Well, in case you were unsure of the following fact, this last weekend's event proves I am crazy. I ran in a relay race from Logan to Park City, a whopping 180 miles non-stop over two days. But I'm definitely not the only one lacking in sanity-- the Wasatch Back was sold out this year, with 500 teams of 12 members each. However, I'm pretty confident my team was the coolest:)
Hot Assphault-- that's our team name. I got hooked up with them through my sister's next door neighbor, Dave. He and his wife are AMAZING super runners (both have run Boston, and his average marathon time is somewhere around 3:40. Sh-yeah, I know, right?). He had someone on his team drop out about a month before the race and asked me if I would join them. My first reaction was one of fear-- not of the race, but more of slowing them down! I mean, I'm no 7 minute miler. He assured me that his race wasn't in it to win it, more just to have a good time, and I reluctantly said I was in. And I proceeded to freak out just about every day until the race.
However, all freaking out subsided when I attended a team meeting the week before the race and met everyone. Everyone was really cool and laid back. Apparently there is a lot of Hot Ass (phault) to go around because they had so many friends running the race, there were two full teams: Hot Assphault 1 (my team), and Hot Assphault 2. After the meeting, I started to get really excited!
Race week I had every good intention of resting up, preparing mentally and physically, and carefully preparing my race gear. All of these plans flew out the window when night after night, I was forced to stay at work late-- one night until 2:30 am. The night before the race, I finally dosed off around 1:45am, and woke up startled at 4:45am. I gathered my stuff and drove to Dave's. We were set to leave at 5:30.
Our team started arriving and the introductions began:
Dave, super-running insurance company president, father of two, with a wicked sense of humor and an uber competitive streak.
Mark, Dave and Mike's BFF since high school, a reluctant runner with the humor to match Dave's.
Lee, the only other girl, a mother of one who kept me laughing the entire race with her stories and Lee-isms.
Brent, a 59-year-old inspiraton. He's run 84, yes, 84 marathons and had just finished one the weekend before Wasatch Back. We called him Papa. Seriously, amazing man!
Buddy, the son of Brent. Father of 4 who himself has run nearly 20 marathons. Such a nice guy!
Mike, BFF of Mark and Dave also since high school, our trusty driver and organizational master! He gave us treats, fan and sprayed us down, kept us on time, and got out to give us water at every other mile!
And Me, newcomer and completely clueless of the exhaustion/running/awesomeness that was coming!
We hit the road, all abuzz of the race to come. Each team consists of 12 members. The members are divded into two vans of 6 runners. Once Van 1 cycles through each runner, Van 2 takes over, then the process starts over until we have made our way to Park City. Someone is always running-- day/night/heat/cold. It doesn't stop.
Our start time was 8:20am in Logan. Our runner order was as follows: 1-Brent, 2-me, 3-Dave, 4-Lee, 5-Buddy, 6-Mark.
Brent was all business as he headed to the starting line. We all gathered around to cheer as the countdown began. It was so exciting as they took off, starting what would be the craziest relay across a portion of the state I have ever seen!
We hopped in our awesomely decorated van and followed alongside Brent. The vans leap-frog their runners, making sure they are hydrated and doing okay during their runs. I was nervous as we neared the end of Brent's first leg, for I was runner #2 and that meant my first leg was up next.
I stood in the shoot, arm out, waiting to take off the second I felt that orange wrist band slap on. As Brent ran closer, I geared up and then, I was off, on my first stretch of the race: 6.7 miles.
It was around 9:20am, and the weather was quickly heating up. The first few miles were fairly flat, and I was cruising along.
However, an annoying herditary problem would soon set in. I don't sweat. I know most would see this as a benefit, but I have a serious issue with over heating. I knew if I didn't spray down soon I would be in trouble. Just then, a van full of guys came by with their supersoaker and asked if I wanted some refreshment. I hollered "Spray me, baby!" And so they did, every time I saw them throughout the race. Bless them:)
I could see a rather large women dressed as a warrior princess several miles before me, and I knew she was toast. I could totally pass her! I was gaining ground and saw her starting to walk. That's when I went in for the kill. I had conquered the Zena impersonator! I gave a victory cheer as I rounded the corner and saw my team, waiting with water in hand. I breathlessly said "I passed the chubby warrior princess!" They all applauded!
I passed a field where a farmer had written "To cash in on life, you have to make a deposit" on signs along the road. I smiled as I ran... but that smile ran out the second I saw the first big hill of the race, and it was unfortunately all mine. "Here I go!" I thought as I started up the slope.
Up, up, up I went, slowing a bit, but I didn't stop running. I was nearing the top when I saw my team again, ready with the spritzer and water bottle. And then, I started the lovely decline toward the exchange, where Dave would take over from there.
I sprinted toward the shoot and handed off successfully. Hooray! First leg finished!
Each runner successfully completed their first legs, and we were on fire! (hence the hot assphault:). Mark, our last runner, handed off to our Van 2 to take over from there, and we decided to go and get some grub. We had about an hour and a half or so before we would be up to run again. We headed to a local deli and I don't know if it was because I was so tired and hungry, but man, that was the best sandwich I have ever tasted!
My next leg was supposed to be my easiest: 3.1 miles. Whomever makes these classifications certainly doesn't actually run them. The leg had a rather large hill, but I think the part that made it the most difficult was not the hill, but the heat. I was running in the blazing sun and started to get heat exhaustion at the top of the hill, as chills started to set in. I diverted and ran through some random front yard with the sprinklers on, and started sprinting toward the finish line, where Dave again would take over. Wowza, it was a hot one! I don't know how sweet Brent did it running in that heat 8 miles! He is a superhero!
Lee was keeping great time, and had an awesome pace on one of her legs of around 8:30! And Dave and Buddy, well, that's where we were really able to gain some ground. They are so fast, and Dave said after 40 people during his first leg, he stopped counting how many runners he passed.
As our team continued to cycle through, nightfall started to settle in. Our last runner, Mark, bless his heart had to run the most terrible leg with endless hills that just kept coming! He was such a trooper. We headed to the rest station and Buddy, Lee and I went down to the tent to get some grub. Spaghetti from Fazoli's. We told the others we would meet them back at the van and proceeded to eat our nasty noodles, which again, tasted fabulously because of our level of starvation. Little did we know this meal would be the source of much anger lodged in our direction in what would become known as "Spaghetti Gate" in the wee hours of the next morning, but more on that later.
After dinner, we drove to Mike's boss's house to crash. I wanted to cry as I climbed into bed, knowing we only had about an hour and a half before we would be up and running, literally, again. After a mild case of the slap happy giggles, Lee and I dosed off, only to be awoken much too soon so a frantic "the team is on their last runner! We have to go NOW!" And so go now we did.
It was 3:00am, and although the rest of us were half asleep, Brent had his game face on. He started his last leg of the race in pitch blackness, as I tried to wake myself up and shake off the soreness. I was up next.
It was freezing cold when I started running, but that's perfect for me. The full moon was out, and I could hear birds chirping. It was absolutely beautiful as I ran through the little town of Oakleigh in the wee hours of the morning. I picked up my pace and was making pretty good time. I just tried to take in the beauty around me as I trekked through the darkness with my headlamp bobbing in the black. My team rolled up alongside me, and I figured their lack of enthusiasm was credited to the hour, but as soon as I finished my leg and handed off to Dave, I learned the real reason for the silence. Spaghetti Gate.
Apparently Dave didn't realize that the night before we were getting food while he was meeting Mark at the exchange. Lee let it slip that we were eating when she made a slight reference to someone at the "end of the table" during one of her stories, and that was enough for Dave to connect the dots.... dots that led to hot food for us, and PB&J for him for dinner... dots that at 4 in the morning are enough to make anyone agitated... and believe me, his dots were agitated. I missed said agitation because I was running, but once I climbed in the van and we caught up with Dave, the first words out of his mouth were "I'm hungry!" Mike offered to toss him a PB&J, but strangely, all he wanted was spaghetti. Sorry Dave, we'll get you a gift certificate to Fazoli's.:)
We cycled through our team for the last time with Lee, Buddy, and Mark picking up the rear end. I don't remember much of their final legs because my body decided since I was done running, it was time to shut down, and I completely crashed in the van, sleeping through the final three runs. It had had enough of all that non-sleeping all week, and lots o running the past two days. Coma set in.
I woke up as we passed the torch to our Van 2. We were finished with our part, and it was up to them to run the rest. We were two hours ahead of our projected time, and were so proud of our hard work!
Our group drove to a Van 2 member's cabin to crash, shower, and chow before the finish line. Lee and I immediately headed up to the shower (heaven when you haven't done it in two days:), and then slept for a few hours before getting in our fresh (and clean) running gear, and heading to the finish line.
All of Hot Assphault was gathered at the finish line waiting for our last runner to come in.... we could see her coming, and all started to cheer, then as a group, we all crossed the finishline together. 28 hours 18 minutes.
I had the time of my life and can't wait to do it again next year. Go Hot Assphault! I love you guys!