Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Red Rock Relay 2010: Snow to Sun Run

Well, as many of you know, I set a goal this year to run a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon in preparation to run a Full Marathon in 2011. I started walking right after Lily was born and 6 weeks later I started to run. My first race was the Terror Trail Run. It was a 4 mile trail race in May. It was followed by the Fitness for America 10K in July. Then, as I was looking for a Half Marathon, I got an email from my brother Munro suggesting I participate in a relay he was signing up for. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to improve my running while visiting family in Utah at the same time!

After months of training, I flew out to Utah to run the 186 mile race with Munro, my best friend Jennie, and a bunch of Munro's cousins and members from my dad's ward. We met at Cory Ludvigson's house on Thursday and drove South to the start of the race.

After arriving at packet pickup, we swapped vans for a 12 passenger, loaded up on food, painted the van, got a few hours of sleep and then headed to the race start where our first runner would ride a ski lift to the top of a mountain and then run back down!

Cory took the first leg, running a little over 3 miles down dirt trails and shale. When she got back to the base of the ski lift she turned the running over to Munro who began running the steepest 4+ miles our van would see. Munro ran it like a champ and then passed the bracelet to Rafa, who was a little confused about what to do next! He figured it out eventually though and soon finished his 7 mile downhill and passed off to Jaron for the next 7 mile leg. Unfortunately, Jaron had been throwing up all night and had a fever. He pushed himself an AMAZING 4 miles before his body couldn't go anymore. He was out for the count after that but we didn't want to quit, so Munro quickly put his running shoes back on and finished Jaron's leg before passing off to Jennie. Jennie then had a mix of ups and downs for I think somewhere around 5 miles before she passed the bracelet to me for my longest and most uphill leg!

My first leg was almost 6 miles, all uphill. Luckily for me, it was freezing cold outside which really kept me going. I had a lot of support from the van too. They stopped every mile or so and gave me water, Gatorade, Chap-stick, and loud cheers!

After conquering what I thought would be my hardest leg, I felt GREAT! I ran hard and never stopped to walk, and I got to hand off the bracelet to the other van which meant I had all 12 runners cheering me through the shoot! When all was said and done, we packed up our things, dropped Jaron off at a hotel where he could rest and recover, and then headed to the next exchange point to wait for the other van to finish their legs.

We tried to sleep but I don't think anyone got anything more than 15 minutes or so and soon the other van arrived. They were earlier than we thought so we kind of had to rush to get our van going again, but me made it and then began our midnight legs!

Our night legs were much harder than we thought they would be. First, we were all wasted from being awake for so long, and second, we were all anticipating having to run an extra that was named the Dirty Devil and was all uphill. We were trying to decide who would run it when we saw this...

All the cars in the distance suddenly began to move upward! STRAIGHT UP! We were all a little freaked out by the steepness of the run and finally decided that the only way we could do it is if Rafa continued to run as long as he could after his leg and into Jaron's. Then the rest of us would take 1 mile at a time until it was done. Luckily, Rafa made it 2 more miles after his leg so each of us only had to take 1 mile!

I was the last runner of the night, which meant I started around 2 am. When I took the bracelet from Jennie and started to run, the rest of the runners were fast asleep in the van. I just kept hoping they would remember to bring me water along the route. At first I was scared. I was the only runner as far as I could see and I was literally in the middle of nowhere! Just as I started to believe that a coyote was about to take me out by the knees and end my life, I looked up...I have never in my life seen the stars in such abundance and beauty. I ran the rest of the way looking upward and finished with my fastest time EVER and dare say it was my favorite run EVER!

When I passed off to the other van, Munro hopped into the driver's seat and we started to drive the hour and a half trek to the next exchange point. Everyone else was asleep in the back, which is exactly what I intended to be doing until I saw Munro's face. The man had to be sleep walking and I knew if I slept, so would he, and then so would the rest of us...FOREVER! So, I started to talk...and he answered...and I talked...and somehow me made it, parked, and fell asleep without any recollection of a single word that was said. We also managed to get an hour and a half of sleep before the other van came in...and that was our total for the whole 30 hour race!

Cory started us out on our last legs with a 3 mile run that managed to finish off her sprained ankle and carpel tunnel with a twisted knee! She was amazing at pushing through the pain and finished strong before passing off to Munro again. Munro ran his leg quickly and felt so good afterward that he decided to go for a new goal and run a total of 26.2 miles by the end of the relay. None of us minded because it meant we wouldn't have to run Jaron's last leg! Rafa went next and was also feeling awesome so after Munro jumped out to finish his last mile with him, he continued on into Jaron's leg with Munro for the next mile! Then Munro finished off Jaron's leg and continued to run the first mile of Jennie's leg to round out his mileage. Jennie continued on after we picked up Munro and managed to run 5 miles with a GIANT blister on the bottom of her foot before passing off to me one last time.

I was tired and shaky at this point but took comfort in the fact that this would be my shortest and flattest leg. I ran out of the shoot and took my first corner before I looked up and saw a fork in the road. One side continued flatly to the left, the other went up a NASTILY steep hill that I couldn't see the top of. I started turning left when I saw the van at the top of the hill and my father in law at the bottom waving me toward them. DOH!!!

I wanted to cry, but instead, told myself that I can do hard things and no matter what, I was going to run that hill! AND I DID RUN IT! As well as the rest of my leg at a relatively quick pace before handing off to the other van. I was greeted with monster cookies and high fives before we packed up to shower and meet the other van at the finish line!

As we waited, we got to enjoy the beautiful 96 degree weather in St. George. A HUGE contrast to the 38 degree weather we started in! We also were able to collect our finishers shirts and batons and say our good byes, since I would be going back to Chicago soon. Then we ran through the finish line together and celebrated our 30 hour team effort to conquer 186 miles of Utah's most beautiful terrain.

The Red Rock Relay was both difficult and rewarding for me and I can't wait to do it again... hopefully with Kevin in tow. But until then, I have a marathon to train for!


Kevin Hanks said...

Not only do I think you're all crazy (especially Mr. 26.2 Munro!) ...

But I'm also insanely jealous and wish I could've been there and gotten a cool sharpie tattoo on my face ... or perhaps just the back of my calf!

Way to go Naomi! I'm very proud of what you did and think you're amazing!

Brian Hanks said...

Great summary! And it looked like. . . um, . . . fun?

Tara said...

Amazing! Congratulations on such a big race, wow. I will have to look into this one, it looks really cool.
That picture of you in front of the red rock (dirt?) is really awesome! It better be the wallpaper on your computer right now! :)

Beccarigg said...

Dude, that made me feel nauseously tired reading that! Especially the part where you were trying to help Ro stay awake. Those relays are so dang fun but so unbelievably exhausting too! That's awesome that you survived the sleep deprivation and had such great runs. My night run was my favorite too. Maybe I should try running at night more often... Anyway, great job, you guys did awesome and got some sweet pics!

Munro Murdock said...


That was a great race recap Naomi! I'm glad because now I don't need to write one :) I'd like to share it with our team if you don't mind.

You were a true running champ on all of your legs...I was impressed by your great attitude and steady pace throughout the whole race. Oh, and thanks for keeping me awake so we didn't all die and make the rocks even redder than they already are.

It would be a blast to do it again and to have a family van: you, Kevin, Taber, Becca and any other crazy relatives that are up to the challenge. The Sole Survivors will live on...

Keep it up and enjoy what is left of the great outdoor running temps before the winter cold front blows our socks off.

Natalie said...

Man! I originally thought a race like that would be fun, but I don't think I could do it without proper sleep. Everyone would hate me because I'd be such a beast.

You're really amazing, Naomi! I'm so impressed with your running skills.

Ioane said...

Way to go Omi! You've got mad skills. I almost threw up just reading your post, don't know how you did it. Keep up the good work. I can't wait to hear how your half marathon went. Love you