Monday, April 2, 2012

Queens of the Road - Rocking the Relay!

Well let me start by saying I have wanted to do this race for a few years now, but I couldn't find enough girls to do it with me. They all thought I was crazy (go figure).  So when I joined NTX runners, last spring and found out the Libby usually coordinates a team, I was all over it!  I had been looking forward to this race for a very long time!

We left out of D/FW airport in our rental vans about 10:30ish.  We had two vans each carrying 5 great girls and some pretty awesome guys who agreed to drive us for 3 days while we ran and giggled and stunk! (I think they might have gotten the worst job of them all, at least we got to run!)

Stopped at Rudy's along the way for some lunch.
Lunch - yum, yum!

The whole gang...drivers and all

Me - so excited on the way down to Bastrop from my perch in the back seat - obviously had no idea what I was about to do...

On we go to Bastrop and checked into the Holiday Inn and made a quick trip to Walmart for some last minute snacks and decorations for the vans.  Apparently we planned on eating our weight in Oreos, Pringles, and candy because I came home with so much food!  

These "accidentally" fell in my basket at Walmart when I realized I would be rooming with Corina for the night.  She might have a hatred for the lizard...I am working on getting her to overcome that by scaring her in hotel rooms with tiny lizards during race far - no luck, just lots of screaming...

Next stop was to find some place for dinner and we went to the Texas Grill where I must say they have the best french fries ever.  ( I will admit most of the food I ate on this trip was the best ever - I think I was really hungry!)

Happenin' Joint in Bastrop

Then it was back to the hotel to decorate our vans before hitting the packet pickup/pre race party.
Van Decorating...Never underestimate the power of a hot pink star when you are running! I was so glad to see those stars many times!

Van #1 - Ready for some craziness!
Then we get back to the hotel and start getting ready for bed and our 4:20 wake up!  I couldn't sleep - too excited - nerves...Finally fell asleep about midnight...That would be last the sleep I would have until 5:30 Sunday morning.  

So Saturday morning we were up and out the door by 5 am.  With a 6:10 am race start and a 30 minute drive out to the race start, it was an early morning, but we made it.  

Van 1 Bright and Early!

The starting line at 6:00 in the morning...

So they announce our team start and shoot the cannon and off we run as a whole team for the prologue (about .3 miles) and then Kristi takes off on the first leg in the dark by herself!  

The weird thing about this race as opposed to other races, very rarely are you around other runners.  You are on your own.  You have to know your turns, streets, directions...Most turns were marked, but some weren't.  I took my map of each leg with me when I ran.  I was terrified of getting lost and not knowing it!

Van 1 went back to the hotel and grabbed our stuff and a quick breakfast, while Van 2 ran the first few legs and we met up with them about 2 hours later.  Then we all worked together to take care of the runners and leapfrog them every mile to make sure they were okay and if they needed water.  

My family for the weekend! Van #1 peeps!

Love these two! And who is that good looking one on the right? :-)

Waiting for Fiona to come in off her first relay leg with our Van #2 peeps! Wish we would have gotten to hang with them more!

Fiona looking strong at the end of her leg!

Lesley taking off! 
Loved meeting and talking to Liz!  Great team - great new friends!

Beautiful scenery along this part of the relay!

We continue with our running leapfrogging each runner at every mile and at each exchange point.  After Van #2 had finished their morning relay legs, they went to grab some food and our van took over for a while.  By this time, it was getting really hot and VERY humid.  Most of our running was done more on small 2 lane highways where it was just radiating heat.  We had to change the plan at that time and go from leapfrogging the runner every mile to every 1/2 mile.  It worked out really well.  At every 1/2 mile my peeps would meet me with water, ice, S caps, wet towels, anything you needed. You just took it and continued on and they would meet you down the next 1/2 mile.  I think a lot of teams underestimated the heat because we were actually supporting a lot of runners who were out of water and/or wanted wet towels.  We saw at least 3 ambulances in the afternoon.  After Van 2 got some grub, they met right back up with us and we continued leapfrogging.  It was really a team effort with both vans. It was wonderful to be met at the 1/2 miles with cowbells and horn honks and water and ice. I love my team!  

We continued on into the afternoon running, leapfrogging, cheering, and sweating.  On Saturday I ran 2 legs during the afternoon.  I had at 1:00 pm ( 4.35 miles), and then again at 4 pm (3.86 miles).  The second one was harder than the first, but I got it done.  

Leg 1- done

Sharon waiting to run at the exchange point.

The map of my relay leg 2.  These are the directions you would get.

Waiting on Sharon to come into Weimer, TX!

Main Street Weimer, TX

Best cupcake ever...

There she is!!! Sharon coming into the exchange point!

We continued on leapfrogging and running all through the afternoon and night.  Sometimes our van would be the runners, sometimes it was our other van.  We were all leapfrogging and cheering and supporting each runner through every 1/2 mile (unless we were grabbing some real food from somewhere).  Our van ate breakfast about 7 am remember, but we didn't eat again until about 6 or 7 that night other than what we had in the van.  

Van #1 Ready to Run!
Van We took over for Van #2 and ran our night legs.  I wound up running from about 12:45-1:30 Sunday morning along a little FM road in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  Just had my headlamp and some reflective gear and knew that on the map I had no turns so as long as I stayed on that road for 5 miles I would get to where I was supposed to be.  Every 1/2 mile our van would be waiting for me - the other van was on break and back at the hotel to get their big 2 hours of sleep in a real bed before relieving us later.  At every 1/2 mile, Luis (our driver/Amanda's husband) was on the side of the road waving his huge flashlight that you could see from 3 miles away I swear.  I would just tell myself "Make it to the light, make it to the light."  I felt like a bug!  Every time he was there, with water.  The girls were pretty tired and asleep in the van but good ol' Luis was amazing.  I was running my 5 miler in the dark and the first stop, he gave me water and asked if I needed anything and I told him I just needed to catch the guy in front of me...I figured that would give me a goal and I wouldn't think about what in the world I was doing.  The guy was far enough ahead that it was going to be a real challenge, but I could tell by the distance of his headlamp that I was gaining on him so I made it into a game. I also knew that I had to be on the lookout for little night animals on the road.  We had seen snakes and stuff already.  Fabulous! So I finally made it to him and kept on trucking.  Met Luis again, more water, more running, beat another mile 4 I was exhausted.  This was my fastest relay leg - probably because I was afraid of the chupa and I was trying to make a game out of it by catching up  to people.  I get to mile 4 and Luis tells me that the guy that just past him a ways up is walking and that I can catch him...Well great...I was really okay with taking it easy the last mile, but now I have to go catch that dude - Okay, I don't have to - but it sure would be cool if I did... :-) Of course the guy started running and I had to sprint a long time but finally got there and ran on to the finish.  Luis started laughing when I told him I beat the guy, I on the other hand told him that if I threw up at that point it was his fault because I had to haul buns to try and do that! :-) Totally worth it though - made that last mile go by much faster - Thank you, Luis!

Exchange point in the middle of the night...

There goes Mama C into the dead of night with way too much happiness!

I may have been delirious here from no sleep.  We were going on 25 hours of no sleep and I was pumped because I was out of the dark and done outrunning the little night creatures.

We continued on in this manner and Van #2 returned fresh off a whopping 2 hours of hotel room sleep and took over and we headed to the hotel, showered, hopped in bed at 5:30am woke up at 7:30 am - grabbed some breakfast from the lobby and were out the door to meet our van peeps and take over at 9 to start running again.  We ran the legs on Sunday from about 9 - 3.  It was hot and humid, but our vans rocked and rolled and helped everyone!
Mama C taking pictures of me taking pictures of her!

Lesley finishing strong on her last leg.

Van 1 peeps meeting Elaine on mile 3 of her 6 miler.  Taking care of each other. It was like this the whole time! I really loved the cohesiveness and teamwork we all put in.  It was like a little family.

Me waiting for Elaine at mile 4.  I was bored...

Waiting at the exchange point in downtown Houston for Elizabeth.

Don't ask...

There is Miss Elizabeth...Rocking out 9 straight miles in the afternoon heat like the rockstar that she is.

 Then van #2 finished off the last 3 legs of the race and we were done! 
Corina finishes leg 39 and still has energy to hook 'em...

Fiona and Kristi bring it in for the team together and finish Leg 40.
There it is...
Never been so happy to see a monument in my life.

 It took us 34 hours and 58 minutes, but the Queens of the Road were at the San Jacinto Monument and we had run 203 miles from Bastrop to Houston!

DONE! 203 glorious miles!

I am so thankful for all the girls on our team, the drivers, and all their support!  I love each and everyone of you girls and I am so proud of all us.  I can't wait until next year!

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