Thursday, November 06, 2014

Red Rock Relay- Park City

I ran a Red Rock Relay a couple years ago with the Sandberg family, while Robert watched the kids. I had a great time and always thought it would be fun to do another one, especially with Robert running this time as well. So, soon after we moved to Utah I signed us up way early (8 months?) during the early bird registration for the Red Rock Relay- Park City.

RRR Park City is only a sunrise to sunset race, so instead of running three legs and having two vans of runners on your team you only have one van (six people) and each person only runs 2 times. The nice thing about it is you get the relay experience without the massive lack of the sleep like in the full relays (because with those the race starts one morning and doesn't end until sometime the next day). The other people we recruited for our van were my Dad, my brothers Chris and Michael, and one of my cousins. Unfortunately my cousin dislocated his knee a few weeks before the race and couldn't run, so we had to find a last minute replacement less than a week before the race. Our replacement was named Jordan and was a brother of my Dad's friend, so someone none of us has ever met. But he was fun to have on our team, his only flaw was that he was a Ute fan.

The pictures are in the order that we ran. Chris was first, came in flying at the end. He said he didn't realize his leg was already over and he might have been able to go faster.
Robert getting ready for his leg. This is where we decided he needs a new phone because his phone went from 100% battery to dead in five minutes and he ended up not listening to music (he was okay with that though).
Our team name, Lost In Pace. Speaking of pace,  I put down our pace as 9:00/mile and it's kind of important to stick with your pace. The organizers use that estimated pace time to determine your start time, slowest start first, fastest go last so everyone finishes around the same time. Too fast and you get through the course before some legs are open, too slow and you are running alone, or worse case don't have enough time to finish before the course closes. With all the hills on the course I was nervous we weren't going to stick to our pace...
Dad comes in at a good pace and hands off to Robert.
Robert's leg was a long very gradual hill.
Finishing up. The trees were still very pretty and it was a perfect sunny, crisp day for running. This is also when we started "running" into runners from the pace group ahead of us, who started an hour and a half before us. This meant at least we weren't going to come in last.

Michael also came in flying. He is by far the most improved this year. He didn't even start running until this year and he did a half marathon. Even then, his pace was slower than mine, but now he has caught up to me and is going pretty fast. This leg was mostly downhill so he used the hill and had an impressive run.
Jordan gets water mid-leg. Usually for longer legs you will meet your runner halfway to make sure they are doing okay and give them water.
I'm up next! This was my short leg but the one I was more nervous about because it was ALL uphill.

I look tiny compared to the mountain. Here I'm at the bottom of the hill and my leg just starts going up.
This was more like what most of my leg looked like. I only saw one other girl and I passed her as she stopped to walk. I kept running and tried not to get us too far behind our pace time. Ended up with a 9:37/mile pace.

 I was the last runner so I handed off to Chris and we started on our second legs.
Chris comes in with some fall foliage surrounding him.
And my Dad takes off for the hardest leg of the race. 10 miles of giant, steep, rollercoaster hills on a trail, so we can't offer any support because we can't get access to him by driving. The trail follows the east side of Jordanelle Reservoir and no roads go along there. The race organizers set up two water stations for them on the way though since we could not get water to them.
We ended up taking the long way around to get to the exchange point for the next leg because we missed the turn, but we still had plenty of time. This is where we really caught up to the main group of teams because everyone was there waiting for their runners since it was such a long, slow leg.

Teams waiting for their runners to come in.
Our team waiting.
I didn't take much video, but I got a clip of my Dad (in the white shirt) running from this leg, and a clip of Robert writing on the windows how many kills he got on his second leg (it was a lot). When you pass a person during a relay race it is called a kill. Our team ended up getting about 50 kills. (But we did get passed ourselves a few times and then passed the same people again. So that is 50 people passed, not 50 teams.)

 Robert after the first big hill on his second leg. He is eating an energy pack here, not picking his nose. He had a very tough leg as well. Mostly uphill and 7ish miles long.
As we were waiting for Robert to come in, I saw a girl running in and one of her teammates ran up to finish the leg with her. The girl running the leg just kept saying, "This is crazy, this is crazy!" Apparently they had some very steep hills.
Lucky Michael gets to run up that mountain.
And come down the other side. He sprinted in at the end and passed that girl that's looking back at him.
Jordan also had a very hard leg. Okay, let's just say that all of the second legs were very hard. His was all uphill and very steep uphill except the very end. So we weren't prepared when he came sprinting down the hill at the very end.
I was still at our car when I saw him sprinting down the hill, so I grabbed my headphones and ran to the start line. Robert was just moseying over to the start line and happened to be there when we exchanged to take pictures. I set up my music and put in my headphones as I was running down the hill. And I was very glad that I was able to grab my headphones, because I had a blast listening to my tunes and flying down that mountain.

One of the songs I was listening to as I was flying 3,000 ft. down the mountain. I thought it was fitting =).

My leg was 8.3 miles long and it was all downhill. All the other runners had run up to the top of the mountain and I ran all the way back down the other side back to the starting line. This was one of the funnest runs I have ever done. It was sunset, the leaves and lighting were beautiful. I had a gorgeous view of the valley below as I ran down. I thought to myself as I ran, "Sorry everyone, I didn't realize it, but I gave myself the best leg of the race!" I also thought about how wonderful it is to have a body that can run as fast as I want it to go and that can take me places and let me be active. Our bodies are amazing and truly a blessing from God.

At first I thought I was going to try and not go too fast, but it was just so fun to sprint down the hill that I ended up doing under 7:00/mile for the first few miles. It felt like flying.  Epic! Robert wasn't fast enough getting out of the car and only got a picture of my back.
About halfway down I could start feeling the burn in my upper leg, but with all the adrenaline from running it was just a slight feeling. I also was trying to make an effort not to let my foot slide all the way to the front of my shoe on impact so my toes wouldn't keep hitting my shoe, but I could feel them starting to get sore. I started to take it a little easier on the steepest parts and tried to pick up the pace on the more level parts. 

I got nine kills going down the hill, and then the last mile leveled off. It was so weird going from seven miles of downhill sprinting to finally being level. I felt like my legs were so heavy and hard to move and felt like I was going really slow. In reality I was going at about a 9:00/mile pace. I passed two more people at the bottom and then got to the finish line and ran in with my team, who were once again not expecting their runner so soon and had to call Robert to rush over so we could all run in together. I sprinted in hard and heard someone say, "Woah, look at that girl go! " Then we were done and I had to have Robert hold me up since I was a little wobbly. I did a little over 8 miles in just over 1 hour, at a 7:30/mile pace overall. Our team ended up taking 10 hours 7 minutes to finish with an average pace of 9:11/mile, so we kept with our pace pretty well! We came in while lots of other teams were coming in too, but since every one starts at different times you have to wait to compare actual times to see how you compared. Our team came in the top ten teams.

For the next 24 hours, starting right after the run, I had trouble walking from sore and blistered feet and muscles (toes came out bruised, but not as bad as it could have been). Robert and I were super sore for exactly one week and I was reminded again and again all week how grateful I am to have a body that normally moves fully without pain. It was really nice to walk up the stairs the next weekend and realize I was no longer sore! But I also kept thinking, "It was worth all the sore muscles and smelling like Bengay all week, we had so much fun testing our limits and enjoying being active."

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