AKA, “Beer-y Happy Endings”
After finishing our first set of legs, it dawned on my team that with our #5 runner out of commission, one of us would have to make up his remaining two legs. In addition to that, our #6 runner had to work overnight (dedication!) so we had to make up his run as well. None of us were really eager or even felt ready to add on those extra miles, but we figured out who could take the overnight legs, and decided we’d split up the third extra leg the next day.
Around 9pm, our #12 runner came to the handoff point and started off our #1 runner once more. The temperature had finally dropped and it felt great outside. I geared up for my second leg, another 4.5 miles on a bike path…a quiet, dark, secluded bike path at night. I thought it would be freaky, but it was calming, and I felt like I was booking it because I was eager to be back around lots of people versus the croaking frogs and rustling bushes and trees that surrounded me.
I finished before I knew it, and happily stretched before hopping in the van and closing my eyes as we drove to the next handoff. I was getting so tired, that even though they were handing out free s’mores to runners at one of the exchange points, I passed right by. (And who EVER passes up a free s’more?!)
Overall, the runs overnight went better than the first legs; our two teammates who picked up the extra legs weren’t super enthused, but they did great anyway. Soon, we were finishing up our second round of legs and pulling into the next exchange zone to rest.
Our van was huge so we had lots of room to actually lay down or recline our seats. I think I managed an actual couple of hours of sleep (in and out), which is more than I have ever had the last two years I participated in the Ragnar Relay, so the next morning, I felt like I was ready to go!
It was starting to heat up again already as I lined up for my final leg around 8am, which was a little over 6 miles long. I started the leg on a bike trail, so I got some shade to run in for a while, but at halfway, the sun, heat and weariness began to take its toll. I went through a whole bottle of water, but luckily the fans along the course and other runners were SUPER helpful. One person sprayed me with a bug sprayer (filled with just water, of course); one person drenched me with a super soaker kids’ gun—it felt awesome; and another person gave me an ice cold bottle of water that basically got me through the last mile and a half. It felt like forever, but I finally spotted the handoff zone ahead, and picked it up as much as I could to get across that line.
But I wasn’t done yet! That was supposed to be my last leg, but we still had our #5 runner’s leg to make up (who was doing just fine, we had found out). I offered to run as much of the leg as I could, but considering I had to walk a lot during my 6-mile leg, I knew I would be pretty slow. I waited while runners #3-5 ran, and then took the baton for our final leg.
It was even hotter out at that point, and I was running through the middle of a (somewhat dodgy) town, in direct sunlight. A few times, some creepy dudes whistled at me—to which all I could think was, Really?! My thighs are so white they’re glowing, and I am so HOT that my face is bright red and drenched in sweat!
On the plus side, even though I felt like I needed to walk, I was kind of afraid to…so I just kept chugging along.
Almost three miles into it, though, I was just done. I had run about 20 miles total in less than 24 hours, and my body was nearing exhaustion. It was a true team effort to finish that last leg—I handed off to one of our runners, she ran for a mile and handed off to another one of our teammates, he ran two miles, and then handed off to our other runner who finished up the last 1.5 mile of the last leg. It took four of us to finish that final 5.8 mile leg, but boy, were we happy when we did! With that, we concluded all of our legs for van #1.
I hopped in with van #2 as they went to run their final legs. I felt bad because it just kept getting hotter as the day went on, but they were all champs and finished their legs with no problems. Finally, we found ourselves winding our way through the streets of Chicago, into the park along Lake Michigan where the final finish line stood. Sadly, car traffic was so heavy that our final runner actually BEAT us to the finish line, but he was in no hurry…he waited to cross it until we were all there as a team.
We crossed, got our sweet medals, and set off for free pizza & beer. I’d say we earned it!
Will I do it again next year?