I can honestly say that the Ragnar Relay is one of the coolest things I've ever done as a runner. To be even more clear, I think it may be the most fun thing I've ever done.
As I've reflected on the weekend over the past week, I've found myself smiling every time it crosses my mind. I'll even admit that I have looked for any and every moment to bring it up in casual conversation.
I've realized that even though I jumped into this race with eleven perfect strangers that they are all like family to me now. We've all been emailing back and forth all week. We've shared photos and videos and stories. We're planning a team party next week.
I think that's a big part of what makes a race like this so unique. You LIVE with these people in a VAN for over 24 hours. That might not sound like a long time, but when you're awake for almost all of it, it kinda is..
And not only that, but you're all in it together. It takes all 12 people putting in the effort to get from the start line in one city to the finish line in another. When I was out there running, I couldn't slow down or take a walk break for more than just myself and my own stubbornness... now I couldn't do it because they were counting on me, too.
We encouraged each other. We gave each other high five's. We whooped and hollered as we drove past each other going to the next exchange. We celebrated paces. We were stoked over every kill we each got. We tracked things on a clipboard and got excited over how much faster we were running than anticipated.
And we're already talking about running another relay... in June... from Madison, WI to Chicago.
Sign me up.
Some other thoughts from the race:
- Runners have a slightly different take on modesty. I've always been pretty modest, but there comes a point where it's just not as important any more. Early in the trip we were kicking each other out of the van to change into dry clothes. By the end, the backseat was the dressing room, and everyone was instructed to not look.
- After changing the first time, I managed to overlook my undies still sitting on the seat when I crammed everything else into a bag. Cindy was awesome and very discreetly told me, but I totally laughed at myself and wasn't embarrassed. Sure, I didn't want anyone to have to find them, but stuff happens when you're changing every piece of clothing you have on in the back of a van after every run.
- On all three of my runs, I always felt like I was running SO slow. Then I'd realize that I could hardly breathe. It finally occurred to me that I couldn't breathe because I was running kind of fast, and it felt slow because I couldn't breathe!
- I loved the way that most teams would cheer for other teams. We made a point to encourage other runners at each exchange and anytime we passed another runner or they passed us. I thought it was awesome that a lot of other people did this, too. It made it a really fun race atmosphere that's totally different from other road races.
Some of us have talked this week about how it was actually a little depressing to come home after the race. We had gotten used to being with each other around the clock, even if only for a short time. It was like going from one extreme to another. Hot to cold.
I'd do this again in a heartbeat. I've been saying all week that I'd do it again this weekend if given the opportunity.
If you ever have an opportunity to run a relay, take it! It's worth it for sure.