Man, I am winding down towards my 50 — which is happening NEXT week. It’s hard to believe I am almost there, especially after running three marathons in the past month. I just want to run that 50 and get it done with.
This past weekend as part of my “tapering” miles, I ran the Red Rock Relay with Team Addict II Athlete. This was a race I’ve been looking forward to for most of the summer. Ever since I’ve joined the team back in May it’s helped change my mentality just in my running, but life. A lot of their principles are what I’ve held true in my journey — and without going into a lot of that here, I will be sharing my story on the AIIA Podcast in the next couple of months.
This was the first time running the Red Rock Relay. Most of my relays have been Ragnar with one being the Rivalry Relay some 5 years ago or so. I love relays for many reasons — but, more than anything it’s a great way to just meet people. Something I absolutely love to do — I guess you could say after running my second favorite hobby is meeting people.
There’s something about being cramped in a car with 5-6 other runners and running anywhere from 50 to 100 miles — all day and sometimes all night. You really get to know people in this setting. It’s like scout camp for grownups.
But, I was really impressed with the Red Rock Relay. Very well organized, not too overcrowded, very well marked (I have a fear of getting lost in any race I run — even if I have over 130 under my belt … call me irrational) and gorgeous setting. The Heber Valley setting is just gorgeous. It’s such a shame that so many of us Salt Lake and Utah Valleyers take for granted what is literally in our backyard. It’s just beautiful.
For those who have ran the Ragnar Wasatch Back would be familiar with a good portion of the race. The RRR course loops around the Valley from the Homestead in Heber City and back via Park City. This includes the infamous climbs and descents of Deer Valley and Guardsman Pass.
As you will see below, my legs were in Heber City and then that infamous Guardsman Pass descent. Normally running down Guardsman Pass I would worried because of how brutal it can be on your legs (especially quads), but I’ve ran parts that leg during Ragnar the past two years (and three years ago I ran UP it when the course went the other way). So, I am very familiar with the hill — and I actually really kind of love it.
But, I had a blast during the day. I got to know a few of the team members better. I share a little bit of that below in my leg reports. But, I am truly, truly grateful for what AIIA means to me and has changed my approach to my goals and running this past year.
Here are my leg reports …
Leg 3 of 12 (Heber City to Heber Valley Girls Camp)
I love hills, but I hate them. But, I swear I love them. Okay, hills give me a mix of emotions. But, really, in the long run — I do them, because I love the sense of conquering them. No matter what the elevation gain may be.
This leg was no different and as you can see from the elevation chart — it was pretty much a gradual up hill climb. I knew what to expect and after running three marathons in the past month — I knew I’d be fine. Especially since I survived Veyo Hill last weekend.
The one thing that was difficult for me though was the temperature. I didn’t want to take off my hoodie or beanie cap. It was cold. Not only were we up in the mountains, but it was the middle of October — summer is basically dead. So I decided to at least start the run off in my hoodie and beanie cap thinking I’d ditch them a couple miles into the run.
Well, I ditched the hoodie about three miles into the run, but my beanie stayed with me — pretty much the whole day. Luckily I wasn’t overly sweaty, but by the end of the day that beanie smelt like death. But, it sure kept me warm.
Anyways — the leg wasn’t that bad as I weaved through Heber City and towards the exchange which is close to a girls camp. The home stretch is basically that — a looooooong stretch of road. And, where most of the climbing happened. It wasn’t THAT bad, because I just zoned out, pressed on and rocked out to my music. It was perfect.
I did almost lose my cookies about a mile and half from the exchange when I ran past a dead deer. It wasn’t the sight of the dead deer that did it, it was the smell of dead deer that made me want to upheave that morning’s banana.. Luckily, none of that happened. But, still … yuck.
About a half mile out I was joined by Jed who ran me into the exchange. I was grateful to be finished. I grabbed a water and a bag of grapes and just chowed down. It was a perfect snack/refuel.
Leg 12 of 12 (Guardsman Pass to Homestead Resort)
Originally, I was going to run Leg 9, but seeing that it had a lot of climbs and knowing we would be pressed for time I asked Coach Blu if we could trade. Mainly, because I know I’d do better with downhill. He gladly agree. Which I am grateful for considering I am afraid my request nearly killed him.
Well, I exaggerate … slightly.
Leg 9 was a brutal trail leg of cardiac ups and downs. It took Coach about an hour and 45 minutes to run the 7+ mile trail. No joke it would probably have taken me much, much longer than that and I would have gotten lost and/or eaten by a bear.
Again, I exaggerate … slightly.
And, needless to say I owe Coach BIG TIME! I told him I would make it up to him at the Pony 50 next week. How I am going to make that, I am not sure yet? I just know I owe him.
When I made the request to switch I just saw the downhill course, I didn’t know it was Guardsman Pass down to Homestead — which for those who have ran Ragnar, know it as Ragnar Hill. The beast of all beasts. I ran part of this leg the past two years and three years ago — ran UP it. I much prefer the down hill way of tackling it.
But, you have to tackle the hill the right way or it will eat up your legs. The trick is to not simply run down the hill, you have to kinda waddle or zig zag like you’re being chased by a bear.
As much as it can easily eat your quads, I really love the run. The view is second to none — well, okay, I say this about a lot of the places I run, but it’s true. I love running through the thicket of aspen trees, catching awe inspiring views of Heber Valley and just putting my speed into cruise control. As much as people love running UP this hill, I like going DOWN the hill.
Since I was the last runner I started this portion around 6-6:30pm or so — I wasn’t looking at my watch. But, right around the setting sun. I really wish my camera could have caught the light shining on the orange, yellow and red leaves — but, every picture I tried to snap of them just didn’t give it justice. I just ran trying to remember the view with my heart (okay, that sounds really sappy, but it’s true).
About half way through my run I was joined by Jed and then a few miles later by Ryan. I was thankful for their company. This is one thing I’ve really grown to love about the AIIA team — nobody runs alone. I love this concept and belief. It’s really one of those binding qualities that keeps the team close.
Jed was the one who ran me in during the Provo City Half in May and I can’t even tell you how many other team members he’s ran with and helped to the finish line. Jed has one of the biggest hearts I know. After running with him and hearing more of his story it’s easy to see. He’s been in a lot of dark places in his life — but, he’s replaced that with light (listen to his story on the AIIA Podcast). Especially with being a light to others.
I have mad respect for Jed.
Spending the last couple miles with both Jed and Ryan was sublime and easily one of my favorite running memories to date. It’s hard for me to put into words how grateful I am for this team. I don’t believe I stumbled upon this team by chance. And, I’ll write more about this later, because there’s a lot I want to write, but feel constrained to do it here — I’ll also be a guest on the AIIA Podcast in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that.
Anyways, we finished around 8pm or so at the Homestead with the rest of the team. We may have been the last team, but that didn’t matter. What mattered is that we finished what we started … as a team. It may have taken us all day, but we did it.
And, for that we’re all champions.
I haven’t posted the past couple of Addict II Athlete podcasts here and there’s a reason why … I wanted to post both parts of Coach Blu’s story. These two episodes are simply amazing. Coach Blu is amazing. And, whether or not you have struggled with addiction there is a lot you can take away from Coach Blu’s story.
I am not going to give any of it away — just listen …
I can’t believe that this is NEXT WEEK! I’ve got a lot of emotions going through my head, but honestly — most of it is just excitement. I don’t have a lot of fear or anxiety — yet. I’m sure that will come sometime this weekend or next week, or maybe somewhere around mile 1, 2, 25 or 40? I don’t know? I’m just ready to do it.
I’ll be posting a bit more about it this week and next. Mainly some of my thoughts and feelings about tackling this beast. So stay tuned for that. But, this week it’s just running a few three milers, doing a few circuits and then the Frightmares 5K on Saturday with my niece. Nothing too strenuous. My body is a little sore from all the running the past month so I need to let me mend enough to be ready for next Friday.
But, I am winding down for the year and I am glad. I’m feeling a bit burnt out lately — which thankfully — isn’t new for ultramarathoners. And, I think that’s why I am just so eager to run it. I just want to get it over with and under my belt. I have no doubt I’ll get there.
Very humbled to have joined “Team Addict II Athlete” for this relay. I couldn’t have asked for a more encouraging, uplifting and motivating team to run with. Whether it shouting words of encouragement as I ran or getting out to run with me during my last leg — I was touched. I’ll be sharing my story on the AIIA Podcast in the next couple of weeks. Addiction and recovery come in many different forms and I’ve had my struggles and test of faith. Needless to say, no one goes about it alone on the team and NOBODY runs alone! I felt lucky to spend those 15 miles out there around Heber Valley with the team! #redrockrelay #race133 #running #messintoamessage #eraseandreplace @redrockrelay @addicttoathlete @joshruns180 @josherwalla
TOTAL MILES TO DATE
MILES TO GOAL