Saturday, March 12, 2011

Texas Independence Relay

As I've mentioned on here before, I got the wild and crazy idea last fall to put a team together to run the Texas Independence Relay. When we started organizing the team in October, we had 12 runners (the max and desired amount). Through the months until the actual race, we lost runners due to injury and other time commitments. 2 weeks before the race, we had 10 runners - still doable, but we were looking for more. By one week out, we were down to 9 and three days before, 8. 8 runners who did not train for a relay and only one of us had ever run more than a half marathon.
But we were determined. My team: Give Me Liberty or Race Me to Death! We raised money for Team Red, White and Blue - helping wounded veterans getting reintroduced into society (we are still raising money and if you feel like helping our cause click here.
This race starts in Gonzales, TX - home of the Battle of Gonzales that started the was for Texas' independence from Mexico. The fight started over a cannon that Mexico had given the people of Gonzales and now Mexico wanted it back. Gonzales refused and said "Come and Take It!"

We drove the 2 hours to Gonzales Friday night and slept on the floor of the gym at the local college. This relay gives teams the ability to have anywhere from 8 to 12 runners and their choice of legs to run. There are 40 legs total, so that meant each of us had to run 5 legs (no runner could run one more leg than another).
Saturday morning came bright and early. Start times were given to each team based on their average pace so that most of the teams would finish between 1 and 5 pm on Sunday. Our official start time was 7:08am. With the firing of the cannon, we were off.
The first 1.12 miles we ran as a team. It was a nice little warm up around Gonzales. After that, my team split off and I kept running into the first leg. The run took me out of Gonzales and onto country roads towards the next town. 4.25 miles later, my team was there to greet me at the checkpoint and off the next runner went.
The beautiful county roads of Texas. It was really exciting waiting at the checkpoints for the runners to hand off. There were about 200 teams participating and most of them had themes and costumes. My team is already thinking of ideas for next year.
C about to overtake another runner. It was pretty fun in the beginning counting all the runners you would pass, but then the faster teams started to catch up and all we did was get passed!
My van had the second leg of the night. We started running around 1:30am in Wallis, TX and got to run the tema all the way into Houston and watch the sun come up. Running at night was so cool. There were other runners arond you for the most part, but it felt like just you and the stars.
Once we made it into Houston, we had some of our friends (some of them runners that could not be on the team this year) meet us at Memorial Park at one of the hand offs.
This was supposed to be my last leg of the day. D handing off to me in Memorial Park for the "Captain's Leg". I run pieces of this route all the time since I live closeby. The leg was 5.5 miles and was taking me into downtown along the bayou. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for running, but I was a little spent from having already run 4 legs.
Off I go. You can't tell here, but the course once I got to the bayou was lined with little Texas flags marking the way. It was a sight to see and helped push me a little. I ran past a guy walking to take his jacket off and he commented on my race bib. I stopped and walked with him and explained the race. He and his friends had wanted to do it, but never got around to signing up. I told him I was hurting a little and that this was my last leg and he offered to run me into downtown. What a nice guy! Turns out he was in the middle of a 20 mile training run for Boston! I stayed with him for about 2.5 miles, but he was trying to keep a 9:30 pace and my body just couldn't do it with the hilly course so I let him pull ahead.
I finally made it into downtown with only a couple walk breaks and handed off to H. Like the baton? It's a slap bracelet!
We had some time to kill, so silly pictures were definately called for. We were about 28 hours in at this point!
We did lots of stretching and relaxing between runners. And The Stick definately came in handy - there were even fights over who would get it next.
It was a long weekend and we were all tired and exhausted, but we did our best to encourage each teammate along the way. We always stopped and offered water and cheered a lot. D got the priveledge of the last leg and C and I were there to run him in the last 150 yards.
We've finished! Actually, we are on our way to the finish line. Just like we started, we finished together. This time we walked it though. It was 0.38 miles from the checkpoint to the monument and we relished every second of it.
204 miles, 8 runners, 32 hours 42 minutes and 10 seconds. We were rock stars!
The race ended at the San Jacinto Monument on the east side of Houston.  After 5 months of fighting Mexico while Davy Crockett was making his last stand at the Alamo, Sam Houston was signing the Declaration of Independence at Washington on the Brazos (where the monument sits). Texas was free from Mexico and was now it's own country.

This was the 4th running of this relay and is always held on the weekend Texas celebrates it's independence day (yes, we still celebrate even though we are part of the US now). Our medals are mini replicas of the monument (it will soon be a little statue for my desk). My team was awesome and everyone ran great times (much better than we predicted)! There were PRs all around - I even unofficially broke my 10K PR from the weekend before! We will definately be back next year - with 12 runners and awesome costumes!

My total mileage for the weekend? 26.2 miles. But that definately hurt much worse than an actual marathon!


  1. That looked like such a fun race!!! I've never done a relay before but heard that its so much fun and definitely something to try. Yay The Stick!! I got one at the RnR NOLA expo and LOVE IT!!! Congrats on the PR!!! I think all the RnRs will be awesome! Come run RnR Chicago!!!! :o) if not, RnR Vegas is running the strip at night! I think that'll be really awesome! (too bad I won't be there)