Sunday, March 8, 2009

TIR weekend!

The TIR is here! Our team gathered in Gonzales, TX Friday night, to celebrate Texas Independence and this cool race we're about to start. As we were due back in Gonzales around 5 am this morning, we went to bed early. The 14 of us only had 3 hotel rooms, so we crammed in on the floor any way that we could. Good thing for air mattresses.

Saturday morning started off with the prologue, an approximately 1 mile run around downtown Gonzales. From there, MyPhuong broke off from our group to run leg 1.

The runners for legs 2-6 piled in the van to go meet her at the end of her run. She made it look so easy, and ran in comfortably. Trisha left for leg 2, another great run.

Here's where I picked up: leg 3. Leg 3 is the longest leg of the course, with 8.78 miles on hilly gravel roads. The wind was blowing, and the gravel was a new experience. It made the road tricky. You never knew where your foot was going to land. I was passed up by a lot of people (not a surprise). However, as hard as it was, it was a beautiful run through the Texas countryside. Lots of buttercups! There were some spots where the signs had blow away, but thanks to the fact that there was always someone within view, I didn't get lost. But man was it a tough run. At the end, as I could see the exchange ahead of me, I felt like I was stuck in place...running but not getting any closer (Monty Python reference).

Legs 4-6 went well. Leg 5 ended in Shiner at a brewery! Dad kicked butt on that leg, finishing the 2.45 miles in 20 minutes. Mom ran leg 6, and did great. After leg 6, we packed up our stuff and headed to Gonzales to grab food. We had delicious BBQ at the Gonzales Food Market. No showers were available, but we heard about some showers in Flatonia. We went there, and ran into the other van, who shared some awesome kettle corn with us! Flatonia had a very cute market going on right at the exchange there. The VFD was hosting the showers, which were great! They were outdoor (which detered some people) and cold, but hey, we got clean! We rested in Flatonia and checked out a section of town with shops. There were lots of antique stores in most of these towns.

Then we headed to Exchange 12, in Schulenberg, at the Cowboy Outpost. The runners for legs 13-18 moved into the on van, while mom and I stayed in the off vehicle with the runners who had just finished. We went back to flatonia so the other runners could shower too. Then we went to Columbus to grab food at Schobel's. I had awesome (and big) chicken quesidillas. We traveled to Exchange 18 and spread out in the car to nap.

When the on van came in, we switched up the cars and headed out. David ran leg 19. At this point it was pretty dark. We had issues keeping track of our nighttime running gear. Thankfully David had brought a reflective safety vest, which was very visable at night. We waited a while for David at exchange 19, and because of the dark we started to get a little worried. Mom was next, and she wanted us to shadow her on her leg. No problem!

Leg 22 was my turn! It was a flat 5.01 mile leg. I got passed up alot (again) but it was a very peaceful run. It was pitch black out - it was near 2 am!

After Meghan's leg 23 into Wallis, we packed up for Brazos Middle School. The other van had told us that showers had a line, so we husteled to get in and get clean. When mom and I got there, there were people in the 2 showers available, but no line! We showered quickly and then got into bed. We slept on the gym floor on airmattresses. It wasn't too bad. It wasn't crowded, and they kept some of the lights on so that we wouldn't get flashlights shined in our faces. Everyone stayed quiet, and we were able to fall asleep around 4 30.

But then up again at 7! We packed up to head to Katy for exchange 29. The on team met us and told us that TomJ had hurt his knee running, and would most likely not be able to do his 3rd leg. We switched a couple people around and made it work! Bob ran in to hand off to Mom, who ran into George Bush park. David took the baton (which is actually a slap-wrist bracelet) onto the Hershey Trail. At exchange 31, we waited...and waited...

It got hot! Leg 31 was a long one, about 6.8 miles. David ran out of water, and had to ask some bikers for a donation. The heat was getting around 75 degrees...too hot to be safe. Katie took over at exchange 31, and we decided to meet up with her at mile 3 of her 6.7 mile leg. Good thing we did! Katie practically collapsed when she saw us. The heat was killer. Trisha - the trooper that she is - took up Katie's leg. We met her at exchange 32 where it switched off to Keri. The other van joined us, so that we would have all the runners available to call into service if we needed to. We decided to meet Keri at mile 2 to make sure she was ok. We did, and Keri wanted to finish despite the heat! Go her! Leg 34 was run by Mom for 2 miles and then Trisha. We were concerned about the heat and didn't want anyone to over extend themselves.

Shannon joined Trisha to finish her leg. They met me in Memorial park, at the intersection of Memorial Drive and N Picnic Lane. From there, I ran the Capitain's leg, following Memorial drive all the way in to downtown. It was a beautiful but hot run. I was concerned when I started, so I told MyPhuong to meet me at mile 3 in case I couldn't do it all. I was surprised when I saw her though, I didn't think I'd gone that far already! David was there too. He refilled my water belt and dumped some water on my head. Then I was off again!

I had my headphone on, which I think did help significantly. The trail along Memorial Dr actually snakes down under memorial, arond a park, and then along the bayou downtown. It was really nice actually. Going under Memorial gave me a break from the sun. The only problem was that I needed to take a left on Walker, but most of the signs were missing! I knew once I went under 45 again that I had missed my turn. There were a bunch of stairs near me, and one had a sign that said that Walker St was up the stairs. Well I went up, only to find myself at Allen Parkway and Sabine - pretty far from where I was supposed to be. I was feeling pretty dead, and wasn't sure which way was the best to go, so I called the van to come get me. I called Mom too, and she told me that Meghan (who was running leg 36 concurrently with me since we were getting behind) had also gotten lost! Her leg was downtown headed Southeast, which is not a good place to be lost. Clearly, no one was taking care of the signs anymore.

As a team, we decided that it was a little to dangerous to keep going if we were just going to get lost. So we packed up and headed out to San Jacinto. Significant others joined us, I checked in with Jay, and we ran the epilogue (slowly though). We received our medals and took pictures together. I think overall everyone was pretty bummed that we couldn't finish, but we were also pretty damn tired.

I think we learned a lot on this trip. There were some personality conflicts, and logistically I would have done a few things differently - like 2 vans, more hotel reservations, and using sub teams that never switched. Maybe next relay! ;)

Check out the team's website at www.texasspeedbumps.wordpress.com for pictures and other people's reports!

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