Check out the video from this event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbObigW3X0A&feature=youtu.be
Relay races are the new HOT thing in racing these days. They are events that are great for beginners and competitors alike. Everyone has a place wearing crazy clothes and decorating their cars in an attempt to run big mileage in the least amount of time.
Lake-to-Lake 50 Mile Relay is one of my favorites. I LOVE the course! It runs from West of St. George at Gunlock Reservoir to Sand Hollow Reservoir on the far East side. There is a little bit of everything on this course. Beautiful canyons, steep hills, dirt, asphalt, and everything in between.
Last year I ran this race as a 2-man relay with my good friend Anni Curtis and we had a blast coming in with a time of 7 hours. This year, hubby Adam put a team together sponsored by The Spectrum newspaper and for months asked me to join in because he needed another female. I was hesitant. Ironman training demands long bike rides and bricks (bike to run workouts) every weekend. It wasn’t until about the week before that I committed to join the team if everyone would be “kind enough” to let me run two legs back-to-back after I went for a bike ride. Demanding…..I know 😉
I happily signed on for Legs 9 and 10. I had run Leg 9 the previous year and it is considered the “hardest” leg of the course. I don’t necessarily agree that it is the hardest, but it definitely has some tough terrain over dirts and rocks and steep hills. Leg 9 ends at the pavement that takes the teams around the backside of Sand Hollow reservoir. Leg 9 was just over 4 miles and Leg 10 was just shy of 8 miles. My plan was to leave early in the morning and get in 50 miles or so on the bike while the team ran their way over to the other side of town.
Craig and I rode our bikes and made a Veyo Loop passing all the early relay legs on the way out to Gunlock. It was fun to see all the runners and decorated cars out and about cheering. The event had over 100 teams, so we were afforded plenty of entertainment for a few miles.
The ride was not spectacular, but it was the first time I was out for a long ride on my new bike…….so it wasn’t too bad J Timing was perfect and we finished the loop and I made it over to Washington City to join Adam and the rest of our team by Noon.
The best thing about a relay race is it gives you the excuse to name your team something goofy and wear clothing that you would NEVER in your life run in at any other time. I just can’t imagine what motorists think as they pass by women running in tiaras and tutus, mismatched polka dots and stripes and maybe a gorilla costume or two.
Our team settled on the name “Swimmer’s Itch”. If you know anything about Sand Hollow Reservoir, you are familiar with swimmer’s itch. It is a nasty little rash that you can get in the shallows of some fresh water lakes due to organisms imbedding themselves under your skin. Pleasant……I know J It’s a GREAT team name. Going with the swimming theme the boys donned their board shorts and the girls wore bikinis over black-fitted running clothes. AWESOME!
I got off my bike just in time to have a little snack for lunch, change into the bikini outfit in the car and get to the start of Leg 9. The other female on our team Megan handed off to me and I started, right up the dirt hill.
Leg 9 has a steep and dirty climb up and over the ridge and into the Pecan fields just to the north of the lake. Honestly, the hardest part of this leg is the footing. It is uneven and rocky…..ankle-breaker rocky. A couple of times I found myself trying to stay upright because my ankle threatened to roll. I was keeping a good pace for just coming off the bike and averaging around an 8:00 mile. I would take that in the dirt and on the hills…….on pretty tired legs.
The weather was perfect. It was sunny and cool with very little wind. I knew that for me, fueling was going to be important as I had already been on my bike for over 3 hours. My team met me at the next exchange to refill my bottles and give me some extra electrolyte supplements. After a quick potty stop, I was off and running down towards the lake on Leg 10.
Last year, my friend Anni ran Leg 10 and came back with stories of woe. I figured it was because we were at the end of running 20+ miles and Leg 10 is a bit lonely as it wraps its way around and back to the boat ramp……I would soon find out it was a bit more than that…..
I took a left onto the road that would take me to the backside of the North dam to the lake……terrain, I’ve never been on before. The pavement turned back to dirt and though the rocks were a bit smaller than the ankle-breakers of Leg 9, they were still difficult to navigate. I was through more than half of my water by the time I came to the first dam and still had 2/3 of the mileage on the leg to go. I was going to run out of water and my team was no where in sight…….nor was anyone else.
Relay races are self-supported. There are no aid stations. Your team supports you from your vehicle. The problem with Leg 10 is the majority of it is closed to traffic. There is just no way for your team to get to you. I knew this fact and just hoped I could hold out until we rounded the other side of the lake where I knew there were public bathrooms that would at least have a sink.
I was feeling good and holding on to my pace. I had taken on GU for fuel and took one more with 3 miles to go. YUCK! I do not like the taste of Chocolate Raspberry Roctane Gu…….that earned a swift two-thumbs down for reminding me of Robitussin, but it got a earned a couple points for the caffeine kick it was about to deliver J
Right before the GU, I was grateful to see another team’s vehicle. It was a 2 man team of Ben Ford and Marc Mortensen…….FRIENDS! YAY! I begged some water off of Marc and could have reached in the car and kissed him for being my Savior. I needed that water!
After a few gulps of BEAUTIFUL water, I was passed by some guy who was flying…..I don’t know where he came from but I was impressed! I was holding steady with my 8:00 average and was entering the south dam area and the final mile stretch to the finish. It is always interesting when you can see your finish line from miles away. It can play tricks on you, but today, I just tuned into my headphones and ran it home.
Swimmer’s Itch finished with a time of 6:29 and came in fourth out of the co-ed teams and I believe about 17th overall. Not too shabby for a hodge-pod of runners! The best part about ending a race in March at a lake is that your ice bath is ready whenever you are…….down to the water I went and sat myself down to shiver in the 47 degree water for a few minutes…….PERFECT! I wish I had that at the end of every race! (Though I am hoping that in the next 2 months before Ironman there is some significant warming that goes on…..because that was WAY TOO COLD to swim in).
It truly was a great day! I had a good ride and a great run. I was happy with my performance and ready for fun of the awards banquet that night. Whether you are new to running or an old pro, you can’t lose by getting a team together for one of these GREAT events!
Thanks to St. George City for always putting on such well-run event and to Brigham Whitney, Trent Staheli, Adam Rue and Megan Richardson for rounding out TEAM SWIMMER’S ITCH!