Birthday Race: Rainier to Ruston Relay

For the past three years, I have run a race on my birthday. This year was no different. Well, except for the fact that I didn’t run on my exact birthday. (It’s kind of tough when your birthday doesn’t land on a weekend).

The past birthday races have been road 5Ks or a trail race. This time I did something different. I did a relay race, which really meant incorporating my friends into the mix.

Bryce suggested the relay less than a month before the race. I was a bit wary since I hadn’t been running since the Eugene Marathon at the beginning of May. But, it was something new and exciting. And, I knew I wouldn’t have trouble finding friends to run it with us.

Our friends Brent and Mo came on board to form our team of 4, Team Kale. (Don’t ask about the name, it was completely random).

So, on June 6, two days before my birthday, we ran from just outside Mt. Rainier to Ruston Way in Tacoma. The race incorporated trails, roads and everything in between. (Our lucky guys got the legs that had sand!)

Bryce about to hand-off to Brent early on

Bryce about to hand-off to Brent early on.

It was obnoxiously hot — think mid to upper 80s — but we had a lot of fun. We all told each other before the race started that we were all going to “take it easy” and “run for fun.” None of us had trained for this thing. But, to no one’s surprise, we all pushed ourselves and our team came away with third place for our mixed division. Our total time was 7:13:34 for the 52-mile race. Essentially, each of us ran about a half marathon.

Mo kicking it in!

Mo kicking it in!

I definitely surprised myself.

My first leg of 5.6 miles I ran at 8:27 pace. My second leg of 3.6 miles at 8:30 pace. And my third leg I still managed to sneak under sub-9 pace at 8:56 pace for 4.2 miles.

I got a nice mixture of terrain with my first leg being on trail along a river and in a woodsy-foresty area. My second leg was on a paved concrete trail, completely open to the sun. I really lucked out on this leg because one of my Oiselle teammates, Jess, found me along the course. As she said “good job, Kristin!” and ran past me, I somehow thought I could maybe keep up with her. And, for the last mile-and-a-half or so, I did. I would never have maintained an 8:30 pace by myself. That’s the magic of team running and having someone physically at your side! I’d also like to note that Jess and I met for the first time in real life just at the start of the race. Other than that, it had been only Twitter-communication — I love when I meet running friends during races!

Jess and I finishing our second leg together.

Jess and I finishing our second leg together.

My last leg was mainly on city sidewalks of Tacoma. I don’t remember much about this part except that I tried my hardest to beat stoplights and that I had to pee. Brent, who was the runner before me, was quite the speed demon so when he arrived to the exchange, I was still in the portapotty line! I abandoned the wait though and just started my leg. My bladder, as far as I know, was not harmed in the process of this relay.

I didn’t know what to expect with Rainier to Ruston but it did not disappoint. I was most worried that I would get lost on a trail but each and every leg was well marked. The volunteers were awesome. The race itself was a good enough size that you could usually always see another runner up ahead of you. If I wait three years, I think this race may land on my actual birthday!

And, a one-day relay is definitely a fun alternative to a Ragnar relay where you’re going all day, all night. I enjoyed not being sleep deprived and just being “normal tired.”

Team Kale!

Team Kale!

My last race as a 27-year-old was a relay. I have no idea what my next race as a 28-year-old will be. Nothing is officially on the schedule (except for the Ragnar Trail Cascades race in September).

But, let’s be real. I’ll race before then, right?


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