Monday, September 3, 2012

Stranger Danger, Relay Edition

My previous post detailed the running aspect of the Hood to Coast Relay.  But relays are much more than a running event, relays are essentially a social experiment in which you put 6 people in a van for 30+ hours with no sleep and lots of running. 

Most teams know each other and form a team based on previous friendships, relationships, and/or similar running goals.  These teams have some idea of what to expect when living with 6 people for the length of the relay.  My team, on the other hand, was a group of COMPLETE (all-female) strangers.  Not only did I not know anyone else on the team, most of the other team members were ALSO strangers (there was 2 pairs of the women knew each other).  This made for quite an interesting situation.

Coming into the relay, I knew running this relay with complete strangers could either:

  1. be an awesome experience in which I would meet awesome people and gain life long friends from across the country, OR
  2. be an utter disaster in which I would be caged in a van for 30+ hours with people I couldn’t stand.

My experience was somewhere between the two.  I really enjoyed the running aspect of the relay and met a few people I could see myself keeping in contact with….. but there were others (1 woman in particular) who I could not stand and who almost ruined the experience (yes, 1 person can almost ruin it for everyone if they are bad enough).  And being stuck in a van for 30+ hours with someone you cannot stand is not so fun. 

In addition to the 1 bad apple, I think there was just not enough in common between me and the other team members to optimize my experience.

Here is where there were differences between me and the majority of my teammates:

Age/Life Phase:

  • I was the youngest runner at 30, and the oldest member was 55.  The average age was around 40. 
  • Some women had kids that were my age, some women had babies at home, others had no kids at all.
  • I like to enjoy a cold beer after running.  The majority of the women didn’t even drink beer.
    • Example: Me after my first leg “I want a cold beer, did we put some in our cooler?” Teammate “I don’t like beer.  Plus, you probably should not be drinking in the van.” 
  • I like to celebrate after races by drinking beer and hanging out at a bar or beach party until wee hours of the night.  The majority of the women wanted to have 1 glass of wine at the beach house and went to sleep by 9pm.
    • Example: Me “Lets go to the beer garden and chug beers with the other teams!” Teammates “We’re tired and beer is gross.”
    • This led to me drinking beer by myself in the beer garden while awkwardly texting people on my phone to appear to have friends.  BUT I did convince one teammate (the oldest) to come back later with me and we had a blast; I wish she would have been in my van to get to know her more.
  • I am a big goofball, I love to listen to music, and do stupid things.  Many of the women were very serious and wanted to sit in the van having quaint conversations.  
    • Example: Me “I made a bunch of CDs to listen to!” I put the CDs up front and one in the CD player, but it was never turned on. Silence or awkward conversation continued for 30+ hours.
    • Example: I wanted to jump out of the van and perform a dance routine in the van headlights along the road for the night runners as course entertainment.  But I felt that if I did this, my teammates would have left me behind in embarrassment.  I felt inhibited and that I was always holding back.

Running/Fitness Level:    

  • I was the fastest runner at around a 7:00 pace, the slowest “runner” was at a 13:00 pace.  The average pace was around a 9:15 pace. 
  • I have participated in a TON of races and do marathons and half marathons all the time.  One woman had never ran a single running event in her life.
    • Example: Teammate (bad apple woman) “So where do I pin this race bib? Do I pin all 4 corners?” Doh.
    • Example: Same teammate “What if I need medical support? Do I need to bring one of those GU things? Should I wear my hydration belt?” This was right before her first 4 leg which was 4 miles (easy rating). It was going to be a long 30 hours…..
    • Example: Same teammate after her run “I have a blister, I don’t know if I can continue?!” I looked at her foot and did not see evidence of a blister.
    • Example: Same teammate after her 2nd run “How do you know if you have a blood clot, is it visible?  I think I might have a blood clot in my calf.”  Seriously.  I was sitting behind her and began hitting my head against the side of the van.
    • A word of advice- if you have never run a RUNNING event, DO NOT choose your first event to be the Hood to Coast 200 mile running relay.
  • I run to compete.  The other women “run” to finish. 
  • I know exactly the types of food I need to eat and at what times to it them to succeed and feel good.  There was one woman (obviously the bad apple) who was eating Cheetos 5 minutes before she ran and couldn’t figure out why she felt like crap.

Needless to say, I was a little frustrated the whole weekend.  (Granted, there were several of the women who were great…. I just didn’t get to know them well and the bad apple overshadowed everyone else.) 

I was doing an amazing running relay but was participating it with the wrong team.  I would look around and lust after the fun and fast teams, wishing I was with them.  Instead of enjoying the moment, I was constantly thinking about how I would do things differently if I did another relay.

Well, you win some and you lose some. 

I wouldn’t take back this experience, in fact I’m glad I did it.  I now know what to expect for relays and can’t wait to do another one, but with the following types of people:

  1. Coed team.  I think a mix of men and women would be better for me.
  2. Similar paces to mine, if not faster (this would cause me to run faster). I like to push myself.
  3. Competitive team; run to race, run to win!  I’m competitive.
  4. Similar ages, or at least people who are at similar life phases.
  5. Partiers.  Beer drinkers are a must.
  6. Goofballs.  Must be able to make as a$$ of themselves in the name of fun.
  7. Established friendships.  Know at least a few of the teammates or at least have a connection to all of them.  Make sure personalities mesh well.

I’m already mentally forming a team for a relay…. hopefully they will want to run the next one with me!!!

* If someone from my relay finds this blog and reads this, I hope I don’t offend anyone and I hope they understand where I am coming from.   


Nicole said...

I might be interested in doing one in the future. I am just getting back into running and am pretty slow right now....but I know what I have been capable in the past and hope to get faster again!

runaroundaroo said...

Coed team...super important if you ask me. A van full of women has enough risks, add in the other variances and I can see how the entire event was a learning experience! Having a little less estrogen could have easily helped!

CentsibleRunner said...

I totally agree with you on coed teams... I find there is less "drama" and better balance of personality.

a runner said...

Actually...I think if you have #6 going on, all the others can be forgiven. I'm feeling chagrinned in that ...well... I hooked you up with them :P And if I had known you were not having a good time Saturday, I would have bucked up and hunted you down. Next time, TELL ME!

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