Warning: I need an editor. This might take you a while…
I’m sort of in love with one-day relays. Really, if you’re a mom, these are perfect. Especially if they are close to home like the Mt. Si Relay was for me and my team: Zoe (Run, Zoe, Run), Lindsay (Lindsay on the Go), Lauren (Marathon Lar) and Nicole (Ricole Runs).
Before we could run the relay, though, we thought we should meet up the day before to purchase silly accessories and other items to keep us busy on Sunday. We congregated at Starbucks. T Junior took pictures, then we decorated my minivan.
Next up: the dollar store.
To get to the dollar store, we had to walk by a row of ambulances in the parking lot. There was some sort of emergency worker conference at Starbucks that day, I guess. They were all sitting outside of the coffee shop in their uniforms and sunglasses, and completely within view of their vehicles. Zoe suggested we all lay down in front of one and take a picture to describe what we’ll feel like on Sunday evening. My gut said, “Don’t do it. You are 34 years old.” But we did it anyway. Even better, I had T Junior, my 3-year-old son (almost 4) take the picture. Except it took him forever because he was concerned about getting us all in the shot. Well, T Junior, maybe if your finger wasn’t over half the lens.
Lauren had the idea to use a tiara to pass as our baton since the race didn’t have slap bracelets or anything. But we almost left the dollar store without one. We were sad, but then — TA DA! — I found one at the last second. We also got bubble wands, hula hoops, pinwheels, water (duh), and squirt guns. Things we did not purchase at the dollar store: sunscreen.
Afterward, a few of us made our way to Target for things we’d only trust from a full-price retail establishment. Like sunscreen. And girls’ size Champion running shirts. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist a shirt that says: I’VE GOT SOME WINNING TO DO.
It’s a girls’ XL. Yeah, it’s “fitted,” but I’m totally going to lose weight. And it was only $5.
Anyway, I started to get hangry and had to bolt before an embarrassing mommy meltdown. And I needed to get home because I’d promised Mr. T and his friend that I’d watch all our kids for the day since I was planning on being gone all day Sunday. When I got home, I only had time to change into shorts — still didn’t eat. It was sunny, though, and shorts were a priority.
At our friends’ house, I didn’t want to eat all their food, so I just had a PB&J and called it good. But I didn’t eat anything else all day except some delicious chips I found in their pantry. Not the best pre-relay race fueling plan, though. Also, I was on my feet a lot checking on the whereabouts of children, which is NOT what I had pictured when I said I’d watch the kids.
What did I picture, you ask?
I’m a mom, though; I should really know better. Anyway…
That night, my stomach turned on me. Darn delicious (and oily) chips.
My alarm clock went off at 4:30 and I jumped right up
(and turned off my alarm for a 9-minute snooze sesh, then got up for real the second time it went off). I actually showered (you’re welcome, teammates). I don’t usually do that before a race, but I knew we’d all be in my van and ew.
Zoe arrived and we left for Snoqualmie, which is about 30 minutes from my house. It was sort of gloomy — overcast and foggy — when we got to the elementary school where the start line was. As soon as we parked I hopped out to find the restroom because either the chips were coming back to haunt me or the coffee was hittin’ me hard and fast. TMI? IDC.
The rest of our gang (that’s right, we’re a gang…that wears sparkly skirts), arrived and we stood around shivering and taking pictures, and getting Lindsay all situated to run since she was our first runner.
It wasn’t long before the 50Kers and the 50-milers were off, then it was time for the relay to begin.
Lindsay was off and running and it was only about 6:35 a.m. The rest of us hopped back in the car and headed for the first runner exchange. There was a car in front of us that was asking directions (maybe they forgot their handbook?) when we approached. They pulled over to let us pass so they could follow us I guess. I totally had an Amazing Race moment, and we decided to throw them off by stopping at Snoqualmie Falls. The were totally confused.
But the joke was on us because it was so foggy and misty that you could not even see the ginormous waterfall that is there. I know it exists!
At the runner exchange, we parked and just chatted in the car. It was really foggy up over Mt. Si, but there was a bright orange light peeking out from the top. It was beautiful, and we all oooo’ed and aaaa’ed over it until I said, “What is that?” and everyone started laughing and making fun of me.
But it looked so small and shiny that it didn’t look like the sun! It looked like a reflection! I swear!
As Zoe got ready to run, Nicole broke out the bubbles. It’s never too early for bubbles.
And then it was time for the tiara hand off, and Zoe was off and running Leg 2.
We gathered Lindsay and let her stretch, then we drove to the next runner exchange where we’d be for two legs. More in-van chatting and silliness happened while Lauren got ready to run.
We were walking to the exchange when we spotted Zoe and had to jog ahead. Zoe passed the tiara to Lauren and she was off on Leg 3, an out-and-back route.
We now had two endorphinned runners and so weird stuff started happening. Like, for example, when Zoe’s “spare” condom she keeps for her single friends fell out of her bag. It was getting sunnier out, too.
Nicole got ready to run, and we walked back to the exchange chute in time for Lauren to hand off to her. Then it was back to the first runner exchange point. I got ready to run, and warmed up with a little friendly hula hoop competition and lots of laughing.
Nicole rocked Leg 4, then passed the tiara to me and I was off on Leg 5. I’d forgotten to “study” my route, though, and was panicking about it by less than a quarter-mile in as I ran through a swampy area and by some houses and then slipped through the car-blocking gate thing onto the trail. (I’d actually written down my routes, but decided not to bring the sticky notes with me since everyone said there were lots of volunteers and signage.) The guy that had left right in front of me was long gone. I glanced back and saw that I’d left the girl that’d passed off right behind me in the dust. Good, but Gee, I really hope I’m going the right way. It felt like it was headed in the wrong direction. And I was going up a pretty good hill.
But then there was a switchback and all of a sudden it felt right. Finally, at about 1.25 miles, I got to the top of that hill and there were volunteers with signs. Whew!
After that hill, there was…more hill. Actually, it wasn’t bad. It was a gradual incline on an old logging road. It was exactly what I run at home on the Lake Wilderness Trail: hard-packed dirt mixed with some partially buried rocks, sticks and lots of gravel. My home trail is a gradual downhill on the out and a gradual uphill on the back, so I am totally used to gradual uphills. I loved that it was so similar for some reason and I smiled like an idiot during the first half when I was pretty much alone.
It was sunny, but still cool, and the trail smelled like cedar. I have not been wearing music on all of my runs lately. Sometimes I just don’t feel like it, and I did not wear music during the relay. I loved not having music on this leg. It was gorgeous. I ran through dense forest, park-like settings, across bridges over deep ravines…and past a gun club.
That morning, we’d had a good laugh about the gun club warning that was in the handbook under Leg 5. It said, “don’t be alarmed if you hear gunfire,” or something like that. Um, pretty sure I’m gonna be alarmed.
I DID hear gun shots. It was alarming, but at least it wasn’t surprising.
The book also warned Leg 5 runners they may see horses on the trail. In order to not spook them, runners should give them a friendly greeting, say, “Hello.”
See? Nicole even practiced her friendly greeting.
Sadly, I saw no horses. Lots of horse poop, though.
Anyway, I’d only passed a couple of people…until about Mile 4. Then I started to catch up with some women, and passing them. Roadkill #6 was tough, though. I trailed her for a couple miles until I finally caught up with her. Then, she started weaving all over the trail. I had to squeeze around her. She turned and exclaimed, “Oh! I thought you were someone else! I was like, ‘What?!’ Don’t want her to pass me!” We had a good laugh, and then I left her behind.
I was really feeling so good. My left ankle was a little tight, but it didn’t hurt too bad. At about 5.5 miles, I saw the dude that had left me in the dust at the beginning of the leg! I would never catch him, but I had him in my sights until the finish. At almost exactly 5.75 miles, I passed under a bridge and on the other side, volunteers directed me up these ginormous steps leading up to the road. I could not run them — they were too tall. Ouch! I was out of breath at the top. But, then OMG, steepest downhill I’ve been on in a while! And on the shoulder of a road. A sandy shoulder! I was a fraid I was going to bite it on the hairpin turn.
Down, down, down to the finish where Lindsay was waiting for me. But the tiara got stuck in my hair. I almost goofed up the hand off!
Leg 5 – 6.4 miles – 54:56 – 8:35 avg pace
Lindsay was off on Leg 6 with Nicole (who needed to pick up some extra miles for her long run), and we made our way to the next runner exchange point. The sun was out. It was warm. We cranked up some tunes and got out the bubbles. We were just taking our sweet time.
See, Nicole had sort of been keeping track of the math…and when she was running, we were all a little lost. So that’s why Zoe almost missed the handoff of the tiara from Lindsay. Oops! Teammate fail.
Zoe set off on her ALL uphill 7-miler in the blazing, hot (70 is blazing in Seattle) sun, and we made our way to the next runner exchange, which was at bottom of a popular hiking trail to Rattlesnake Ridge. Read: There was nowhere to park.
Finally, we just made our own parking spot. Then we hung out, cheered for ultra runners, and Nicole and I found one of the grossest permanent Honey Buckets EVER. EVER.
Zoe arrived, handed off the tiara to Lauren, and then practically passed out. It’d been so hot, and there was so much gravel — her feet were on fire. She and Lindsay went to put their feet in the lake nearby while Nicole and I waited for Lauren, who was running another out-and-back. Soon, it was Nicole’s turn to run back down what Zoe had run up. And we drove back to the exchange we’d been at before. I was just hanging out when I realized I should probably put my shoes on.
Unfortunately, I was not feeling too well at this point. My stomach started revolting at the exchange prior, and continued at this exchange. I don’t know what to blame it on: chips or the heat. Heat wreaks havoc on my tummy.
As Nicole ran in, there was a guy right behind her. “Go, go, go!” I yelled. “There’s a dude right behind you!” She laughed, came in and handed me the tiara. The dude slapped hands with his woman teammate and she BLEW by me. Like seriously. She was a blur. My legs tried to keep up with her, however, even though I told them not to. So this is why my first mile of Leg 10 was an 8:13 even though it was so hot I brought a handheld with water to just dump on myself the entire time.
I was done after the first mile. Luckily, this is the shortest, easiest leg of the relay at 3.4 miles. And it’s flat. And actually, I’d run this part of the trail before once pushing T Junior in the BOB.
That day, super windy. This day, super hot.
The trail goes straight through some greenbelt areas where I saw some naturalists doing maintenance work, but I actually thought they were searching for a dead body. Why am I so morbid when I run? So I ran and dumped water on myself and ran and dumped water, etc. all the way over a bridge until… that was the end of the trail. The bridge went down some steps to a street. There were no volunteers. No signs. Do I go right or left?
I stopped for a good 20 seconds trying to figure what to do. I thought I’d seen a runner go left. But was he with the race or just a dude out for a run? (Because there were plenty of non-racers using the trail on Saturday.) I decided the odds were that he was probably with the race and I went left. By now, the ultra runner I’d passed was catching up with me, and as I ran down the road, I glanced back and saw her going left. I sighed with relief, but then thought she might just be following me and what if I am leading her the wrong way?!
Obviously, the sun affects more than just my stomach. Oh man. I was so hot, though. Did I mention that already? I thought about walking…on a 3.4-miler. Seriously. I slowed and took one step and realized an ultra runner was in front of me…running. Aw, crap. I can’t walk when he’s still running. I sped up, and eventually passed him. “Good job!” I said to him. He replied, “You too!” And I thought, Me too? Um, I’m running 3.4 miles and you’re at the end of an ultra. But thanks.
Finally, I was on the street that led to the elementary school where we’d started at 6:30 that morning. I was so relieved. I tried to run faster. I doubt I did.
The last little bit had some shade, and wow, that made a huge difference. I felt instantly better. Plust my teammates were cheering. And then I ran through the roped off chute and over a parking lot line where a dude was standing with a stop watch and a clipboard. Done. But I forgot to stop my watch right away. Argh! I hate it when I do that.
Leg 10 – 3.4 miles – 29:20 – 8:37 avg pace
We ran the 59-mile relay in 8 hours 30 minutes and 14 seconds! (8:38 avg pace – we came in somewhere in the middle of the pack in Open Women’s, there were some impressive runners out there!)
I have to say, the end of this relay was pretty uneventful. Well run, but uneventful. But it’s a small event. BY THE WAY, for being a small event (with the exception of that one missing sign/volunteer on my last leg) things were pretty well organized. Lots of volunteers and signage. Some of the volunteers were not so helpful, but that’s not the race’s fault.
Anyway, we were so depleted from the sun, we were like, “Yay. Now let’s go get some beer.” But first! First we made a pair of ultra runners take our picture in front of Mt. Si. No, they didn’t mind. And we took their picture for them, too. They were even sports and took a jumping picture of us. I suggested they jump too, but they just laughed. Wonder why?
Local peeps: Ever run Rainier to Ruston? It’s not too late to register a team (and it’s relatively cheap)! Ever spooked a horse on a trail? Ever run past a gun club? Do you also love wearing tiaras? Can you guess the word count on this post? I know I left lots of things out, too. I’m sure I’ll have to have another post…plus there are TON more pictures…
Read my teammates recaps:
Zoe (When Zoe gets hers done, it’ll be HERE)