As was the case last year, the relay was a 24-hour, 186-mile long run, starting at Brian Head ski resort. However, much of the course was changed from last year. It stayed in the high country south and east of Brian Head much longer. That is where our van (#2, which included 3 people we ran with last year) started, at nearly 10,000’. We went down Cedar Canyon to Cedar City, west across the desert to Enterprise, south through the Bull Mountains and Snow Canyon (in the dark, unfortunately) to St. George, and then east to Springdale where it ended against the spectacular canyon walls of the entrance to Zion National Park.
By the end of my third leg on Saturday morning, with it getting very warm, and after an unexpected steep trail section and over 17 miles – I was glad to be finished. However, I suspect I could be “persuaded” to do it again. There is something about the camaraderie, the format, and the challenge that breeds excitement and, ultimately satisfaction. I’m not certain my sentiments would have been the same, had you asked me during my second leg at 2:30 Saturday morning, after already running hills for over half an hour – but the adrenaline is real and with only 2-3 hours of intermittent sleep – all of us were ready for the final leg.
Luckily, after a great Mexican meal, I got a nap and then met Karen in St. George, who had agreed to come down with me – spending a day-and-a-half with Emily and the boys while I ran.
We enjoyed a production of Gershwin’s Crazy for You at Tuacahn that night (I even stayed awake). On Sunday we met Emily and the boys at Valley of Fire, where we had lunch and got Rachel back before heading home. Notwithstanding 17 miles and little sleep, it was another great weekend.
Running was always a very individual and personal activity for me. I loved the time to think, to de-tress and to stay active. However, I’ve learned over the past 6-8 years, that it isn’t ALWAYS just an individual thing. Running with Karen (and Rachel, for that matter) has provided a new dimension. It’s breathed new life into a hobby; it’s provided incentive to stick with it, to stay healthy and to find new challenges. I will always enjoy “my time” while running, but am blessed and happy to frequently “share the run”. I’m looking forward to making some form of running my “trademark” with the Grandkids – and I’m looking forward to running with my kids in the not too distant future – but in a relatively distant place! Are you ready, Team Johnson?? There is less than 16 months to post!