Up the Mountain and Over the Pass We Go!

The calm finish line before the storm...

The calm finish line before the storm…

The Trailer Trash gang was our secret competition.  It was really only because we knew everyone on that team (they are part of our running club).  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that our teammate’s husband was on that team.  They thought they were so cool with the beer cans hanging off the doors, the string of white lights around the roof and the half-naked blow-up doll strapped to the back.  Sometimes we would also make fun of other teams just so we could feel better.  “You Got Chicked” was annoying just because they were so fast and then there was the tye-dye gang (not quite sure what the theme was there).  I really didn’t understand the girls AND guys wearing the tutus because half of the time we would see them running with the tutu in their hand.

But we had to focus on getting our own asses over the pass (that is the tagline for the Wild West Relay so excuse my language… I can’t even wear my very expensive technical shirts to the YMCA or at home).  The morning hours came much too quickly.  I was lucky if I even passed out in the back seat of the van for 2 hours.  It is kind of hard to sleep like a roly poly, especially when seat belts are sticking into your side.

Not only that, but some drama had played out in the other van while our van was attempting to rest.   Something about someone getting sick and delirious.  I don’t want to go into much detail, but I will mention that our van was assigned with picking up the slack.  What’s one extra leg right?   One of our teammates had a very short leg on this segment, but that soon changed.  He was given an additional leg to add to the 2.4 miles making it a total of around 8 miles.  Then another teammate volunteered to take one of the most treacherous uphill battles of the course.  We had it all under control.

The wee morning hours were a tad on the chilly side, but of course that all changed by the time it was my turn to run again.  And the drama that we were faced with earlier only seemed to intensify.  As I was waiting to start my leg, we were approached by the highway patrol.  They informed us that a section of the next leg (the one after mine… the one our sweet teammate volunteered to take for the other van) was going to be shut down for an hour.  Runners would be able to get through, but not vans.  He informed us that this shut down would happen in one hour and 5 minutes.  That means that I had to run my 6.7 miles in that amount of time if we were to make it through before the road closed.  But wait, I couldn’t even leave yet.  Our teammate hadn’t finished her leg yet.

The clock was ticking and we were watching the road.  After a few minutes passed, we came to the decision that the van would just have to wait until the road re-opened which meant that our other teammate would have to wait for it on the other side.  That meant that there was no rush for me to finish my leg.  Our teammate arrived a few minutes later and I was off.

A nice drop for the first half mile and then it was all uphill from there.  At least it was a relatively nice uphill because it wasn’t too steep and it stayed steady for those 6 miles.  It was my third leg in 25 hours or so, but I was feeling great.  So great, in fact, that I wondered if I was going to keel over before I reached mile 3.  I thought it was stupid to run so hard in the beginning, but I always think that.  I guess I really haven’t learned a thing after all these years of running.  But you know what?  I have developed some type of mental toughness.  I can push in the beginning and somehow keep pushing all the way to the end.  And that is just what I did.  I kept pushing.  I glided past 4 other runners and continued up the hill with ease.  I talked myself through each section until I finally saw the sign: “One mile left.”  I still had three-quarters of a mile left when I saw the end of my leg where my teammates were waiting.  I had to keep pushing because I didn’t want to look bad in front of them.  I trudged up that last hill to high-five my teammate.

The next thing I know my teammates were shouting “Get in the van!  We still have time!  Get in the van right now!”  I was delirious, but somehow managed to run over to the van and jump in like some kind of secret agent.  I was confused at first until they told me that I had finished the run before the road was scheduled to close.  They had a look of shock on their faces like it was totally unbelievable that I could run so fast.  Honestly, I was shocked too.  That was by far my best leg of the race.

We drove up and over the pass and through the construction and I realized that I had much empathy for  our teammate who was currently running.  Not only did she have to deal with the steep incline, but she had to run through a harrowing construction zone.  When we arrived at the next exchange I was finally able to get out for a proper cool down and to do some stretching.  We waited for our teammate to round the corner of the steep hill.  We were hallucinating most times because we assumed every runner was her.  Eventually it WAS her and we were done!  Our van had done its job for the relay!  Now it was time to head to the finish line and wait for our other teammates so all 12 of us could cross the finish line together.

Oh, but we had some time to kill.  We decided that it would be best for us to head to town and grab a cooked meal.  Yes, that was the best plan we had all day.  As we ate our most delicious meal ever, the clouds started to roll in.  By the time we arrived at the finish line it started sprinkling.  As the minutes ticked by and our final teammate was due to arrive, the weather turned treacherous.  Tents were flying across the field and the finish line tipped over.  The rain started pouring just as we spotted our teammate.  We all ran as fast as we could to get across the finish line.  No one was watching because they were all huddled under the tent.  Oh well, at least we can say that our finish was truly climatic.  We grabbed our treats and ran to the van.  The dreaded van that we would have to sit in for another 3 hours in order to get home.

Best. Experience. Ever.  Yes, I will probably do it again.

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