This past weekend I had the privilege to run Relay Rutherford and raise money for JDRF with Team Turtle Herders. We were running as an ultra team of four and we each were supposed to run between 10 and 14 miles. Due to circumstances beyond our control (mileage approximations and a last minute checkpoint change many runners did not know about) some of us (ahem…me) ran a little over 15 miles. What is an extra mile? Right?
I was the team captain and I soon learned that a lot goes into planning for a relay, even if it is a short one. I carefully considered the leg lengths and course elevation and assigned each runner accordingly. I made a list of things we need and since all of us drive compact cars, I even managed to borrow my Mom’s sweet van!
Then, of course, the week before the race, one of our runners had to drop out due to an unavoidable medical reason. All that planning out the window! I put out calls for help in my running club and to every other runner I knew, but most of them were already running…back to the drawing board. Two days before the relay (right in the middle of exams at work) I frantically looked at the mileage and reassigned legs – unfortunately, I forgot to look at elevation.
The day before the race, work got crazy. Once I finally finished at work and met another team mate for dinner and supply shopping it was around 7:30pm. He wanted Red Robin and I wanted a beer!
We had dinner and then headed to Target for bottled water, ponchos (yes, another Saturday of rain), and food. Of course, in the true spirit of my first relay, Target was sold out of ponchos.
We headed home to decorate the van…aka. turn it into a giant turtle. We strapped a kiddie pool to the roof and covered it in green plastic table cloths and made a green plastic turtle head to strap to the front of the car. Then we drew all over the windows with those window markers. Unfortunately, I should have taken a picture that night at 11:00pm when we finished because the turtle shell blew off less than a block down our street, the turtle head exploded right before we got to the start line, and while we were in our safety briefing the rain washed the drawings and team name off the windows….FAIL!
We were definitely prepared as far a gear was concerned. We had two disposable rain jackets that my friend and I had bought at a previous race (sheddable shells rock!) and they even had a turtle on them…WIN! 4 runners + 4 legs each + pouring rain all day = 20 changes of clothes! The entire back of the van was packed!
Our first runner crossed the start line at 6:45am. The team van drove a few miles and parked on the shoulder to cheer him on. After we cheered our hearts out we headed to the checkpoint. When I started seeing runners we had never seen before I realized we had passed it. We did a huge u-turn in the van and headed back. There was Adam, standing at the checkpoint with the volunteer waiting for us. I jumped out of the van, took the slap bracelet and headed out.
I can only tell you about my legs, which were pretty tough. My first leg wasn’t so bad. I was feeling good and ran the first 4 miles (which turned out to be 4.25) at a 12:12 pace. My second leg was 4 miles of the greenway, which had flooded in several places. I went slow as I ran through the water and I walked the bridges and muddy sections, because I knew a fall was the last thing I needed, and I finished the leg with a quarter mile up hill section. I was relieved that my third leg was only 2 miles. The directions said that there was a small section of grass the runners would have to go across to get to a sidewalk, NBD right? Wrong! They forgot to mention the new parking lot being installed along with all of the road construction! We had to run about 50 feet on a very busy street with absolutely no shoulder. Luckily, the cars were great and either slowed down or moved over. 1.5 miles of this leg were on an unfinished road and killed my legs. This short 2 mile leg (which was really 2.25) was definitely my toughest. My final leg was another 4 miles (well, 4ish). This one was where I was cursing myself for not having looked at elevation. Four miles of rolling hills along a major highway being sprayed by semis driving by in the rain at 55 mph. I was so grateful to pass the slap bracelet off for the last time.
The rain stopped for the last two legs of the race, neither of which were mine.
Team Turtle Herders finished in 43rd place with a time of 9 hours 13 minutes!
We will definitely run this one again! It was well organized and a lot of fun! Next year though, Team Turtle Herders may change their name to Team U-Turn because we lost count of how many we did during the course of the race (no fault of the race itself, we are just directionally challenged!)
I know this makes me a little sadistic but after this race, I now REALLY want to run Ragnar!