Since I am injured, I don’t have a lot of running type activities going on in my life right now, so I am going to have to hit the rewind button and give you a little race report from October 1. Yes, I was technically ‘injured’ at that time as well, but I sucked it up and ran the Ragnar Relay because it was once in a life time event.
This spring, my favorite running blog, Anothermotherrunner.com, held a contest for 24 women to be selected for two Ragnar DC teams. They asked women to send in a creative entry that would make them want you on their team. Lucky for me I have a super-talented friend, Aimee, that wrote and produced a song for us and we created a music video as our entry. We made the team! I hit the training hard starting June 15th which may have a lot to do with why I ended up injured. Since the Ragnar training plan peaked at 18 miles, I thought I should sign up for a fall marathon after Ragnar and combine the training. I created my own training plan that encompassed the long runs and long tempos of marathon training, with the hill intervals and two-a-day sessions of the Ragnar plan. Long story short, I ended up hurt Sept 1st.
After PT and resting it most of September, I headed out to DC to meet the other girls and hopefully complete my three legs of the 200 mile relay. The Another Mother Runner writters, Sarah and Dimity, would each head up a team and I was slotted to be part of Team Dimity.
I was given the 6th, 18th, and 30th legs of the race – 6.1 miles, 3.0 miles, and 8.9 miles – all distances that I should be able to run without much effort if I was properly trained. But I soon found out how quickly you loose fitness when you have to take time off for an injury.
At noon on Friday I was up for my first leg. It was 6.1 miles, almost all down hill. I thought that sounded super-easy and was really looking forward to it despite the searing temperatures and humidity – 90 degrees and 80 percent humidity anyone? The road I ran was the same road the vans followed, which is nice because they can stop and cheer on the runners and refill water bottles if needed, except the road was dirt. And it was dry. And hot. Virtual dust storm every time a van drove by – and there were many, many vans. But I pushed on, all be it with my shirt over my mouth every time a van passed. And I finished the leg! And my leg held up. Unfortunately, my toes were not in good shape. The downhill that I was expecting was a nice gentle grade, not the black-diamond ski slope I felt like I was running down for an hour. The pounding on my toes was brutal and I already could tell a few toenails may not make the trip back to ABQ with me.
My second leg was a short 3.1 miles and ended up taking place a midnight. The Ragnar website described this leg as ‘up and over a mountain”, and they weren’t joking. Also, one of my teammates that grew up in the area mentioned that The Blair Witch Project was filmed very near where I was running – did I mention I am kind of afraid of the dark? And I hate horror movies? And the thought of running anywhere near the Blair Witch filming site gave me the heebie-jeebies? So I took off for my leg with my head lamp, flashing light on my back, reflective vest and various blinking jewelry and wouldn’t you know, there was not another runner in sight. My last leg there were at least 25 other people on the route that I passed or was passed by, but here I was…in the dark….alone….and all I can think of is that darn movie. Of course my cheap-o head lamp only lit the way about 2 feet in front of me, so every time I heard a suspicious noise I couldn’t even see where it was coming from! Then… I saw… a random child’s sock…. laying on the side of the road – which in broad daylight wouldn’t have bothered me, but for some reason with all the witch thoughts and the dark and being alone and some random farm animals making agitated noises – this just made me break out in a cold sweat. I kept checking over my shoulder to make sure there wasn’t a murderer (or witch) following me and it made me run faster! I was never so happy to see my team at the end of that leg!
We had a few hours rest after my second leg so we caught some sleep at our teammate Karen’s house and the headed out about 5:30 am to start our last legs for Van 1. My final leg ended up starting at noon and I was dreading it. My longest leg of the relay – after three hours of sleep and an upset stomach, probably due to the amount of ibuprofen I was taking for my leg – I just was not looking forward to it. So, I set about getting my head in the game – think of it as a long run, I didn’t have to race it, just get it done. I put on my headphones, queued up an Another Mother Runner Podcast and took off. It was just as hot as the day before, but at least this leg was relatively flat. We were getting closer and closer to DC, so I was running on mainly running/biking paths through parks. It was really beautiful and I was starting to enjoy the run.
I was purposely not looking at my Garmin splits. I knew I was running slow and I was getting passed by a lot of people, but I was just trying to stay in the moment and soak it all in. Enjoy the journey. And then, I looked ahead. Why are those five guys and one girl that just sped past me stopping and turning around? Why are they headed back toward me? Are we lost?! I had not really been paying attention to the course because I was just following the people that kept passing me – I just assumed they knew where they were going! I went from enjoying the moment and smiling to hyperventilating and trying not to cry. I didn’t know how far out of the way we had gone and I was just hanging on by a thread. I didn’t have that much left in the tank and I was tired and now I was frantically trying to keep up with these speed demons as they retraced their steps to find the way back to the route. Turns out we added about an extra mile and a half when all was said and done. Once we were back on the route, I walked. I was spent and I still wasn’t really sure how far to the end. I texted the team because I knew all 12 of them were waiting for me to finish and I was so sad that I was holding the team up, but I gathered myself and once I saw that “One Mile Left” sign, I got my running legs back.
And waiting at the exchange were 12 mother runners – my team – in a tunnel to bring me home.
Tears of joy and relief. I was so happy to be done and so sad that my portion of the race was over.
Team Dimity finished in just over 29 hours and ended up placing third in the “Women Only” division.
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life to come together with a group of women that have the same interest and enthusiasm for running that I do and complete a race. I made lasting friendships with these women – we have continued to support one another through our fall racing season/injuries and are planning reunion races next year. I’m so grateful I found the Another Mother Runner Community on Facebook and Twitter, as well as their books and podcasts. The information that I have learned about running and fitness has been so valuable and has helped me believe in myself as an athlete and a runner. It really has changed my life and given me confidence that I didn’t have before I started running. Thank you, Sarah and Dimity for everything.