Oh y’all, it has been a BUSY few days and I am only finding time to post now because I’m kind of waiting for an email with specific access I need to do the rest of my work.
ANYway, let’s backtrack to last week. Thursday was busy at work and then cold and rainy here. We ran a couple errands for last minute items Ash needed for his race, which was a Ragnar Relay.
We left after dropping off the kids Friday morning and made our way south towards Tampa. It got progressively less cold and rainy, thankfully. We got to the Alafia river state park around 1ish, just in time to park, dump our stuff at the campsite, and see our first runner off. There are three loops of different intensities and lengths. Everyone runs each once. There is an ordering of your 8 teammates and when one is finishing, you pass off the bib to the next runner and so on. The interesting thing about it is the wait time. If you know your runner does about a 9 minute mile, then you plan to be back to the transition tent around that time. So there was a lot of walking back and forth from there to the camp site. Luckily, our group got a space in the back – which was bad for walking but great for space and quiet.
The weather was warm and overcast down there and I ended up changing out of jeans (this bit of info comes in handy later.) We hung out, spoke to the others in our group. I only knew 3/8 but the others were friends of theirs. One of the team members, Brett, had a brother and a couple other friends running the ultra, meaning they ran 30 miles instead of 15. The coolest thing about the entire event was how quickly those people became our friends and allies. It’s the shared trauma/experience thing, I guess. We’re all sitting at the campsite, talking, eating, preparing to run. Now granted, I was not running because of my foot so I was the official volunteer, which they ask every team to have.
I did my shift from 6-9 and they put me on trash, which was both annoying and amusing. The cardboard food containers, food, and even the forks made from sugar all got composted. This is why trash was a big deal because most people would just chuck it all, but we had compost, trash, and recycling bins. I met some cool folks during my shift and some other not so cool people; annoying mostly. I was most excited when they swapped in these two 12 year old boys who were just so stoked to be doing the task. I loved their enthusiasm.
Around 9:30 was when things went downhill. They put the race on hold for lightning for one hour. Then tacked on another hour at 10:30. We decided to try and sleep. See, sleep would already be crazy because, as an example, your run times are staggered. Ash’s first loop was from about 6-7. He was slated, based on others’ run times, to go again at 12:50 am. So people typically try to get rest in between runs anyway. Well, the storms came in around 12 so they delayed again. Sometime in the night it began again and Ash didn’t end up doing his next loop until 6 am.
We had a tent and sleeping bags but no mattresses because originally, the folks said not to bring them because space was limited. And indeed, in the majority of the tent city space, they were packed in like sardines. But because we found a spot to ourselves in the back, we really had plenty of space. Well, sometime during the 5 or so hours we slept, the rain leaked in the one side and got into my sleeping bag (it was warm so I’d flopped it open on the side) so I woke up with one side all damp. Then, it began leaking from the top but luckily, my jeans soaked it up, sparing any other items. Of course, when it became morning and was cool and windy, I was wanting those jeans. I ended up wearing a pair of Ash’s old shorts with my knee socks. I looked like a fool. The next morning, people arose from their spots with a little less wind in their sails. The rain really demolished the spirit everyone had going the night before. The cool thing about the entire atmosphere is the fact that everyone is doing the same kind of thing. It’s a close-knit temporary community.
Because of the long delay, the race folks let runners double and triple up, so they ended up running together instead of one right after another. This definitely saved a lot of time and we finished around noon and were able to pack up camp and head home. We stopped just outside of town and had food – outback – because we hadn’t eaten much else besides granola bars and fruit. It was nice, I tell you, to sit in the warmth and eat good food. I was exhausted after so Ash drove until we hit Gainesville then I took over.
I was ever so thankful to be home! And also, grateful for a warm home, a soft bed and pillow, and everything else under the sun. And I guess this is why people do crazy races like that: it reminds you to be thankful.
I have a gazillion things to do today but I took a little bit of time to have lunch with my oldest son and three of his friends, which was fun and interesting. 10/11 year olds are actually real people; i.e. you don’t sit with them and they tell you random nonsequitors. I think my son really appreciated it and I’m glad I did; I kind of got on him this morning and he was not happy when he left the car. Redeemed!