Race day arrived the same day a major cold front swept through Southern Utah. Instead of the 70 degree temps we were expecting, we arrived at the race check-in to 40's and pouring rain. Red Rock Relay tank tops and t-shirts stayed on the tables as runners flocked to buy sweatshirts and long-sleeved base layer tops.
Only one of our runners actually felt rain on her face at the start of the race. The rest of us were treated to overcast skies and varying winds. The shorts and tech shirts we had all been waiting to wear stayed in our bags in favor of insulated base layers, long pants, and wind-resistant jackets. Those clouds did have a silver lining – it was actually very pleasant running weather.
I didn't realize how violent a sport relay racing was until I was informed that we would be tracking our “kills.” No guns involved; a “kill” is what happens when you pass another runner on the course. Our first runner, who is over 60, set the bar for us by scoring 12 kills. How? It was quite unintentional – she wasn't quite ready with her iPod on the start gate, and started about a minute after everyone else did. She passed nearly every runner on the first leg. Youth and strength don’t stand a chance against age and treachery.
Nor do they stand a chance against age and training. I was passed early in my first leg by a twenty-something who made sure I knew I was on the receiving end of a kill. I cheered her on and kept going. I caught her on the hill. She stopped to walk – and I ran past. I really hope my smile at her was a smile and not the smug smirk I was feeling on the inside. She never caught up with me.
There’s absolutely nothing like having a support team with you when you run. The rest of the team, in the Chevy Trailblazer that was our sitting room, restaurant, and lifeline during the 10 hour 16 minutes it took us to run the relay, stopped several times for each runner, cheering and offering water as the runner passed. Then the girls in the Trailblazer would honk and cheer as they passed the runner and moved on to the next stop. It was fun – both cheering and being cheered.
It turned out that we were all faster than we projected on race day. As a team we averaged 9.6 minute miles. Our team finished 12th out of the 33 teams that raced.
The celebration began when we crossed the finish line together – exhilaration taking over where exhaustion probably should have been. We had Mexican food – complete with margaritas now that the race was done, then a relaxing soak in the hot tub. We spent the night in a condo together and relived our victory.
Team “Girls Day Out” is already planning for next year’s relays. We've figured out what foods work for us. We’ll continue training on hills. And of course, we’ll continue to have fun. You’ll be hearing from us.