The Distance

Well, we did it. Team One Hand Party Stand ran 198.3 miles in 30 hours, 44 minutes, and 25 seconds.

Wow. Let’s break it down.

Thursday I left St Louis right around 1pm, thinking that I would be able to get into Chicago before the major rush hour traffic hit. This would have been logical and all had I taken into account the potential construction traffic on the way up. I did not, thus I was stuck in construction traffic and then rush hour traffic. Gross. However, I got there right around when everyone else did, so it was ok. We loaded the suburbans and headed out to good ole Madison, WI, stopping at a Red Robin for dinner. Because monstrous burgers, unlimited fries, and a couple beers is the perfect pre-race meal, right? Right.

Getting to the hotel and getting things situated took a while, so unfortunately we didn’t get to bed until nearly midnight. That was less than ideal.

At this point, it’s easier going by times.

Friday

6am: Not my ideal wake-up time, but unavoidable as all the other girls were up and moving about, plus the nerves and adrenaline were starting to kick in. Got ready, got the suburbans loaded, ate breakfast, tried to not freak out. The usual.

930am: When we should have been at the starting line. Unfortunately, we went to the first exchange instead. Oops.

Team One Hand Party Stand

10am: When our team should have been starting. Instead, the second vehicle (runners 7-12, aka the Dude Van, named as such due to the fact that there were two girls out of eight people) watched as the 10am wave left without runner 1.

1030am: Ragnar BEGIN!!

Runner one is in the orange tank top.

11am: The Dude Van found a Jamba Juice and roamed around downtown Madison for a while, then headed to major exchange six, where we noticed that our suburban was leaking what looked like power steering fluid. Not so good, but ignore it and it goes away, right?

1130am-4pm: Laziness. Our van had a picnic. We wandered around. We laid in the grass. We waited. We waited for what felt like FOREVER. All of us were overly anxious, just ready to get out and DO something. Waiting for a race like that to start made each of us incredibly fidgety.

Lunch!

4pm: Dude Van starts!! Finally. But still there was more waiting for me as I was runner 9.

545pm: My first leg starts.

Our baton was definitely a slap bracelet.

Let’s chat about my first leg. On the Ragnar website, it told me that the first leg I’d run was a Very Hard 8.2 miles. Looking at the elevation chart, I figured that the reason it was labeled Very Hard was because of the distance. Um. No. The first nearly four miles were through ROLLING Wisconsin farmland. Lots of long, steep hills. It was 85 degrees out with no cloud cover. Brutal. That was a HARD run. I mean REALLY hard. It took quite a bit out of me, to be honest, and I train on hills! The last half or so was on a trail, which was shaded and actually quite lovely, so my second half I really pushed it, and my mile splits dropped significantly. The odd thing is that on this trail, it allowed the teams to spread out, so for quite a while I was running by myself. Not a person in sight. No mile markers except for one telling me when I was one mile from the end of my run. Slightly disconcerting, yet pretty awesome at the same time.

7pm: Finished my first leg.

Dead

730pm: Notice that the suburban’s engine is overheating. Realize leak is not just power steering fluid. Try to keep panic at bay. Found coolant, refilled the engine with it, and crossed our fingers.

940pm: Dude van finishes the first stint. Our team begins the second third of the race.

11pm: Tried to sleep. Succeeded for not even 45 minutes.

1130pm: Left exchange 12 to go pick up our volunteer who’d been at a water station. Get there to find two things. One, the vehicle was overheating again. That leak was not messing around. Two, learned that one of the runners from another team was lost. Somewhere on the 7 mile long, VERY DARK 12th leg (don’t worry, they were eventually found).

Saturday

1215am: Filled the engine with water, booked it to exchange 18.

1am: Came to the realization that we had to figure out a plan because stopping to give runners water and at every exchange was not going to work for this suburban as it was leaking too fast. Van one arrived, and it was decided that the original Dude Van was then going to be the major exchange van while the other was to get the active runners between exchanges. This required unpacking both suburbans and repacking them with the opposite group’s stuff.

2am: Runner six finishes, runner seven goes. Our team is half way done with the race. Van one heads to major exchange 24, and the Dude Van gets going again.

330am: My second leg (5.3 miles) starts. This was by far the best leg of my individual race. It was cool out, my path was through a wildlife preserve type thing in Racine, WI, the moon was super bright, it was a great distance, and I just cruised. I passed a few people and was able to nearly sprint into the exchange. The shot of adrenaline that run gave me was unreal, and I was JACKED after that. Couldn’t have fallen asleep if I’d wanted to.

5am: During leg 23. Sunrise over Lake Michigan.

515am: Get a text from our runner. She needs Bio-Freeze, which is similar to Icy Hot. This is not good. First a broken suburban, then a broken runner? As she pulled around the corner right next to where I took this picture, another teammate got Bio-Freeze on her IT band. IT band stuff SUCKS to say the least. She needed someone to help push her mentally, so I ran with her for about a mile, then traded off with one of our other guys for a mile or so. They get to where we’re parked, and she tells us she’s out, she can’t go anymore. Here’s the fun part. With a mixed team, 18 of the 36 legs HAVE to be completed by women. If a woman comes out of the race, a woman goes in for her. Since I was the only other female in the Dude Van, I took over the last mile and a half of her leg. The plan from then was for me to finish my final leg as well as hers later that day, which would add another 4.4 miles to my total.

6am: Handed off to runner 12. Officially have had less than 45 minutes of sleep in 24 hours while still running sixteen miles.

640am: Get to exchange 24 and switch the cargo between the suburbans again. Send runner one off to start the last third of our race. Find our first real meal in nearly 24 hours.

9am: Tried to sleep again. Got maybe half an hour. Stood up and realized that I had a sore left knee and a REALLYANGRY right hip. At this point the temperature was already at 80 degrees and was climbing steadily.

11am: One of our teammate’s parents brought us a mini-van so we moved whatever we could do the van and sent the suburban on its way home.

12pm: Dude Van finally takes off for our last stint. We brought one of the other girls with us, as my body had made it very clear that it would not be willing to take on an extra 4.4 miles.

2pm: My final leg starts. I don’t think it requires saying, but I’m going to anyway. I did not want to run at this point. It was above 90 degrees, I hurt all over, I was exhausted from having barely slept in two days, and I couldn’t even imagine putting my shoes back on and willingly running another 4.8 miles. But I did it. It was the most difficult 4.8 miles I have ever run in my life. Ever. Finished it anyway, and totaled out my mileage at just over 20.

515pm: Team One Hand Party Stand crosses the finish line at Montrose Beach in Chicago, IL.

This race was BY FAR the most physically and mentally trying race of my entire life, yet also the most unique and incredible experience. It took everything I could possibly give and then asked for more. I didn’t get to bed til after 1030 Saturday night and had to promptly drive back to St Louis early the next morning. I limped for two solid days afterwards and ate Advil like it was candy. Sunday I was smacked really hard with the dehydration, and I still feel physically worn out. My legs are achy, and I have refused to walk into a gym until next week.

I would do it all again. Without question.

Dude Van-er, One Hand Party Stander, Ragnarian for life.

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7 thoughts on “The Distance

  1. Pingback: Ready to Run | Are You the Gatekeeper?

  2. Pingback: Over and Over | Are You the Gatekeeper?

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