Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's Been A While

I am still here. Nothing too exciting has happened on the running front. I have started my own barbecue blog that you can find here. I have not done a race since the Cleveland Marathon back in May. The weather in Texas this summer was not too bad. Even though it was not as hot, I struggled to hit a 100 miles every month, but I still managed to. Racing season is finally upon us.

Sometime this summer, one of my managers, Thomas, at Progressive brought up an idea of doing a relay race to me. It is called the Capital to Coast Relay. The course is a 223 mile trek from Austin to Corpus Christi. There are 36 legs of the race that is split among the team. We were able to put a team of 11 employees together plus a spouse. I did not really train for it. The only thing I did differently to prepare for the race was run three times within a 24 hour window. I did that the two weekends prior to the race. I would run 7+ miles each time. The second run was always the hardest.

We met up at work at 3 am on Friday so that meant that I was getting up at 2:15 am. I do not recall ever waking up that early. I have been up at that time after a night of drinking though. I ended up only getting two hours of sleep that night. We loaded up the two vehicles at work and headed to the starting line. Our team's first leg was at 4 am starting from Republic Square Park. Paul, Jesus, Evette, Gracie, Christy, and Henry were in the first vehicle. My vehicle had Cat, Amy, Patsy, Raquel, and Thomas. Our vehicle was slated to run the 7-12, 19-24, and 31-36 legs. We would run anywhere from 4 to 9 miles and then swap out with another teammate at various exchange points. Based on our pace and start time, we should be at the finish line by 5:30 pm the next day.

Our first leg out of our group was not supposed to start until 10 am or so. We ended up hanging out at a Starbucks parking lot for a while. We tried to rest, but our attempts were futile. I think everyone was excited to get out there and run. We met up with the first group during their fifth leg to hook them up with breakfast tacos. We were doing great on time at that point. I tried to eat a little bit throughout the day. I just did not want to cramp up during my run. Because our route took us through Lockhart, I could not pass up some barbecue. I had to grab a slice of moist brisket from Black's.

The weather was perfect for the first round of legs. It was overcast and cool. I did not run my first leg till almost 4 pm. I wanted our vehicle to meet me somewhere in the middle of the leg so I can grab some water. Running out in BFE is not always the safest thing so we ran with our phones. I love my Lululemon shorts because they have a zippered pocket big enough for my iPhone. I have not been doing a lot of speed or hill work so I only pushed the pace a little bit. I was hoping to catch another team, but I did not see anyone till almost the exchange point. It was misty during the run, but I felt great. During parts of the run, the scenery was beautiful. At times, I did not feel like I was in Texas. When I finished my 8.5 miles in Seguin, we were about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Afterwards, our vehicle went to a hotel, showered up, grabbed a bite, and took a nap. I only got about an hour in and was not ready to wake up.

It rained on the first vehicle during their second leg. When our vehicle started our legs, it was misting and a little humid. We were giving back a little bit of time because we were getting tired, and the second run of the day was always a pain for all of us. We had to wear a reflective vest, headlamps, and blinkers so we could see and also for cars to see us. Running in the pitch black in the middle of nowhere was eerie and freaky but sort of relaxing. We had no idea what was out there. We parked the vehicle along the side of the road quite frequently to check up on our comrades. I had a bagel about four hours before my run which ended up being a bad idea.

When I started my leg, it was almost 4 am. I do most of runs early in the morning so I was used to the time. During the six mile leg, I had stomach cramps. It was weird because I was hungry at the same time. My legs were really sore so my pace suffered a little. I am glad I did not run into any coyotes or rattlesnakes. I would often see stuff move in the distance or in the corner of my eye. It might have been my imagination, but my heart skipped a beat each time. When I finally got to the exchange point, we were still on pace. Everyone in the vehicle was tired at that point. We drove to Karnes City because one of the school's gyms was open to the runners. They had sleeping cots and shower available to us. That was nice of them. I was able to get another hour of sleep in.

Before heading out for the last leg, we grabbed some donuts and kolaches. The last leg was tough for our whole team. The first vehicle was juggling runners and legs so we would not lose a lot of time. People were picking up extra miles. There was a finishing deadline of 6 pm. We were not going to take a chance and miss out on getting our medals. The sun was out when our vehicle started our last leg. It started to warm up pretty fast. Our runners were starting to cramp up and getting dehydrated. The sun has always been my kryptonite. It just zaps your energy. I was trying to balance drinking enough water and Gatorade without needing to use the bathroom during my leg.

I wanted to take it easy and soak it in on my last leg. We were starting to lose chunks of time, but I knew if our vehicle gave me an hour to finish, we would be fine. When we were planning the legs, I wanted the longest and last leg because I would consider myself a strong runner. I was the closer of the group. When it was my turn, I pushed the pace because I had to. The last six mile stretch was on the shoulder of a freeway/causeway along the Gulf of Mexico. I basically wanted to finish as fast as I can so I would not die. I kept thinking if I was hit by a car, would I be smushed into the barrier or go over into the ocean and drown? I ran with a bottle of water so our vehicle did not have to give me any support because it would have been too dangerous. It was funny though because they tried to throw me a bottle when they drove by, but the bottle exploded when it hit the ground.

I turned on the jets the last mile or so. I actually past another team down the stretch. I am surprised I had enough in the tank to run this fast especially with the sun beating down on me. The whole team met up with me with about a block left, and we crossed the finish line together. It was a great feeling to work as a team and accomplish a goal together. We gained and lost time along the way, but it was a part of the adventure. The finish line was right on the beach and about 10 feet from the ocean. Our finishing backdrop was the USS Lexington. We snapped a few photos and had some beers after the race. We ended up finishing 32nd out of 36 teams. At least we were not last. There was a runner who ran all 223 miles by himself. It took over 60 hours for him to do so. Wow!

After we showered and got settled in our hotel room, we went to dinner across the street at Blackbeard's. One of their special was all you can eat shrimp. As many of you should know, I always try to eat a 100 shrimp every year at Red Lobster. These gulf shrimp at Blackbeard's were huge. With four beers in me, I only managed to eat 35 fried shrimp. Fail. I wanted to go out with the group after dinner, but I was exhausted. I went back to the hotel room and caught a little bit of FSU/Clemson game. I turned off the TV when I heard someone in the room snoring, but before I could take out my contacts, I was out.

On the way out of town the next morning, we stopped at the original Whataburger. It was two stories, but it was nothing special. At this point, we were excited to go home and return back to normalcy. Congratulations to everyone on the team. Without you guys, I would have not been able to cross the finish line. We were in together no matter what the results were or our time. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Thomas for planning and putting the team together. I know Raquel and Henry helped as well. Also I wanted to give a shout out to our sponsors Lauren Concrete and New Braunfels Machine. Without them, running this race might not have been possible for all of us.

This was the first time I have done anything like this. Would I do it again? Maybe. The lack of sleep is my only complaint. I did have a lot of fun though. Timing for next year would also be an issue as well. I am hoping to run the New York City marathon next year which is around the same time if I can get into it. We shall see.

What's next? I am doing the Austin Distance Challenge which comprises of six races. They are a 10K, 10 miler, half-marathon, 30K, another half-marathon, and then a full marathon (26.2 miles for those counting at home). I will probably join back up with Rogue soon so I can set a new PR for the Austin Marathon.

Until next time, happy running.