Friday, September 21, 2012

Tales From Ragnar Relay Napa - Part 3 of 4

(You can read Part 2 here.)

After we finished our first series of legs and our dinner break, it was time for us to get some rest. Our day had started crazy early, so we needed showers and sleep. Fortunately, one of our runners had a friend who lived nearby, and we had the keys and an open invitation to crash there. We took full advantage of the pit stop, replenishing our supplies and organizing everything in the van so we could find what we needed later in the dark. We also took quick showers and naps. A few hours later, we were recharged and ready to run again. 

It was nearly midnight when our first runner hit the road again. Angela was a vision in sparkly colors as she hit the highway for a long run through the downtown streets of Santa Rosa. 

 

She ran around drunken crowds spilling out of bars, alongside parks filled with late night ne'er do wells, and up a hill that seemed to go on forever. For a first time Ragnarian, she was fearless. After her, it was time for each of us to step up and do our own late-night runs. Our Amazing Slowpoke, Sara, ran faster than she had ever run before... probably because most of her run was done in a scary fog with very little moonlight. But she got it done. Here she is at the exchange with Kevin. 

 

It's difficult to truly capture the experience of running at night. It's impossible to describe what it's like hanging out in the van with the rest of the team while someone else runs. In the midnight hours, we all get giddy and silly. What might be mildly amusing at best during the day becomes absolutely hilarious to a group of sleep-deprived runners. Mostly, though, we talk. We discover cool things about each other, finding out bits of each others' lives and sharing parts of our own. Inevitably, we come to a place where we understand each other, our motivations for running and for agreeing to get involved with such a crazy event like the Ragnar Relay. I think it's in the early morning hours, just before the sun rises, that we really get to know our teammates. 

 

Of course, those hours are also a good time to recharge. Some people choose coffee. Others choose an energy drink. And others seek out a sugar high with candy. But while Kevin and Nancy logged in their miles, I took advantage of the downtime to grab a quick power nap. Yeah, I'm a traditionalist that way. When I'm tired, I want to close my eyes and catch a few winks. 

 

Soon enough, it was time for our mega-runner to do his thing. Raul, aka Insane Bolt, was our speed demon, and he made quick work of his miles. And then, at 5:34am, it was my turn again. I had 4.1 miles to run through the pre-dawn streets of Sonoma, and it was an absolutely amazing experience. I prefer to run in the morning, anyway, so I loved the chance to explore a new town before the hustle and bustle of traffic took over. I was on a total runner's high by the time I finished. 

 

After the hand-off, we spent a few minutes catching up with our fellow runners. We shared some of our crazy night stories with Van 1, then said goodbye as they rushed to the next exchange. 

For us, our second set of runs was complete, and it was time to get some rest. Our team had secured a hotel room nearby, and we went straight there. Everyone took quick showers and then we crashed out. We only had a couple of hours before we had to get back to the next exchange point and start the whole thing all over again. 

Next up: Running on the Surface of the Sun.