It's been three days since we finished the Ragnar Relay and I'm still trying to process the whole event.
The few days before the race, as we had runners dropping off the team, I was having a serious mental breakdown. The thought that the training and planning would be for nothing . . . was very stressful.
However, we found two BRAVE souls who came to run with us, rounding out our team of 12. They were great sports and if any of the 12 people involved ever speak to me again, that'll be something! Cuz this was a mentally and physically tough thing for us to do.
I won't drag you through the 172 miles of the race itself, but I will share some of my 'favorite' moments:
Moment 1: My First Run
My first run came after a pretty full day of driving around, picking up and dropping off runners. I hit the trail about 5:30pm, feeling pretty worried about running 7.3 miles after a long hot day and seeing all of our team KICK BUTT on their runs. But after hanging with the run for 3 miles, it paid off with this beautiful sunset and view:
(That's me, in front of the other runner. Somehow he gets in front of me by the end of the curve . . . Freakin' awesome view!)
Moment 2: Showers
I have a HUGE personal space bubble. But something just happens during a race like this that makes that bubble incredibly small -- practically non-existent! At the first major exchange we had a chance to shower, and with salt crystals aggravating my chaffed skin, this seemed like a chance we couldn't pass up. Except it cost $1.25 -- quarters required!! Not all of us had the change, so we creatively came up with a solution. I'll leave the details out, but it involved more than one naked lady in a shower room and my bra ending up in Jaime's bag. Hysterical to think about it now -- but then, I could've cared less!
Moment 3 -- My First Hour of Sleep
My plans for a few hours of sleep in between runs, was crushed somewhere along side Lake Mead. As Lisa and I created a bed of blankets and sleeping bags on top of the gravel field at the exchange, I realized that sleep was going to be a challenge. Add to the gravel, the bathrooms with no stall doors, a CRANKY attitude, the fear that a snake will join me in bed, Lisa singing and then giggling and freakin noisy people everywhere -- there was only one hour of sleep to be had! At some point I laid on my back watching the moon cast a reflection across the lake, thinking how beautiful it was but then the reality of the crazy situation I was in HIT me and I felt like an old woman trying to keep up with a bunch of partying 20 year olds.
Moment 4: My Second Run
After kicking back a few bazillion grams of caffeine I was much more ready for my second run. The 5.9 miles wasn't going to be too bad. It was dark when I started off (about 5:15am) and as I ran I could feel the sun rising at my back. I had the van stop and get me water about 4 miles into my run so that I could anticipate the last 2 miles of my run. But about that point we were headed off the course by a police officer who said that there was an accident up ahead. I followed the new course for what seemed well over 2 miles. At one point, I turned a corner and saw a rather steep hill that would finally get me back on track. I hauled myself up it, only to see my van again, additional police and several people.
I ran up to the group of people and asked if there's was something I could do to help. The man I spoke to was crying, he told me there had been an accident. A Ragnar runner had been hit and killed. His wife, his mother, brother and team were there - wrapped in blankets. I could only think to offer my love, he wished me well on my run and I continued. I ran in a daze for a bit, but then broke down and cried. A few runner's came up behind me, gave me some encouragement and I finished up the run. It was a detour of only a mile. And while I ran it somewhat grudgingly at first - when I found out why I ran it, I only wish I could've done more.
You can see the story HERE. Meanwhile, our team sends love and prayers to the family of Jeremy Kunz!
Moment 5: My Third Run
My third run was suppose to be easy. But with as tired as I was -- my body just didn't want to move. I was breathing hard the whole way, I couldn't find my stride, my family was there to support me, but I wasn't get the energy boost I needed to make the run truly great. With only a quarter mile to go, I was DONE! I was running for 30 seconds, walking for 30 seconds and feeling like the exchange was too far away. Another runner was coming up behind me, and I was about to get passed yet again. I wanted to stop. I could see my whole team waiting for me, my family there too. I stepped to the side to let the runner pass me -- but he didn't. He slowed down, and told me to get back on the road. I did and kept running, but then I slowed again -- I was so tired! He slowed too, and then he started to whisper to me. "You can do this." / "Relax, take this easy." / "It's alright." And with him just behind my shoulder we made it through my last run.
I am still so moved by how much a stranger's support has meant to me. Why should he care if I finish my run? Why would he care if I was struggling? But he did - and it meant the world to me. His quiet whispering support is something I'll never forget. Running is something you do on your own, but when you run Ragnar style - you have support you never thought existed.
Moment 6 - Finishing
I never run with the thought in my mind that I am going to WIN the race. Today, I've had several people ask me if I won the Ragnar Relay. And I've told them "YES, I did win." If they look at the results they'll see that I finished second to last -- and probably think I told them a big, fat lie. But I really think I did win - I won the right to hold my head up high for doing something hard, I won the right to be proud of myself and of the incredible women who joined me in this, I won back some of the self confidence that the world sometimes tears away from me. That's the best kind of winning!
(Note: The Wasatch Back Team is being formed already. Who wants in on the Saints & Sinners medal for 2010?)