Friday, May 15, 2009

Tall Girl's Excellent Adventure

Typically, by this time of year, I've already run the first one or two races of the season. This year, however, I've purposefully taken a different approach. Instead of throttling out of the starting gate at the first of the year to run every race within reaching distance, I've been patiently and diligently training while biding my time. Watching... waiting... like a sleek and graceful cheetah in an African savanna desert, crouching beneath the brush, intently studying the antelope as they graze, waiting for just the right moment to POUNCE.

My meticulous patience is soon to be rewarded; my moment to POUNCE is soon to arrive. In a little over a month, I'll be running my first race of the 2009 season. This race, however, will be unlike any other I've done before because this is the year I'll be running the Wasatch Back Relay.

The Wasatch Back is one of those monster 24-hour relays that divides 178 miles between 12 runners. It runs along the back of the Wasatch mountain range in northern Utah, covering terrain from serene flat farmlands to rolling gravel hills to treacherous mountain trails. As a 24-hour race, runners are competing at all hours, whether during the scorching heat of the day or chilly blackness of the night. Physically, it's not for the weak or faint of heart.

This is going to be an adventure for me in more ways than one. To begin with, I'm running this relay with 11 virtual strangers, all women and mothers like myself. We formed our team online about a year ago and while I've gotten to know them a little via a blog created specifically for this race, I've never met a single one of them in person. For someone as socially-challenged as I tend to be, this is somewhat intimidating. What if they don't like me? What if they think I look funny or talk funny... or worse... run funny? In a way, I feel like I'm about to go back 20 years ago in time to high school when every day of my life was spent in self-conscious agony amongst my peers. I'm going to be spending at least 24 hours with these women in very close confines at times... eating, sleeping, changing clothes, smelling bad. The only other person I've done that with is my husband and.... well... the fun of that honeymoon ended a long time ago.

This will also be the first time I've ever run late at night. My second leg (there's three of them for each runner) is predicted to start around 1:50 in the morning. There just ain't been too many times in the last 20 years that I've seen that hour of the morning. And if I have, it's been to feed a newborn baby or sit with a sick child while she retchingly hovers over the toilet. 95% of my life at 1:50 a.m. has been spent meticulously studying the insides of my eyelids and dreaming of happy places. But next month, I'm going to be expected to not only be wide awake at 1:50 in the morning, but also run 8.1 miles up a mountain. That is so not a happy place.

Along with the late hour comes the dark. A whole lot of dark. In general, I'm not a big fan of dark. In high school, I would always make my best friend walk me home around the block so I didn't have to do it alone in the dark (of course, that meant she had to walk back home by herself in the dark, but at that point it wasn't my problem anymore). We runners will be wearing reflective vests, flashing LED lights and headlamps and will have other runners and support vehicles nearby, but that doesn't negate the fact we're RUNNING. IN. THE. DARK. And I'm just a little more than concerned that because my middle-of-the-night leg happens to be across mountain terrain, I'm going to encounter some kind of furry animal. Along with dark, I'm also not a fan of furry animals. I don't do cats or dogs and I definitely don't do skunks, coyotes or mountain lions.

So, this is what awaits me a little more than a month from now. I'm anxious, I'm nervous, I'm scared and I'm excited. And I have the feeling I'm in for the adventure of a lifetime.

I just hope I don't trip up on a woodchuck in the middle of the night. And if I do, I hope my teammates don't see it.

14 comments:

Velma said...

It does sound a bit scary, but that is what is makes it fun. Can't wait to hear about the adventure - I have always wanted to run one of these relays. Good luck!

Lili said...

You will do great! If you are half as funny in person as you are on your blog then they will love you instantly.

Oh and as for the furry friends that go bump in the night, I suggest maybe you sing while you run, or at least talk a lot. Kind of like you do when you are walking in the woods and don't want a bear to get you. I think I've heard that woodchucks don't like show tunes. =)

queenieweenie said...

you are AMAZING!

Ovens2Betsy said...

You're going to have a great time! I LOVE running the Hood-to-Coast relay. And here's a great tip: bring three gallon-sized (or 2-gallon) Ziplock bags for your stinky clothes. When you finish each leg, simply stuff your gear in each bag and zip it up. That will minimize the stank in the van (although they will be pretty nasty when you take them out at home!)

livelypen said...

Nothing like sleep deprevation and sweat to get to know your friends real fast!

Nitmos said...

All of these fears sound perfectly reasonable and I'm sure the other women are thinking the same thing. Unless you are a farter, there should be nothing to worry about.

Rachel said...

It was so fun to meet a fellow tall running girl today!! Looks like its been a while since you've posted, but I LOVED reading your blog: fun, upbeat, exciting and running - gotta love it!! I blog on the fastrunningblog. We'll have to keep in touch and see if we can meet up at Wasatch Back.
Rachel Moody
radrunning.fastrunningblog.com

Rachel said...

Okay, I just read your 100 things about me and I swear 90% of them could be me :) FUNNY!! I'm so glad I met you this morning, we should run together sometime and chat.

Anonymous said...

Wow, just read this entry and then spent time on the Ragnar site. First, I can't believe you are really doing this and second, I can't believe I "born" you. Way to go, numero uno daughter.

Jen said...

I'm getting so excited! My fam and I drove the course on Monday and can I just say that you are going to be my new hero (along with a few other gals) after this race! My legs are sweet comparatively! And I still get to say I did it! Really doesn't seem fair! And I can say for myself that I'm having all those same fears. At least we'll all stink together!

Doran & Jody said...

Good luck to you!! And as far as wondering if anyone will like you, I guarantee that Jen will LOVE you and you will love her. She is one of the most loveable friends I know. Not to worry about the wooded furries, they will be clapping for you as you run by. GO GO GO!!!

The Hoyt's said...

I am so excited for you guys.. Wish I could be there.. You and Jen will have such a great time..It does sound a little scarry but way exciting.. I cant wait to hear all about it..

Sarai said...

mmmmm.....I had not thought about a LOT of those things. You got me thinking now. Can I still back out? J/K. I promise I will wear deodorant and reapply every 5 mins. I'm so excited! Can't wait to meet you!

Polliwog said...

Well, you didn't trip over a woodchuck, did you? You were AMAZING on this race. It was great to meet you and to be a teammate. It was definitely an adventure, but a fun one. So glad we did it.

Emily