My First Relay Experience

Workin' Out

Way back before the beginning of the year, my husband and I were asked to join a relay team. We decided to make the commitment as this relay was actually something we had wanted to do, and it was close to home, which made making arrangements for childcare etc. easier since we actually finished the relay here in Brookings. When something is set up so perfectly, you kind of have no excuses to not do it…right?!

The Wild Rogue Relay.

It sounded daunting to me at first, only because I had never previously participated in any sort of race. I have been a long distance runner in the past, but that was years ago. And to be honest, I’ve never been overly competitive with anyone other than myself, so races never were exciting for me. The worst part of the whole experience I knew, however, would be leaving my kids, and not the actual running part. (Which was indeed very challenging, I missed my kiddos very much because this was the first time my husband and I had ever been away from both of them! The first night we were gone, we had no cell phone service so I wasn’t able to call them like I had promised before bedtime. I had a hard time falling asleep because of that.)

What was exciting, and kept me looking forward to more adventure, was being able to explore an area so close to home, that I had actually never been before. Also exciting, was the fact that I could enjoy the company of other like-minded adults. I was a bit nervous, to be honest, because the group of people we were joining (and going to be spending a lot of close-quartered time with) I didn’t know personally very well, so I wasn’t sure exactly how like-minded we all were until we all crammed together into the truck and began our journey.

I am so thankful we fit in so well.

My husband and I initially thought we were going to be in this to really push ourselves, and try our best to have fast times on our runs, and be serious about the outcome. Maybe half way into the drive over to the valley did we decide this trip was going to be more about having a good time than it was about being great. I knew we would do our best during the runs, but being able to let loose a little felt better than good times were going to feel.

I don’t get much time around adults, and when I do, it is family, and my children are still around and demanding the majority of my attention. So to be able to fully relax and not have to filter, or watch what I said for fear of little ears, or offending anyone, was wonderful. On top of that, I do not think I have laughed so hard in…way too long!

Lord knows I needed this trip.

The trip in itself went basically as I imagined it would. Thursday being random, as it was our free time before settling in and beginning the race.  We left Brookings early enough so that we could stop in Cave Junction at Taylors for lunch. We did add in a couple stops I wasn’t expecting, but fully glad we made them.

  • Pour Authority—A newer place, with an outstanding selection of cold drinks. We all had one there, and bought a few for the road.
  • Army Navy Store—to purchase a couple State of Jefferson flags. One in which we had to represent next to the American flag flying on the back of the truck.

 

 

We decided not to camp at the starting line, since the relay and owners of the campground set things up differently this year and we would have had to wheelbarrow our coolers, gear, and whole lives up a hill and to a campsite far away from the truck. Instead, we drove up the road a few miles, and found a more remote camp ground, made a quick camp, started a fire, cooked some dinner, and enjoyed those cold drinks. We also tattooed the truck. Javin and I headed to bed before some of the others, and I know we didn’t fall asleep probably until closer to 11:00. We slept on hard ground, no pads, but inside a small tent. So at least we didn’t get eaten alive by mosquitos. I tossed and turned, thinking about my kids, and also  my hip bones were digging into what felt like rocks no matter which way I rolled. Needless to say, those iffy six hours of sleep would basically fuel me for the next 40 hours.

 

 

Our alarms were set for 5:00 am, to give us enough time to take down camp, eat, and get to the finish line in enough time before our first runner had to start. Our team’s start time was 6:35 am.

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Brice began the race for our team. Then Javin, then me, then Hap, then John, then Laurie. And then we handed off to van 2 who would meet us at the first big exchange. At this point it was getting hot out, and I knew we weren’t going to be able to really get in much rest. We ate, decided to find a place to jump in the river, and headed down the road to our exchange, a church in Merlin. There, we finally relaxed, and some of us dozed. No luck sleeping though. I did acquire a sunburn, a snazzy one too! (Over my KT tape crisscrossed along my knees and up my leg.)

 

 

We began our second legs from this point, which took us into about 11:00 at night. We all wanted so badly to sleep, but we had to commute on a narrow, gravel road, while sharing the road with the runners, so our drive took a couple hours.

 

 

After a long day, and logging two runs, my fitbit (somewhere around 9pm, before the battery died a couple hours later) clocked me in at 15 miles, and 94 minutes of “exercise”. That was only Friday, which was our longest day.

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By the time we reached the next exchange, we were so tired; we threw out our sleeping bags, scurried inside them, and slept for a few hours. That’s all it was, a good solid two for sure, maybe a little more. Our 4:00 am wake up call went off, and we packed up, and headed down to the hand off. It’s a good thing we didn’t dilly-dally because our team came trucking in shortly after we arrived.

 

 

I was hurting on Saturday morning. I knew Friday night my knee was going to give me hell, I had just hoped it would wait until after the relay was over. Nope. My third run I passed up a runner first thing, and it hit me that I was going to have to slow my pace and deal with a limp for the whole 8 miles. After accumulating 15 kills, this run was the first time I got killed myself. A big disappointment for me. I actually wasn’t happy about it one bit. My husband was trying to be supportive, but I ended up snapping at him. I’m pretty sure my exact words were “Javin, you know I’m better than this!” (In which I apologized about once I cooled off)I think, what bothered me most, besides the pain during my third run, was how perfect of a morning it was to be out running. I didn’t even use my music because it was so peaceful.

But, I was done!

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Don’t judge.  I only had one swig. Maybe two.

John and Laurie took us to the port of Gold Beach, and there, our last exchange was made. We made it through the relay, our three legs were finished! At this point, we were all home…so while we had six-ish hours to get to the finish line, we decided to all shower and get into clean clothes. I of course, only wanted to go see my babies!

At the park we enjoyed a complementary cider in our sweet glasses, and just hung out while we waited for our team to make their way to the finish line.

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Delicious apple-ginger cider.

By now, our kids were down at the park with us, and actually got to run into the finish line with mama, daddy, and the rest of the team.

And, there we have it. 35 hours, 16 minutes later and our team was done running.

Thank you for allowing Javin and I to be a part of your team this year.

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Parker, was still talking to me about it just this morning, even though it happened nearly a week ago. He says “Mama when I grow up I want to run with you.” I couldn’t think of anything I’d enjoy more. I sure hope he continues to share his mama’s love for fitness.

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OUR RELAY FOOD PREP

 

When you are used to being fairly structured as far as eating meals, and showers, and sleep times go…you’ve got to prepare yourself for being able to be a bit more flexible when it comes to doing races like this.

There are no structured anythings.

Our team members who weren’t newbies warned us that eating was a challenge, and that sometimes you weren’t hungry, and other times you were starving. Being as I am used to eating throughout the day I made sure I prepped food that was easy to eat in the truck, or as a fast bite. Also, food had to either be able to fit in the cooler, or eaten without any cold storage. We didn’t heat up food other than the first night we camped, because we were on the go too much and had no time/way to build a fire or set up propane.

We planned to stop along the drive for lunch, so we needed dinner for Thursday night, and we planned for elk and turkey burgers, veggie quinoa salad, and fixins. I prepped the quinoa salad, and pre-cooked the turkey burgers, so all we had to do Thursday was cook the Elk.

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I also prepped a large batch of my gluten free banana pancakes, and portioned them out into baggies so I could grab and go with them. I had these Friday morning with almond butter, and also Saturday morning.

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I also prepped chicken salads, two for myself, and two for Javin. We had these for lunch Friday, and lunch Saturday.

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Friday dinner ended up being leftover turkey burger without bun, trail mix, and fruit. It was kind of a jumble, since our second legs were at or after dinner time, which meant no real sit down meal.

Saturday we just snacked until we got to Brookings and had our finish-line meal.

We packed fig bars, banana chips, apples, trail mix, yogurt covered almonds, almond milks, sports drinks, and baby carrots. Basically things we eat every day at home anyways, which made it easier on my digestion, and made for easy shopping. The only thing I forgot to pack was our string cheese, which would have been a nice addition to everything else we had.

 

 

We actually didn’t have many left-overs, which means we prepped pretty accurately. The nice thing about this trip, was everyone kind of shared everything. We were like one big family. Looking back, I don’t think there is anything I would have changed about what we prepped. I feel like for me personally, I was plenty fueled, and hydrated. I never felt weighed down or got an upset stomach, which is common during these runs.

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ADDITIONAL ITEMS WE PACKED

Other essentials we packed that I would make sure to pack again if we do another relay similar to this:

  • Foam roller/ some sort of myofacial release tools
  • Music for running—I personally enjoy it 95% of the time I’m running, no matter how short or long the run is.
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat—No showers and three runs = nasty hair!
  • KT tape. I needed it, and I saw many others using it during the race.
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