I am so excited to be talking about United Relay again and recapping my wonderful experience! FIRST- a HUGE thank you to everyone that helped me fundraise. I exceeded my goal and I could not have done it without you. If you want to learn more about United Relay, you can read up on it HERE.
My first stage was May 20th at 1am. I knew I would be running on the Katy Trail which has some pros and cons. Pros are that it's flat, I know the course well, and it was likely to be safe. Cons are that it's dark as HELL, there are really no access points between the start and finishing line, and there are CRITTERS everywhere. We were well prepared with a bike lamp (Matt rode alongside me) and headlamps.
We met Richard Reed, the Red Team Leader (HEY RICHARD!), at the start line. He was really great and asked how he could support us. He was well aware that my route had few access points but was more than willing to help us however we needed. We snapped a few quick pictures and set out for my first 9 mile stage.
We had a really great time. It was dark and really late/early but we put on some tunes and just cruised. There was a chance of severe thunderstorms when we set out and we both prayed fervently (like, seriously) that the rain would hold off. Remember when I mentioned earlier that there were no access points on the trail? Well, that's because one side is cliffs and the other is the Missouri River. We knew it could be bad if we got caught in a bad storm so we prayed. Thankfully, we only got a few raindrops and the weather was actually awesome! Richard was waiting for us at the end of the stage and we grabbed a few more shots before heading back to the start line to get our car and head home.
I slept in (until... 8am) the next day and went into work for a few hours. I was feeling good physically but was really tired from the night before. I was sure to stretch and roll out a few times. I also focused pretty hard on getting enough to eat and drink.
That night around 6pm we hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half to my second stage (11 miles) of the relay. This one started in the middle of nowhere Missouri at 7:40pm. This time we were greeted by Richard and Ben Conway (the other Red Team leader). They were really excited and already had a plan for meeting us at various locations along the route since this stage was more accessible. Richard let us both try some Aftershockz wireless headphones which were AWESOME! We grabbed a few more photos and were on our way.
I felt pretty good for the majority of this stage but around mile 9 started to get pretty tired. I really liked that it was light for the first half of the run because it was a really great distraction. Richard and Ben caught us at various points along the trail and snapped some fun photos of us and cheered us on. This definitely kept me going the last few miles. Plus, like I have said before, running for charity is one of the BEST motivators!
I officially completed my 20 miles around 9:30pm that same night. I was really happy with how my fueling went but knew my legs would be destroyed the next day. Regardless, it felt really awesome to finish and I'm so grateful to have been a part of United Relay. What an experience! Thank you so much to everyone that supported me financially, in prayer, and in support the day of (cough cough, my husband).
I would highly recommend signing up for a stage if you are anywhere in the eastern part of the United States. The relay is still going strong and still in need of some runners. You won't regret being a part of this, I promise! If running isn't your style (no judgment), you can follow along with the relay via the live map!