Two weekends ago I ran AND survived the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay.
The Wasatch Back is a 188 mile relay that begins in Logan and ends in Park City. You must run in a team of 12 and have two vehicles with six team members in each. Each member has three legs (Oh I wish I had THREE legs...it would have made it so much easier!) to run with distances from 3 to 9 miles each. My total mileage was almost 14 (thanks to an unexpected added 1/2 mile or so on my last leg.) There must be a member of your team running at all times until you reach the finish line. Yes, that means running in the dark is part of the race. When you are not running you are in the vehicle at all times giving support to your runner. When your second vehicle is running their legs your vehicle can take a short break, usually two hours or so.
I had been anticipating this race for over a year since I was asked to do it last year but had to back out due to an injury. Maybe anticipating isn't the right word. The closer it got the less I was anticipating it and the more I was fearing it. I have heard stories. And the closer it got the more stories I was hearing. Stories that made me question my sanity and intelligence. Stories that made me ask daily, "What have I got myself into?" Stories that made me wonder why I would want to put myself through 36 + hours of near non-stop driving and hard running with no sleep, no showering, and no flushing toilets with five other women crammed into a car that are also sleep, shower, and luxury commode deprived.
But NOW I know why I would put myself through it. Here's a few reasons why:
- Friendship with other runners
- Bonding with great women
- A great sense of accomplishment
- Realizing I am not the only crazy out there
- Feeling an amazing sense of pride for my team
- Watching and learning from the other women courage and perseverance under extreme circumstances that would try the best of us but seeing them hold on without giving up even once. (Natalie feeling sick and looking like death warmed over right before her last leg of 7 miles uphill and still doing it even though she did not want to. Jen making it through her tough 8 mile up-hiller in the killer heat with a hip injury and a smile on her face.)
- The realization that running is also a team sport
- Learning you can never have too many Wheat Thins or string cheese in a car of six women
- The knowledge that you should never bring hair spray to a race even if you are having a very, very bad hair day
- Gaining a testimony that Imodium is the best drug on the planet next to Celebrex
- Coming to the realization that even though a starting time at 5 a.m. seemed like a major pain, we discovered we were the FIRST ones to use the Porta Potties!!! That's a serious plus!
- Discovering I am pretty much the only human on the planet not hooked on Diet Coke or Pepsi
- Learning I can go without chocolate for 36 hours when I am too tired to care...well I could have had it not been for the Peanut M&M's I found in my bag around hour 26. ☺
- Getting the hint that my picture requests of extreme sleep deprived and sore team members does not put them in their happy place.
- Discovering I have the ability to sleep (albeit for only 20 minutes) in a smelly high school gym full of other non-showered runners on only a wrestling mat and sleeping bag with background noise of zipping and un-zipping bags, coughing, people whispering, people talking loudly in the hall, and a large man snoring up a serious storm while another man who had finally had enough jumps up and yells, "REALLY?, Reaaaaaaalllly?"
- The knowledge that doing hard things can also be a lot of FUN!
After we gear loaded, we carbo loaded even though we had to be up by 2:45 a.m.! We were getting a little punchy even before we were sleep deprived. Not a good sign...
Or the way they decorate themselves ↓
Support from my wonderful team-mate Jennifer ↑
Heather, Jennifer, me, Jen ↓
Like I said "very entertaining"!
Some of my favorite sights along the way ↓
Yep that's ↓ a purple bikini on that van!
Luckily we were one of the first groups to arrive at the gym so we had prime pick of where we wanted to crash. After eating and a lovely wet wipe bath, we tried to rest even though we only had an hour and a half. But even 10 minutes felt good to rest. We didn't get much sleep, if any, because if we weren't hearing the zipping and un-zipping of sleeping bags, we were hearing loud talk in the halls, and some guy snoring up a storm! He was going for it and finally one of the other guys that had finally had it and sat up yelling loudly, "REALLY? Reeeeeeaaaaaaaaally?" It was hilarious.
This was a common sight along the way. It looked like a bunch of body bags to me. I must admit there was a time or two that I would have welcomed a body bag!
Once we all finished out last leg we were feeling like we were on our last leg and headed to Mel's sister house in Heber for a shower! She was so gracious to accomodate six sweaty, sleep deprived, weary women into her home at 6 a.m. on a Saturday! When we arrived she and her husband were cooking us a HUGE breakfast with everything you can imagine! They were great. They even set up their hide-a-bed so we could rest if we wanted. We only had about an hour and a half before we had to meet the full team at the finish line in Park City but we were so grateful to them for their hospitality!
Notice the hot air balloons in the background.
Our time was 29:29 but with the problems it was really more like 29:00. Still with the official time we placed 146th out of 660 mixed teams!!! We were much faster than we had hoped for! Lips, Hips, and Asphalt rocks!
We rode the tram down to our car and headed for home sweet home.
Our full team with our medals.
I've had several people ask me if I want to do it again next year. My response is always, "That's like asking a woman who just gave birth if she wants to have more children."
NEVER again... until next time! ☺