Tuesday, March 04, 2008

2008 Texas Independence Relay

After finishing this grueling relay, I think I now understand General Sam Houston's tactics. Making someone move over 200 miles will just about make anyone go crazy enough to kill a cow with their bare hands or turn around and annihilate a numerically superior and better armed army that has been chasing you. Houston's men decided on the latter and this glorious monument is the end result. You just cannot mess with Texas.

For me, the relay started on Friday night. At 10 PM, I took a shower and shaved. To alleviate my fear of leaving my running shoes behind, I packed an extra pair into my duffel bag. Then all of my stuff was left on the foyer. Since Dave was picking me up at 2:10 AM, I set the alarm for 1:40 AM and tried to sleep. Not much luck there. Karen, Dave and I arrived at Jon's house right on schedule. Katy and Adrienne showed up a few minutes later. We loaded up the minivan and left for Gonzalez. I dozed during the trip and had a little dream about leaving my gear on Jon's driveway. Cassie's van arrived almost at the same time as our van. Such great timing. Its great to see familiar faces again. It has been a while since we all met up like this. I meet Tommy and Jose for the first time. We meet Bill Dwyer's team. Morning light approaches and pretty soon, we run our epilogue. David Smart, launches into his first leg. We see him disappear into a thick morning fog.

Leg 2

Day: 03/01/2008 8:07 AM
Distance: 4.85 miles
Time: 40 min 51 secs
Pace: 8:25 min/miles
Shoes: Asics Kayano XIII (256.5)
Weight: 177 lbs.
Calories burned: 628.7 kcal

This is the first exchange. Having burnt a lot of time being bussed back to the van, we make it to the exchange point with less than a minute to spare. The fog is still thick. As I wait in anticipation, runners slowly appear out of the fog. My heart starts to pound as I see Dave approaching. We bungle the exchange. The baton gets dropped twice! Then I'm off. About a minute into the run, I check my Garmin. I'm on a 7:20 pace. Crazy!! I'm not going to last. All this excitement and fog is making it hard to judge distance and speed. I take several deep breaths and force myself into a good rhythm. It is exciting. I see vans going to their next stop. I see our van with teammates yelling encouragements. This is pretty exciting stuff! I finally make it to the end and see Adrienne waiting for me. Handing over the baton, I glance at my Garmin to check my pace. 8:25. Thank goodness, I haven't let my team down...yet. For whatever reason, since Jon gave me 9:08 as my predicted pace for this relay, I was obsessed with staying ahead of that pace the entire time. Psycho.

Leg 14

Day: 03/01/2008 5:18 PM
Distance: 4.69 miles
Time: 42 min 26 secs
Pace: 9:03 min/miles
Shoes: Asics Kayano XIII (256.5)
Weight: 177 lbs.
Calories burned: 607.7 kcal

Attack of the crazy dogs, TWICE! We were mindful of dogs and such. TIR had given us info about certain legs containing canine cautions. Well, this leg was not one of those and wanting to carry as little as possible during my runs, I elected not to carry any pepper spray with me. Bad decision. Halfway through the run, 3 dogs came after me. I had to stop and stare them down. Eventually, they left me alone. Few more minutes into the run, 3 more dogs. What the heck. Stopped again and stared them down and lost precious time. This would be the only time during the relay where I had to stop. With 1 mile to go, my right hip flared up. Pain started to pound away. This was worrisome as there was still a lot of running left to do. After handing over the baton, I downed a couple of Aleve pills. Later that night, I tell our captain Jon that I might have an issue with a sore hip. We decide to see how my morning run goes as that is only a 3.6 miler.

Leg 28

Day: 03/02/2008 4:21 AM
Distance: 3.6 miles
Time: 31 min 00 secs
Pace: 8:37 min/miles
Shoes: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 7 (9.29)
Weight: 177 lbs.
Calories burned: 466.6 kcal

A few legs after my leg 14, our van (Blogger 1) made our way to a Marriott hotel in Katy. Thanks to Jon's bazillion Marriott points, we were able to secure a couple of rooms for shower and a quick shuteye. I remember laying there after my heavenly shower and thinking that I was too tired to sleep. Next thing I know, we are stumbling out of bed because we're way late. Thanks to Manny's aggressive skillful driving, we make it to our exchange point with time to spare. Again, we become the active van. My leg comes up in Cinco Ranch. We have finally left the countryside and are now running in the city. I am now sore, stiff and tired. I'm also worried about my hip. On a whim, I decide to change shoes and wear my new Brooks Adrenaline GTS 7 and break one of the cardinal rules of running, "never try a new shoes on race day." Well, this relay will be all about rule breaking. Well the hip doesn't bother me and I'm able to cruise at a comfortable pace. The GTS 7 agrees with me. Thank goodness. Oh, and 30 minutes before this leg, I down a Red Bull for the first time in my life and have a WOW!! moment.

Leg 40

Day: 03/02/2008 2:14 PM
Distance: 5.31 miles
Time: 48 min 19 secs
Pace: 9:06 min/miles
Shoes: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 7 (9.29)
Weight: 177 lbs.
Calories burned: 688 kcal

At the downtown exchange, the 2 vans meet and the final leg runners move into Blogger 1. This would be Keith, Cassie, David, Karen and myself. I have the last leg. As my leg approaches, I say a quick prayer. "Dear God, please help me hold all my joints together, that my knees don't blow out or one of my tendons snap on this last and very crucial leg, Amen." The run starts smoothly enough. It is a straight shot and at mile 2, there is a sharp left turn towards the finish. I ask Manny to wait for me there just to make sure I make the turn. I get to the turn, I see the van and I make the turn. There is this HUGE HUGE incline to get over the 225 expressway. Arghhhh. I think I hear Manny say, "It's only a small hill..." LOL. I had another Red Bull before this leg but it was wearing out. I ask for a gu but kept shouting, "Gel! Gel!" Eventually, my van mates understand and David runs out to me and hands me a gu. After catching my breath from that monster hill, I suck it down and run on. For whatever reason, I also think this is a 4.3 miler and start to pick up the pace at around mile 3.5. Then, out of breath and nowhere near the end, I realize that this is a 5.3 miler. Sheesh. All throughout, the monument is in front of me, taunting me, but not getting closer. Garmin bleeps at mile 5. I am now passing a sea of parked vans. Everyone is congratulating me. Then I see Bill Dwyer's team, all lined up, clapping and congratulating me. What great sports persons. I finally see my teammates. I'm gasping and wheezing for breath. I raise my arms. I want to kiss the ground as soon as I finish....... I'm finally done! Then reality sets in. Jon says, "OK, lets run to the finish." I remember saying, "What? More running?" Then I hear someone say, "It's only .38 miles..."


Katy said...

Holden - I have to confess, EQ is right. I wasn't posting at 6 a.m. I'm not a rock star after all. I don't know how to change the time zone, being I'm a newbie and all.

I had a blast at TIR, and I'm so glad I got to know you all. I've even forgiven you for the comment "Katy, I'm so glad you came. You brought Adrienne." I know you were just delirious and the red bull had you saying things you didn't mean. I'll still show you my shirt folding technique next time we get together.

K said...

I saw your face when you heard you had to run .38 more... It was priceless!

What a guy, hanging in there til the end. I probably would have thrown a tantrum!!

Holden said...

Gasp! Now that you mention it, I do vaguely remember saying that. I'm not sure why though. I'm so very sorry. BTW, your best marathon time is better than my best. So that makes you a faster runner than I. (perhaps I should just shut up before I do more damage... :))

Holden said...

If I was more coherent, I might have thrown a tantrum. It's funny thinking back now, all I could think about was finishing my leg and there was no other thought.

WalkSports.com said...

I had so many memorable laughs this weekend, but this whole report made me chuckle heartily - and the comments above mine too.

All of guys - and ladies - are the best.

bar-bar-a said...

Now that's a very cool race report!

I have to admit when I saw the pictures and the paces everyone ran, I realized my replacement was younger than me, and faster than me, and cuter than me.

I think it was a hidden blessing about the broken foot! It's what helped you beat Bill's team!

K said...

I think we should publish a new book titled, _The Prayers of a Runner_

I am sure we'd be on the best sellers list!

David Smart said...

Haha, we were REALLY tired at 3am in the van....running on fumes & Red Bull. Great report Holden, and so glad you were part of the team.

Keith said...

Great running with you Holden.
Your endurance and strength is impressive as were the other teammates.
Rock on.

Steve said...

I ran on the 2 person team. You sound like you had a tougher race than us. Nice write up and Congrats.