Rocking the Relay

Epic Exchange six

It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination. We have a better chance of seeing where we are when we stop trying to get somewhere else.

John Bingham

My relay team is headed out this weekend to finish our 5th Red Rock Relay in Southern Utah.

Every team is different and each race is different. It is important to make sure that there are not major personality conflicts in the vans, which will ruin everyone’s fun. Personalities who may conflict should be in different vans on the team.

This is probably my number one rule about gathering a team. The first year I put together my team I mixed two people who should not have been mixed. We finished the race with smiles, but it was a little tense at times. When you are sticking six people in a van together for 24-36 hours, with limited sleep, aching legs and feet, and weird eating schedules every precaution should be taken to reduce friction least a fire spring to life from smoldering embers.

Communication between vans is crucial when you are approaching to a major exchange point (changing from Van One to Van Two’s six legs of the race). Text messaging and phone calls are the easiest form of communication. Text messaging requires less of a signal than phone calls making it my first choice for contacting the other van.

When texting my other van, I send the name of the runner who is running, what mile they are at, and their pace. We learned quickly that if you don’t put the time the text message is sent the information can be pointless. The text message can be delayed due to inconsistent service. Your message should be something like, “Swiss Miss is running, 13:00 pace, three miles to go. Sent at 9:00 p.m.” If you don’t include the sent time and they don’t have service until 9:30 p.m. they will think they have 39 minutes until the runner comes in, but in reality they only have nine minutes to get their runner ready to go and in the exchange shoot.

Putting in the time that the text is sent, eliminates this problem, so long as they receive it before you roll into the exchange point. As a last precaution, once the van reaches the “One mile to go” sign, the van should pull ahead of the runner and make sure the next runner is ready to start.

Relays are the perfect way to gather new runners into the sport and get them super excited to run.

Good luck building your teams!

Nut Up or Shut Up!

Van one of my relay team, Nut up or Shut up, begins our adventure at the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay at 5:00 am Friday. Van two will begin at noon. The whole team will finish around 4:00 pm on Saturday. I have eleven team members to go 193 miles. My runner’s pace ranges from 16-minute miles to 8-minute miles. Needless to say, we are not the first team across the finish line, but we are also not the last.
Relays are one of my favorite types of races. It is a great way to suck non-runners into running because there are distances for all levels, and you have your personal cheerleading squad every step of the way. We have two vans, and each van has six people (okay well my van has five because I’m running six legs rather than three).
I will be stuck in a van for about 36 hours with four of my favorite people in the world. Six more of my favorite people will be in van two for my team. I have been the captain of my relay team since 2010, and we have run approximately 10 relays together.
Each one of my runners will run three legs of the race. We run all night long and get very little to no sleep. We eat total crap food the entire time. We will be sweaty, smelly, and cramped in a minivan with all of our gear. What is worse, is that we each pay approximately $200 to participate in these events. But what we get out of it is well worth the money; a t-shirt, sticker, and medal.
All right, we also get some of the best memories one could wish to have. I have five new team members this year, which means five new nicknames we have to create. A nickname on the team is like an honor badge. You have to earn it, you probably won’t like it, and we will paint it on the side of the van for the world to see.
I earned my nickname during our first relay when one of my runners ended up injured and unable to finish her last two legs. I took over her runs and finished with 31 total miles. I was christened the Dark Voodoo Princess because I pulled from my reserve of black magic to finish the miles.
My team is amazing. There has never been any arguing or fighting despite the lack of sleep, bad food, and total exhaustion from running. Even the one time when we had a person in the van who did not fit well, everyone held their tongues until that person was gone, and she was never invited back. She has been referred to as the Princess ever since.
Everyone pitches in and supplies the vans with junk food, water, and Gatorade. When it is time to run, we toss the runner out and drive ahead to dance and sing on the side of the road. Some of us are better than others at these extracurricular activities.
Wasatch Back Ragnar began eleven years ago. It was the first of the Ragnar relays (Hood to Coast in California was the original relay), and now there are about twelve different relays scattered across the United States. The Ragnar Corporation does an excellent job supporting the runners and organizing its events. There are approximately 1200 teams out on the 200-mile race route, which translates to 14,000 runners and 3600 volunteers (each team is required to supply three volunteers for the race).
I know it’s not as big as say the Chicago or New York Marathons, which turn out something like 45,000 runners each year over 26.2 miles, but it is still an epic feat to organize this event. Each of the teams goes through a safety training at the beginning of the event, and the course is well marked and there are volunteers everywhere to help runners. Over the years that my team has run, there have only been a few runners (less than five) each year which end up with heatstroke.
I spent Wednesday night packing everything up and making sure that my kids, dogs, and cats would not starve to death while I am away. I watered the garden, and hopefully, it will not die while I am gone either. I’ve also packed by bike in my car so I could drop it off with a friend to be tuned up since I will be unlikely to ride it this weekend. It felt a little rough when I rode it Saturday, which will not be good for the triathlon next month.

Falling into Place

Sometimes things just fall into place. At these times, I am thankful for whatever angels or supernatural beings are out there making my life just a little bit easier.

I started reading Outlining Your Novel, mapping your way to success by K.M. Weiland. I hit that 25,000 word wall in my fantasy fiction book, and it was very similar to hitting the wall in a marathon. I was stuck.  My mind was screaming stop, but my heart was saying go. I began reading the book and had a breakthrough and things are flowing nicely again. Yes, I’ve had to restructure things and rewrite major portions and characters, but honestly, this is good. Forward progress is good, and I’ve learned a ton.

Here’s my plug for K.M. Weiland for any of my writing friends out there as well. Her website is she has a bunch of podcasts and youtube videos on the craft of writing, and they are wonderful and helpful. Each one is only 2-20 minutes long. She also has two books out on the craft, her outlining one and one on structuring your novel. Okay, I’m done now. Let’s move on.

This last Sunday I looked over my running schedule to see how far off I will be for my miles this coming weekend. Whenever I run a relay, I know I run less than my plan calls for (because my plan is set up for a 100 mile race not relays) but not this time. I will be right on schedule since I am taking two spots for the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay this Friday and Saturday.

Another one of my runners has dropped from my relay team (two days before the race) due to illness, which has given me the opportunity to payback/giveback my friend who gave me her spot in the Utah Valley Marathon on June 14. I’ve offered her the spot on my team and with any luck she will be able to run it with us. Just has to get clearance from husband Jared.

Every sixty days I have to take my bipolar thirteen-year-old son in for a medication evaluation to make sure that his moods are stable and get newly written prescriptions. His moods have been stable if you call a total lack of wanting to do anything other than play his video games, play with friends, and watch Dr. Who stable. I took yesterday off work to take him in. His appointment was  for 11:00 am and at 10:15 he decided he didn’t want to go and that I would have to drag his 120 lbs out to the car if I wanted him to go (I weigh 115, and he knows I cannot do this). This situation would have been exceedingly frustrating if his doctor’s office had not called ten minutes before and cancelled because his doctor was sick. Major knock down drag out fight was avoided.

I smiled at him and said that’s fine I didn’t want to go either. I’ll just work on my book today.  He stared at me like I had grown tulips from my ears and sprouted asparagus for eyebrows. I sauntered into the kitchen poured another steaming cup of coffee and plopped down in front of my computer. He stood there for a while before stomping off to his room and slamming the door. Can’t pick a fight with when the enemy has decided to go for coffee and a brownie instead.

I have figured out how to add swimming and cycling to my training schedule without cutting my running back so that I won’t die during the triathlon on July 26. I haven’t been at the swimming pool since early March, but I went on Friday and Monday. It was awesome to be back in the water. From October 2013 through March 2014 I taught myself the Total Immersion swimming method and was pleasantly surprised that the new technique had stuck with me over my three month hiatus.

This morning I was listening to a podcast from the about branding and building a platform as a writer, and I may have figured out the one blog or two conundrum that has been rolling around in my head for a week or so.

Thus, the clothing dryer of my head has been cleaned out. Coincidentally, I also scrubbed the inside of my dryer that is not inside my head this weekend. Some innocent person, who will not be named, left a pack of  blue gum in his pants pocket

Thanks to all the powers that be who are looking out for me.

When I think of the word team, I think family.

“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. Continue reading