Friday night we all headed over to Aron's house for a pasta/carbo loading dinner and van decorating party. Right away we were all buzzed and excited with the weekend's plans. I don't think any of us had any idea how crazy it would be, but we were wicked excited none the less! Team That's What She Said (TWSS) was finally ready to hit the road running after all the awesome planning Kristin did! Thanks again Kristin! We were also very excited because Ron, over at Punk Rock Racing sponsored our team with some awesome California Runner shirts!
Saturday morning we all met up again at Aron's house to make our way up to Calistoga. Calistoga, if your not familiar with California, is right near wine country and Napa. The scenery is beautiful and the perfect place to start the awesome weekend. We had a start time of 11:30 am. The slower the projected finish, the earlier you started. We were right in the middle. The last team was set to leave at 1:30 while the slower teams were setting off as early as 6:30 am if that gives you any indication of our placement :)
I was part of Van 1 and we were the first to set off. Maritza was runner 1, Julianne was runner 2, Kristen was runner 3, Tara was runner 4, Mark was runner 5 and I was number 6. Each leg of the relay had a rating of difficulty. I had a moderate level with a total of 13.4 miles for my three legs. My last leg was rated very difficult. And it was!
Saturday had predicted temps that were going to get pretty warm. Napa is know for having a bit warmer temps as compared to the rest of the Bay Area and it was warm! Starting a run at 11:30 is not ideal, but we all carried water, and met runners in the middle of their leg to check in and refill water bottles. Right after Maritza took off, we ran to our van to drive ahead to the first exchange point. We were all new at this! No one out of all 12 of us, had done a relay before! But the excitement right off the bat was crazy! Most of the legs vary in distance from 3.1 all the way to 7.4, so you can have a range of waiting for your next runner. The cool thing about this though, is that at each exchange you get to interact with the other teams. We got pretty good at guessing what time our runner would be in so we would be ready for the next runner to take off. In the first exchange meeting point, as we sized up the competition, we knew this weekend would be fun. Many teams run in crazy costumes, decorate their vans amazingly and are all really friendly and helpful. I will admit, there were a few vans that I had van envy of! Next year we vowed to step up our van decorating skilz!
Julianne with some of the "competition". It needs to be added that all the boys on this team were also wearing short shorts!
We were all rockin' our legs and really enjoying the scenery. For most of the first day of running we were in Napa and wine country. Many of our runs were along the famous Silverado Trail and right along side the vineyards. The scenery was beautiful and I don't think any of us ever doubted for a second how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful area of the country!
By the time my leg started it was well after 3 pm in the afternoon. It was HOT! I had 4.5 miles to run in the worst heat! But I carried my water bottle and my team was going to meet me half way to check in. My first mile was great, I was so hot but I was running about as fast as my tired legs would take me since I just wanted out of the heat! Even though this was my first run of the day, I was already pretty tired and hot from being up early and out cheering and going crazy all day. I was sipping my water and chugging along when I got a crazy side cramp! Ugh! When this happened though, I wrenched my body over in pain and at the same time pulled an ab muscle! WTF!? It hurt bad, and with every push off of my right leg I would be in pain. But I kept running. It was an easy leg through some residential areas of Santa Rosa. I also knew that when I finished our van would be off the clock as we would be passing off to Van 2 so all my team mates were waiting on me to go and take a break!
I finished my leg (that's what she said!) in 36:58 7:52/mi
I was so glad to hand that bracelet off to Chris and head off to the shower! We passed off the running duties to Van 2 around 4 pm. They had some harder legs on their section so we were predicting we had about 5 hours to rest, shower and eat. The cool thing about this race is that at each Van exchange they had some place for us to shower and rest. Oh man, thank god for the showers! The first one was at a really nice Church and we all showered up and headed out for some dinner. Pizza and beer was on the menu and it has never tasted so good in my life!
If your wondering why we always have a 1 up, it's because we were Van ! Representing!
After a great dinner we drove ahead to the next exchange point. The exchange point was at a cheese place in Napa or as Maritza called it, "a cheese farm." It was pretty busy with excitement as runners and vans kept coming and going - not an ideal place to try and get some shut eye. But we all decided to attempt to rest as our next leg was going to be starting in just a couple of hours. I did not sleep. It was hard to get comfy on a van seat bench and it was quite noisy out. I do know Julianne is the queen of being able to sleep any where! And Maritza and Kristen often got a few mins of sleep, but Tara and I could not fall asleep. This would later prove to be bad as we would end up being up for almost 40 hours by the end of the weekend!!! Eeek!
By the time Van 2 rolled in it was pretty dark out and for safety measures they have you get all decked out in reflective gear and head lamps. Maritza had the first leg out on a pretty windy road where she had to run on the shoulder in the pitch black! The good thing was though, this was a pretty dead area and the only people on the road were other vans and runners so she/you weren't really alone. My hubbs Ari, the worry wart that he is, did not want me running alone at night. There have been some attacks on the running trails in the Bay Area lately (5 to be exact) and he wasn't too thrilled with it. Kristen's hubbs wasn't keen on the idea either. So Kristen and I decided to run each other's legs together. It really only added a few extra miles for each of us but I don't think we knew how tired we would be for a round 2 in the middle of the night.
Kristen, being runner 3, had 6.5 miles for her second leg rated hard! And it was! I was feeling the effects of my pulled ab muscle and our first two miles were around 10:00 miles! It was a climb up a huge hill and it never stopped! By the time we got to the top we had a nice decent through Mill Valley and Fairfax were we checked in finally around 1 am.
6.5 miles 1:03:49 9:45/mi pace.
Not too shabby for running in the dark at that hour! We got to the exchange point and there was a Peet's coffee open! Success! They had been kind enough to stay open for the relay so we got to use REAL bathrooms and load up on some much needed coffee! We also attempted at this point to stay warm. It wasn't too cold out so you did break a sweat while running and when you stopped it was easy to get cold and have your muscles cramp. So we did our best to stay warm and stretch a ton.
My next leg that Kristen was running with me was across the Golden Gate Bridge! I was excited and nervous for this. I love running across it, but I am very fearful of heights. And added in the dark of the night I was a bit hesitant. I was SO THANKFUL Kristen was with me! My leg started out in Marin and it wound through Sausalito. At 2:30 in the morning, there wasn't a soul on the road! We got to run down the middle of the road as we gazed off to the lights of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge! We kept telling each other how lucky we were and that this was a once in a life time thing! It was beautiful out, not a cloud in the sky! We also had a huge climb up a windy mountain to the base of the bridge. We didn't see ANYONE until we got to the bridge. By this time the runners were pretty spaced out. When we got to the bridge I wanted to sprint but Kristen was feeling the effects of the second run so we slowed it down and enjoyed the view as best as we could! I hate seeing the phone at the beginning of the bridge for the Crisis helpline for jumpers. Always makes me sad and scared. Turns out, prior in the evening some of the teams had to wait because there was a jumper that evening. My nice team had the decency not to tell me this until AFTER my run! I'm not sure what happened with the jumper but I am so thankful I didn't have to be there.
5.8 miles 1:01:24 10:38/mi
By the time we handed off the bracelet to the other team it was just after 4 am. I had been up for 23 hours! We were all fading fast! Mark, our awesome dude on the team said he was still good to drive, so me, Tara and Mark got us to the next Van exchange point while the other passed out in the back. The next exchange point was at a local community college where we again got to shower and eat. Everyone decided to take a shower at 5 am even though we were exhausted! After some quick showers we headed back to the van where we though we had until about 8:45 am until the next van came in. Again, I could not sleep! I think I dozed for about 20 mins, but both Tara and I could not fall asleep! Thank god for the Internet on my phone! I was exhausted, drained, tired but I could not relax enough to fall asleep. I hate naps and I hate the feeling when you wake up - almost like your hung over. And I was very afraid that I would feel that way. So, no sleep for Katie.
When the final exchange was ready we were up and ready to go and finish strong! The day again had started out warm but we knew that we weren't going to be in the crazy heat of it today. All of us had some pretty decent mileage or difficult terrain to go up this round and it was daunting mentally. We were all still excited to be out there, but our brains were fried and the thought of running again was heavy. We did our best to cheer each other on and keep the mojo going. By the time my final leg came around, my ab muscle was screaming at me and the though of running 3.1 miles, up at 3,000 foot climb was draining. It was in such a beautiful area though and I tried to focus on that. We were running up Highway 9 on our way to Santa Cruz!
When it was my turn I literally put my head down and ran. The first half mile my ab didn't hurt and I thought I would be okay. But all of a sudden it reared it's ugly head and stopped me dead in my tracks. It was painful to run and I had a HUGE MOUNTAIN to climb! So, I walked and ran most of this section. It was also on a really busy two lane road where I ran on the shoulder! Scary and draining all at once! But I made it to the top, finished my leg strong and now Van 1 was DONE!
3.1 miles 35:27 11:35/mi I wish I could show you the elevation map of this because it is crazy!
The final exchange was in Davenport, a little town just north of Santa Cruz. IT WAS WINDY there! Crazy windy! But we were so thankful to be done! Ari had also volunteered at the finish so it I was soooo happy to see him when we got there! We knew by the wind there that it was going to take the team a little while to get there. We had handed off the bracelet around 1 pm and we were thinking they would be there around 6. And sure enough, Aron came in right on schedule after battling Highway 1 (again!) with the crazy wind! Tara was kind enough to go out and meet Aron to help her with her final leg and bring the team in!
200 MILES 30:53:14 9:16/mi average!
We all crossed the finish line together and it felt so good to have finally FINISHED and to have accomplished what we did! I was so lucky to be apart of a great group of people! I can't wait to do it again. I am still tired, though. That night, when I got home, I was still all wound up! I don't think I fell asleep until after 10 pm! I was up for 40 hours straight! I don't know how I did it! It was so neat that we all got along, we all supported one another and we all stayed on game. You never know what can happen when you throw 6 people into a van, give them little sleep, make them run and eat garbage for 36 hours! But we all did awesome and I am so happy I got to bond with this great group of people! I have made stronger friendships with some and made new ones with others! Thanks ladies and Mark! I had a blast!!!
This is the link to our video of photos that Maritza put together! Thanks girly! I was the resident photographer for the weekend and she made a great video of it all!
I'm still attempting to recover. I gave myself Monday and Tuesday off to rest and today I'm going to try and get a few miles in! Go over and check out the other girl's blogs for their race recap - I am anxious to see what everyone else thought!
Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend and rocked it out there! Especially Mel! Congrats!
I have so fun news to share with you all later this week, can't wait!
Happy Running and Happy Wednesday peeps!