View of Cedar Breaks on Snow Van's First Leg
Last weekend I ran the Red Rock Relay. It’s a 186-mile, 12-person relay from Brian Head ski resort to Cedar City to St. George to Zion’s National Park. Each person runs three legs of the course, and your team keeps going throughout the night. We began on Friday morning and finished on Saturday afternoon. The 12 team members are divided into two vans, so one van can take some time to rest while the other van is supporting runners.
I was in van #1 (snow van), and I was runner #6. My legs were 5.5, 5.5, and 2.1 miles long (my running distances, not my leg-legs). I think that was pretty easy compared with some other people’s legs. I think the longest single leg was 8.2 miles. None of my runs were at particularly hot times of the day either. My first leg was at about 11 am, but we were still up in the mountains at about 8,000 feet, so it was cool and windy. The headwind was actually a pain, but at least it kept me cool. That leg was kind of tough because it was all uphill, and the thin air made me breathe a lot harder. I think I ate too much before that run because my stomach felt kind of gurgly. I ate a couple of shot bloks and had some water as I ran because I didn’t want to bonk. It’s hard for me to find the balance with my eating. If I don’t eat enough, I don’t have enough energy, but if I eat too much, my stomach rebels.
My second leg was at about 11pm in the middle of the desert between Newcastle and Veyo (the middle of nowhere). The stars were incredible. I kept covering my headlamp and looking up so I could get a good look at the sky. That leg had a lot of downhill, so I kept a good pace. I think I did 5.5 miles in 47 minutes. It was not too hot and not too cold. I wore shorts and a long-sleeved shirt, which I peeled off (to short sleeves underneath!) after a couple of miles. I didn’t eat much before and had just a few chugs of water during that run. Tummy was better.
My third leg was pretty much cake, except for a steep hill, some ups and downs, and the rising sun blinding me. I thought I would have done it faster than my 19-minute time. I was really not good at pacing myself in any of my runs. I usually start out slow and do a negative split, but the race adrenaline always has me going out too fast and then not increasing my pace too much because I’m already tired.
So the important questions are: Was it fun? and Would I do it again? Yep, it was fun. That had a lot to do with the people in my van. You do not want to do this race with party-poopers, boring lugs, or crabby patties. The worst part was probably getting up at 3 am to go out and run again. Also, you really don’t run with anyone else. There are not a lot of people in this race. It’s just you and your deep thoughts. One leg is even called “Desert Solitude.” Would I do it again? Yes, I’d probably do it once a year. That’s enough getting up in the middle of the night to run for me. If I do it again next year, I won’t eat as much. (Running and riding races definitely have different food requirements. My running stomach is much more sensitive and should probably have less food in it.) And maybe I’ll actually train a little bit more. My crossfit legs weren’t tired, but my lungs were. Wow, that was a lot of detail, but if you’re ever van #1, runner #6 in the Red Rock Relay, it might help.