“I love this game,” my sixteen year old exclaims as he comes off the Ultimate Frisbee field. As his mom, I know that not only does he love the game, but his team. Even during a moment of despair or an “epic failure” they call out to each other, “You can cry about it or you can Dance about it,” as they all break into their personal signature dance moves.
I think I get as much out of watching him interact with his team as he does being a part of it. Maybe that is because I know what it means to be member of a team.
I’m the captain of my relay team. We run both “normal” 12 person relays and ultra-relays with a six-person team. Of course, I have people who migrate on and off my team, but there are a core of six who always “Nut Up.” I would do anything they asked that is within my ability to do.
Team and Family is not something that I appreciated as a child or even really learned to respect as a child. It is something I have fallen in love with over the last five years. My team has run ten relays together and there is not one person on my team that I do not trust completely to make a decision that is in my best interests if I were unable to make it for myself.
I know that some people just join any team who will accept them and they have a great time running the relay and they meet wonderful people and create memories they will never forget. There is genuine value to diversity and expanding the social circle. But…
“Bee,” Kayden yells in his screeching drawn out voice. “Efff,” he screams even louder. “Yoooo,” roars the rest of the blue and orange clad teens on the sideline (Break Force Ultimate). My son turns toward me and his smile is like a flame on the darkest night. Team, win or lose, we are one and the same.
Team means family.
As the captain of my team, I want them to be in the best condition they can be for our races. Does that mean that they are? nope. Never. Like any family, you have those that don’t follow your advice and seek their own way and those that hang on every word that drips from your lips. In fact, I’m one of those people who never listen! Which is why it is to my benefit to be captain. I send out training programs, advice on injuries, and packing and preparation instruction to all of my runners. I know their strengths and their weaknesses that guide me in assigning them to their positions for the relay.
I love relay races. They are a great way to bring non-runners into running and there is something for every level of runner. On my team, I have runners who train consistently, runners who never train, runners who do a six minute mile, and runners who do a thirteen minute mile.
I met with my relay team today to go over our game plan including what to bring, training, injury issues, food, and sleeping arrangements (or the lack there of). Here are some things that we have learned about running relays over the past few years:
Pack a stick (massage tool);
Get out of the van to cheer and dance for your team and all the others. And you can never have enough cow bell.
An ice chest filled with ice water and sponges keeps runners cool, as the scorching sun pounds them into the pavement;
Find a unique way to identify your runner in the dark, because everyone looks the same when they are all wearing headlights and taillights.
Communication by text messages needs to include the time the text was sent in case it is delayed in never never land.
Handing out Twinkies to other runners makes you lots of friends.
Make sure personalities mix well if they are going to be stuck in the same van for 24-36 hours, tired, exhausted, and possibly feeling icky.
My final piece of advice for training for a relay, is to train like you are running the total miles not just to run your longest of the three legs. So, if you are assigned to run 3 miles, then 4 miles, and finish with another 3 miles you should train as if you are running ten miles all at one time. Why? Because your body doesn’t have enough time to totally recover between each of your runs. This means that the soreness and tiredness accumulates and is compounded by lack of sleep and horrible eating habits. You should also plan to do a few days where you run twice during the day before the race.