This weekend I caught up on some blog posts while resting; here’s a much delayed one. Sometime last year, David and I got a crazy idea to join a 12 person team in a 203-mile relay run from Bastrop to San Jacinto, TX in March of 2012. The event has some Texas history behind it, but the short story according to the TIR website is:
Mexican soldiers attempted to retrieve a cannon that was previously given to the American colonists by the Mexican government. Already demonstrating the spirit of independence, the colonists replied about the small cannon behind them, “Come and take it!” A skirmish ensued, sparking the revolution and the long road to Texas independence.”
You know us Texans love Texas! Why not symbolize our love with a 203 mile relay run?
David and I were looking for a team in 2011, and found that Chevron had a team of runners, so we signed up with them. It was neat to get to know 10 new people. Upon meeting them, I realized we had a group of pure runners – Boston marathoners, destination marathoners, barefoot runners, etc. I was glad that at least David was bringing some speed to the table, since I’d only be slowing the average!
Anyway, the way this thing works, is that you have 12 people (max) on the team, and you split up the distances, so generally you have 3-4 legs each (more if you have less bodies). The event starts on a Saturday, and you finish sometime Sunday, based on your team’s pace. Most teams use two big white vans and split into two groups of 6 people. The vans leap frog, so that while one van is running, the other is sleeping, or at least attempting to.
Since our team was relatively fast, we would be one of the last teams to start, around noon on Saturday. We got to know each other while driving to Bastrop Saturday morning.
First things first, we decorated our van in Chevron fashion.
Our Corporate van was pretty tame compared to some of the others.
The start even had a cannon to send us off. Go Texas!
Our team while we were still fresh & clean:
We ran the first mile together before sending off our first runner. I loved the flag-lined run:
Since our van wasn’t running until later that afternoon, we cheered the other runners on. Here are some cool shots along the way:
Leg 1: ~4.5 miles, 5 PM
It was around 5 PM when it was finally my turn to run, meaning it was hot out! I anxiously waited for the baton.
I was pretty nervous since I was running for a team and didn’t want to run less than my expected pace of 9 min/mile. I got the baton (a wrist strap), and…
Seriously, I ran waaay too fast to start out. My stride is never this long (as much as I wish):
I learned my lesson after the first mile, once my heart rate had crept up to 170, oops. The pressure of a team race had gotten to me. I kept pushing, however, on the long highway stretch, and finally made it to hand off to David.
I was pooped, it was so hot out.
David had the next leg, and his was longer (6 miles?) and warmer.
Our van stopped to cheer him on along the way:
David did great, as usual. At the end of his run we realized we were only 1/3 of the way done, and had a long night ahead.
A couple of other runners on our team & pictures from the afternoon:
Note – the blue and red dots above are directions along the way. Also, a lot of military personnel helped out, which was awesome.
Leg 2: ~4.5 miles, 1 AM
Our team tried to get some sleep, but after some confusion on sleeping venues, we ended up sleeping in the van, and therefore, not really sleeping. I maybe got 1/2 hour. Then it was time to run again! I had a midnight run, somewhere around Eagle Lake, TX. For the midnight runs, you have to be suited up with reflective gear – blinkies, headlamp and reflective belt. I didn’t understand why until I realized just how dark it is and how much you will want the gear to make sure cars see you!
Above I’m helping keep time for the team (the responsibilities rotate, but the team generally needs drivers, navigators, and time keepers). Getting ready for my turn:
The night run was AWESOME. I loved it. After leaving the transition area, I was soon in silence, with just the crickets chirping around me and the headlight to light a few feet in front of me. It was like a Nike commercial; I just heard my breath and my feet pounding. Probably one of my coolest running experiences yet!
David ran sometime after me, and after everyone else in our team had done a run, it was time to find a spot to attempt to rest again. We settled in at George Bush Park on the outskirts of Houston and managed maybe another hour of sleep.
Leg 3, 7 miles, 7 AM
I was the first one from our van to run that morning. It was rough. There were no port-a-potties nearby and only woods. I survived, then took off for my leg, the longest one of the race! Luckily it was in the morning and still cool out.
I was actually running the George Bush Trail that I frequently bike on, so I knew every crack in the road. Unfortunately, this made me feel like the running was so slow since I was used to a biking pace. The cool thing was I noticed my surroundings more, and even saw an alligator in the swampy area! I really pushed it on this run, but had a hard time with knee pain and cramping calves – something I’ve never experienced. Maybe it was due to so much van time the previous day. Still, I had fun and the finish transition was great – lots of cheering as I climbed the last hill.
I handed off to David, who had a tougher (hotter, hillier) run. He was glad to finish too:
So by 8 or 9 AM Sunday we were done with all our legs, yay! We did our best to clean up with shower wipes, and then cheer the rest of our team on to the finish. Our team ended up winning the Corporate Division with a time of 26:32:36. That translates to around a 7:50 min/mi pace – nice!
Hubby & wife finishers:
Who knew 17 miles on almost zero sleep could be so fun?! Would I do it again next year – yes, this is a great event. If you’re lucky, your van will be relatively un-stinky (like ours), and you’ll come out totally exhausted, but so satisfied to have contributed to a team running a couple hundred miles across the Lone Star State.