Friday, June 29, 2012

To Bone and Back: Hills....hills....and more hills....and still some more....and yup here come some more, that one looks tough

Note to reader:  This is a wicked long story as it bascially tells 8 different race stories.

I woke up the morning of the race feeling good and anxious.  I had trained on hills.  I knew I could run 5 miles on them.  But, there's always that ping of doubt as to whether you'll master the hill or if the hill will humilate you in front of all your friends. 

Adrian, Kristan, and Me
6:50am I meet up with my team.  I only know two members; my brother and his wife.  Adrian, my brother, will be running the 3rd leg and Kristan will run the first leg.  I meet Justin, Jonathon, Chris, Patrick, and Miles.  Justin is a friend of my brother's.  He'll be doing the 2nd leg.  The 2nd leg is agreed to be the hardest leg.  So immediately I'm impressed with Justin for taking it.  Jonathon will be doing the 5th leg, which is my leg but backwards.  Seems like a nice guy.  Chris is our last leg runner.  She only got word that she'd be running with us 24 hours ago.  It's pretty awesome that she would agree to this.  Patrick and Miles are a father/son duo.  Patrick is going to help Miles, his son, run his leg and he'll also be running his own leg.  Double duty. 
And then there was me.  I was to run the 4th leg.

7:00am we meet at the starting line and see Kristan start us off.  We all have personal goals for our legs.  For some, it's to simply not die.  For others, specific time goals are in place.  Kristan wanted to finish her leg in under an hour.  I've shared Kristan's running story on here before.  Recently, she's worked up to run a 5k.  She thought her leg was going to be a 5k or 3.2 miles until a day or so before the race when we let her know that her leg would be 5 miles.  She didn't flinch, she just went to it.  Some runners might have freaked out a bit to realize that they'd have to run longer than they've been training to do.  But Kristan seemed to take it in stride. 

Adrian and Dani
The rest of us jump in the support vehicle and drive up to where the first handoff will be.  While waiting, I get to know the other runners.  Most of them seem to know each other already.  They are a pretty cool bunch of people who seem like a lot of fun. 
Kristan shows up 55 minutes after starting.  She made her goal!!!  She looks happy and I might say a little giddy.  She did a really good job and you can tell she feels proud of her accomplishment. 

Justin takes off on his leg and we all decide to stop every mile or so to cheer him on and to be ready with water or whatever else he needs.  The 2nd leg is brutal.  It's almost ALL uphill.   About half way through the leg, you can tell Justin hurts and would like nothing more than to drag one of us out the car to trade spots with him.  But he just keeps going.  We cheer him on.  Drive a little bit and then cheer him on some more.  Justin makes it to the handoff and Adrian takes off. 
We all pat Justin on the back, run and get him water and orange slices.  He looks extremely tired.  He turns around to look back down the hill, as do we all, and we're amazed at the climb in elevation he just did.  The fact that he's still standing amazes us all.

Onto to Adrian.  We do the same for Adrian as we did for Justin.  My husband and kids find us and travel behind us as we follow Adrian.  We drive a little, cheer him on, drive a little, offer water and cheer him on.  Adrian is doing well.  His hip starts to bother him and so walking a bit becomes necessary.  I know I'm running after Adrian, so I'm getting a little nervous seeing how absolutely huge these hills are.  The ones I've been training on seem like these hills' babies or something.  We get to the next handoff.  I quickly head to the bathroom and then warm up before Adrian gets here.  We all see Adrian coming down the last hill.  He looks tired but he just keeps coming.  Before I know it, he's at the handoff, and I'm off to discover what hills lie in wait for me. 

Always go potty before you run 5 miles of hills.
I start on an uphill, but my adrenaline is pumping so much, I reach the top without even realizing it.  I get a nice big down hill and then I see it.  The first big hill.  It winds up and around a hill and it looks long and steep.  I start my ascent and the steepness of the hill makes my legs feel like I'm trying to run in sand.  I make it up that hill hoping for some flat ground for a while.  I get my wish, but the lovely flatness is over too soon and I'm going up again.  It goes on like this for what seems like forever.  A little, tiny, punie, spot of flat ground followed by another giant hill.  My legs are screaming.  My lungs tell me to stop.  But I'm stubborn during races.  I have yet to have to stop and walk during a race.  I'm NOT going to walk in this one.  My ascent up what I hope is my last hill nearly brought me to my knees.  I so desparately wanted to stop and walk.  To help change up which muscles I was using and in a effort to give me legs some kind of reprieve, I started to run backwards up the hill.  It helps a little, but it made me go a lot slower.  So I turned myself around and kept going.  That last hill seemed like an eternity.  I get to the top thinking that now my legs can enjoy a little jaunt on flat ground.  It was flatter, but not entirely, so my legs didn't get a full rest until much further down the road.  You can spot the handoffs because of the large amount of cars that surround them.  I kept looking for those cars when I got to the top of this hill.  No cars yet!  $&*%@!   And the heat of the day was rising rapidly.  Where were the blasted cars?!

My wonderful teammates and my husband and kids were great cheerleaders.  If they hadn't been there, I would have walked for sure.  The unintelligible yet encouraging screams as they passed.  The cheerful honks.  The lovely water they ran along side to give me. Seeing my girls hanging out the car window chanting, "Go, mom, go, mom!"  It was just fabulous. 
They drive up on ahead to the handoff and for a mile it's just me.  I have one last hill to go and then I'm done.  As I make my ascent up the beast, I fully expect jelly-like legs and burning lungs.  Shockingly, my speed doesn't break and I'm climbing this hill much faster than the others.  I call this phenomenon, "The Anxious Horse Syndrome."  Ever been on a long horse ride?  When you get close to home again, watch out, because that horse might just take off.  That was me.  I knew I only had a mile left and my legs just went faster.  I felt like I'd lost control of myself.  I crest the hill and see the barrage of cars!!  The last little bit is all downhill.  Usually I might be cautious going down hill, but I just ran for it.  I see my husband, kids, and teammates cheering me on and I run faster.  I can wait to get rid of this stupid bone baton!  I hand off my bone to Jonathon and he takes off.   I find myself in my husband's arms as he half hugs me and half holds me up.  I get some high fives from teammates, another hug from my brother and orange slices from my kids.  Then Adrian tells me my time.  48 minutes!  What?!  I ran faster than a 10-minute mile?  This is just icing on the cake.  I beat those hills and did it in a pretty decent time too.  Despite how hard that run was, I feel great.  Later in the day, we all agree that the 4th leg is probably the 2nd hardest. 

Soon we need to catch up to Jonathon.  I bid farewell to Arik and the kids and get in the support vehicle to go cheer on Jonathon.  When we catch up to him, we see that he's making pretty good time.  It's really hot now and running that far and that hard in the blazing heat makes everything that much harder.  We cheer on Jonathon, hand him some water.  Adrian runs alongside him for a bit, dispensing some epic encouraging words I'm sure.  Before we know it Jonathon is done and in 51 minutes.!  He beat his last time and he's thrilled.  Now it's Miles' turn. 
Patrick, his dad, is going to run with him for support.  Miles is only 8, so this will be a feat for him.  The kid did awesome!  He needed frequent walking and water breaks, but he just kept going.  You could tell he was horribly tired, but he wanted to finish his leg.  Go Miles!!
Next is Patrick's turn.  This guy is probably our best runner.  He did To Bone and Back last year on a two-man team.  Meaning he ran 20 of these miles last year!    Patrick's method of running means you walk when you need to so when you start up again you're going faster.  I'll have to try that some day.  We cheer on Patrick and he screams, "I love you guys!" as he runs past.  40 minutes later, Patrick comes barrelling into the hand off and Chris takes off for the last leg of To Bone and Back.

Chris' leg is mostly downhill and flat, but she's running in the worst heat.  She running really fast and strong and she takes advantage of the water we offer at every mile.  She alternates between dumping it on her head and drinking it.  It was blasted hot.  She doesn't slow and doesn't walk.  We're so close to home, I think she's got the Anxious Horse Syndrome too.  When she gets close to the finish line, we all join her and run past the finish line together.  It was an awesome feeling to cross the finish line as a team. 

We end the day with pictures, ice cream, Great Harvest bread, hot dogs and very very tired legs. 
It was an awesome race and I will definitely do it again next year.  The whole team aspect and the support is what made this race so awesome.  The difficulty of the run was even awesome. 
I'll probably find some tougher hills to train on next year so I can try and beat my time, but I hope to do this race every year. 

Thanks to my great teammates, my husband and my kids who supported me during training and on race day.  I couldn't have done it without you!!

1 comment:

Kristan said...

Awesome recap of our day! I felt like I was reliving it all over again. That race was awesome and I'm so glad I got to do it with you. Looking forward to next year...