Thursday, June 23, 2011


I'm so excited to do this post, but I know when I get all the pictures that everyone else took there will be many more that I'll want to put on.  Who knows there may be two posts!

It seemed like it was forever away, but finally the day came and we were able to participate in the WASATCH BACK RAGNAR RELAY.  From the moment we signed up, throughout the training, during the race and now through the pain I'm feeling, there has been an excitement that's hard to describe.  In a way I'm sad that it's over.  Although, runners have the opportunity to preregister on June 22nd, (which we will definitely do) and the cycle will start all over again.

We decided to leave Nephi at noon on Thursday to head to Logan.  It's a good thing we decided to go that early because it seemed to take us forever to get there.  We had to make some stops along the way, all which were important and race related.  We finally made it to Logan just in time to get loaded with carbs.  We ate at Fredrico's and sadly I didn't take pictures of our pizza and pasta feast.  After a couple more errands and a stop at Sonic for a cream slush we went back to the hotel and began to decorate our vehicle.  We had big plans, but we were beginning to panic about not getting to bed early enough so we quickly threw it together.  Next year we'll be on top of things! 

Ann, painting a perfect image of herself

DeAnn and Me
 Our start time was 5:00am and we were told to be there an hour and a half early for the safety demonstration, packet pick-up and all that kind of stuff.  We decided an hour would work so we set our alarms for 3:30 and planned to be out the door at 4:00am.  Give or take 10 minutes, we did pretty good.

It was a COLD morning so not only that was making us shiver our nerves were getting to us too.
The dark and cold parking lot where they were holding the safety demos

The first group of runners anxiously waiting 5:00am at the starting line

Ann, setting her Garmin at take off on the first leg of the race

With that the race officially began.  Ann started out on her first run, a 6.9 mile (hard) leg.  We hurried to the Excursion to drive to a spot where we could see her pass by and cheer her on.  We were surprised by how long it was taking the runners to come by but later found out that the person in the lead made a wrong turn and everyone followed.  This mistake added nearly a mile to Ann's run.  She made super time and made up for the mistake.  We were proud!!  She set the standard for us all from the start.

Ann coming in at the finish of leg 1 and making a "kill" at the same time.

Amberlee was our 2nd runner and so took the slap bracelet from Ann and headed off on her 6.7 mile (hard) leg.  It was light now and we were already so impressed by how pretty our surroundings were.  It was fun to see people out in their yards cheering on the runners as they ran by.

Tammy, obeying the rules with the flag,  giving Amberlee some water
Sue Ann started her 5.6 mile leg in Hyrum and ended up in the cute little town of Paradise.  Truly all these little towns we passed through looked like Paradise! 

Sue Ann coming in like a champion!
Tammy took off on leg 4, a 5.1 (moderate) run.  She ran to where the road begins to ascend Avon Pass.
Tammy in her fun and funky shoes 

DeAnn started us up Avon Pass along a dirt road on a 7.4 mile (very hard) leg.  Once again the scenery was so green and pretty.  I was honestly overwhelmed by the beauty.  We saw a moose down by a river on this leg.  DeAnn was too busy looking where to plant her feet to probably have noticed it.

By now, I've hit every single Honey Bucket stop along the way.  I've never "urinated" so much in my life.  It was definitely nerve related.  I started to worry that there is now way on earth that I could be staying hydrated because as fast as I was drinking, it was coming out.
I was jealous that my teamates had their legs over and were able to relax for awhile and mine was looming ahead, a 6.9 mile (very hard) leg, 

When DeAnn came into the exchange she handed over the bracelet and I was on my way, trying only to think good thoughts.  It was 10:30am and starting to warm up a bit.  As I started out I immediately felt like my stomach was hollow.  I had worried about what to eat for fear I'd cause problems with tummy issues.  I had a banana, granola bar and some water.  I think I could have eaten a bit more.  After a pretty good climb for a mile and a half I fnally begin the (knee jarring) decent down Avon Pass, by that time my mind was off my empty stomach and focusing on where to plant my feet while flying down the mountain. 

My fun had begun
I think I had a slight advantage going into major exchanges, at least at this one.  Cafe Rio was one of the sponsors and they offered a sombaro for runners to wear for a 1/2 mile at the end for a coupon for a free meal. No problemo! 

Van 1 had done it!  We had all made it through our first 6 legs and right on time too!  It was time now to cheer our teamates in van 2 on and relax for a couple of hours.
Amberlee, Sue Ann, Connie, DeAnn, Ann, Tammy

The exchange was in the little town of Liberty.  It didn't take us long to realize that now that our nerves were somewhat calmer, we were hungry!  We found a grassy spot along the highway and made us some sandwiches, ate and cheered on the runners and they ran by.

The sad part about being in seperate vans is that it is hard to have the opportunity to cheer each other on.  We did drive most of their routes on our way to Snow Basin where the next major exchange was.  We weren't envying the climb they were going to have to run to meet us up there.

We got up to Snow Basin where they had some booths set up.  We all decided that we deserved to treat ourselves to some Ragnar Relay hoodies and or jackets.  After our shopping spree we tried hard to get a little rest.  For some of us that was hard!

Sue Ann just getting some beauty rest

DeAnn was the only one that got some honest to goodness sleep, lucky her.
As Shawna came in and Ann took off we had a few minutes to share the excitement with the van 2 girls.  They were loving it just as much as we were!

Jamie, Shannon, Shawna, Jill, Mary, Erin
 Ann ran 8.3 (very hard) miles down into Mt. Green.  Along the way she made a friend who ran along side of her.  25 year old Benjamin. He had followed behind her for awhile and finally said, "I think if we can run together we can finish this.  I'm needing some motivation to keep running and I have a feeling you can get me through." They chatted the rest of the leg and were able to encourage each other to keep at it.  It was cool to see them hug at the end of their exhausting long run.  It's cool how finding a friend along the way can be such a support.

Next up was Amberlee.  She was running the leg that the team was designed around, the one that went directly behind her house, leg 14-3.0 miles (easy).  It was awesome to see the support of her family as we passed by.  Another thing that made our day!

Leg 15 was Sue Ann's.  It was a 4.9 mile (moderate) starting in Milton.  Once again it was fun to see all the people out sitting in their lawn chairs cheering the runners on along the way.  

I love her arms!
Sue passed on to Tammy and she ran to Morgan High School where she exchanged with DeAnn

The look on Tammy's face tells it all, relief and SATISFACTION!!

I didn't have a picture so I though I'd put in this map to show this leg of the race.

This is the part of the race that was absolutely awe inspiring to me!  I don't think I have ever felt so good running.  I had eaten some energy jelly beans before I started and a pack of GU during the run so perhaps that was it, but I really don't think so.  For one thing the beautiful area was once again amazing, the temperature was perfect, the time of day was great.  I started running at 7:06pm.  One of the volunteers at the starting point had said, "why in the world did you pick this leg to do?"  and then two other runners at the start told me how bad it was.  I started out a bit nervous because of what they had said, but quickly things just 'felt right' somehow. 
I kept reminding myself that this was just our basic Sheep Herd Lane run and I could do it.  Then I started having several other people along the way tell me I could do it too.  It was SO amazing to feel EVERYONE supporting each other.  It wasn't about individual teams and beating each other.  There was such a feeling of unity.  I have honestly never felt anything like it. 
Near the end of the leg I rounded a turn and was pretty sure that I would be able to see the exchange, instead I saw a VERY steep  hill ahead and no exchange in sight.  Normally I would have crashed!  But in a crazy way I excitedly took up the challenge of running all the way up that hill to the end.  In fact I didn't walk one time in the entire race.  I felt more mentally strong than I had ever felt and it was awesome. 
When I reached the top and heard Jill yelling to Mary, "Mary, she's here, she's here!"  I passed her the bracelet and then couldn't hold the tears back.  It's hard to describe how gratifying it was, but it was definitely a very COOL feeling.

From there we went to No. Summit High School for a yummy speghetti dinner.  We were able to find a dark hall to catch a couple hours of sleep.  Luckily I had a pair of ear plugs that made all the difference.  At 1:30am we got a text from Jamie saying to be at the exchange in an hour.  We got up and hit the road.  It was of course very dark and we weren't exactly sure where Oakley was.  We found a map on my phone and then also followed traffic.  As we exited the freeway we came to a stand still.  There were lots and lots of cars getting off as well and at the bottom of the off ramp was an exchange.  We told Ann to quickly hop out and we'd let the other group know she was there.  We found a place to park and pretty soon, Jamie called back and said that they couldn't find her anywhere.  It was shortly after that that we realized we were at the wrong exchange.  Not only one off but two exchanges away from where we needed to be.  There was a non stop line of cars driving along the two laned highway with runners in the other lane so you could no way pass.  It took us what seemed like forever to get there.  Nearly 40 minutes of time was lost! But there wasn't anything we could do about it.   We dropped Ann off in the darkness and drove up the road to watch for her and see that everything was okay. 
Amberlee had a dark run, and Sue Ann's 7.7 mile (hard) run started out in the dark too.  They all did great and felt good too.  Tammy, DeAnn and I all had runs into and around Heber City.  That is where we finished up the last of our legs and turned it over to van 2 to bring us into the finish line.
After we finished we went to Mcdonald's to grab something to eat, but most importantly we went to Mcdonald's to clean up a bit.  We were definitely a bit SMELLY and it was time to freshen up!!!

We really wanted to cheer on and support Shannon and Jamie as they begin the steep climp from Wasatch State Park into Park City along a mountainous dirt road.  We're so glad that we did because it gave us a greater appreciation of their EXTRA hard work and determination.  We're talking making a climb of over 3000 ft in seven miles between the two legs.  They were awesome!

Shannon, even walking she made several kills!
Jill, getting ready to shed her jacket and take off down a LONG 7.3 mile (very hard) hill
Remnants of the over abundance of snow that almost altered the route over the top
 The life of living in a car for two days, it's a good thing you can't smell through photos!

Jamie, showing us how she's loving every minute

After we cheered our teamates on we left for Park City High School where the finish line festivities were happening.  We waited there for van 2 team members to arrive and to await the arrival of Shawna so that we could all run across the finish line together.

 Sadly, that's the end of the pictures on my camera.  I can't wait to see our team picture, and when I do, I'll get a copy and add it to my blog.

The Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay was one of the very best things I have ever done!  I was truly on a high that lasted for several days.  As you can see, I love talking about it.  It's kind of hard to explain what made it so great.  I would have to say that there is a combination of several different factors, the team of great friends and family, the excitement of the unknown, the beauty of the course, the positive energy that is all around, and the accomplishment of conquering the challenge of each leg that you run. 

I'm so blessed to have such awesome friends, sisters and cousins.  It absolutely makes things like this perfect in everyway.

I have to say that I love the fact that I am almost 50 years old and able to do things like this.  We talked about whether or not we'd do it again next year, and I said, "We need to do it every year until we can't!"  That's my goal!  I'm hoping and praying I've got a lot more years left in me.