Thursday after work, Ryan, K, and I headed up to Chandler, AZ, and stayed with one of K’s friends. We went to a New York style pizza place and had some SUPER YUMMY pizza for dinner before heading back for an early bedtime.
Friday morning we were up by 0315 and out the door before 0400. We drove to the finish area and parked and several other team members from RUN dmC met up and we all headed to Wickenburg to the start line and to meet up with the other 6 runners from our team. The safety briefing for Van 1 was at 0630 and our first runner headed out at 0730. We all cheered her on and then went our separate ways. Van 1 was the active van, and Van 2 (the van K and I were in with Ryan as our driver) went to the hotel that most of Van 1 had stayed at the previous night. We were able to warm up some and so some stretching before we checked out and headed to a little diner around the corner for breakfast. After we had had our fill, we headed to Exchange 6 where Van 2 would take over with runners 7-12. We got our van decorated using window paint marker things. We got checked in and received our safety briefing at Exchange 6 and then waited for Van 1 to arrive and runner 6. Once she arrived, she handed the slap bracelet (our "baton") off to Ke and he was off. Then the fun began! We’d pull up ahead of K a ways and wait and cheer him on and then we headed to Exchange 7. Ke handed off to Kr (my usual K) and she was off. The drive to Exchange 8 was AWFUL – had to drive on a dirt/gravel washboard road with tons of potholes. We barely made it to Exchange 8 before Kr got there and Cl didn’t have much time to get ready to go. But off he went on his 9+ mile run and we headed to Exchange 9 where I got ready to run my first time. When Cl arrived, I was ready and when he slapped the bracelet on my wrist, I was off on my 8.5 mile run. About a mile in, a stone decided to hop into my shoe, but I stopped right away and dumped it out. I walked a bit a the water stop and took in a GU packet and then after mile 4 I had to hit the bushes on the side of the road for a pit stop. The second half of my run had a 300 foot elevation gain and I took quite a few walk breaks to help get me through it. I finished my leg in 1:48:51, a 12:48 pace. Not bad considering the stops and the walk breaks and the up hill. I handed off to L and she handed off to Ch and then Van 2 handed back off to Van 1.
After our hand off to Van 1, we headed to Exchange 18 where there was a yummy spaghetti dinner/fund raiser and also a gym floor that we could sleep on. We ended up right by the door and the door squeaked every time it opened and closed – which was a lot. And since it was a regular gym floor, when people walked around, it sounded like a herd of elephants. But I still managed to get some sleep – thanks in part to my drugs that I was on since I decided to get sick Thursday right before the race. Nice timing with that. Van 1’s driver was in contact with Ryan and kept us posted as to how their runners were doing and about an hour before runner 6 was due in to the exchange, Ryan made sure we were all up and ready to go. I got some coffee and headed out to the van to put my sleeping bag and pillow back in there.
We awaited K (runner 6) and soon she handed off to Ke and we began round 2. This round was our "middle of the night" legs and Ke headed out about 0200. He handed off to Kr and she to Cl and him to me. This leg was 4.6 miles and I had to run "blind". My Garmin decided that it wasn’t going to have any battery left after my first 8.5 miles – very odd seeing as how I’ve used it for 8 hours straight before. So I used my stopwatch on my watch and went from there. I rather enjoyed running by myself in the middle of the night. It was strangely peaceful. Sure, there were other runners out on the course, but for the most part, it was just me in my little circle of light from my head lamp. The course was an overall uphill again, but there were a few short downhills before going up again. This was my best leg of the 3, even though I still had walk breaks in it. And I’m thankful it was a supported leg – meaning the van could stop and give me water, etc. I started with my Garmin on, but it died and when I saw the van I asked them to stop and I gave my Garmin to Ryan. Then I asked them to stop somewhere after mile 2 and they did. When I got there, I got another cough drop and a couple of sips of gatorade. I finished this leg in 53:16, an 11:35 pace! And then after L and Ch ran, we got to hand it off to Van 1 again.
After that hand off, we headed to Exchange 30 and I was able to get more sleep. The floor here was slightly padded so you couldn’t hear people walking around and the door stayed open. I slept good until Ryan woke me up when Van 1 was about an hour and a half out. I got some pancakes from the fund raiser they had going on there – pancakes and grilled cheese. We awaited Van 1 and once we had taken over and Ke had headed out again for his 3rd and final run, we headed out as well. Ke’s course was super hilly, but he did really well with it and handed off to Kr one last time. She did really well with her last run as well and handed off to Cl and he handed off to me. I had really been looking forward to this 3rd leg since on the elevation map it showed it was downhill. Well, it went on a multi-use path through a park, and it had some rolling hills. Definitely nothing like what Ke had, but still not what I had expected. I threw in walk breaks every 5 minutes from the start and just enjoyed the route. The park was beautiful and there was a lake in it that I got to run around. It wasn’t so much fun trying not to step in the duck poop, but it was still really nice. Once out of the park, I had to wait for a few traffic lights (it wasn’t a closed course – meaning they didn’t stop traffic or block off the roads), but the one that frustrated me the most was the second to last one. We were about to get our walk signal (another runner was waiting with me) and then we heard the sirens. It wasn’t an emergency. It was a funeral procession. Just great. At least it wasn’t a super long one – only maybe 15 cars. So that added probably 3 minutes to my time before I finally finished. But that longer break did allow me to have quite the kick at the end for my last hand off to L! I finished my last leg, 3.8 miles, in 47:24, a 12:28 pace. After L had handed off to Ch, we headed to the finish line to meet up with the rest of the team!!
We all found each other and waited at a designated location for Ch and when she arrived, we all crossed the finish line together!! All 14 of us – 12 very tired but elated runners and 2 super awesome and tired drivers! It was really cool having them announce our team name as we crossed the finish line! Then they got some pics of our team and we waited in line for other pics. Our team finished 197 miles in 32 hours, 57 minutes, and 47 seconds – 2 hours ahead of our projected finish time!! We were 264th overall (out of 306) and 117th out of 141 in our division (Open Mixed Regular). For full results, click FULL RESULTS – you can see all the creative team names as well. It had been an AMAZING 33 hours together and although we were all tired and sore and some of us sick, I think the majority of us want to do it again next year!! We were definitely thankful for our two drivers, Ryan and M. Many of the teams didn’t have dedicated drivers and the runners had to rotate driving duty as well as running. Not fun. Our drivers made sure we were where we needed to be when we needed to be there and I don’t think we missed a single hand off!
After getting our finisher medals and team pics, some of us made some purchases in the little shop they have set up. I got a cute t-shirt and then we headed back to the vans for our farewells. Ryan and K and I headed back to K’s friend’s house and we headed out for pizza again, at a different place. It wasn’t nearly as good as Thursday night’s pizza, but it wasn’t bad. Then it was back to the house for showers and sleep!
Sunday morning we "slept in" – we were all up by 0800 and after getting packed up, we headed out. We went to Golden Corral for breakfast – the one there wasn’t nearly as good as the one here in Sierra Vista – and then we headed home. After dropping K off at home, we headed out to post to pick Robert up from J & L’s house, where he had stayed for the weekend.