So here’s how it all went down (sorry, sort of long, and somewhat weaved with inappropriateness).
I met the first half of the team – Al, Caroline, Joe, Lauren and Shaun – for the ride up to Madison. We arrived in Madison Thursday night, and I met the rest of the team – Danielle (team captain), Megan, Mark, Tim, and Chris - went out for dinner, and then reviewed some details for the following day – a 203 mile trek from Madison, WI to Chicago, IL, basically in the span of 24 hours.
Honestly, I had no idea how much went into all of this, all of which Danielle orchestrated flawlessly. I mean, we are talking two vans, two binder of directions (literally, step-by-step, mile by mile) of each running leg and van trip. Food, timing, rules, designated legs, etc. It made my head spin. I simply showed up when they need me too, ran when they said, and let the pros do what they do.
We started at 11am Friday, and since I was in Van #2, I didn’t start until the afternoon, So we grocery shopped (my contribution was red apples, Red Vines, and Mike n Ikes – surprise, surprise), ate lunch and hung out until out time came.
After a brief weather delay, my group started the seventh leg of the race, in south Madison. I raced legs 9, 21, and 33.
Before I break that down – let me say how unbelievable hellacious the weather was. (90s and 100% humidity made for some really difficult runs). In hindsight, I consider this to be a badge of honor, making an already difficult task almost impossible. Like I said in the previous post – there really are no words to describe these conditions. A Chicago native my whole life, I can say that this was easily one of the worst weekend in memory. There was simply no relief.
Start time: About 330 PM
Distance: 6.1 miles
Time: 59 minutes
Description: Hot, Hot, Hot. No other words. I ran the street for the first mile or two, then it was all trail after that. But no shade, and the heat pouring off the surrounding open fields. I knew immediately I was dehydrating. Thankfully, my team met me at about mile 3 with water, and by that time, I had stripped off my shirt and was DRIPPING with sweat. Water down, continued on the way, and finished the leg.
Intermission: Dinner, post-run review, and some serious concerns about my digestion, nausea, and dehydration. We rolled into a local high school, laid on the floor of a high school gym in the hopes of sleep (which was not to be had) and then it was off to start again at about midnight.
Start time: 230 AM !!!!!!!
Distance: 6.5 miles
Time: 61 minutes
Description: Middle of the night, running streets of Racine-ish. After a brief moment of being lost with four other runners, we got it together, and I took off. I mean, took off – at least by my measure. I loved the night running, and again, my team met me halfway with water. I wasn’t afraid of dark, bugs, animals, or even getting passed by all the other runners on that leg (which I did, often). Blister started to set in, and I didn’t even care. I finished around 330AM, and it was off to support the rest of van until we completed our cycle at about 5AM.
During this run, I wondered what local drivers must have thought about a bunch of people running through their streets with headlamps and front/back blinking lights at 3 in the morning. It was a pretty cool feeling, not gonna lie.
Intermission: I was tired, but all earlier problems seem to be correcting themselves – well with the exception of my poop, which was being as petulant as a five-year-old child on the first day of kindergarten – it simply didn’t want to go. Interject about an hour of sleep on a church couch while the other van completed their legs, and then it was off again. Sunrise came FAR too early.
And of the digestion – when you are awake for that long, take in minimal foods, put your body through stress, and then expect to digest itself properly, the body fights back. Let’s just say my stomach wanted to poop but my butt didn’t. And I refused to be one of those ladies sitting in a stall ripping ass for the rest of us to hear (you know what I mean, Danielle?) just to push a little guy that clearly was not ready. So bloated constipated belly it was. Yuck.
And p.s. – When in this situation, it is important to NOT have your morning coffee, because you spend the day in fear of doo-dooing all over yourself at inopportune times. Holy cramps – the ones where you keep going back to the port-a-potty thinking “Oh man, this is it – it’s blow time,” but then getting nothing but waves of nausea.
Start time: 1230 PM
Distance: 5.9 miles
Time: 65 minutes
Description: HELL. Between the saturated air, stifling heat, and some sore legs that were simply not recovered from the first two rounds, I pretty much shuffled myself through Lake Forest and into Highwood – however, this time it was in familiar territory, over the bike path I ride. Joe met me towards the end and ran me in. Man, did I need the support at that time. Unlike the first two legs, I had to walk twice during this one. I was done – spent – and for the first time EVER, I had to “dig.” I had to completely talk myself through each step – literally. I cannot explain this. In Ironman, I had my family, I knew I would never quit. But today was a new day, a new race, and I was almost ready to give in.
Leg finished, and I was almost hallucinating. No shit.
But here’s where it gets crazy.
Last leg, Leg 36, waiting at Northwestern to get it done, and the race gets delayed by weather. Tornado warnings, storms – it was bad. We waited, waited. I finally decided to go home from there, shower and get ready for the dinner I was to have later for Ellen’s birthday. The Leg (Joe) didn’t end up leaving until almost six, which meant that I could only go down to the finish line to say goodbye, while they waited for him to come in.
I didn’t get to see it, and I didn’t get run across the line with my team. I was pretty disappointed – a whole weekend with former strangers-turned-friends and I couldn’t even end it with them.
I found out later that Joe finished what would be a tough leg (he was also pretty sick the whole time). Team “Back off Man, I’m a Scientist” was in the record books.
There were so many funny little details of the weekend (after all, you spend 24 hours with a bunch of people in a sweaty hot van and fun abounds) but I feel like many of them would need explanation and I can’t do them justice (“Fuck you old lady!”, "air hugs" or when I got pulled over by a cop flashing his lights for what we thought was my jaywalking – turns out he just wanted to know if he could “do anything to help” me and my running skirt – oh, I mean “the other runners”).
So instead, I will just wrap this up by saying this was one of the most fun weekend I have had, one of the craziest experiences, and something I would do a million times over if asked. My team was amazing, especially my van, even if we got lost due to my poor navigation, and hit a pole or two in the rental car.
And I even surprised myself because meeting 10 strangers wasn’t as hard as I thought. In fact, I felt very much myself the whole weekend.
At one point, I asked Danielle if I was what she expected based on my blog (which is how she knew me). She said, “Pretty much – you’re an over-discloser, just like on your blog.” Or something like that.
Turns out she was referring to my newfound lack of filter when discussing all things taboo – something I used to do only when hidden behind the safety of my blog. Guess it’s starting to make it’s way into the real world.
Hey, when you’re comfortable, you’re comfortable.
I need another shower and nap.