Monday, May 27, 2013

Race Report: Elevation Crazy in ELP (Transmountain Challenge)

My friend Janelle, what a gal.  She is an El Paso girl, born and raised and returned, and though she recently moved to Upstate New York, she continues to change my life in a positive way.  We used to cross paths in the mini-gym built on the first floor of the hospital for staff to use for the ol' odd hour of the day workouts, and there she was, each morning.  She never ran too far, and never too fast, but I admired her dedication.  We also share the same Red Bull addiction so we were kindred spirits from the start.  

On this day, Janelle, her 1-year old daughter, her husband X and I all found ourselves in the cool October morning at 0530 on the far side of the "southern tip of the Rockies," the Franklin Mountains, that divide our fair town of El Paso into East and West.  We were about to embark on something called the Transmountain Challenge Relay, but soon arose the question of what to do with Baby...the only obvious answer to which is, of course, if you are Janelle, to canx the reasonably apportioned individual relay segments and do the whole 13.1 together, taking Baby with us on this half-marathon run for which none of us had been training, much less with a baby stroller, much less in those wall-like gale-force winds that blow across our high El Paso desert, much less with an elevation profile like this:

Not the best screen capture- so to explain, this is a 13.1 mile course with a 1345 ft gain in the first half, and an equivalent drop on the flip side.

Somehow I had become enamored with Janelle's early am plan and instead of heading like wise people for the closest breakfast establishment (Crave, a favorite, would've really fit the bill) I followed X and Janelle to the starting line, put an extra race number on Baby, tucked her in to protect from the wind and pushed that little girl up and over the mountains.  Janelle and X (who is NOT, per himself, a runner) were in great spirits and I caught their enthusiasm too.  The stroller turned out to be a great contraption for holding phones, car keys, outerwear, snacks, Red Bull, and music thereby enabling us to sing Bon Jovi together and entertain all the folks passing us.  The downhill part was no easier than the uphill, and far more treacherous if you think about it from Baby's POV.  I was so proud of myself for not overturning or injuring or handing off Baby to strangers at any point and as a bonus I found a new respect for those mommas and kiddos out there, getting it done with running strollers each day.  I got nothing to complain about when I get my sleepy self out the door!

This was a great race.  For the addicts, one can achieve "Half and Half" status by additionally running the Flying Horse Half Marathon a week later in Sunland Park.  We were all too busy.  Even Baby.  Maybe next year!
I actually felt great afterwards despite the wind and babywindbreak and I wore my race shirt under my scrubs the next day.  I wasn't the only one :)

Of course, the surprise ending to our burrito-filled post-race stupor, where we all thought we were doing awesome and felt like winners...ended when we saw my BF Leah (of Jim and Barb fame!!):
Here she is pushing 2 little people each under 2 years old!  And that is the downhill stretch of a *&#$&%^ huge mountain!  So proud!

This event was great- well organized for a race with separated start and finish.  Be prepared to walk about 8/10 a mile from designated parking area to the start- it's a good warmup.  Designated buses (timely and frequent!) will deliver you from finish area back to starting line/parking lot.  The race was not overcrowded, but without long empty spaces between runners.  Beautiful scenery.  All skill levels.  Fantastic aid stations with local middle school cheerleaders, scouts, families, music, water, snacks.  Port a potties every few miles, but the road is lined by open BLM land if you needed to water a tree in between facilities.  We were blessed that the city provided for Transmountain Road closure all day for the event.  Delicious burritos at the end.  Motivated soldiers and DHS folks from Border Patrol carried flags and ran in formation.  Some costumes.  One crazy guy pulled a tire, strung to a backpack harness, the whole way.  I didn't see him or his tire at the end but I assume he finished either alone or with help from a brother.  That's just the El Paso way; that's this race.

Janelle and X