I'm not waiting for photos, since Steve and Susan took them and it will probably take some cajoling to get some out of them. The day started off awesome. Chris decided the van looked like a bus and drove us...with the other busses...into the bus station at 120th ave off I-25. Oops, Detour! Back on the road, laughing, introducing ourselves, listening to XM radio. The energy in the van was insane and Steve-O was quiet as a mouse. Couldn't get a word in edge-wise. I knew that we all meshed well, and that things were going to be fun. Chris was a total joker and kept us laughing the entire way...little did we know it was just a preview of what was to come.
Okay, a little overview of the team:
Leg 1 ~ Tim: Susan's Husband, kinda reminds me of Troy, stoic, six foot five high, long long legs, hilarious dry sense of humor when he gets warmed up, no doubt a very good papa, AKA Beer Run.
Leg 2 ~ Me
Leg 3 ~ Steve: My coach, you all know him.
Leg 4 ~ Chris: Total kickbutt 23 year old triathlete, SLO town resident, Susan's Training Partner during her Olympic year, made me laugh so hard I peed my pants...twice, balls to the wall runner, fellow Steamboat Hot Springs rock climbing partner (the kids wall), man with many nicknames (Detour, Bus Stop, Red Bull), and just a generally hilarious good guy.
Leg 5 ~ Susan: Olympic Bronze Medalist, mom to 2 girls, humble, motherly, Captain our Captian, fearless leader, roadkill counter, roadkill passer.
Leg 6 ~ Jill: she'll ruthlessly pass your a$$ with an innocent smile on her face, energizer bunny, going through a breakup (he was supposed to run my leg, so I'm happy for the split...sorry Jill, it was meant to be), Ironwoman, cute as sin.
THE GOAL: Run 36 legs ranging from 2.5 miles to 10 miles from the Budwiser factory in Fort Collins to the High School in Steamboat Springs NONSTOP. Instead of the normal team of twelve, we had an ultra team of 6, so we each ran 6 different legs.
Legs 1-6: We were all excited to get going and Tim was sad to leave the Budwiser factory. The beer was calling. It was hard not to go out too fast and I think several of us did (Ahem Steve...4:42 mile pace at some point and Chris...sub 6's most the way), but the majority of us were generally subdued by the 103 degree weather. There was plenty of skin showing amongst all the runners, so that was exciting. Our start time was to be 12:30 but we asked the race director to change to 12:00 and that was nice. Chris made sure they announced that we had the bronze medalist as our captain, so that was fun.
Legs 7-12 ~ I honestly don't remember any of these legs at all. They must have been mellow and boring because the fun was just starting. There was lots of joking and smack talking as we started to pass slower teams that started ahead (roadkill we called it). There were a few teams that we started to develop some rivalries with...all of them Ultra teams that were ALL MEN...just had to point that out. Teams 103 and 104 were especially on our radar screen.
Legs 13-18 ~ The fun got started as we climbed up to Red Feather Lakes. Tim had an especially difficult leg of almost 6 miles with 1200 or so vertical, on a dirt road where the vans driving to the next leg continueally shot up a ton of dust. Sometimes the runner could barely see. My leg was next and this was my most challenging leg, the one I wanted to do the best on, so I dropped it down. It was 8.5 miles with 2 miles of downhill on the front and back. I worked the 4.5 mile uphill hard and got lots of roadkill. The van was following close and stopped to cheer a ton. Chris was yelling "SONJA" in full Stella form and I could hear him from a quarter mile away. I ran the entire way with a huge smile on my heart and when I finished the sun had gone down. Steve had a crazy all downhill leg which he managed to slaughter and then Chris had a downhill-ish leg in the dark. He was running so fast that when Susan and I were standing there waiting for him to come in the volunteer said "Is that a person on a bike?". All you could see was the head-light and the red blinky rear light we had to wear and those two lights were moving so fast it looked like a bicyclist. HAHA! Susan and Jill had pitch dark night legs on a paved road. We were in Wyoming by then and with no moon you could see every single star.
Legs 19-24 ~ This segment started off with some star gazing. Showing Steve the Milky Way for the first time...the guy has never seen the milky way, crazy. Wow. These legs were all flat and downhill and pitch dark, some longer than others. I had a very peaceful run. I passed three people right off the bat and then I had nothing but pitch dark, trees, and stars to keep me company for 4 miles. It was effortless, fast and a total blast. Steve had a longer leg and I think he experienced a bit of vertigo. When Susan and I retrieved him at the end of his leg he was delerious and stumbling. We got him warmed up, fed up, and rested up and 20 minutes later he was a total chatter bug. It was a little scary there for a second, man that boy knows how to go hard. I think his pace on that leg was low 6 min miles. Susan and Jill again were nails, picking up some good roadkill for the girls team (the girls and boys were competing for road kill).
Legs 25-30 ~ These were a challenge. tims leg was hard, just like his last two, and the sun was starting to come up. I had managed to catch a few ZZZs along the way and was super tired. The last several legs I had passed team 103's guy and there he was again waiting at the exchange. He asked if I was going to pass him again. I said "No, we're going to run together this leg". And we did. shoulder to shoulder we swapped stories for 7 miles. I learned about his life, and his team, and shared silly stories about ours. His name was Bo, and I was verry happy to have his company for 7 miles. I don't remember much of the rest of the legs this time. Were were just crusin at this point, we melded well as a team and everyone was allways willing to help out another person with food, water, driving the van, directions, etc.
Legs 31-36 ~ These legs were brutal. Tim started it off with ANOTHER difficult leg...he had to run up Rabbit Ears Pass and it was brutal. It was mid morning and hot again, and his leg was just asphalt hill after asphalt hill. My leg showed up on the log book as flat and 4.5 miles. Nope it was up a big hill, then down a big hill, then up a big hill and down a big hill. I thought it was never going to end and I was trying my hardest to run hard. Steve had a hilly leg as well and all of us were a bit shocked on the steepness of the terrain. Chris got to run DOWN Rabbit Ears pass into Steamboat and his leg was evil downhill, super steep, leg killer downhill. Susan, I think, had her strongest leg, clocking like 7:15 pace and making it look totally easy. Jill brought it home for us and managed to pass team 104 which I think made them collapse in a hissy fit. But hey, we had girls and they had all boys, so it wasn't like we were racing them anyways. We all ran in the last 50 yards together, some looking quite gimpy (Chris).
After some post race grub we hit up the Steamboat Springs Hot Springs and had a blast playing in the water. Chris and I attacked the little kids climbing wall until we had it mastered, although we kept having to wait in line behind the little kids. My shoulders were sore the next day.
We went back at 4pm for the awards ceremony where we humbly accepted our award for winning the Ultra Coed Team category. Tim alerted us yesterday that we set the corse record by 2.5 hours. BooYa. Sha-nizzle!
There were so many good times that I can't even type them all. Steve and Chris were hilarious together, half the time talking smack, half the time spooning each other in the back seat. They made this entire trip a laughing fest. All of us have sore cheeks and abbs from all the laughing we did. I made some great new friends and can't wait to do some training with Jill in the future. Susan and Tim are easy going, humble folks, and Susan is my new idol. If I am ever successful in triathlon I want to be just like her, she puts the term "positive role model" to shame.
Aside: In case anyone reads this who is doing a future relay I wanted to touch on my nutrition a little bit. Last year when I did the Colorado Relay I bonked BAD. This year I wanted to counteract that fact, and I did a smashing job. I want to share what I learned. First off, you won't want to eat. You just won't. It's fun, your laughing, you think it will be fine. But you have to, and you have to have a plan. You can't just bring some stuff and expect to eat it, you have to give yourself a plan for exactly what you are going to eat and when. My plan was to drink a Mix1 immediately after I got in the van (they are shelf stable, and I like them A LOT), then change my clothes to the next set of running clothes, then eat an almond butter and honey sandwich. I did that after every single run I had. After I did my little Mix1/Sandwich thing, I continued to snack on almonds, rice cakes, and Cheesy Bunnies, all while staying on top of water and Gatorade. I made sure to stop consuming the leg before me, and I was good to go. I think it's natural to feel queazy in the middle of the night. Your body really wants to be sleeping and instead you are running, and eating (and laughing) so I think it's normal to feel a little sick...all of us felt this and I thought we all did a pretty good job with nutrition. I had very little soreness the next several days, but I have felt flat in the legs. Epsom Salt baths have helped, and I am clearly on the road to being fully recovered. I Hope this helps any future runners.