Texas Independence Relay Part 3 of ?

31Mar13

So, here we are in the middle of nowhere as it belongs to Shiner, TX. I certainly asked my team mates if we could swing by the brewery, I wanted to visit the place where the famous beer comes from. As nice as my truck-mates where this was not an issue, so of we went.

After some picks outside I stepped into the gift shop. To my surprise they offered free beer samples, up to 4. Let me tell you: There are very few things tasting better than a fresh beer after you just run hard for 4 miles. I also found a shiner cycling jersey on sale for me, a beer cookbook for my wife and a nice metal Wild Hare sign for our house. Leaving the brewery I noted the lack of a restaurant, as this is common in cologne for every brewery to have their own restaurant that serves fine foods and plenty of the brew from next door. Unfortunately Shiner did not offer such an establishment. Of to the “downtown” of Shiner we went. Where we found the Shiner restaurant, YEAH!

The food was not too bad, though not great. Nevertheless a(nother) shiner , shiner-jalapeno-cheese bread, burger, fries followed by a coffee and a cheesecake did fill me up. My van mates where quite amused by the amount of food I was able to ate, especially with the outlook of soon running my next leg. Once we got back in the van, the 3hours of rest the night before and the vast amount of beer with company joint forces and put me to sleep. That was pretty sweet as it is not easy to get any rest during a relay (which we had yet to learn). It may have been only a short nap (though I don’t know for sure how long), but I enjoyed every second of it.

After a good 3 hour break it now was time for our 2nd out of 5 turns. By now it was 1:30pm, which means all of us would be running in the heat of the day. Texas sun is quite intense at the end of March already with temperatures of up to 80F/26.5C. The fact that we would be running on black unforgiving tarmac would certainly not help the situation. Through all our turns we kept with the same order, hence Pat was the first out.

By now we understood the importance of the support van and therefore kept close to our runner to aid with water as needed.

My run was about to start at shortly after 4pm, still brutal and sunny. Ironically the German guy would start it’s run in the Texas town of Weimar! As I was standing near exchange point I decided to jog around the block for a warm up. Once back at the start line I noticed a young male runner (about my age) with blue shorts and no shirt getting ready. For some reason I decided that I want to beat him to the next exchange point. I had no idea how fast he was. The upcoming leg was leg 12, which meant while this was my 2nd leg it might very well be his first leg. I watched the runner leave and noticed Briana coming towards the exchange point. I could feel the tension inside of me, waiting for the baton to slap around my wrist and pursue the prey I had previously marked. Once the baton clicked I sprinted out of the exchange zone like a cage animal. The first few steps at a pace of 4:30min mile, the first mile in an amazing 6:54minutes. I could see that with every step I was getting closer to the runner in blue shorts. He was far out, but every step and every breath brought me closer to him. I passed a few other runners on the way, though this did not matter to me. At an incline my crew stopped and Pat had come over to my side of the road with a water bottle. I did not have time to drink on my pursuit. Nevertheless some cooling would be nice, so I pointed to Pat to pour water in my hat as I run by. This felt extremely good, nice and refreshing.

At mile 2 out of my 4.7 mile leg I finally passed the blue shorted runner! I felt amazing. My second mile clocked in at 7:33 despite an incline! I knew I had given a lot to catch up and that I still had more than that to go. After I passed the runner he tucked in behind me to draft. Every breath and every step I could feel, I could hear. At some point he offered that he would lead. We know worked as a team! We kept taking turns every 0.3miles bit for bit we now pushed each other. I was spend, but still managed to keep mile 3 at a 7:54 pace. At some point a volunteer was on the side of the road offering a spray down with cool water, we requested a run by spray as we did not feel like slowing down. After mile 3 I got bad stiches in my right side, I told my new running buddy and offered for him to go ahead, but he had nothing left. He offered we could walk, though this was not an option to me. With a little less than 2 miles to go it was time to push hard through the pain. As we approached the final mile I noticed a pink shirted runner on the horizon and asked him if we are going to catch the pink shirt. He answered ‘maybe’ and in an attempt to convince myself answered in running there is only a ‘yes or no’. He then noted that me probably not going to make it, I apologized and told him that I had to try…

I run like I had never run before while I was not extremely fast it took all I got to push my pace below that 8min. Once I reached that exchange point I was ahead of the pink shirted runner! I had done it! My new running buddy came in a few seconds after the pink shirt. I know we had exchanged names, but I am very sorry to admit that I have forgotten it by now. So if my running buddy from leg 12 should read this: “I am truly sorry, but to my defense I am horrible with names”

Nevertheless this experience was the first time I ever fought hard to catch up to someone going close to my pace. I never worked with a runner before taking turns drafting. And I never before pushed hard for than just a 100m dash at the end.

This was truly amazing and it just shows the special flavor of racing!

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