Sunday, March 6, 2011

WBR 2010 - incredibly belated race report

I just realized (as I was trying to avoid doing homework) that I never posted anything from 2010's Wasatch Back Relay. It's been written up since, I dunno, forever - but never posted. So, here goes:

WBR Pre-Race 2010
In the weeks leading up to the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay this year, our team captain had several levels of craziness happening around him so we didn’t get our leg assignments until 5-6 days prior to the race. This was actually good for me and Carol because we tried to train for the worst possible scenario. In fact, when we finally found out our legs (runners 7 & 8) we were a bit disappointed because neither of us had a “hard” or “very hard” section to run. Never fear – common sense took over and we were soon happy that we didn’t have the Ragnar legs. Instead of really challenging ourselves on the horrible climbs, we decided that we would do our “easy” and “moderate” sections as fast as we could. That became our new goal to help our team.

Since we were van 2, we didn’t need to be at the start line. (Whew! That would have meant a 3:30am departure from my house!) My plan was to get to work around 5am and work for 4 hours before meeting the team at Cappy’s house. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well. It would have IF I had ever found the time to clean out the truck. Instead, I was up until 1am the night before getting everything out of the bed. I got up at 5am to head to the gas station and a visit to the vacuum – something the big truck hasn’t seen since, well, a long time. I cleaned everything out, got gas, and headed for town. Once at work, I just couldn’t concentrate, so I answered a couple of e-mails and spent the rest of the time practicing deep breathing exercises and meditating to an ocean sounds CD. (Oh, seriously. Who am I kidding? I played on the internet and pretended that I was ready for this race.)

Carol and I would have ran out the door but we didn’t want to expend precious energy, so we calmly made our way to the parking lot and drove to Cappy’s house where we met him and Juanita. Three minutes later, everything was chucked into the back of the truck and we were off to Centerville to pick up Steve and Kristy. (Yes, three strangers again. The best way to make friends: trap yourself in a car with them for two days. Don’t shower or sleep, and eat only high-carb foods. You’ll be best friends in no time.) We left Centerville and headed for Liberty to await van 1’s arrival.

Well, after hurrying to register and pass the required safety meeting, we waited and waited and waited. Van 1 took longer than they had expected, so we spent a couple of hours in Liberty watching the other teams run in and laughing about the other team names. Relay runners really are very clever. By the way, to the Ragnar staff: the safety changes were the right things to do, and didn’t really pose any additional difficulties. I hope that the Kunz family takes comfort in knowing that their loss prompted changes that made the rest of us safer.

WBR Leg 1 - We’re havin’ a heat wave:
Stats for this leg: 4 kills, 3.4 miles, 35:03 total time, 10:19mpm.
As we sat around in Liberty, it just got hotter and hotter and hotter. I knew that I was going to struggle because all of our training has taken place at 6am and hasn’t been hotter than 68*. Carol, of course, looked strong as she powered to our first exchange in front of a little restaurant in Eden. I think that I would have much preferred to kick back with a beer instead of taking that sweaty little wrist baton and running through the heat, but off I went at about 1:30pm.

I didn’t want to go out too fast, but some blonde chick with a pony tail really pissed me off by passing me and my turtle gait. I know that I’m not fast, but don’t pass me in the first 50 yards! At least let me get past the crowd at the exchange. Geez – try not to make me look really bad! So, there you go, I had a goal: pass pony tail chick which would prove to be difficult. She would run and run and then take a walk break. I would just about catch her – like two feet from her back – and she would start running again. I wasn’t pleased.

Around a lake or pond (or something), I managed my first kill: a girl with black hair who actually looked really strong. She stopped to get water from her van support and I managed to pass her. She never caught me again. That’s a nice feeling, but I was only focused on pony tail chick. I passed another gal while we were still on paved road. Eventually the road changed to dirt/gravel, and we ran towards the exchange point. I kept that bouncing pony tail in my sights. I remember passing a guy in blue with a mohawk and head band. He was pretty husky and really having a difficult time in the heat (even more so than me!).

The heat was bothering me as were the stomach cramps that I was having (brought on by the banana? the ½ bagel? not sure why since they were eaten about four hours prior), but I wasn’t about to let pony tail girl get away. I felt a bit queasy, but I was able to manage it just fine….. until we had to pass a dead sheep (I think). The stench almost did me in, and that’s saying a lot coming from a farm girl! I just swallowed hard and really pushed it, inching my way to Little Miss Pony Tail. The exchange gate was in sight, and I could almost taste victory! OK, that’s a bit dramatic, but I really did want to pass her! So, pass her, I did! At least, I consider it a pass! I was maybe one step ahead of her in reaching the chute, and no – I didn’t shove her out of the way in the process. She would probably consider it a win on her end, but I didn’t bother to ask her. Actually, I couldn’t possibly ask her! I was full-on gasping for air.

WBR Leg 2 – It was like I was flying!
Stats for this leg: 6 kills, 7 miles, 1:07:28 total time, 9:39mpm.
Wait. Let that sink in just a bit. You three people who actually read this drivel on occasion. Appreciate that pace. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get this fat butt to move that fast? I’ve been repeatedly thanking the gods for the miracle of gravity because I doubt I’ll see that kind of pace for the rest of the calendar year.
To make me look really bad, Carol had ten kills and ran an 11mpm on the leg before me which was 4 miles of up something called Hogback Summit. She’s such an over achiever! (But, I’m very impressed and proud of her. I wouldn’t be running the pace that I’m currently at if not for her.)
Anyway, there was a traffic jam in getting up to the exchange chute, so I hopped out of the truck and started to hoof it. I was hoping to hit the potties before my leg, but when the folks in the truck started shouting “Hey, that’s Carol!!!” I decided to get a move on. I actually had to run to catch up to Carol for the exchange. I was thinking that she didn’t hear me behind her, but really, she was trying for kill #10 which she managed to get right before the exchange! It was very exciting.
Then, off I went – downhill all the way, baby! It was a beautiful thing. There was a parade of tail lights on the right side of the road and a bobbing line of reflector vests on the left side. It was quiet except for our foot falls, and the temperatures were perfect. Stomach cramps, again even though I hadn’t eaten for three or four hours.
I really tried to take advantage of the downhill, and the competitive juices were flowing. I have no idea what my pace was, but I had to be running faster than I’ve ever run in my entire life. I felt so incredibly athletic! Certain that I was covering immense amounts of ground with each stride, I was certain that I was almost done when I finally asked Kristy (who was providing water) how much further I had to go. When she informed me that I still had three miles, I wanted to cry. Really? Three more? How can that be? I’m going sooooooooooooo fast! (Obviously, only in my mind.) Bless her, though. She continued to give me water at various increments even though I was suddenly whiney and moody.
In the end, I went out waaaaaaaaay too fast. I really lost my pace in the last couple of miles and had to talk myself into running at all. I had to pick light poles or cars or signs or shrubs and run to them. When that failed, I told myself to run 100 steps before a 10 step walk break. I was so disappointed with myself because I could have run this much better and smarter.

WBR Leg 3 – It was like I was dying!
Stats for this leg: 7 kills, 6.1 miles, 1:09:50 total time, 11:27 mpm.
Yes. You read that right. It took me longer to run 6.1 miles than it took me to run 7 miles just hours earlier. I blame the entire town of Midway (for no particular reason), the heat, the complete lack of sleep, and the bagel that must have given me stomach cramps. (Recurring theme here: food sucks. GASP! I can’t believe I just typed that!)

It was BLAZING hot for this leg of the run. Like 93* hot. You know, like, loss-of-bodily-ability-to-produce-spit hot. It was tough. As usual, when Carol handed that sweaty wrist baton off to me, she looked like she had just been out for a leisurely morning jog. She assures me that she, too, was wiped out, but I’m not buying it. Anyway, within about ten steps of the exchange gate, I had stomach cramps that lasted for the entire six miles. After having cramps for the last two runs, I had been very careful (for a change) in choosing what I ate. It didn’t work. The cramps all three times seemed to be located right at the bottom of my rib cage smack dab in the center of my torso. I’ve never had cramps there before. Weird.

So, I’m trudging along and my truck passed me. I waved my wonderful teammates on and kept putting one foot in front of the other when I hear “Go, Kaye! Woo-hoo!” and the like. Yay! A cheering section! But, my teammates just passed me – who could that be? Well, bless their little hearts, but it was two VPs from my employer! Let me say here and now that it was wonderful that they would take the time to even look for little ol’ me, let alone roll down the window from their nicely air conditioned vehicle to cheer me on. It was very nice and sweet, and they are both really great people.


There is a time and a place and an audience that you want to look your absolute worst in front of, and I’m not sure that I wanted it to be these people at this exact time. I actually don’t know, but I suspect that they did NOT rough it by sleeping in the hallway or parking lot of the high school in Kamas. Oh, no! They both looked too perfectly coiffed and clean for that level of craziness. And, they are both rail thin and were BORN to be runners. They could run circles around me, and one of them, in fact, has. (We went running “together” years ago in Sugarhouse Park. He literally lapped me a few times. In my defense, it was the first year that I ever ran, but now that I think about it, I think it was his first year of running, too.)

Looking back, though, perhaps this was the motivation that I needed. I’m far too prideful to want to show any kind of weakness in front of them (well, that goes for most people), so I refused to walk if there was a chance that they could see me. I also couldn’t let my teammates know that I was walking (as if my pace wasn’t a tell tale sign – give me a break – it was HOT and I was getting delirious – I can’t be held responsible for my thinking during this time), so I did more running in the first four miles than I would have done otherwise. So, thanks, well-dressed and spiffy VPs!

I lost all sense of pride for the last two miles of this stretch. I just couldn’t be bothered to care anymore. So, if they saw me walking, they were just going to have to deal with it (as if anyone really cared that I was walking…..) I was running 100 steps and walking 20. Oddly, this is the time that I passed the most people; it seems that a lot of people were struggling here! I was most excited about passing a young buck – a kid of probably 25 years – and an incredibly consistent couple. Mostly, I was happy to hand the baton off to Kristy.

Like her other two legs, Kristy just persisted and knocked this out of the park. Then she handed off to her husband, Steve, who also just stuck with it all the way up the Ragnar leg. Did I mention that Kristy kept insisting that she’s not a runner? Whatever! She had the pre-Ragnar, which is just as bad as the real Ragnar! Cappy took over after Steve and ended up running an extra mile or so due to unanticipated construction. Then, the hand-off went to Juanita who did a great job on the final leg.

Our total time was an average 10:01 minutes per mile pace. This was spot on Cappy’s prediction; the man really knows what he is talking about and has a knack for knowing what other people are capable of. Like my other Ragnar relays, this was a blast and I look forward to doing more. I don’t know if I will until I finish school, but I really do enjoy these!

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