It’s Race Week! (Again)

Posted: February 23, 2011 in Pace and Racing
Tags: , , ,

Much has been said and written about the end of the marathon.

It is described as exhilarating, life-affirming and thrilling.

It can be humbling, emotionally draining and crushing.

Runners talk a lot about what it feels like after they finish the race.

How it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears to fight to that finish line and earn that finisher’s medal.

When they do, what they are really talking about however is those moments immediately after the marathon.  Very few speak of the first time they try to step up onto a curb.  The first time they bend over to untie their race shoes or heaven forbid, the first time they actually try to walk down a flight of stairs without turning around and going down backwards one step at a time.

Those are the real moments of post-marathon “glory”.  When a runner who would not allow anything to stand in their way for well over three hours of racing can now hardly shuffle down the hall to the bathroom.  Oddly, after my most difficult race, in the most difficult of race conditions, on the toughest marathon course I have ever run, I am the least sore that I have ever been after racing 26.2 miles.

Now keep in mind “least sore” does not mean the same thing as “not sore”.  Oh, I’m sore.  My calves are tight, my quads are still feeling the burn of all that hill racing and the outside of my hips are tender.  But all things considered.  I feel like a million dollars.

On Monday I took the day off of work and did my best to start the recovery process.  I took Landry to school in the morning, had a 60 minute massage, walked up and down the aisle of the grocery store, using my cart as a “walker”, took Kayla for her afternoon walk and then cooked a nice dinner for Dawn.

I am taking the stairs forwards and feeling pretty darn good actually.

On Tuesday morning I hopped on the tri-bike in the garage and spun on the trainer for 30 minutes.  Just a short 9 miles, but it felt good to get the blood flowing back to my legs after stiffening up overnight.

Another bike ride on Wednesday morning lasting 45 minutes and I’m just about ready for my first trial run post-race.

It’s a good thing too as you might remember that it is race week again.  Yep, on Friday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. MST, I will be standing on the street in Wickenburg, AZ underneath a starting banner with a Bib Number pinned to my shorts and a timing baton wrapped around my wrist.

I will be running the first leg of our team’s 12 person 200 Mile Ultra-Marathon relay from Wickenburg to Tempe.

8.3 miles in the Arizona Sun, followed by a 7 mile leg roughly 9 hours later, after my 11 teammates run their respective first legs.  Then I will have a short 3.5 miles to cover as my final leg sometime around 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

This will be my first time running a relay race, and my first ultra-marathon experience.  The total distance for Ragnar Del Sol is just a hair under 200 miles.

If you’re going to jump in, you might as well do it with both feet I suppose.

Truthfully it is more about “who” I am running with than “what” I am running.

Our team “Where’s the Damn Van?!” which you can follow on twitter throughout the race at:!/thedamnvan

Our team is comprised of 12 fantastic runners from around the United States:

Our team Captain Jenny Jowdy from St. Louis, MO, Husband and wife Kim and Michael Miller from Scottsdale, Steve Spiers from Va Beach, Sean Brown from Cincinnatti, Nina Atlee from the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, Eddie Rodriguez from Houston, Thomas Neuberger from Baltimore, Dan Corredor, Carol Tichio and Andrew Meir from the Phoenix area and yours truly from Austin, TX.

Our team is divided into two 6-person groups.  Each group will be spending the better part of a day straight in their respective 15-passenger van, hopping out, running their assigned leg through the Arizona desert, and then hopping back into the waiting van moving on to the next exchange area.

We have to run our legs in the assigned order.  So being the “first runner” I will run legs, 1, 13 and 25 of the assigned 36 legs.  Covering 18.8 miles total in what looks like it will be 16 or 17 hours.  Not quite another marathon, but I’m sure it is going to feel like it by the time that last leg is in the books Saturday morning.

People ask me often if I ever get bored running.

Valid question I suppose if you are not a runner as from the outside looking in I’m sure it must seem like a monotonous activity.  But the truth is that there is another challenge waiting right around the corner.  Whether it is racing, training, exploring a new city in the wee hours of the morning or in this case, strapping a headlamp to your head and running through the desert with 11 of your closest friends.

So tomorrow morning I leave on a new adventure.  I will be getting on the airplane here in Austin with my carry-on bag full of three pairs of running shoes, shorts, tights, singlets, long-sleeved running shirts, a headlamp, a lighted reflected vest, hats, gloves, body glide, socks, runderwear, power bars, some toiletries and not a damn clue what to expect.

All packed up and ready to roll

I don’t know how fast I’ll run, if my legs will loosen up from all this soreness or if it will even matter.  All I know is like every mile I’ve run since my good friend passed away last August.  I’m going to make every single one of them count.

I ask you.  Does any of that sound boring?

Didn’t think so.

Please follow us at:!/thedamnvan

I’d love to hear from you while we are out there, and oh yeah, they’ll be another race report coming after the weekend.  You won’t want to miss this one.

  1. Jodi Higgins says:

    Good luck and have a fantastic time! And nothing about that sounds boring!! It sounds fun!!

  2. Andy B says:

    Good luck on the relay this weekend, Joe. It should be a piece of cake after this past weekend. I did a relay in 2009 and it was a great experience, though it was a 5 person team for a 204 mile race. Two biggest things I took away from that is that 1) warmups & cooldowns are your best friends and 2) figure out what works from a nutrition standpoint. My normal Clif bars weren’t doing the trick. What ended up working for me was those cheese crackers with peanut butter. But the relay was a blast. I met some great people and came away with a batch of great stories from the race.

  3. Cortney says:

    It’s pretty true that you don’t often hear too much about how it feels AFTER a race! I don’t tell many people that I was holding on to the walls as I was coming down the stairs one step at a time on Sunday afternoon. 🙂

    Good luck on your next adventure! You’ll do great!

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