The Texas Independence Relay is a 203 mile relay event from Bastrop to Houston TX. The Running Chupacabras ran 40 relay legs with 11 team members and 2 vans. It was a challenge, harder than I imagined, hotter than I expected, just as smelly as I thought it would be and much more exhausting than I anticipated.
I will do my best to describe my experience here, but will certainly miss a few things so bear with me.
Friday: stop at REI for last minute GU for the team, reflective vest and head lamp. Meet up with Monica at Costco to buy food for the team. We stood there amidst the hordes of bulk buyers (like me normally) debating what 11 adults running adults will eat over 2 days. We decide on sandwich fixins, bagels, chips, breakfast bars, bananas, oranges, pears and apples, nuts, gallons of water and Gatorade. Friday night I spent a lot of time deciding what to pack and organizing my bags. My biggest concern was bringing too MUCH stuff. In the end I think I did pretty good and used almost everything I brought (I will post my packing list later).
Saturday: up at the usual 5:10am to shower, make coffee and eat a little breakfast. Jennifer picked me up at 6 and we headed to Monica's. There we met our other van mates Heather and Ian. Heather was super awesome nice, and a genius navigator. Ian was just about the nicest guy that could get stuck with 4 girls in a van. Monica is our Running Chupacabra team captain and fearless leader. We packed up the van with all our food and crap and headed to Bastrop to meet up with the rest of our Chupacabras. We got to the starting area just in time for our 8:32am start time. Teams have a staggered start times based on approximate finish times. The 11 Running Chupacabras posed for a picture with a cannon (really) and did a ceremonial lap together before Logan and van 1 took off.
|Ceremonial first leg, cow patty makes it authentic Texas|
Van 2 headed to Smithville TX to hang out before our first round. We milled about and had some lunch. We also finished decorating our van and tagged other vans with the 'Chupacabra'.
|Smitty in Smithville, TX|
|not so great picture of the van|
As we are hanging out we realize it's getting hot. Balls hot y'll. I am up to run leg 8 at about 1pm (?). As we head out to the exchange point I realize I'm not going to do the sub 8 min miles I thought I was capable of. Shellie and Jennifer W in Van 1 warn us to GO SLOW and be careful, and they are serious runners. Joe hands off the baton (slap bracelet) to me and I take off. Well trudge off is more like it. The temps are at 88+ degrees and humid. Leg 8 is a country road with little shade. There are only a few runners and vans passing me by. I pass 5 other runners on this leg and I am not going that fast, everyone is dialing down the pace. Lucky for me, my race crew stops twice to toss water on me. Later we figure out ice in the hat and bra are the key to staying cool (remember that tip!). The scenery was pleasant, fields, flowers and a freaking ginormous chicken farm.
Leg 8: ~5.86 miles, ~51:35 minutes, 8:58/mile average. I forgot to turn on my Garmin until after I started, so I'm estimating.
After my leg I cooled down and then joined in to support the rest of the team, running water and ice out, driving along the country roads of Texas and screaming "CHUPACABRAS!" Here is where I find my real niche - driving a huge ass van. I can't back my minivan out of a two car garage, but I can drive a 12 person van like no body's business, I kick ass!
|Crew support for Heather|
|Jennifer passing the baton to Monica|
|Monica whipping ass|
|Ian killing 2 legs in the blistering heat|
We finish our round of legs (8-13) and find a place to eat for dinner and clean up a little. Then we drive toward the next exchange point before our round of night legs. Lucky for us the girls find a nearby parking lot where we can rest or sleep for a while.
I kick off leg 20 around 10:45 pm, running some country road and through Eagle Lake. I run the first mile and feel better than this morning so decide to pick up the pace, finishing 4.71 miles in 37:06, average 7:52/mile pace. Whew! Back to driving, checking in on our runners in the dark. I don't know when we finished our round of night runs, 2am/3am?
Part 2 and Sunday's events to come...