right? Which is awesome, but also not something that prepares you for the rigors of a long event like this (physically or mentally.)

      But personally, as I get further away from the event itself, I think to myself “Hey, maybe it wasn’t that bad.” (Complete Sidebar: The parallels of my personal race experience and all of my fears of moving forward with having children are ASTOUNDING by the way) but in reality, in the moment it WAS bad, but honestly (and you probably know this already) I’m a little bit of a masochist that way (and clearly so are you if you *like* doing this stuff on two hours of sleep, HA!) so even when events like this do suck, there is a level of enjoyment in that. That just made me sound crazy. I guess I’m saying it’s more about what I take away FROM the suck, not about 100% preventing the suck to me — does that make any sense?

      Anyway, the possibility of doing it again is a firm maybe for me and others on our team, but I’ll tell ya what – Garrett is still in the AW HELL NO! camp. This is mostly because he just doesn’t like running, so uh…you know, maybe not the best combination for him. haaaaaaaaaaaaa. My bad. I am a terrible girlfriend. :) That said, we got A LOT of good advice (from you especially) as well as others, so I think we’d be in such a better position going into something else. Who knows. Like I said…never say never. :) It was TOTALLY great seeing you when I was done though. It was like Finish Line! People I Know! YESSSSSSS!!! Fun times.

      • Roberts
        May 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm

        Haha yeah I got excited when I pulled up to your last exchange and saw Garrett standing there. I almost wanted to go find you and bring you in. I was telling Garrett about a few weeks before the Relay that it might not have been a bad idea to swap you to 11 if you still wanted the easiest leg in Van 2 because of what they did to that leg and leg 9. Two 6.5mi+ runs on Leg 9 is tough and with the van bridge and nerfing the last leg, 11 just wasn’t hard anymore. In fact our #11 just kept going with me for 3 miles after her short second leg because she runs halfs and wasnt’t even getting 13 total miles from all 3 legs.

        Im doing the Urban Cow in October in preparation for the distance of the Spartan Race. You know you want to do it too!

  • Joy V.
    May 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Good Job Holly! :)

    May 16, 2013 at 3:50 am

    I’m so proud of you and your team!

    Funny, it sounds like you guys went through labour and delivery! Way to go!

    Seriously, Holly, you are inspiring me to keep at my morning-before-work workouts. I just keep trying to add those precious beads to the necklace. Keep on keepin’ on.

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed
    May 16, 2013 at 6:20 am

    Congrats on finishing! At least if you’re ever thinking about doing it again, you can revisit these recaps and make an educated decision 😉

  • K
    May 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    I never stop finding your determination inspiring, Holly. I mean it.

  • eileen ragan | leaner by the lake
    May 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Holly, what a story! I have to tell you, never in all my blog reading have I consumed blog posts with the furry and intensity that I just read these. What a crazy experience. I feel so proud of you for going through all that and finding positivity in the dark corners when you could have totally just quit on it. Thank you for sharing. Hoping that now you’re all rested up :) Again, what an inspiring read.

    • Holly
      May 31, 2013 at 11:24 am

      Ha! So glad you liked it. It was definitely crazy. I’m *almost* far enough away from it that I’m like, “Hmmm…maybe it wasn’t so bad.”

      Almost. :)





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