The Relay: Race Recap

The Friday before this race, I was not sure what to expect. What I got was an experience very similar to traveling alone. You are by yourself, but you meet fellow travelers who are on the same path as you, and you become friends in minutes. Often, your paths only cross for minutes, or days, but you feel as if you have known the people forever.

My van was like that. A bunch of travelers, all going down the same path, with stories about our craft. Everyone is different; the level of experience varies, but you are all united by a common goal/love. Age range: 20 - 45. Ability range: Once a week runner (1) / Once a month runner (1) / Second race ever (1) / Marathoners (3). Quickly, I will go over the players. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

MYL: The Organizer. Has run a couple marathons and some smaller races, but is currently not training for anything. She is also the one who got walking pneumonia and therefore was not sure if she was going to be able to run. Texas: A jokester. Has only run one other race before, which was 6 miles long. He ran that race in cross trainers. Backseat B: Fitness Guru. Not a frequent runner, but has buns of steel. The 6 Minute Man: This guy put down a 6 minute mile as his pace. We were all in awe. Young R: At 20 years old, was by far the youngest of the crowd. But he was still picking up what we were putting down.

All 12 of us got together for dinner on Friday night, for a little meet and greet. I am glad we did, because after the first 2 minutes, we already knew that our group was going to have fun. Do you know how I knew? First thing 6 Minute Man says to me is, "I read your blog". I was thinking, "oh crap; I hope I didn't say anything incriminating about this race!" Anyway, I learned that he had Googled everyone after he found out who was in our van. Creepy, right? But funny. You know what, if you put it out there, someone can find it! So beware. At least 6MM was honest about it (cough, cough, stalker!) Everyone was really nice, even the Van 1 people! But I didn't spend as much time with them, so you won't hear about them as much.

On Saturday morning, Van 2 (that's us) met up with Van 1 in Calistoga, CA (in case you are not familiar, that is in Napa County in the wine region) at the start line to see them off. The way our relay was set up was on a wave start. The first teams left at 7 a.m. and every half hour, about a half a dozen teams left the start line. The last teams (the fast people) left at 3 p.m. There were about 200 teams. We went over the start line at 9 a.m.

Doing "team stretches" before the big race

Our van then had to wait, since our first leg was not until about 1 pm. So we went and had some pancakes and coffee at the Hydro Bar and Grill. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to eat. Usually I run in the morning, so I have a simple breakfast (must have cereal!) and I hit the road. But this time, the time of day and the waiting, and the HEAT...I did not know how to play it. About an hour before my first leg, I had a bagel with peanut butter. You know how they say that certain things work for some and not for others? Peanut Butter? Does NOT work for me. Urp.

Leg 1: 5 pm Saturday. Finally, it was time for my first leg. It was about 85 degrees and very, VERY windy. The wind was not a nice, cooling breeze. It dried out your eyes, and your lips and your tongue. It pushed you backwards. It was hard. The beginning of my leg was through Petaluma, which is pretty flat, but that meant navigating the streets, which are not shut down. Around mile 3, there was a steady (and HOT) uphill until around mile 5, when it finally went down to the end. I saw cows (this area used to be known for it's dairies), sheep (I yelled MMAAA at them and the one other runner, who I didn't realize was behind me, laughed at me) and lots of green rolling hills.

TOTALS, Leg 1: 6.9 miles / 54:23 / 7:56 pace

Much of leg one looked like this

After our van was done, we headed to San Francisco, where we had a chance to rest at a friend's house. Unfortunately, we went the wrong way and ended up taking the coastal road instead of the freeway. This gave us the chance to have dinner in Stinson Beach, which is lovely, but made it so we did not arrive to San Francisco until about 9:30 and we were needing to leave by 11. I got about 1 hour of sleep.

Getting ready for the night run. Photo Credit: Texas.

Leg 2: 12:05 a.m. Sunday. Since MYL had gotten sick, I agreed to run this leg for her. I am so glad I did. This leg started at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge and wound it's way around the coast, past Baker Beach, the Legion of Honor and the Cliff House and then down the Great Highway for the last 3 miles. It was the easiest 7 mile run I have ever done. It was cool, about 50 degrees, there was a nice cool sea breeze coming off the water, the city was quiet and dark (which I thought I wouldn't like, but I LOVED) and it was nice to just run along, without music (I know! Me? No music!) through the city I love so much. It was a little hilly as well, but they didn't even phase me this time.

TOTALS, Leg 2: 7 miles / 59:11 / 8:22 pace

This is where I ran for leg 2. It was dark, but still beautiful!

Leg 3: 3:30 a.m. Sunday. This leg was quick and easy, and although not as great as the last one, it was still nice to run quietly along in the dark.

TOTALS, Leg 3: 1.8 miles / 13:33 / 7:44 pace

After our last runner was done, we went to the resting place, which was a college gym, with showers and where you could stretch out in your sleeping bag and rest. We chose rest over sleep, but still by the time we got in, it was about 5:30 a.m. We got up at 7, making the grand sleep total about 2.5 hours. 

Van 2

Leg 4: 12:34 pm Sunday. Holy hills batman. This one was a doozy. It went up and down and up and down and up and up and up. From mile 4.5 to 6, there was a 700 ft elevation change. I thought I was tough. I have run hills before. I run trail races. But these hills, running on no sleep, in 80 degree weather, up and up and up...they killed me. I was hurting. On the plus side, I passed 6 people. Hey, sorry dudes, but that made me feel good. I'll admit it.

TOTALS, Leg 4: 6.3 miles / 55:23 / 8:46 pace

Over the hills and through the Redwoods

After I went, the next runner was our last runner. Her leg was 6 miles total, and we all jumped in at the end to run the last mile with her so we could all (including Van 1) cross the finish line together as a team.

Finishing Leg: 1.2 miles / 15:56 / 13:07 pace

Team TOTALS:  194 miles / 29:32:56 / 9:08 pace

The finish line. The guy in orange is who we were running/raising money for.

*Just a side note, the Google team usually wins, at least they did for several years. This year, they got lost and came in 2nd. However, this did not stop them from maintaining UNDER a 6 minute mile the entire time! (their total was: 19:49) Results HERE.

Afterward, there was BEER. And burritos. I was in heaven. Actually I ordered a burrito AND a plate of nachos, which I did not even come close to finishing. Then we had to drive back home (about two hours), get gas for the van and drop me off at my car where I had a 30 minute drive to get home. Then I took a shower and went straight to bed. I think it was about 9 p.m. I slept for 11 hours. Phew.

The Verdict?  If you are not from California, or even if you are, you should do this race. The scenery is amazing and it varies, showing off many of our best places. This is a great way to get introduced to some of the smaller towns and roads and off the beaten path areas.

Would I Do it Again? Yes. It was hard and I don't know how some people, who weren't regular runners, did it, because I think I am in pretty good shape and I had a hard time on some of the legs. It was challenging to have to run several times in one day, without proper food or sleep, up hills, in the heat. But I have to say, I loved every minute of it. Also, I made a bunch of new friends, and that is invaluable.

Van 2. Photo credit: 6MM.

Who is ready to run with me next year? Have you ever conquered a fear and found it better than you imagined? Have you ever been to any of the towns we ran through? 

Don't forget to check out other Fitness Friday posts over at Jills. Have a Happy Mother's Day on Sunday all you MOMS!


  1. Great recap! I love that your teammates googled you and found your blog.

  2. This looks like a lot of fun! And damn girl, you're fast.

  3. Geeeeez. This is just crazy, lol. I don't think I'm insane enough to ever to a relay like this. Ha! Way to go!! Sounds so hard, but so rewarding at the same time. :)

  4. Awesome job! So glad you had fun and would do it again. Thanks for the Mothers' Day wishes - I'll take some :-)

  5. You are amazing! I'm so inspired to try a relay... someday! You maintained such strong paces, and killed that hilly run. Wow! Such a great experience. I would have slept 11 hours afterward, too.

  6. I would love to do this. I really want to do a relay and think it sounds awesome and so so fun! Great job!

  7. I see a lot of people running relays right now. It looks like fun. I read your post over on The Many Thoughts of A Reader today. I wish I had had the time to join in the book club this month but I think I'll still catch up and read the book next month. Has the book for June been decided yet? I don't think I saw a post on it yet.

  8. You know how they say that certain things work for some and not for others? You know what else they say? Don't try anything new on race day. =)

    I love love love that you moo'd at a cow! A long time ago (I think I was in high school), I was walking through a parking lot when I heard a really obnoxiously loud dog barking from the back of a truck (the back was covered). I thought I was being funny as I barked back at the dog. Too bad I didn't see the owner on the other side of the truck. He came around yelling, "That's not helping matters, is it?!?!?" I just nervously laughed, apologized and kept on walking!

  9. This sounds crazy but so much fun! I'm surprised you only slept 11 hours after all that. Great job with your legs of the race and congrats to your team on an impressive finish!

  10. That sounds so fun! I want to run with you next year!

  11. This looks like a great relay! They are tough, but so much fun I can't wait to do one again :)

  12. I am glad you had such a good experience! I have always been anti-team races, but you may have convinced me to try something like this some day. I still worry about the sleep deprivation as I am so not fun to be around when I am over-tired... but I guess you just push through it!

  13. I hope 6mm isnt reading your blog, stalker..so funny. I would of just got dropped at a winery and did a wine tour. Im glad you had a great time.

  14. I don't even know where to start.

    First, great recap! Looks like a lot of fun and you were up for the challenge. Well done Kyria!

    Now, I'm freaking out about Ragnar! You mentioned so many things that I haven't even thought about and the logistics of it all is mind boggling! Running at night. Still can't come to terms with that part of the race. Oh and I keep imagining myself getting lost. Ugh!

    I loved in Cali (Irvine and San Diego) for abut 14 years so very familiar with a lot of places you mentioned. I'm sure most if not all of the course was beautiful.

    We need to plan a team for next year! Seriously :)


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