Oregon Part 3: The Wild Rogue Relay

The most awkward thing I had to pack for the relay race was... a breast pump.
More on that later.

Our team name was "We Got The Runs."  I'd like to clarify that I did not condone the naming of our team after anything to do with bodily functions.  I guess that's what happens when you have a bunch of dudes on your team.  Do they ever grow out of it?

Kenny had to back out of the race on account of his job sending him on a business trip.  We were all super bummed, but none so bummed as Roy.  Roy was super.  Super.  Bummed.

Finding someone who's willing to run 20 plus miles on energy bars and no sleep is hard to find.  Luckily, Skyler had a friend named Mike.  Mike was an intense runner.  Mike had run multiple marathons.  Mike asked Sydney if our team was going to have a shot at winning the race.


Feeling narrow-minded and slightly hostile because we thought no one could possibly replace Kenny, we all came up with a picture of what we thought he must be like.  A skinny, snobby marathon man.  He'll probably have all his first place marathon medals hanging around his neck.  And let's give him an eye patch just to make him seem villainous.  We all agreed on a code name so that we could talk about him without him knowing it.  Keeping in the spirit of disgusting names, we dubbed him Phlegm.  {You know, so we could go, "How is your Phlegm?"  "Oh, it's pretty bad.  Just as bad as I thought it would be."  Snicker snicker, we are totally in kindergarten.}

We met Mike/Phlegm the night before the race at Sydney's parent's house.  Not-so-minor detail: Sydney's dad is the race director.  He hooked us up in the first place, so it was beyond awesome of him and his wife to let us all take over their house and have a team carb-load.  Spaghetti dinner!

No eyepatch.  Phlegm seemed like a pretty normal guy, but we weren't going to let him off the hook that easy.

After dinner the twelve of us piled into the living room to go over some race details.  Skyler and Sydney put together their own van of six, which consisted of themselves, a pair of friends, and Syd's brother and his wife.  They were van two.  Van one we dubbed "Mother Goose" because... well it's an enormous white van and it was our home for the weekend.  It needed a name.  So in Mother Goose we had myself, Roy, Kirsten, Andrea, Jamie, and Phlegm.  Before we left for our motel, we told the kid we would pick him up the next morning, on our way to the starting line.

Home Sweet Home

In the motel parking lot, as the sun disappeared, Kirsten, Andrea, and I decorated Mother Goose with some amazingly crappy window markers we bought at Target.  When we stepped back to admire our finished product, we all agreed it would be the most ghetto looking vehicle in the race.

Five of us in one motel room.  Recipe for a good time.  We fought for our turn in the bathroom, stepped over Jamie on his air mattress, tried to fall asleep with the lights on, the good stuff.  Oh, and my favorite: pumping in the bathroom while Kirsten was showering.  "Don't mind me!"

Our alarms went off in the morning and it was another race for the bathroom {and I had to pump again}.  But once we were all sprawled, sleepy-eyed in Mother Goose I started to feel the excitement.  I was the first runner, the first leg!  I had to down some energy bars and lots of water, and control the butterflies.

I ran into the Brendle house to get Phlegm.  I could hear Greyson {Sydney's baby} fussing in some room and it took all my willpower not to hunt him down and love on that little boy.  I'd been so stoked to meet him, but I'd have to wait.  After letting myself in and tip toeing around the sleeping house for a few minutes I finally found Phlegm, still sans eyepatch, and we left.

It took us a while to find the starting line, which was stressful for Roy and Kirsten, our navigators.  But eventually we figured it out, headed into a mountain, and stopped where the huge "WILD ROGUE RELAY" starting line was.

What a huge difference in setting from the relay in Phoenix.  It was chilly, there was a running river, and trees were everywhere.  We talked to other racers, who were all way friendly.  Roy helped me get warmed up.

And GO!  I was mid-conversation with another racer when everyone started running.  Aah!  I could hear my team cheering behind me, which made me feel better about being second-to-last within like fifteen seconds.

I had my book playing {Speaker for the Dead} but I could still hear the river.  It was perfect.  We ran over a bridge and then onto a dirt trail into dense forest, where we ran about five miles around the perimeter of a lake.  Wow.  The people in front of me were fast enough, and the person behind me was slow enough, that I was totally alone that whole section.  There were times I paused my audiobook just to focus on my breathing, the birds, my footsteps, the lake, the sun through the trees.  I wish I could do that run every day.

But it was difficult.  There was a stream I had to pick through, there was some sheer uphill with rocks slipping under my feet, and there were narrow parts that made me nervous as I looked over the edge at the lake below.  I wasn't prepared for a trail, I don't usually run trails-especially not ones like these.  But I felt lucky, like I got the best leg of the relay.  Loved it!

The end came quickly, a parking lot full of people popping out of nowhere, and I passed the now-sweaty wristband off to Kirsten.  It felt amazing, being finished with my first leg but so stoked for the next one.  Most of the other legs in the race weren't so secluded. The vans can usually pull over and cheer for their runner and/or offer them water and {in our van's case} run with them and dance around and be ridiculous.  So we headed out to do that for Kirsten.

In the van I kicked off my shoes, made myself a peanut butter sandwich, and occasionally used the bullhorn to cheer Kirsten on.  She had some great farmland views, and the Mother Goose stopped to check out some pigs the size of horses.  The legs go by even faster when you're in the van.  Suddenly it was Roy's turn.

This exchange was in a parking lot in the middle of the forest.  I noticed the little Forest Service drop box where you pay for day parking or overnight camping, but I didn't think twice about it.  Until some random man in a torn shirt and stained baseball cap came and asked us for five dollars.

"You have to pay to park here," he said.

Roy, always blunt and quick, said, "Who are you?"
And he had a point.  This guy didn't exactly look like forest service.  He looked more like a fugitive living in the woods.

The guy mumbled something about "I don't make the rules, there's guys above me" kind of thing.  Jamie and Roy weren't taking his crap, and the guy wasn't going to back down.  I spoke up and told him, "Thank you, we will pay at the drop box."  I guess he couldn't argue with that, because he moved onto the next Wild Rogue vehicle, who didn't hesitate to cough up the asked for cash.

Turns out he was scamming everyone, like we suspected.  When he got caught he refused to return the money, and just walked off to his camper somewhere in the woods.  Who knows what happened after that, Roy took off and the rest of us returned to Mother Goose.

We knew we weren't going to be the fastest team.  Or even a fast team.  It was just for fun, just for ourselves.  As I got to know Phlegm a little better, I decided I liked him.  We all did.  "How's your phlegm?"  "Really not too bad, actually."  I was only sorry he was stuck with a team so non-competative as ours.  We weren't there to win, we were there for the experience.

Then Roy handed off the wristband to him.

We let Roy take a minute to cool down before getting back in the van.  He had the most insane uphill legs in our van, and dominated!

Then we drove on, looking for Phlegm to cheer him on, while I pumped in the back.  Gotta do what you gotta do!  The others in the van turned up the music and kept their eyes forward.  Kind of awkward but not as awkward as it would be with Mike--a single BYU-I student--in the van.  Where was he, anyway?  I finished pumping and we were still looking.  Looking.  Looking.  Looking.

"Okay, we must have passed him," Roy said.  He'd said it a few times, now, and we were all starting to agree.

"Yeah, there's no way he's made it this far."
"Let's go back and look again."  So we began looking for a good spot to pull a U.

"Wait, is that him?"
There was a little speck far, far ahead of us with a white headband.  Mike had been wearing a white headband.  But was it possible?  He was blowing past people.  Passing them up like they were only crawling.  We sped up to get closer, and at the exact same time all five of us recognized his curly hair.

There was a unanimous "OOOOO!!!!"  The kind of noise like when a group is watching a football game, and their team just dominates on a play.  And they high five each other like they have anything to do with the fact that their team is totally going to win.  That was us.  Our team was Mike.

We drove up alongside him, hanging out the windows and cheered our heads off, laughing and suddenly feeling the spirit of competitiveness.  "Get that next guy!  Kill him!  Kill him!"  And he'd do it, without a change of pace, without even glancing at us.  Just a tiny smile.

And that is how the name Phlegm was banished from the Mother Goose.

Andrea had a tough act to follow, but she's a seriously competitive girl, and so she was the perfect person for him to hand off to.  The sun was high and hot by now, and even worse... we were running out of gas.  Probably should have filled up before the race, geniuses.

So the team dropped Jamie and I off at the next exchange, then they drove off into the middle of nowhere with a prayer for a gas station.  In no time, Andrea handed off and Jamie was gone.  As we waited for Mother Goose to return, we chatted with Sydney's dad until news cameras were on him, and then we melted into the background.

Unfortunately, this is when we met loinclothman.  Yes, a man running in a loincloth.  And seriously, nothing else.  Trust.  Me.

He and his friend were getting a little too friendly, so Andrea and I made excuses and walked further down the road.  But these dudes found us at almost every exchange, and it always happened to be when Roy wasn't around to rescue us.  Shudder.

Make this into an eecard:
"You look quite attractive in that loincloth,"
said no one ever.

Moving on.  By the time the gassed-up Mother Goose picked us up, Jamie had been running for a while, and we were rushing to find him because it was hot and we were sure he needed water an hour ago.  We headed up a mountain on a gravel road, passing runners but no other Wild Rogue decked-out vans.  Looking at our race manual, it was clear there was not supposed to be van support on this run.  The vehicle route was another way.  But then we came upon Jamie.

He'd hurt his back.  Bad.  An old injury flaring back to life.  We decided it was meant to be that we took the wrong road, put him in the van, and Andrea started running for him with the van rolling right alongside.  After about a mile, she and I switched and I ran for a mile, then Roy got out and ran for a while, and then Mike.  Jamie wanted to get back out and try again, but we insisted he rest.  The running trail disappeared into the forest, so we said bye to Mike {all feeling confident that he could handle it} and raced back to the road we were supposed to be on.  This was a major exchange, where we were sure Jamie could get some help with his back.

By the time we made it there, Mike had already handed off to Sydney, and van two was gone.  I was disappointed because you really only get to see the other half of your team at these major exchanges.  On the bright side, we were at a gorgeous vineyard, with free food and free massages.  Or at least they were rumored to be massages.

When we got to the tent we saw the sign that said they were actually physical therapists.  Perfect.  Jamie got in line and got some good help with his back.  When it was Andrea's turn, she decided she might need some back adjustment too.

After she laid on her stomach on the massage table, we heard the PT say, "Now I'm just going to pull your pants down a little bit so I can access your whole back."  Then, with a nod from Andrea, he pulled her pants halfway down her bum.  Like, the top half of her booty was just exposed for all to see.  Kirsten and I, still in line, almost died laughing into our hands.

Another PT noticed her bare buns and casually laid a small washcloth for modesty's sake.  Apparently Andrea's PT didn't give a patient's bum for modesty.  He promptly removed the washcloth.  Kirsten and I died all over again.

Andrea kept amazing composure, but afterward she was all, "Um... well that was awkward."

I thought I'd be safe because I was lined up with a different PT than Andrea had.  The woman asked me, "What's the problem?"
And I honestly didn't have a problem.  "I ran six miles this morning and I'd like a leg massage" is what I should have said.  But instead I just told her about how my knees sometimes hurt when I'm running.  They actually hadn't hurt in months because of strengthening exercises I do for them, but I thought I didn't think I'd get a good leg massage with that story.

Well I got a good leg BEATING with that story!  She used some piece of plastic to dig into my leg to burst some capillaries so blood would rush to the area, and somehow that was going to prevent any knee injuries.  So I said "thank you" and limped away.

This might be a good time to mention that my knees never hurt the rest of the race.  My left leg was bruised, but who knows... maybe it actually helped.

While van 2 was running, we decided to get some sleep at the next major exchange.  Sadly, I can't remember what the town was called, but it was by far the most civilization we'd seen during the race so far.  We got food at a pizza place and a Sonic.  The major exchange was at a church parking lot, which had grass and some small trees offering a bit of shade here and there.  We got out pillows and blankets to make a big team bed we could all crash on.

Before I could get any rest, I had to pump.  Ugh!  This time I couldn't spare Mike the knowledge.  He and Jamie were stretched out in their own rows in the Mother Goose, half asleep already.  Jamie... not a big deal.  He has a pregnant wife, he's seen and heard much worse than pumping.  But Mike was a different story.

"Just so you guys know, I'm pumping back here.  So don't look."

Mike sat up, "Do I need to go?"

I shrugged.  "Not necessarily, I don't care as long as you don't look."

He relaxed back into his pillow a little bit.  "Can I ask a question?  Why do you need to pump?"

Oh the blissful life of pre-children.  So I briefly explained the necessity to keep producing while nursing, even if the baby isn't around.  "No big deal, just inconvenient," I said.  He nodded his understanding, and when he was down flat in the seat and was sure I had privacy {at least as much privacy as was possible in the situation} I started pumping.

I got a snicker from Andrea so I responded with, "Moo!"

"OKAY!" Mike shot up out of the seat and out of the van with his superhuman speed.
Poor Mike, I've scarred him for life.

We all took our naps and then started the second chunk of legs, with me running first again.  We were approaching semi-dusk, so I had to have a headlight, taillight, and a very fashionable reflector vest.  I was happy to still have enough light to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Wild Rogue River during my leg.

Most of the other legs were in the dark of night, which was kind of creepy at times.  On Andrea's leg there had been a sighting of a mama bear and her cub, but luckily she didn't know that until she was finished.  Jamie battled his uphill leg, tall black trees on either side of us.  Conveniently, Mike aspires to be a professional motivator, which I think helped Jamie fight through the pain.  Roy had the steepest leg yet, and I couldn't believe the time he was still making.  And Mike... was Mike!  The celebrity of our group.  Other teams even commented on what a great runner our "secret weapon" was.

By the next major exchange, it was somewhere around 1am and we were exhausted.  In fact, Andrea was delirious.  Kirsten and I had a great time messing with her in her state between consciousness and sleep as we drove to the final major exchange.  Obviously I got pretty deliriously tired too after a while, because I remember this part of the trip like a dream in shades of green and black.

We basically had to go off-roading through a dense forest, and I just remember trees and potholes and at some point I think I slumped over onto Roy.  Or Andrea?  When we reached the exchange I woke up enough to brush my teeth and watch Roy fill the air mattress for the back of the van.  I slipped under the blanket between Roy and Andrea in a fresh set of running clothes.  Kirsten slept in the reclined passenger seat, while Jamie and Mike each took a row to sleep in.

Someone started snoring and Andrea {suddenly delirious and hyper} got chatty.  None of that phased me, I was so tired I fell asleep fast and slept like a rock.  Oddly enough, when the alarms went off five {or was it four?} hours later it felt like I'd gotten a good night's sleep.

First again.  Quick as possible, I pumped, threw shoes on, and grabbed a handful of trail mix.  I just barely got done using the bathroom when everyone started yelling, "Elliot!  They're here, they're here!"  I rushed over and suddenly Skyler was slapping the bracelet on my wrist.  Ew.  So much sweat on it by now, but I didn't have time to think about that.  I started running and realized I didn't know where I was going.

Once I got pointed in the right direction it was all good.  Thank goodness for volunteers, haha!  I tried to keep pace while I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and got my audiobook going.  The morning was filled with more beautiful views.  We used the bullhorn as often as we could, which I think our van became known for.  Other teams seemed to enjoy it too.  That's what I love about relays, though, is that you always have a little fan club pushing you and cheering for you.  It's great motivation.  The best was having Roy there: my favorite cheerleader.  We had so much fun, but this last stretch was over so quickly.

Getting close! 27 miles to go!

Such awesome views

Mike being a professional motivator

What would we have done without him?

The hand-off of the infamous sweaty wristband

Before we knew it we were at the finish line, waiting for van 2 to finish.  There was live music, a good free dinner with a vegetarian option, and lots and lots of people.

What Roy and I were most looking forward to was seeing Camden.  Throughout the entire race we kept exchanging looks, wondering what he was doing and whether he missed us.

So when the grandparents showed up with him we had the best snuggle in history.  And that's when we saw that the Buckmasters had "Oregonized" him, from his moose hat down to his Birkenstock socks.  Is he the cutest little Oregonian you've ever seen?

While waiting for our team we headed over to the Buckmaster's campsite and took showers.  And a shower never felt so good.  Then a quick trip to the beach.

And finally it was time to cross the finish line with our entire team!

Loved our Mother Goose van.

Finally meeting Greyson!  We were buds.

Love Sydney and wish I could have seen more of her.

It was nice not having a long drive back to Newport right away.  We were able to stay at the campsite, Roy and I spending one more night in the back of the van, and Camden in the camper with his grandparents.  We are so blessed that Camden has grandparents and aunts who take such good care of him.

We only had one more beautifully rainy day with our family before we had to head back to Arizona, and we spent a lot of time driving.

Laura drove us to the airport.  We had a connecting flight in San Francisco, and every flight in and out of that airport was delayed hours that day.

Still, Camden was a champ.  We kept him entertained with his reflection,

And with lots of Baby Einstein watching.

The moment we got home, we were missing Oregon.

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