Sunday, September 26, 2010

Red Rock Relay

**These pictures are out of order, and I GIVE UP trying to make them cooperate.
I have a love/hate relationship with running. Really, I mostly hate it. But, I put up with it so that I can enjoy those few wonderful runs. A couple of weeks ago, I had one of those experiences where all the running paid off. I was able to compete in the Red Rock Relay, a 186 mile, self-supported, 12-person relay in Southern Utah. My team, the Herriman Hotties, was comprised of me, and 11 other of the most amazing women I have ever gotten the chance to know.

The race started at Brian Head Ski Resort - at 11,000 feet - the top of the slope. It was freezing up there. (like in the 40s with wind) I tried to save up the coldness, because I knew by that time the next day, it would be in the 90s, and I'd be wishing I was colder.

Since the race is a relay, one runner goes at a time, and the switch off is made at designated chutes. The team was divided up into two vans: runners 1-6 in the Snow Van and runners 7-12 in the Sun van. I was runner #8, so I had a few hours to kill before our van got to run. Luckily, Cedar Breaks was close-by, as was our friend's cabin, where we got the chance to "chill" while we waited for our turn.
Finally, it was my turn - I felt like I had been sitting around all day, and it felt sooo good to finally RUN. My first leg was only about 4.5 miles, and honestly, I wasn't that worried about it. But OH how wrong I was. What had been described by the race website as "gentle rollers" really turned out to be big, fat hills at 10,000 feet. With an icy col headwind. I was freezing, and could. not. breathe. But, somehow, I found a way to finish (barely) without puking on my shoes. In fact, I didn't puke at all. :)
By the time runner #11 got a chance to go, it had already gotten dark. The last 2 runners in our van had to run down the canyon into Cedar City in the dark. A windy, steep, road, with barely any shoulder. It was none too safe - but luckily they survived.

We made our second van exchange at about 10:00 pm on the Snow College campus. We hit up Denny's for the most delicious meal I'd ever eaten (I'm not kidding) and then actually had about 3 hours to sleep in a hotel. It felt so nice to lay down, but I never fell asleep. I felt like my heart was still racing, and my calf had a cramp.

About 3:00 am, we got the call that it was time for the next van exchange. We met them in the middle of the night. My turn came quickly, and I got to run a short and easy 3.5 miles in the dark. It was amazing - the stars were so bright, and I felt alive. I didn't feel like I'd had no sleep, and I especially didn't feel the Denny's in my gut. Other than the feeling of being watched (and the strange sounds behind me that made me feel like I was being followed) it was a perfect run. Whoo hoo. 2 down, 1 to go.
I'll spare you, dear reader, of the boring stuff that led up to my last run. Let it suffice to say that, by the time I got the chance to run again, it was about 1:00 pm and 95 degrees. My last run was 6.7 miles - the first 2-ish downhill, and the last 5-ish all. up. hill. In the 95+ degree heat. (and yes, I still had not had any sleep) I actually felt fresh and really good for the first 2-3 miles. I was running fast, and my legs were strong.

I think that because I felt so good, I pushed it a bit too hard. Because, around mile 4, I hit the wall. Just in case you've never heard this term, here is how Wiki describes it:

In endurance sports, particularly cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by precipitous fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. The condition can usually be avoided by ensuring that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins, maintaining glycogen levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances, or by reducing exercise intensity.

I'd never had this happen to me before - I even thought that because I run so slowly that I may be immune. But, alas, I'm not. I hit the wall and wanted to die. I actually thought that maybe I was dying. My head pounded, my legs felt like lead, and I had goosebumps (despite the heat). At the time, I attributed the was I was feeling to the head, but in retrospect, I think it had more to do with the fact that I'd eaten less than 200 calories since my Denny's meal 14 hours before.

Since the race is self-supported, our van would drive ahead a mile or two and wait for the runner to come up - offer drinks, etc - and then drive ahead again. By the time I made it to the van, I wanted to crawl in and close my eyes. Instead, I took some Gatoraid and trudged on. By this time, I was only managing a slow walk - running was out of the question. I told the van to go ahead a mile, and by the next mile I was feeling worse.

Thankfully, one of my team members Jen jumped out to walk along side me. She was amazing, and really helped. She even pushed me to try and run a bit - which I could only do for about 30 seconds. Sadly though, I didn't finish. With less than a mile to go, she finished my leg for me.

Within 30 minutes of eating (I'd gotten a Subway sandwich) I felt better, and I was literally kicking myself for wimping out. That was truly the only black mark on the entire race.
We finished in Springdale, just outside of Zion National Park about 5:00 pm - the happy/sad ending to one of the best weekends of my life.


piglet63699 said...

That is amazing. I probably couldn't have even done the first leg, much less the rest of the race. Congrats for being a trooper and doing what you love/hate!


Lindsay said...

Good job! I was pretty sure I saw you there at the ski lift. And now that you posted this I'm certain it was you! Fun times!

Omgirl said...

Wow. That looks amazing! I am so impressed with you, Christie!

Lynita said...

Wow I am impressed that you accomplished as much as you did! You are truly amazing!