|Big medal for a big race! Photo by Raceshots.net|
Time to figure out what TIR is all about! It's a relay race from Paige, TX to the San Jacinto Monument, 201.9 miles, teams of up to 12 people take turns running the 40 legs. Most teams take 2 vans of 6 people so the inactive van has a chance to rest a few hours while the active van races to support their runner, and get to each exchange point with the next runner ready to take over. Pre-race, the only Chupacabra I knew was Monica, and I would be in van 2 with Monica, Amanda, Jennifer, and Ian (only 5 since we only had 11 total). I really had no idea how to pack or what to expect, this would be an adventure!
|Ready to start! Photo by Raceshots.net|
|Smitty in Smithville|
|Another team's van tagged with a little Chupcabra head, and yes he says "chupa me"|
|It was pretty desolate out where I ran, but my team took good care of me!|
|One of the exchange points- later when navigation got tough we were super happy to see those flags and red tents!|
It was our turn to run again around 11pm, again Amanda ran first and she had a great run! I was lit up like a Christmas tree and had a bright bike light to carry, I knew my big concern about not being able to see well on the night run wouldn't be an issue. I started running and my legs felt good, the cold air even started to feel good (I was shivering while waiting at the exchange point) but my stomach felt a little off, not terrible just enough that I knew I wasn't going to be able to push the pace without puking. The night run was pretty cool, it was fun to see other runners and their vans, lots of teams cheered for me while they waited for their runner. I saw another dead snake, this one was smaller but I wondered if I'd see a snake running in Houston on my third leg too. As I kept running my upset stomach was turning into more heartburn than upset stomach- why did I drink that Dr. Pepper!! Next time I do something like TIR I'm really going to have to think about overall nutrition more and that's a big challenge when you're driving around in a van with 5 other people, exhausted, and running a few miles every 5 or 6 hours! My night leg was 6.6 miles and even though my stomach didn't feel great and I couldn't go as fast as I'd have liked, I really enjoyed that leg. And I got to run from Saturday night into Sunday morning- I've never done that before!
I helped support our runners for the next few legs and by the time the other van was up, it was 3am and I was so tired I felt a little sick. We went to a high school that was open for showers and sleeping. We showered, which felt fabulous after being sweaty and disgusting for almost 20 hours! We decided the van had to be more comfortable than the gym floor so Monica and Ian drove/navigated into Houston and our next starting point. I was in the first van seat and actually slept pretty soundly, I was so tired I probably could have slept standing up! I think I slept for almost 3 hours, which I'm pretty sure is more than anyone else on our entire team slept. But when I got up my left hip flexor was all screwed up! It hurt to walk, but I assumed it would work itself out. I got some breakfast (I think I actually ate chips and chocolate almonds for my pre-run breakfast- it's amazing I didn't puke!) and kept walking around but my hip wasn't feeling better.
Amanda said she felt "hungover" and expected a slower run. We got to the next exchange and I test ran in the parking lot, I said "ouch! that does not feel good!" out loud and got a couple of sympathy laughs from other teams- guess I wasn't the only one with "trying to run after sleeping in a van issues". I got in the porta-potty line which was right at the exchange point, I was second in line and I heard "chupa, chupa chupa!" (that's what a Chupacabra says) and Monica said she was coming, so I jumped out of line grabbed the bracelet and took off. I figured I could stop along the way for a bathroom if I needed it, but I was running through a busy residential area of Houston- good thing I didn't need a bathroom- I would have been screwed! My hip did not feel good and I felt groggy in general, I knew I'd be slow on this leg and I was just hoping I could do it in under an hour. This leg was 4.5 miles through one of the super fancy areas of Houston, very shady, but not great sidewalks, sometimes we were running in the street which was pretty scary! At one point on the sidewalk I saw, actually smelled more than saw, something that had once been an animal. How did such nasty gross roadkill get on the sidewalk?? and in such a swanky neighborhood?? I don't even have a guess at what kind of animal it was- yuck!! Well, I was 3 for 3, road kill on every leg! I didn't see many runners or vans at first but I had studied the map so I knew I was on course. I kept thinking I felt like crap but at least I got to run through a pretty area of Houston! I finished in about 55 minutes which was better than I thought I'd be able to do. Monica helped me stretch my hip, it hurt the rest of the day, but it felt better the next morning- totally a "sleeping in a van 'injury'" I must be getting old!
|The Mullets in costume|
We were on our way to the next exchange point while Monica was running and saw her standing on a corner, she looked VERY unhappy and gave us the cut throat sign- OH NO!! Of course we were in a very busy part of Houston so we couldn't stop and talk to her, we found a place to turn off and sent Ian running to get the bracelet and finish the leg, while I went to see if Monica needed help getting back to the van. She had sprained her ankle badly, I could see it swelling already- YIKES! I helped her back to the van, we got her some ice and advil and helped her elevate her foot. It looked awful and she was super upset. Ian taking Monica's leg meant he'd be running over 8 miles in the heat- not good! We went downtown to check on him (and I actually navigated us successfully through downtown Houston!) and then out a couple more miles, at that point he was pretty overheated, so Jenn jumped in and ran for a couple miles. I'm pretty sure that's all against the rules, but at that point we didn't have any options other than quitting which we obviously didn't want to do. It was all feeling really dramatic and stressful at this point and I know we were all glad to let the other van take over when Jenn and Ian finished!
Our other runners weren't feeling a whole lot better so we went a couple exchange points down the road and waited to see if they needed one of us to jump in and run. I really hoped I wouldn't need to run more and Amanda and Jennifer were both willing, so I camped out under a shade tree with Monica while she ice bathed her ankle. That's when we found Red and Andrew! I knew we'd probably see them at some point but I thought it would be before exchange point #38 (of 40)! Wow! Exchange point 38! We were almost finished!
We drove to the San Jacinto Monument and waited for Shellie to finish the last leg, we didn't wait long- she's super fast! Then we all jogged to the monument (well they jogged, I ran as fast as I could until Joe yelled at everyone to slow down) we all got huge medals and got pictures taken. Poor Monica stayed in the van since she really couldn't walk on her ankle and it was a long way from where we parked to the monument.
|and this is what we all looked like at the finish! ok, not really, but close!|
|my only picture of the monument|
|Finisher picture in front of the monument, minus injured Monica|
|Shellie brought champagne for a toast at the end!|