Last weekend, I experienced my very first relay. 11 people + 2 vans + 176 miles + 25 hours + no sleep + countless cookies. It all adds up to just about the most fun you can have when you purposely stay up all night. (Get ready for an awful lot of these off color remarks. When you sit in a van with 5 sweaty strangers and don’t sleep, everyone involved gets a little loopy. And the stupid comments still seem funny two days later) It was the best weekend I’ve have in a long, long time.
I’ve been a bit fascinated by the concept of the relay, ever since I lived in Oregon and heard of the Hood to Coast. But I never was able to find enough people either brave or stupid enough to join me in the endeavor. However, I was lucky enough to have a co-worker who put me in touch with a bunch of such people who were looking for one more person to round out their team. The others were pretty serious runners, so I really did ROUND OUT their team. It’s all good though, just may have given me enough motivation to start a cleanse this spring!
Does this running skirt make my butt look fat?
Two of the most important tasks in relay are to name your team and decorate your van. I was unaware of the importance of this until Friday morning when I noticed how completely out of our league we were. I mean, I was surrounded by teams like “Scrambled Legs and Achin’” , “Weapons of Massachusetts Destruction”, “RMFAO” (who were all wearing huge plastic butts over their running shorts), and “Average Joe’s” (who were all dressed up like the characters from Dodge Ball).
We called ourselves “Team I-B-pro-FUN”. And even though I certainly ingested enough ibuprofen and had enough fun to really live up to the team name, I couldn’t help feeling like we had shortchanged ourselves. Then there were the vans. At first, I thought it was pretty funny to write “My feet hurt” and “My back hurts” and “My legs hurt” all over team I-B-pro-FUN van 2. But once I saw the pirate ships and giant champagne bottles and intricately drawn pictures on the other vans, I felt like I had really dropped the ball. I was suffering from a huge case of van envy! I think I may have to take a calligraphy class before I commit to another relay.
Roll call on the van window!
Originally, I was to run one of the middle distance spots. But our longest distance runner, Elyse, got dehydrated and sunburned running Boston a few weeks ago and didn’t feel up to the task. So I somehow agreed to run 25 miles in three legs. (They not only were the longest legs, but also the ones deemed ‘very hard terrain’) Did I mention I did absolutely no training whatsoever? But what the heck! I’ve always dreamed of being one of those people who you could ask at a moment’s notice: “Do you want to go on a 3 day hike at 11,000 feet?” or “Do you want to bike 50 miles this weekend?” or “Do you want to take over the long leg of the 176 mile relay race?” and then TOTALLY deliver. Well, now I can say I’m one of those people!
Elyse was not only faster, but about a foot taller than me! (nice to hang out on the beach!)
Of course, running the longest distance in the race comes with more than just bragging rights. It also comes with all kinds of sideways comments. Like: when it comes to running, Heather likes it long and hard. (Ha, ha, ha. Give me the cookies) Since I was by far the slowest runner on the team, there were also lots of “slow and easy” comments to go along with the distance comments. (Oh, you guys! Give me the cookies) I briefly considered writing all these comment on my shirt with a sharpie and bagging me a fast runner guy at the finish line. But I was too busy eating cookies.
I also earned a new nickname: Roadkill. (Yup, that’s me. Gimme the cookies!) Roadkill refers to runners that you pass along the way. All vans had one window designated to recording how many kills they had. For instance, one of our guys, Geoff, passed 11 people on his 3.5 mile run. 11 slashes on the window. Christy passed 3 people on her 6 mile run. 3 slashes on the window. Heather, on the other hand, got passed about 12 times on her 9.5 mile run. Big goose egg! (However, I do maintain that I did my part for the roadkill count. By letting all those runners pass me, I set everyone up with lots of people to pass on their runs. It’s all about teamwork, right?)
Roadkill Count = 0.
I did feel pretty low when the dude in the wheelchair passed me, though. Did he really have to CALL me Roadkill and laugh when he rolled on by? It was 1:30 in the morning and I was trying to be careful for crying out loud! How about a little relay hospitality? Just smack my slow butt like the rest of the fast people. (Girls tapped the shoulder) Yeah, he’s just lucky that he was so fast and I was so slow and I had absolutely no chance of catching him! Jerk.
I think my favorite part of the entire relay was the finisher’s medal. It was not only a medal, but a bottle opener, as well. Fantastic news for team “My drinking team has a running problem.” They were standing next to team “Eaters with a running problem” Who I may actually join next year. I hear they pack tons of great cookies.