My new years resolution: no more chronic cardio. I had been overwhelmed with the amount of information damning the pursuit of triathlon and running, and for the last few years I had been trying to compromise and eat "healthy" while training. This only worsened the problem and created more obsessive tendencies, bad orthorexia, and a completely nonsensical mindset wherein I would reward myself with shitty "food" after training. Constantly trying to keep a rough estimate of calories consumed, going longer and longer so I could justify more and more "treats", and throwing in small runs or bike rides when already exhausted; I was destroying myself and what was worse is that I knew it. This all was easily sustainable while in college, and living in San Luis Obispo is conducive to endurance training, but once I moved to Oakland and began real life at a desk, my world changed pretty quickly. With a clear mind and an extended time block perpetually consumed by my job, it was an easy decision to just stop the madness. Things are going well, I hike and walk and lift heavy weights without fear of impacting my freshness for endurance training and I no longer fall victim to the food reward mindset. You may be wondering what this has to do with anything, so I'll arrive at my original intention for the post.
I was sitting in my cube on Tuesday when I get an IM from my roommate, telling me that the relay that he signed up for (along with his girlfriend, my girlfriend, and some other friends) was now short a team member. "Man, that sucks" I thought to myself, but before I could type it he asks if I might be willing to take the girls spot since the race was on Saturday and they were in dire need of a 12th member. "I'll have to think about it, but I can most likely fill in" I tell him, immediately regretting the decision to hit the enter key and send the message. I have not run more than a half mile continuously for the last 4 or so months and had essentially signed up to run 19 miles in a 200 mile relay over the course of 26 hours.
This wasn't one of the smartest decisions I had ever made, but there was more to the arrival at that decision than a quick IM conversation with my roommate. My lovely girlfriend was coming up from LA that weekend to do the event and I decided it would be nice to be able to spend the weekend with her. The weather forecast was calling for beautiful sunny and warm weather, and this was basically a road trip from Calistoga to Santa Cruz with a few runs thrown into the mix. The pros and cons were all tallied and I found it easy to confirm that I would take the 12th spot on short notice.
The whole thing started out normally enough as we piled 12 people into two minivans and drove up to Calistoga where the first runners were set to go off. Our start time was 2pm along with about 9 other teams and when the clock struck 2, my roommate (our first runner) took off and our race began. The way this relay works is that your 12 man team is split into 2 vans, so that van 1 has the first 6 runners and they drive to the exchange spot for each of their runners as the legs are completed. Van 2 has runners 7-12 and their van drives to the exchange spot where the 6th leg ends and then begin their journey of 6 run legs while van 2 drives to the next van exchange where leg 13 begins (with runner 1). It continues like this so that each runner runs 3 legs and the 36 run legs cover roughly 200 miles.
I was in van 2 along with my special lady and a mix of other people that I didn't know too well. After the start, we had hours to kill so we went to grab some lunch and then hit the store for snacks and other road trip items. We had quite the mix of people in the van, and it was interesting to examine the contents of each persons grocery bag. There was me, the meat-a-tarian, with a rotisserie chicken, beef jerky, coconut milk, and some popcorn for good measure; and on the other end of the spectrum we had Phillipe the vegetarian with his loaves of bread, hummus, carrots, apples, bananas, and fruit juice. Everyone else had an assortment of snacks and goodies like trail mix and bread sticks, so we were well stocked and ready for the epic trip that was to ensue.
We left the store and headed to the van exchange in Santa Rosa at some christian church, arriving there around 3 hours before our runner would arrive. It was too early in the day to try and nap, plus the van is incredibly uncomfortable to try and sleep in so my girlfriend and I went for a walk in the nice weather. When our van 1 arrived, we had about 20 minutes before runner 6 would be finishing and making the handoff to our van. Sure enough, not too long after we met up with van 1 it was off to the races for our van as we began our first adventure.