Once upon a time I had a really crazy idea. I wanted to get a team together to run the Red Rock Relay. It is a 186 mile race through Southern Utah. Each team has 12 members who run 3 legs each. I thought my family would dig it, so I pitched the idea to them: Team Deadrock runs the Red Rock. Most seemed up to it.
Then I realized it meant I had to run. A lot. And I decided that maybe it wasn't a good idea. So I didn't say anything else about it. I hoped they'd forget. Really really hoped.
But my sister-in-law (SIL) Amy thought it was a great idea. And she saw what a neat experience it would be. She picked up where I had left off. She pulled a team together and got everything set up. She is a rock star.
The race was last weekend, Sept 10-11th. I'm not sure I can adequately explain how amazing the weekend was.
Did you play sports in high school? Do you know what it's like to cheer for your team? To scream your guts out? To be happy for everyone who plays? To hope that everyone plays their best? To be crammed into a small space where everyone reeks? To share the exhaustion, heat, cold, mediocre food, porta-potties, and lac of sleep? To have the total support of people you might not have known before?
There were a few times I was at my end. The last uphill mile of my first leg. The pitch black stillness on my second leg. And this out-of-nowhere hill on my third leg. Each time, someone showed up to help me finish. A couple times it was one of my brothers, Kirk or Kevin (who came to cheer on their wives). They ran with me step for step and made sure I made it to the finish. It was incredible to have them there. On that out-of-nowhere hill, my entire team (who had all finished their legs and were super sore and tired) jumped out of the van and ran me up the hill. My van was there every mile of my runs, screaming my name and making sure I had water. I can't tell you what that feels like. I was so deeply touched by everyone on my team--some who had known me my whole life and some I'd just met. It's something I'll never forget. It makes me never want to compete in an individual sport or race again. How would I do it without my team?
Here's a race breakdown:
There are two vans, the Snow Van and the Sun Van. The Snow Van had my sister Shannon, my SIL Tricia, two of my SIL Amy's siblings--Justin and Hanna, and Amy's BIL Art. The Sun Van had my SIL Amy, her brother Vaikko, two of her coworkers Doug and Mikael, a friend Jenny, and Tricia's nephew Jaron (who volunteered four days before the race when another one of our racers couldn't make it).
Our team started at 9:05 a.m. at Brian Head Resort. 10,500 feet above sea level. 34 degrees outside. Not a lot of oxygen in the air. You ride up the chairlift and send your first runner off (Tricia!).
The Snow Van waiting for us to load up.
The first legs of our race ran by Bryce Canyon
and through Dixie National Forrest.
Could you have a more picturesque area?
Shannon handing the baton (slap bracelet) off to Justin.
Our first legs took us from 9:05 a.m. until about 2:00 p.m. My first leg was 5.8 miles with almost 700 feet of elevation gain (pretty constant the whole 5.8 miles), running at 8,000 feet above sea level. I ran the entire way and sprinted to the finish which was all I had really hoped. But I did put our team behind seven minutes because I ran so slow. I was pretty bummed about this for awhile. Then we went to Cedar City to wait for the Sun Van to finish their legs. We showered and tried to sleep a bit. This was completely unsuccessful.
The Sun Van finished around 7:30 and we started our second legs.
The evening legs took us through Cedar City and out west. We had dirt roads and mostly deserted roads. It was pretty late. We were tired. I was the last leg again. This run was 5.5 miles with about 500 feet in elevation loss (over the first 4 miles, last 1.5 miles were flat). It was really dark, I didn't have all the time I thought I would to prepare. I started out a bit frazzled. It was 12:30 a.m. and I was beat. But I ran and ran my heart out. Kirk showed up and ran the last 1.5 miles with me. I could have kissed him, I was so grateful to have him there. After I finished, I checked out my time. I had come in seven minutes ahead of schedule. I had made up my time! I had run my butt off! I was so happy with myself.
It was 1:30 a.m. I crashed. Dead to the world.
Only to be woken up at 4:00 a.m.
Our next legs took us through Snow Canyon and Washington. We hit Snow Canyon at sunrise. It was so incredibly beautiful.
Me mucho sleepy.
My last leg was supposed to be a cake walk--2.1 miles. But total exhaustion and extremely sore muscles had set in. I wasn't sure I'd even make it .1 miles. But my team, MY TEAM! They helped me through it. Shannon grabbed my hand and pulled me up the out-of-nowhere (curse under my breath) hill. Everyone ran with me until I reached the top. My brother Kevin ran with me my last half mile. What a sweet feeling to be done with my legs! And, I came in right on time. Yes! Each stripe on my arm represents one of my legs.
I was so inspired by everyone on my team. Tricia had never run in a race before. Actually, I'm not really sure Tricia had run at all before three months ago. She has fasciitis. She probably shouldn't have run, but she didn't want to let her team down. She ran her butt off and never complained one. Her last run had a monster hill.
Shannon was a more seasoned runner. She made her runs look easy. She was the toughest girl in our van. Doesn't she look it? She ran 14.5 miles.
Art (middle) ran the toughest legs of the course. He made them look like a walk in the park. It was unreal. Then when Jaron was injured, he ran Jaron's last leg for him. Oh, and he was sick. We chanted his name a lot. He was our hero.
Hannah (right) had only ran her first 5k a few weeks ago. She kicked butt. Her first run had this ginormous hill. We saw another girl puking on it. Hannah boogied right up it.
Justin (left) is running an ultra marathon (50 plus miles) soon to qualify for the Western States 100 (as in 100 miles). He ran like a maniac.
And me. The chubbiest member of the team. I inspired myself. 13.4 miles in 24 hours. I hate to admit it, but I hadn't run the three weeks before the race. Something about selling my house, a puppy, and the flu happening at my house. But I did it! And maybe someday soon I should be able to walk normally again.
We all met up at Zions and ran to the finish line together.
Doug led the way. Did I mention he runs barefoot?
I was praying that no one wanted to sprint to the finish. God answers prayers.
I can't squelch that enthusiasm! Yeah Team Deadrock!
I wish we could have spent more time with the Sun Van. They seemed to be amazing.
Here we all are, showing off our stripes.
Here are the Deadrocks (Livingstones) of Team Deadrock. Shannon, me, Tricia, Amy. All girls? Yes, I think so. I know, we're tougher than tough.
If you ever get the chance participate in something like this--the Wasatch Back, Red Rock Relay, etc--I would strongly encourage you to do it. It's an experience you'll never forget. And the sore muscles, I hear they go away eventually.
Go Team Deadrock!