Monday, July 23, 2012
The Red Eye Relay is an arduous event. It involves running, as a team, about 104 miles through some of the hilliest bits of Monroe and Morgan counties. And it happens overnight--meaning you do all of it without sleep. Runners are an interesting breed. We actually sign up for (and PAY for) experiences which are bound to be, in many ways, quite miserable. The RER has the potential to be extra miserable. And, since we're runners, we're attracted to that.
We had an official team of seven runners--me, Tim, Wes, Bill, Jimmy, Jessie, and Rachel. Each of us would be running 3 legs. We also had, however, two extra runners--Scott and Beau. They would be there to fill in if needed and also to run with our runners to minimize the time anyone had to run alone. We had planned on having one SAG vehicle to follow our runners, but Bill decided, at the last minute, to drive as well. I am glad he had the acumen to do this, because I'm not sure how we would have managed otherwise. Okay, the 21-leg breakdown. I'm putting in this much detail so that I can remember how grueling this race is :) After the team meeting (where the RD butchered our team name and alerted us all that a body was being removed from the forest), we were off.
Leg 1: Jessie ran the first leg from Upland Brewery to Griffey Lake. He was accompanied by Wes, Beau, and Scott. The mom in me didn't want the freshman in high school running alone. He did a great job.
Leg 2: I was up next, and my first leg was through the hilliest part of Griffey. The biggest mistake I made was not warming up. I hit a massive hill within the first quarter mile of my leg, and it was a complete shock to my system. Scott ran with me. I saw a ferocious dog. Other than that, this leg was pretty uneventful.
Leg 3: This one was Jimmy's. I arrived to the handoff about two minutes behind schedule...and my team had been giving me grief over making too aggressive of a schedule. The relay works with staggered starts--you pick any time to start between 2:30 pm (ouch) and 10:30 pm to allow your team to finish by 9:30 am the next morning. So, here I was putting us behind...even though the schedule *DID* have some wiggle room. They had no faith in the Mad Dogs, but I did! Jimmy took off at a very good clip on this leg. Which was great...except it tweaked his hamstring. Scott and Wes ran this with him.
Leg 4: Bill's turn. While waiting for Jimmy to arrive, Bill donned his reflective gear. It was a bit small for his frame...and he somehow ended up doing a Magic Mike dance. It was hysterical. It is an image forever burned in my mind. Bill was accompanied by Beau and Scott (and maybe Wes...I can't remember at this point). I heard Beau ask Bill what kind of pace he was going to run. Bill said, "Oh, around 8:30." I wanted to turn around and say "He's lying, Beau! He's going to run much faster!" And he did, of course. Bill hasn't been running much, so he was afraid that he would hardly get through the night. But, on this leg, he dropped the hammer and made up the time we had lost, while also gaining some time for us. Magic Mike killed it!
Leg 5: Rachel's first leg. Scott continued to run every leg, including this one. Rachel WORKED this leg. She ran very, very hard. I was shocked when they finished almost 3 minutes ahead of schedule!
Leg 6: All of the legs in this race are very challenging and hilly, but this one is probably the worst. So..of course I gave it to Wes. Scott accompanied him, and they made it over the 2.5 mile climb with ease. I remember that it had started getting really dark at this point, and that I was starting to get sleepy. It was becoming a long night.
Leg 7: Jessie was up again, and Beau ran with him this time. The boys were moving, when suddenly there was some confusion. There was an arrow marked "RER" that pointed them in the direction of a gravel road. From the car behind them, we told them to take the turn. It was a mistake. It was a dead end. I'll never understand why that arrow was there. Alas, it was the only time we got lost during the race.
Leg 8: "Lakeside Ass Whoopin'" was the name of this leg. Sounds like it was named for Bill. He ran this one fast and hard, too.
Leg 9: Finally, Tim's chance to run! Scott chose to take a break during this leg...because he'd already run over 30 miles and we all knew Tim was going to run hard. He did. Very hard. And he got stung by something..and suffered a horrible allergic reaction as a result...complete with hives and itching. Thank goodness for 24 hour CVSs and Benadryl!
Leg 10: Jimmy again. Would the hammy hang in? I was nervous...because I didn't want him to push through something that would end up taking him out of running for a long time. But...he did it, and he seemed okay afterward. I'm sure Scott ran this leg. He ran so much I couldn't keep track.
Leg 11: Wes ran this one to finish up our first 50-mile loop.
Leg 12: Rachel. Can you see how my descriptions are getting shorter? It's because I honestly can't remember details. She ran it, and she ran it well.
Leg 13: Now this one I do remember. It was supposed to be Rachel's leg, but she was so tired from the prior one that someone had to jump in for her. Scott was too tired, as was Beau. Tim was still recovering from his allergic reaction, and Wes looked like death. Had to be me. I had been dozing in the car and was in no way ready to run, but I just got out and did it. I had a full bladder...so I was thankful when Rachel jumped back in after a couple of miles. I must also add that we continued to be ahead of schedule at this point. I knew I was right about the schedule!
Leg 14: My turn again. And...something strange happened. It felt cool out. Cool. As in..a temperature opposite of sweltering, oppresive, miserable, etc. It was actually pleasant out. I was so tired, but I couldn't complain about the weather. My knees, however, did complain about this leg a lot. Scott ran with me. I couldn't believe he was still going.
Leg 15: Bill's final leg...and it would be Scott's as well. Scott finished this leg, giving him a total of 100 kilometers for the night. That's 62 miles. 62 miles...for fun...during training...all night long. Insane.
Leg 16: Tim's second leg...so hilly it hurts to think about it. He ran it fast, of course.
Leg 17: Jimmy's final leg. His hammy would survive! He ran a great, fast loop around Lake Lemon before handing off to me.
Leg 18: I was SO tired as I stood waiting for Jimmy. I love to run, but I can honestly say, standing there...watching for Jimmy...I did not want to run. I wanted to curl up and sleep. But I still had 5 miles to survive. When Jimmy handed off to me, I decided that I was going to run this one a little harder than the last two. Why? Because I wanted it to be OVER! I was surprised when I actually got into a good rhythm running around 7:00 minute/mile pace. Then I saw some other runners in front of me. I KNEW I could catch them. So I began to fartlek. I held 7:00 pace for a while, then I would surge for about 200 meters, down to around 6:25. I did this the whole way in. Not that fast, I know, but it felt it after not having had any sleep. I passed two people (including a guy...chick'd!) and finished utterly exhausted. However, this is the best running weather I've run in in many, many months.
Leg 19: Tim's final leg. I've never seen him so happy to stop running. Except Boston 09.
Leg 20: This was a Wes/Rachel combo. Wes' earlier addition of miles came back to bite him, and so Rachel picked up the latter portion of this very difficult leg. It includes Boltinghouse Hill. Enough said.
Leg 21: The final leg, and it went to Jessie. He ran us in...and we finished in 13.5 hours...
12 MINUTES AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. #thankyouverymuch
Some notes about this race:
-It's really, really hard on one's body to stay up all night long.
-Beau and Jessie were the only people who got any sleep. Beau passed out for about three hours, as did Jessie. I'm jealous.
-The change in race management from last year made this event a lot less desirable. I won't go into details, but I'll just say I don't know where the $400 each team paid actually went. We didn't even get shirts. Or medals. Or food. Or water. Or course assistance. There were guys on HAM radios (volunteers), but after 3 am they were all asleep.
-I have great friends.
-I love running, but I don't want to do that again for a very long time. At least a year :)