This past weekend, I ran in the Texas Independence Relay. This was a relay from Gonzales Texas which is near San Antonio, eastward on 2-lane highways and county roads, through Houston, and then on to the San Jacinto monument....203.67 miles in total. There were two teams from Tulsa, with nine runners on each team. In the months before the run, we had some people who had their plans change and such, and we ended up recruiting some friends of friends and we ended up with a runner from Norman, a couple of great girls from Abilene Texas, and 2 drivers from Louisiana. Here are most of the members of our team, along with 3 of our drivers. This trip required 4 vans, 7 or 8 motel rooms for the night before, 8 cases of water, 4 cases of Gatorade, 4 first aid kits, a bunch of blinkies, 8 reflective belts, all that and a bag of chips....make that 4 cases of chips.
We stuffed our face the night before at the banquet with the usual carbo- loading fare.... pasta and garlic bread. The lines moved fast, the food was fair, and the speaker was brief, entertaining, and educational. Miriam scowls, thinking "Darn, pasta again?!?" Tina is all smiles, thinking "Oh boy!! Pasta!!!" These 2 awesome girls are from Abilene, and in the military. Tina was speedy, and I, being paired with her, figured I had my work cut out keeping up with her.
Miriam kept our teams on schedule by taking the final leg, swapping with Glow-Stick, (a 51 year old multi-colored hair dude who owns no shirts that are not neon yellow) who was having fatigue issues near the end of the relay. Pictured with David "Glow-Stick" James is Susan Young, a feisty girl from our TATUR club.
My 1st leg to run was the 10th leg in the relay. I ran 19, 12, 27, 31, and 33 for a total of 29.31 miles including the prelude and prologue run in which all of the team participated. Other runners on the team ran as much as 33.78 miles, and some as little as 14.15 miles. This made this relay an event that anyone could do regardless of their running endurance. Everyone ran their legs well. No one let the team down and gave 100% We had no grand illusions of finishing high in the list of finishers, but instead focused on methodically taking care of business and having fun.
A lot of time was spent waiting waiting waiting. There were times when a van of 4 runners would have several hours of down time. My van usually followed the other runners from our teams and cheered them on. Of course, we found time to eat, and actually got plenty of sleep along the way despite this being an all day all night all day event. A few of the towns had festivals, or cooked hamburgers or sausages on a stick to sell. Yum!
Above, Brian, John, Tina, and I await our first chance to run in Flatonia.
This is one of several towns that were a flash from the past. Historic town squares, old buildings with architectural splendor, and a line of porta-pots. I must say I was very impressed with Jay, the RD for the race. The race ran very smoothly. Jay seemed like a real down-to-earth guy, despite looking like Jim Carrey. I saw him several times along the way, helping out where he could, picking up trash, encouraging people.
On and on we ran, all through the night, and headlong into the night and into the next day. We ran some 20 miles on paved bike trails through George Bush park, and Hershey park.
After that, we ran through some of the more ritzy areas of Houston before finally entering the downtown area.
After leaving downtown Houston, we ran through what the runner's handbook called "lesser priviledged neighborhoods", we came to a park where there were hundreds of cars. It was a huge traffic jamb, and our poor drivers could not find a place to park our mammoth sized vans. Our exchange point was here, and we piled out of the van and awaited our runners. Turns out, it was a big Hillary rally was in full swing just around the corner. I could have sworn I heard her not-so-lovely screechy voice promising all the wonderful things she was gonna do if she were ekected. I was later told she was not there, and it was hubby Bill there. Hillary was in fact in Ohio stumping for votes there on Sunday. None-the-less, there were hordes of people carrying Hillary signs. I just had to grab my camera for a "Kodak" moment! The girl on the left has aspirations to be president, but needs to register to vote. In fact, she needs to become a citizen too. The second girl thinks Obama is cuter, but thought the sign would look good on her bedroom wall. The girl in the back was supposed to be babysitting her little brother. The girl on the right thinks Slick Willie is her real dad.
The next several miles were more of a blur. Most of it was through boring hohum neighborhoods, and some of wondered why the race went this way. I guess since we had to get from point X (downtown Houston) to point Z (San Jacinto monument) we had to deal with whatever was in between. Everyone was tired, it was cloudy, rainy, and most of the time we were running into a strong south wind. It looked as though it would start pouring down rain at any time. Most of us were caravanning and waiting for our runners at the check points.
The runners were moving a little slower, and although it was still fun, it was gonna be good to be through!!
Finally, the monument and finish line is in sight!! All 18 of us ran together for the last .38 of a mile, and crossed the finish line hand in hand. It would make a good picture if one had a wide enough lense in their camera. Brian sugested we all sing "Kumbaya"!! Such a nerd!! Each team was treated to Papa Johns pizza, 4 pizzas for each team, so we had 8 boxes. I just inhaled 4 slices, and then I found that some of the boxes had pizza that was not cold, but by then I was full. We all posed for a group picture, and then it was over. John and Jeff show off their metals.
Captains Dave and Robin tally up our mileage totals.
Loaded up and ready to go!
Tina and John looking way to hyper for having just finished a 203 mile race!!
All this for a lousy t-shirt and a massive metal! (Actually, it's an awesome shirt!)