Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Epicness in 200 miles

Its Wednesday. It has been 4 days since I last stepped out of the white beast of a van that we called George. George was my home on wheels for a few days as myself and 11 other teammates made the trek from the mountains of NH to the beach.  It has been 4 days and I still want to roll my window down each time I see a runner and scream wildly. I still want to count my "kills" as I pass people. I still smell bananas and other funky smells stuck in my nose hairs. I still want to "tag" other vans and look for "tags" on my own as I walk out of Target. However, my bed. Yeah I love my bed!

Some of you may have guessed from the moment I introduced George, others maybe when I was talking about the "kills" or "tags" or 11 other teammates. That is correct. I ran a Ragnar relay race. And to even begin to describe it in words is daunting. I can't blame exhaustion anymore due to the fact my body has crashed by 9pm every night since the race and slept through to 6:30am. Clocking some serious sleep hours and leaving me rested. Which means I can only blame it on the fact that I lack the vocabulary to explain what an epic adventure that was. Serious hard core, beast mode, bad ass mother runner epic shit went down.

I was runner #1 and it was the toughest thing I have ever ever done which includes med free child birth three times (first time was a 56 hour marathon labor too!) And running 26.2 in 90 degree temps after winter training in nothing above 50 degrees.

Our van headed up Thursday evening because we had an early start time. We checked in to a hotel, grabbed some yummy flat bread pizza and settled in for about 4 hours of sleep. We awoke predawn, showered and hit the road. I munched on an apple and sat looking out the window trying to calm my nerves. I had them under control when 50 minutes later we pulled into the base of the mountain. The fog was heavy the sea of white passenger vans was endless. We checked in, found bathrooms and the fog lifted, giving me a view of the ski mountain. Ummmmm yep, nerves were back. The mountain was daunting and as I joined my wave start runners at the start line I was overwhelmed. I was one of just three women that would be starting that wave. The rest of the 40 other runners were men.  Very very fit runner looking men and the other two females? Yeah like Olympic runner forms. I was in trouble. The countdown ended and off we were sent. All of them passing me and leaving me there at the base, struggling to go up and up and up. 1.3 miles straight up the ski slope, all the way to the top. Then a very unflattering chaotic never in control of my body decent as we went straight back down to where we started. Flailing like a wild banshee I came crashing in, broken, battered and crying as I handed off the bracelet to runner two.

I cheered for each runner after this on the outside as on the inside I was defeated and left wondering how the hell I was going to get out and do leg 2. As the time ticked by and we fell further and further from our estimated time to run again I knew I would be doing more pitch black running then I had anticipated. I was correct in that at around 6:40 pm I was handed the bracelet yet again. This time for 9.3 "easy" miles. It was very hot and I had spent the last 6 hours under a tree stretching, rolling and napping. Hydrating and trying to eat. I was as ready as I could be. I set out and even managed a few "kills" before mile 3 when I ran out of water, the dark was setting in and I turned to lead as I realized that "easy" on this course still meant 600 feet of elevation gain. My van did not leap frog me for water or support stops and it was just me out there with the occasional passing of a runner who would fly by leaving me with just the view of a train of blinking red lights in the distance. Around mile 7 I broke down and called my husband. He kept me company out there. Telling me about the kids and daily stuff while I just answered back in heavy breathing. Around this time other vans took pity on me and I had some wonderful offers of Gatorade, Pringles, water and pretzels. Finally, I could make out the transition area and I had completed leg 2!!! I ran in and found no runner waiting for me. It was difficult to see who anyone was with headlamps shining back at you. A group of us just started yelling and finally runner 2 appeared. Took the bracelet and left me to find our van.

My legs now were pure lead and quivering masses of muscle that was dead to me. I got in the van and drove from each transition spot then after our last runner made it back we headed out to try and get some sleep before our third and final legs.

4 hours of broken, frozen, van sitting sleep later I was back out and gearing up for my last leg. My poor legs were dead I could barely walk and knew running would be slow and painful. I was right. The hills on the 500+ elevation change over my last 5 miles broke me the rest of the way and I ended up walking the ups. At the top of one of these hills I found a team of pure bliss. Out on the side handing out mini snickers to all the walkers. Yep don't mind if I take one.  The hills and heat broke me down but that mini snickers put a huge smile on my face. I finished up, found some wonderful food and a place to change then spent the rest of the day driving George and cheering on runners beyond thankful that I was done.

Our team did in fact reach the beach and I made it home where my kids ran outside to cheer me into the driveway and straight into an Epsom salt bath followed by bed. I slept like I had never slept before. 12 hours of not moving a muscle. Got up then because I didn't get enough hills and I in those 12 hours of sleep missed torturing myself set out on a family hike up a local mountain to a fire tower. And you know what?! I wasn't the only Reach the Beacher at the top. I found a sole sister on the crazy train since she too was hiking with her family after reaching the beach.

Will I ever do a Ragnar again? Yes. Will I ever do Reach the Beach again? Probably. Will I ever be runner 1 again at Reach the Beach? Hell NO. Did I have an epic, soul searching, growing as a runner, facing fears, accomplishing goals, making memories journey? HELL YES!

HAVE YOU EVER RUN A RAGNAR? What did you think?