Kristen J and the Highway

April 3, 2007    By: Kristen J @ 7:21 pm   Category: Life

Beware, this is a really long post!

It’s about 2:30 am and I’m racing up a dark and lonely street known as Happy Valley Road. There is nothing pleasant on this pathway. In fact I feel as if I’m in my own personal nightmare and I’m running as if the Hounds of Hell are after me. I can only hope that no lonely and miserable souls are coming up behind me.

After a long while I begin to slow. It’s no use, I’ve given my all. There is no more left to give. I must walk even if that means the footsteps I hear further back overtake me. I will accept whatever fate has in store for me.

Suddenly a large white van filled with a raucous group approaches me. It slows as it nears me and I see some of the passengers hanging out the windows. They begin to shout at me and I hear the passengers saying things like, “Ha! Look at her, she’s walking! What a loser! Look at the walking loser!”

I’m tempted to give my fellow teammates the one fingered salute but decide not to waste the energy as their taillights turn into small red pinpricks in the night. Another runner, a tall, thin, athletic looking man quietly races past me and I’m glad for him. He has put in the training and he deserves to reach his destination long before I do.

Has anyone heard of the Ragnar Relay Series? I hadn’t until about 6 months ago when a friend of mine emailed me a link and asked if I wanted to be on a team with her. What the heck, I thought, it sounds like fun.

It is a relay series that was started by some guys in Utah who thought it would be great fun to have a relay race that ran from Logan to Park City. I guess they had such a blast with that one they decided to add several more races in different cities to make it a relay race series. I found myself lucky enough to participate in the Ragnar del Sol in it’s inaugural year.

Our challenge was to take a team of 12 runners and run from Wickenburg to Scottsdale, Arizona (187 miles) in 36 hours or less. Each team member would run 3 different legs of the relay. How hard could that be, right?

The first challenge our team faced was the naming of our team. I suggested team “I Want My Mommy” or “Running for Hotness” but those names eventually hit the cutting room floor. After some deliberation my team members agreed to call our team “Bringing Sexy Back!” We thought this would be a good name considering most of the team members were trying to run off pregnancy weight.

We started out on Friday morning at 11 am excited and enthusiastic for the race to come. We cheered our teammates on as we raced through our first legs. We laughed, told stories, and chatted with people from other teams. What fun!

Finally, my van (van #1 out 2) finished the first 6 legs of the race. It was time to clean up, eat, and socialize with the other runners in the race. We had about 5 hours of free time until we were up and running again.

We decided to spend our precious free time at Denny’s eating Moons Over My Hammies, the Heartland Scramble, and some other wonderful delicacies. Van #1 then headed over to a high school where we were invited to spend a mere $5 for a few hours of rest on some comfortable wrestling mats in the middle of the gym floor. We poked our heads into the gym and then decided that we would tough it out in our 15 passenger van sitting in the parking lot.

The biggest problem with this scenario is that it was only 8:00 pm. I can’t fall asleep that early. I ended up lying on the van bench thinking, ok I only have to lie here for 45 more minutes. Ok, I only have to lie here for 44 more minutes. Ok, I only have to lie here for 43 more minutes… Eventually one of my team members tapped on the window and we ended up chatting until it was time to run again.

Alright! It was 9:30 pm and time for van #1 to start running our second legs. We were a little bit more subdued this time. During this night time phase of the race the vans were allowed to pace their runners by using a kind of “leapfrog” technique. The van would watch the runner until they were almost out of sight and then the van would drive forward until it was almost out of sight of the runner. The later it was the more tedious this technique became.

It was during this phase of the race that we began to give names to runners from other teams. The only one I remember off-hand was “Wobbly Vest Guy” because his reflective vest swung back and forth so much as he ran. I’m sure that the other teams referred to me as “the little hottie” each time I ran past them

Finally, it was 3 am and we handed the running duties off to van #2. Now we would rest and recuperate for 3 long hours. The gym mats look much more appealing to us this time around.

At 5:08 am a loud and screeching cell phone rang in my ear. I clawed myself up out of a deep sleep and answered the phone. It was Steve from van #2 cheerfully informing me that it was just about time for van #1 to start running again. At 36 years old I am the grandmother of team “Bringing Sexy Back” and I guess it was for this reason I became the alarm clock for van #1.

My fellow teammates greeted me with dirty looks, groans, and exclamations of “I just ran!” as I tried to rouse them for the final running phase for van #1. We were looking much worse for wear as we limped out to the van to begin our final legs as the sun rose from the east.

We cheered for each other a lot less during our final phase of the relay. I pretty much sat in the van thanking my lucky stars it wasn’t my turn to run. As it got closer to my turn those thoughts left and I began to contemplate handcuffing myself to the van bench and refusing to get out of the van. I soon realized that my fellow teammates might inflict more pain upon me if I chose this course of action than the actual run would, so began to gear up for my final leg.

I’ve got to tell you that 45 minutes of sleep was just not enough for me and I could really feel it as I ran those last 3 miles. As I crested a hill that overlooked Saguaro Lake I could hardly notice the beauty of the lake and canyons surrounding it. Mostly I was thinking to myself, what the heck was I thinking? What kind of a freak would think running was even fun? I’m never running again!

Eventually I staggered into the exchange point and handed off the wristband to van #2 for the final time. After a few minutes of trying to catch my breath I realized that I was finished. I didn’t quit and my team members didn’t have to shove me out of the van for my final run. I was an honorable running woman!

Van #1 then headed for the finish line where we waited for the rest of our team, van #2, to finish the race. Mostly we just lied in the grass in the park thinking about how tired we were and dreaming of our nice soft beds at home.

Finally, van #2 showed up at the park and we waited for our final runner to come in. The minutes stretched on but we finally spotted him running up the road. As he neared the finish line team “Bringing Sexy Back” was allowed to join him for the sprint across the finish line. We were quite the joyous group of runners.

There was an award ceremony later that night, but we were too tired to stay. We posed for some pictures, hugged each other, and limped off to our cars.

We had a respectable finish and we ran a good race. Would I do it again? Hhhhmmm…it was much harder than I thought it would be. Oh what the heck! Who could turn down 30 hours of good, good times?

Thanks team “Bringing Sexy Back” it was hard but it was also pretty fun!


  1. Wow Kristen, you have my respect! I couldn’t do that! All I have to say is “Run for fun? What the hell kinda fun is that?!”

    Comment by Jamie J — April 3, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

  2. It was so much fun running across the finish line with you Mom!

    Comment by Maybaby — April 3, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

  3. Moon Over My Hammy — best name for a breakfast. ever.

    Nice write up for what must have been a heluva run. Congrats!

    Comment by Jacob J — April 3, 2007 @ 8:54 pm

  4. Kristen J and Highway!! You owned those hills!! I know, I was there!!! You were the “cute little hottie” as well as the “chatty Cathy” of the van…Geoff we know more than you would ever want us to know:). I also would do it again in a second, that is, after I retrain my legs to climb stairs again:) Job Well Done! And in case everyone was wondering… YES, We did Bring Sexy back!!

    Comment by seew — April 3, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

  5. Well the good news is it only required Kristen about 15-20 straight hours of sleep to recover from her and now she is back in business! No, actually the whole fam is very impressed with her and the kids liked crossing the finish line with the team too.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 3, 2007 @ 11:30 pm

  6. Wow, I’m impressed! Good job! :)

    My co-worker was training for months to run the LA Marathon, then he wrecked his motorcycle the week before (going 80 on the freeway). He somehow managed to walk away with only a cracked rib and a sprained ankle—no marathon for him, poor guy. But he’s lucky to be alive.

    Comment by Susan M — April 4, 2007 @ 7:33 am

  7. So THAT’S why the Bush highway was partitioned off, making the lanes smaller on Saturday.

    That was some scary driving with my boat barely fitting between the construction barriers they had set up.

    Sounds like a tough run. Good job.

    Comment by cantinflas — April 4, 2007 @ 8:41 am

  8. Not only that Cantinflas, but there was a bike race also going on. They were on the other side of the road. It was disturbing to run on this tiny little shoulder as trucks with boats, cars, and other recreational vehicles tried to squeeze by.

    Watching the bike racers go by made me think maybe biking would be a nicer hobby.

    Comment by kristen j — April 4, 2007 @ 8:54 am

  9. Nice job, Kristen. Keep running.

    I ran the Teton Dam marathon in Rexburg, Idaho.

    I am registering for the big, one day LotoJa classic in September . . . biking from Logan to Jackson Hole, 206 miles. I am a little nervous. I don’t know if my butt can hold out that long.

    Anyways, keep running.

    Comment by Todd Wood — April 5, 2007 @ 9:44 am

  10. Thanks Todd. The LotoJa classic sounds fun but you’re right, a little butt wearing. Do they have super padded biking shorts for an event like that?

    Comment by kristen j — April 5, 2007 @ 10:28 am

  11. I am definitely in the market for some. :)

    Comment by Todd Wood — April 5, 2007 @ 10:46 am