Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Texas Independence Relay 2011 - Mad-Dames Came and Took It

This was my third year captaining a team for the Texas Independence Relay. What's this event? It's a 203 miles relay race (40 relay legs) March 5 and 6 from Gonzales, Texas (Known for the saying "Come and Take It") to Houston, Texas, and runners complete the event in teams of up to 12. About 150 teams participated this year.

I had put together an all-female team this year, and we chose the name the Mad-Dames. In discussions, it evolved that we would be pink, girly, and have entirely too much fun with costumes. We outfitted ourselves in pink wigs, pink tiaras, pink boas, and tutus for the race. Granted, some of us (me included) didn't run in our gear, and the wigs were a serious pain to deal with so they weren't seen again after the Prologue (the race start).

We gathered at DFW airport Friday morning, rented the vans, and drove down to Seguin (40 minutes outside Gonzales) to stay the night. That afternoon we decorated our two vans - one van would always be driving and have its runners running, while the other van "rested", and then they would swap.

Van 1

Van 2
Saturday morning, we woke up at 4 am. Ugh. For our 6:04 am race start. Dressed up, we were given a blast from the cannon to signal the start of the race for our team, and then proceeded to have to actually run 1.15 miles in a pink wig...and a pink tiara...and a pink boa...and a tutu. Hmm, hadn't thought ahead to that fun.

My van, van #1, was "resting" until about noon, so we just went from leg to leg cheering on our teammates. Leg 7 kicked off our van's running.

Saturday was COLD and WINDY! Huddled at start of Leg 5
I ran my first leg about 3 pm - Leg 11. For planning purposes, I didn't know what to plan for pace, so I had put down a very reasonable 12:30 min/mi.  For Leg 11, I was able to do 11:36 min/mi pace, including a 0.4 mile kick at the end at a glorious 10:21 min/mi pace. Total miles: 6.41.


At our van's next break about 5 pm, we went and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant, then it was time for a few in our van to run again. At 11 pm, our van was able to go to the hotel and have a hot shower and had a chance for 2 hours sleep. I slept like the dead.

I ran my next leg at 4 am. Leg 27. Middle of nowhere = dark dark dark. But I did enter some outer Houston suburbs my last mile or two. Runners would pass you here and there through the whole race, and given the way the team start times work, the folks passing would be considerably faster than me. I found it rude that a couple male runners here passed me and then would put up the number of fingers of what number "roadkill" I was. Basically keeping track and pointing it out to me about how many runners they had passed.

Anyway about mile 5 of this leg, a gal passed me that was only a little faster than me. So I tried to hang with her, especially since the company in the dark was nice to have. After a couple tenths of a mile she realized I wasn't going anywhere. We chatted for a minute, and then I took the lead for a little bit. Nice to share the cumulative light our headlamps created in single file.  At 0.55 miles of doing this, I let her go because I wanted to conserve energy for my next leg.  11:52 total pace with 11:06 pace for that segment I stuck with that girl. Total miles: 6.51.
Before I Run Leg 35
Last leg for me was Leg 35. This is the Team Captain's leg. A particularly pretty trail/road sequence through Memorial Park in Houston and gorgeous views as you enter downtown.  It was getting hot by now and I was fading in the 4th mile, but finished strong.  12:19 pace. Total miles: 5.18.

Finish strong!

Glad to be done!

A fun part of this trip was meeting a few twitter friends for the very first time. Along the route we met @cassieaggie who was volunteering (met her first at Leg 13), @hannahkattaylor who we met yelling "Hannah" into the dark at an exchange in Columbus because we didn't know what she looked like, and @LFarnsworth who I happened to meet at the finish line when I saw her team shirt and asked if Leslie was a teammate.
@LFarnsworth (right)
At the end, the whole team whoops and hollers as we walk from the finish line up to the San Jacinto Monument to get our finisher medals and take our team picture on the steps of the monument.

A wonderful experience although it is hard on the body and mind. Until the drive home, I had slept only 2 hours between 4 am Saturday and 5 pm Sunday, and run 19.2 miles during that time and driven a van a lot of miles too. You eat and sleep at weird times and that's part of what makes this a difficult adventure, much more so than the mileage.  Now I can't wait for 2012 - wanna come run with me? Comment or message me as I create an interest list for next year - no money or firm commitments needed now.

Walking from finish to the monument as a team

Last walk to the San Jacinto Monument
Credit to teammate Corina Cervantes (@UltraMamaC) for all these pictures. She had a great quality camera and was snap-happy, so I lazed out on taking my own pics! :-)


  1. This sounds WAY fun - like a crazy cool experience! Congrats on a strong finish and what sounds like a fun time.

  2. Great post!!! I'm so happy to have had the chance to run this race with the team! Great leadership too Libby!!

  3. Thanks for including me on the team. I LOVED it--a total highlight of my running life. I am already excited about next year!