Texas Independence Relay Part 2 of ?

31Mar13

After a few hours of riding the bus I got into Austin with just a few minutes of delay. Patrick was waiting at the stop for me already. We left to pick up our van for the weekend which was parked not too far away. Our next stop was Olive Garden. After my breakfast and lunch I only had a BigMac and Quaterpounder which cheese. Which meant that I was missing a Dessert for the day (very important) and a small dinner. Oliver Garden has a menu with items under 550 calories and I figured that would be just right.

Now it was time to get a few hours of sleep, since it was 11pm by now there are only 4 hours of sleep left until we needed to head out to the meeting point. The actual start of the race is in Gonzales which is about 1 and ¼ hours south of our meeting point.

Once we started loading the supplies we (thought) we would need the van with 4 seating rows, which looked huge the night before, it now all of sudden looked very small. Once at the meeting point we loaded more goodies and our fellow team-mates. Now with 6 people and goods for the crew the van was stuffed. We expected that by the end of the weekend most of the supplies would be gone.

We got to Gonzales just in time to pick up the packet and meet the rest of our crew. Once we met up it was time to change into running clothes and head over to the starting line.

The first mile was a ceremonial mile which we run together as a team dressed in our team t-shirts. We took it slow and easy. Once the mile was complete our first runner, Patrick, headed out to finish the first of 40 legs and the rest of us scrambled around the van/truck to get ready and head out. Our first stop was going to be at a gas station to pick up ice for our coolers and for me to use a real restroom. Little did I know how rare a real restroom would become in the following 36hours.

Thereafter we headed to the first exchange. This was when we learned our first lessons about relays. Since none of us had done a relay race before we were not well prepared. We did not know the exact pace our runner would be going, neither did we know the exact length of the leg nor when he started. So we basically had no real clue when to expect our runner to show up. Which meant we stood in the cold outside and waited and waited and waited…

Now runner two, Kristi, was out and covering the next leg. The rest of us hopped in the van and headed over to the next exchange. Where once again we waited without a clue when to expect our runner to come in.

If it would have not been for our team captain who sacrificed a whole day putting together running and driving directions and a folder per van with the exchange points, we would have not even made it to the exchange points.

Once our third runner was out on the road we started to understand the role of the van was more than drive from point to point. As we came up on Briana one of us had the idea to offer grabbing her jacket, which she had taken off due to the increased temperature. It became clear to us that the van was essential in also supporting the runner with goods such as water (since there were no aid stations along the way) as well as mental support.

See in any usual road race you have some spectators for mental support, most of the time other runners around you and then you have aid stations ever so often. Further the paths are closed off to traffic (most of the time). In a relay all of these roles need to be assumed by the support vans of your team and of other teams. This is actually important to know as vans would give heads up to runners about 18-wheelers approaching or vice versa alerting 18-wheelers of the runners.

During the running legs at night in the middle of Texas it would make you feel a lot safer knowing that the next support van was never far away.

It soon became time for me to get ready and run my first leg of a relay, ever. I knew my total distance for the relay would be in the 26mile range. But this was over 5 legs with legs between 3.8 and 6.8 miles. So I had no real idea at which pace I should be running. Since we were set-up to run every 8 legs (I had 4, 12, 20, 28 and 36) you had 7 legs in between to rest-up. At an average length of 5 miles this was 35 miles of your team-mates running. Our team was scheduled for a 10min/mile, so your rest time should have been 350 minutes or 5:50 hours. Now the question became how well do you recover in almost 6 hours?

Not only that bat out of the 6hours, almost 3 hours would be spent being in the van supporting your van-mate running, leaving you with 3 resting hours. Though in those you needed to also cover 35 driving miles, which on backcountry roads in a van can take up to 1 hour.

Once that baton snapped on my wrist I was gone. It was so excited and felt so great (as I had run very little during the week) that I churned out at one of my fastest paces run so far. I could feel the stones of the gravel road directly through my Skecher GoRun2 shoes and was thinking that maybe it would have been better to go with the GoRide as they have more cushion. Though at that moment this was water under the bridge. I was running and I was running fast, just below a 7:40 minute mile. My strategy at this point was to go hard and see what happens at the next leg. It felt good to finally pass people in a road race, as this doesn’t happen too often for me. I finished my leg with a 7:41 min/mile somewhere on a dirt road that belonged to the town of Shiner, TX.

Those from Texas might recognize that I was now in the town that is home to the Shiner brewery. But more of that in the next section….

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3 Responses to “Texas Independence Relay Part 2 of ?”

  1. Hey this is kinda of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG
    editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

    • I am very simple and use the free Microsoft LiveWriter.
      It’s pretty much WYSIWYG
      I don’t think I ever coded anything in HTML…

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