I’m sorry I disappeared off the face of the earth because I was too tired to function. I think we all greatly underestimate our need to sleep. Running + friends + no sleeping + no real food = Texas Independence Relay!
I will admit my happy emotions cup runneth over and there’s no way I will ever be able to put into words how I felt this weekend. I can’t express to you the greatness in the relationships I formed this weekend, the respect built for my team mates and the joy and misery in my heart! I’m not even sure how to write this post because I don’t know if I can find the words to express what it meant to me. There will probably just be a lot of pictures.
The basics: I had 11 amazing people on my team and we ran 200 miles across the state of Texas (from Gonzales to San Jacinto). We ran continuously from Saturday at 9:28 am until Sunday at 1:30pm (I’m not really sure what time we finished). It all started in Gonzales where we had to hold down this huge flag because it was just a little breezy! We got an arm workout before we even started running! Awesome!
We had two 15 passenger vans. Willie drove one van and our friend Greg drove the other. They really had the hardest job of all and probably got the least amount of sleep. Our team was split into two so that we could conquer all 40 legs of the 200 mile relay!
It literally was fun and games until it got dark! Yes, it was hot but we stopped to take a ton of pictures along the way. We were having a good time! We saw our friends from home, chatted and went on about our way.
Things got real when the sun started to fade. I’m not an evening runner so this was a little tough for me. I like to keep it early morning. I think I started my second leg around 11:45 pm and it was a 5.01 mile stretch. I tripped over a dead armadillo in the road and almost a large bird but I avoided that one. I enjoyed the night run the best though. My first leg was at 5:00 pm and it was hot and this lady soon realized she was salt deficient but it really didn’t hold me down that much. But the night run was fun. After that I was ready to sleep!
The one downside was I wasn’t in Willie’s van so I couldn’t talk to him much. He had a very important job. I always wanted to talk to him when I finished my runs but I couldn’t. I missed seeing his face. I only had passing moments with him. This was him at 4:40 am on Sunday morning. He was tired but he handled it like a champ. Willie did this for me. He drove the van because he knew I wanted to experience this relay. Willie had the time of his life though. He came out of this with a lot of new friends and stories they will talk about for a while. Thank you guys for welcoming my husband and showing him a great time. This means more to me than anything else. I really just wanted him to have a good time!
The thing hardest thing about this relay isn’t necessarily the 200 miles; it’s the riding in the vans continuously, it’s the lack of eating real food, not being clean and definitely not getting any sleep are the real challenges. Yes, it looks fun in the pictures but it’s definitely not for everyone. As the sun went down, things got real. People stopped wanting to take pictures. The friendly chatter stopped and all of the sudden everyone got really serious. My teammie April had a come to Jesus moment and decided it wasn’t for her, but she wanted to finish what she started. For me, it was a telling moment for me. She was miserable and crying, but she still went out there to run! I was proud of her! It made me cry. I think I cried her entire leg in the car. FYI: When I’m tired, I cry. I just get really emotional. But I was crying because she pushed through a lot of bad mental juju and ran! She could have easily told me to run her leg (I was willing) but she didn’t. I gained a lot of respect for her in that moment because she showed us all she was a fighter!
When we made it to the Houston area things got really messed up. Because it’s not like they close the streets for this relay. We ran on live roads and just getting through the Houston area and in the parks left everyone confused and lost. The directions got more complicated. Jony got lost on his leg and ended up running two legs of 11 miles instead of his single leg of 5 miles and some change.
I got lost on my leg through the bayou because it wasn’t marked very well and it was just plain hot. Luckily, I ran into Jim from Team Peeps who was lost himself because I had a map and directions. We ran the leg together and it was great. It made things go a lot quicker and easier running it with someone. Team Peeps would go around putting peeps on team van antennas! We were “peeped” a couple of times. They were all really great people!
But we finished it! It was a brutal yet rewarding experience. I knew 10 minutes into the thing I would want to go back next year for it. I LOVED every since bit of it. Even though I hate port-o-potties, and I like to eat real food this wasn’t that bad of a experience. It’s the people, my team, that made this an experience I will never forget.
But my team was amazing. We didn’t all run together but Van Gillis folks + Dan were holding it down. They ran some of the most difficult legs of relay and did it fast! I sometimes felt bad because I don’t run as fast of them and I can’t say there weren’t times when I felt a little inadequate. But at the end of the day, we all had a role to play on the team and it was our job to finish! I may not run super fast, but I’m all heart. I did what I love to do: run. I felt the energy and embraced the whole experience. Thank you to all of my team for making this an enjoyable experience even when it completely sucked!
So my most important message goes out to our captain John! Thank you so much for the time, upfront money and organization you put into forming this team. In the end, it all came together! Thank you so much for allowing me to be on this team because I enjoyed it so much! You’re a great team captain and I know next year will be even better!
Some things I learned from the relay:
1. The port-o-potties didn’t get bad until Sunday morning! I will use the bathroom as much as I can before Sunday rolls around again.
2. This was not the week for me to switch back to my vegetarian habits. I finally had to cave because my body wasn’t recovering the way it should. I’ll have to rethink this whole vegetarian thing though.
3. Friends will pop up in all kinds of places and bonds will form without you even knowing them. A lot of my relationships with people changed this weekend for the better.
4. Thank you Clif Bar for sending us a butt load of bars for the race but I don’t want to eat another one for several months. Clif bars became a food group for me!
5. Smelling bad isn’t necessarily a bad thing when everyone else smells bad too!
6. I don’t think I had my arms down in any photo I took this weekend. I was always throwing those things up in the air. Good thing I reapplied deodorant a couple million times a day.
There were so many great experiences in my van I can’t even right about them here. It was just a great time. So a big thanks to everyone in my van for just being there and making me smile! We did it together and we finished it!