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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Panic Prone

I am fuh-REAK-ing the fuck out.

Ragnar is five weeks from today. Five weeks. Thirty-five days. I….holy shit.

I pulled up my training schedule today to adjust for the last week of being sick and out of town, switched over to the May calendar, and got a whopping dose of HOLYFUCKINGSHITI’MRUNNINGEIGHTEENMILESINFIVEWEEKS.

Holy fucking shit, I’m running 18 miles in five weeks.

I’m not ready.

Getting sick two weeks after the half marathon has meant that my workout regiment since the half has been, well, more a passing interest than a regiment. This was not my intention at all.

Logically I KNOW that I will be fine. I know that I am in good enough shape to get through.

But I don’t want to be just good enough. I want to have splits that I can be proud of. I want to make our team faster. I want to get through this race and be sore in the best way possible.

I want to absolutely crush my training for the next month.

When I looked at my just barely filled out May running schedule and realized I was supposed to run 10 miles in a few days, I had another freak out moment.

I’m meeting GCB’s parents on Sunday. There is Sunday Night Dinner on Sunday. There is not time for a 10 mile run. Maybe four, but not ten.

So, let’s sum up.

I am freaking out about the biggest race of my life thus far, even though logically I know I’ll be ok, but I know I have to kick ass this month.

I am freaking out about the meeting the parents of the perfect boyfriend because I have not “met the parents” in a DECADE. Even then, the high school boyfriend was a friend first, so I technically already knew his parents. Though I suppose there was the one guy with whom my first date was a trip to the Fox Theater WITH his parents, but I don’t count that so much. I am told, “he likes you, they’ll like you.”

But as we are seeing, LOGIC IS NOT FUCKING PREVAILING WITH ME TODAY.

I need a nap.

This post was brought to you by a severe lack of sleep, a minor instance of lack of self-confidence, and probably not enough (possibly too much) caffeine.

Oops I Did It Again

It’s late. I should be sleeping. I can’t sleep. Thought vomit.

–My little sister is pregnant. Holy crap, my little sister is pregnant. I have a niece and a nephew who I adore to the ends of the earth and beyond, but this one? This one could look like me being that we’re genetically related. Baby watch 2012 is officially ON.

–Relatedly, the number of pregnancy announcements on facebook has been UNREAL lately. At least six within the last week. Mazel tov?

–I pissed a lot of people off on Twitter the other day by ranting about how diet pills were never going to be as effective as a healthy diet and consistent exercise (this coming from an article I saw about a pill for obesity heading towards an FDA approval board). I stand by that statement, but the tone and the timing, being that it was a day or two after the article on Aerys that I wrote about how much I love my abs probably didn’t help my case. Ironically enough, I got to work this morning with an email in my inbox from WebMD and the CDC about how doctors are increasingly prescribing their patients exercise. In a nutshell, I really wasn’t trying to be a dick about it, and would rather be there to support any and everyone in their fitness goals rather than piss them off. My girl Lo and I messaged back and forth a little bit after the firestorm, and she decided to start her own blog about her journey through getting back into working out. Check her out!

–So that full marathon thing? Yeah, it’s been decided. January 13, 2013 in Walt Disney World, my friend Steph and I will be running a full marathon. Um….yikes? Yeah, I’m fucking petrified right now, but like I said on facebook, three half marathons and a Ragnar til I get to it, so focus goes to those first. Seven weeks til my next half. Ragnar’s at the beginning of June. Fuck yes, let’s do this.

–Why is it that dating comes in waves? The guy from a while back got cut because he fucked up REALLY badly (red flag after red flag after red flag). Then there was the one who I thought I had the mutual feeling thing with, but for some reason he shut down on me, which of course caused me to shut down on him. I said I’d leave him alone, and I have, though I’m still not entirely certain what happened there, which is a bit frustrating and disappointing, but there’s nothing else I can do. And finally there’s the one I’ve seen twice, maybe three times now who on paper is extraordinary but in practice? There’s something missing. Let me tell you just how much this makes me feel overly picky, and, like Ali said earlier, like I’m trying to find something wrong. I swear I’m not, so maybe there is something wrong with me? I say that mostly in jest, but on dark nights it’s difficult to convince myself otherwise. I suppose it doesn’t so much matter given that I’m sure I’ll be right back to the perpetually single life (and subsequent depressing posts) once again in short order.

–I can still taste the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake shot I took earlier. That will probably come back to haunt me. Probably some time in my lifting session that starts in six hours. If not then, I’d say definitely on the run I intend on going on after that. Seven weeks. Here we go again.

–According to this, I am a freak:

In the Middle of the Night

It’s frustrating to not be able to sleep. It’s even more frustrating to be absolutely and completely exhausted from fighting away the wicked cold from hell who just won’t fucking quit and still be unable to sleep.

Insomnia is a motherfucker.

There’s something about the dark that can be comforting. It’s quiet, it’s enveloping, all-encasing. The highway just outside the window doesn’t scream like it does with the windows open, but instead is a soothing hum not unlike the white noise machines so many people seem incapable of living without. Darkness feels like it holds all of your secrets, never letting anyone else get a glimpse into that time when you are at your most vulnerable.

When it’s dark, when I’m sleeping, my defenses are down. I’m not hiding anything, I’m not intentionally keeping anyone out. I am perfectly relaxed.

When it’s dark and I can’t sleep, that’s when darkness turns.

That’s when all those secrets start coming back at me. That’s when darkness stops being friendly.

It’s when the memories I fight away every single day seem to become stronger, where I can be reminded of the things that were done, the things I failed at, the things that hurt me. Darkness mocks you when you’re unprepared for it.

Waking up in the middle of the night has become so commonplace it’s no different than any waking hour. Being unable to fall asleep is torture.

Laying there, wishing past hope that there will be some sort of reprieve from the torment one’s subconscious can bring, yet it’s never enough. At that point, sleep will become the chains that push you deeper into dreams that feel like reality, where you’ll find fears and doubts come to life.

Failure is so much worse in the dark. Second-guessing past choices. Did I try hard enough? Did I say the right thing? Should I never have said anything at all? Am I doing enough?

These are the dark nights where years of personal growth come crashing down around me, where the demons I thought I exorcised rear their ugly heads, where I have to consciously look them in the eye and tell them “You have not defeated me. You will not defeat me.” In the dark is when they try harder.

It’s so easy to realize just how alone you are in the dark. There is no movement besides your own constant fidgeting, trying to find that one position that will allow you to breathe and hopefully find solace. Tossing, turning, sheets and blankets ending up twisted around your legs making the weight of those memories feel like they’ve gained the ability to physically hold you down.

A straight-jacket holding you in place.

These are those dark nights that all you can do is wait for morning. A new day, another chance to push everything away and start again.

Dawn is so close. Dawn is so far away.

I Can Feel It Coming In The Air Tonight

Hangover reference aside, this is not a good thing.

You know that feeling you get when you just KNOW one of those obnoxious, depressive funks is heading your way? Yeah, that’s me today. I am not ok with this.

Sure, it’s nice(?) to have the heads up, but good god this is annoying. There is NO REASON for a funk. None. I mean, shit, things have been going well in nearly all aspects of life.

Work’s busy and a bit stressful, but not to where I can’t handle it (yet). I’m signing another lease on my apartment which means no moving this year either. I found some things out Saturday morning that have made me beyond happy to the point where I can’t really think about it without grinning like a damned imbecile.

So what the fuck is wrong with me? I have so much to do at work, yet my motivation has completely disappeared. I am actually sleeping more through the night, yet I’m always tired. I have plans with fantastic friends for multiple upcoming weekends (beer pong at Ali’s , running with JD, out dancing for our girl Domma’s birthday), and while I’m excited for all these things, right here, right now, I’m down.

Tiny things are swirling through my brain at rapid pace, inconsequential thoughts are taking me over and are growing into big things, things that are threatening to be REALLY BIG THINGS.

They will not be really big things. I can’t let them. I guess the anxious feeling that precedes these funks is a flag waving in the distance yelling at me to snap out of it, do something to distract myself, LIFT MORE, hell, drink more Jameson.

I feel like I’m on a downward escalator, but just realized it was downward and am trying to climb back up to the top before I get to the bottom.

Dammit, that KID is on the ESCALATOR AGAIN!!!