On our drive out to Gonzales, I asked David Smart regarding running the 1st leg as that was his leg last year. He pretty much said that at the end of the prologue, team turned left and he sped up and kept going towards the first exchange. That didn't sound so bad except rather than it being a 4.25 miler leg, it was really a 5.41 miler because of the 1.15 miles of prologue run. Out of the blue, David noted that the rules allow for the runner of 1st leg to run ahead of his team running the prologue. Indeed, the rules does allow for it. As we started the prologue, one of my teammates said, "Well, aren't you taking off?" So I did and became the Lone Ranger.
Leg 1: 4.26 miles
This leg was harder than I thought. The course was hilly and there was a strong gusty wind that kept me off balance. There were also 3 cattle grates to cross, which I did, carefully walking over them so as not to twist or break an ankle. Imagine if we had to DNF on the 1st leg. Half way through I had a small terrier size dog chasing me. I thought about whipping out my pepper spray but with all that gusty wind, I was worried about the spray coming back towards me. So I just pointed and yelled. It did not get close enough for me to stop and kick it as John Maloney suggested. Up and down this leg kept going and I was glad to see the exchange point after all that wind.
Leg 10: 6.09 miles
Tommy Stunz was running this leg and he was tasked with catching up to Jon's blogger team. Prior to this leg, we were about 7 minutes behind Jon's team. As I waited for the exchange, indeed, Tommy appeared first. He was running about 7 minutes ahead of Jon. So our van mates being such lovely teammates that they are told me to keep the lead and to expand it. That if I lost it somehow, I would have to hear about it for the rest of the trip...... So I took off with a determination to run it as fast as I could. This leg was a straight one with gentle rolling hills. The only problem was heat. It was mostly sunny and humid. I tried to keep my effort just below the "throw-up" level. I managed it, albeit just barely. It turns out that I actually beat my 10K P.R. time. LOL. So that's how fast I ran it. Plus it was about 11 minutes faster than Jon's team. Our lead was building at this point.
Leg 22: 5.01 miles
I ran this around midnight. There are no street lights outside of small towns and this route was no exception. The only light I had were the two headlamps on my head, a red blinker on the front and back of me. This run also happened to be the loneliest one as I saw absolutely no one until the last mile. Since there is no scenery to look at, it was very hard to gauge my speed. So I concentrated on my breathing and my form. I'd glance at my Garmin when it beeped to check my pace. I thought a lot during this leg. My dad was suffering from cancer this time last year and after hearing about Edwin's dad, it was very melancholic. I prayed for Edwin's dad and family and then struck up a long conversation with my dad. Soon, up ahead, you could see a bright light that was used for the night exchanges. It the pitch darkness, this light looks deceptively closer that it really is. My Garmin told me there was still about a mile to run.
Leg 33: 4.47 miles
Running on empty, literally. Other than a 6" sub at Subway and several bags of Cheez-its, I had not eaten much. This was to guard against full stomach and because it was hard to find decent food on the course until you entered Houston. This one was hot. Sun was bearing down and I was mostly running on uneven pavement. It was hard to get any kind of rhythm. First mile was painless because of Red Bull, but as that wore off, I had really nothing left in the tank. I even forgot to carry water so I was just trying to survive. But I knew the end was really close and after this, I could enjoy the rest of the way because I was DONE!
It's amazing how close you become to fellow van mates you just met a day ago. By Sunday late morning, we all felt like we've been friends forever. Funny how misery/hardship brings people together. At downtown exchange, our van became the resting van so we went to Becky Spaulding's house for a little R & R and shower and then over to Coney Island for some well deserved hot dogs.
Shout out to our Captain Cassie. She brought a box of Colaches from Kolache Factory. As our van had not eaten anything, this was very well appreciated. Thanks Cassie!
We all met up at the monument and cheered when Tommy Stunz ran in to the finish. Our time: 30:34:05. We bested last year's time by about 1 hour 30 minutes. WE ROCKED. This year's relay was not as tiring as last years. I think the difference was due to the full size vans we had this year rather than minivans we used last year. Full size vans are the way to go. Especially the 15 passenger version.