Team Uter Zorker
Race Report: July 28, 2013
I have not run with a race team since high school, and I was never very good at it, due to my slowness and my love of just casual running. You know the casual runner, the runners who cut the trail, who stop to look at the scenery, those who take stretch breaks, those who step aside and tell everyone to pass them on the left. I have no need for speed - I want to prolong my afternoon in the sun.
However, when I got e-mail spam from Ragnar, advertising their new trail running series in my own backyard, I was curious - Can I run with a relay team 25 years after my failed running career in high school? It was tempting, since I love a good trail run, and signing up with an organization that will monitor your routes at 3 am on the mountain would give me a run I would never do on my own, due to my fear of breaking an ankle in the dark and no one finding my body for five years.
Also, this run would give me a small taste into what my ultra runner friends do. You know, your friends who run those 100 mile races in the Sierra Nevada (yeah, some of my running buddies have done Western States, damn them), up and down mountains, all day, all night. I envy them, and dream of running their races. But I will never join their ranks - I am just too lazy. I love to run and run (almost) every day. But I don't enjoy pain as much as they do. My current limit is 6 hours of slowness. I have topped out at 26.2 miles. After that I am ready for some tri-tip and a Coke. But this Ragnar would give me a chance to taste their world without actually doing it. I would still have to put in some tough training, on trail, in altitude. But nothing over my magic miles of 26.2.
I asked some of my running buddies if they wanted to put together a team. Nope, no one wanted to pay money to run on Tahoe trails, since you can do it for free any day of the week. Why would you pay? I argued that you pay so that you can get eaten by a bear at 3 am on the backside of the mountain, and a rescue crew would be on stand-by to come get your bones within 24 hours. You are paying for safety. But it looked like if I was going to do this, I would have to find a pick-up team. I would be running as a team with total strangers who have no idea, except what I tell them, as to what kind of runner I am. And vice versus. I would have to get out of my solo mentality, and care about helping seven other runners. The dynamics of an unknown team can make or break an experience like this; it is not just about the trails and the weather, but the attitudes and spirits of eight people. It could be a ship of fools, or a car of idiots, or a trail of runners!
I found my team through Ragnar's Facebook. I think we were well vetted. This team was made up of middle aged, laid back professionals, who did not care about times or pace. Half the team had run together before, and the other half were other pick-up runners. Ages (appeared) to be between 50 and 30. I ended up being the second oldest runner in the mix, but in the same physical shape as our average runner. I was concerned about this more than I should have been, however, since my hip surgery in 2005, I know that I cannot run fast, ever. I have endurance and stamina (insert perverse joke here), but speed makes my rebuild hip scream in pain, and I end up unable to walk, much less run, for weeks afterward. And I like walking, much less running. Not that I was ever fast anyway.
So I joined a pick-up team.