Right before I took off work to run the Ragnar (two weeks after I took off work to try to sleep off a head cold before Tough Mudder), I looked sheepishly at my boss and said "you know why I took the day off this time, right?" And he gets this look on his face like "do I even want to know?" and I explain that this time it's to run in a 200 mile relay race from Maryland to D.C.
And he just starts to shake his head so I blurt out "But then I'm not planning to do anything weird for a long time after this!"
(Which we all know will probably not last long but still. I can't look completely unstable.)
And Ragnar was pretty weird. More because of everything leading up to the race than the race itself. Here we go-
The Ragnar Relay is a race they hold all around the country. You typically get 12 people, two vans, and you run about 200 miles as a team, passing a "baton" at each exchange point until you cross the finish line together.
Here's the funny thing -- this is the third time I've been on a relay team like this, but only the first time I've actually ran the race.
Relay #1: some friends I used to play Kickball with in D.C. (for those of you who don't live here, yes. Kickball. Like the game 4 year olds play. They form leagues here and adults play to blow off steam after working in the Federal Government all day. Don't ask...) wanted to form a team and all wear superhero costumes.
Of course I was in.
Then we realized how much work is involved with this race and that you have to take off work because the race starts on a Friday morning.
So that dream died.
Relay #2: A year or so later, I found out coworkers were doing another relay called The Odyssey and they needed people. So I convinced two of my girl friends to join with me.
Then one dropped out.
Then I started thinking about how much I really didn't want to run through battlefields alone in the middle of the night.
So I dropped out.
Then our third friend hated us for leaving her alone to live in a smelly van with my coworkers, so she also dropped out.
And I went on to do other running adventures like Muddy Buddy, Run Amuck, Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder (as told Here). And I kind of forgot about the relay type races until - I randomly got asked to join a team from Tennessee.
My old youth pastor, Robert, from the church I attended during college apparently loves the Ragnar series now and was looking to form another team for the D.C. Ragnar. I got a text from a college friend asking me to join that team.
I said no.
Then I get a Facebook post from Former Youth Pastor Robert saying "we need you."
So I said yes.
So there I am, having just completed Tough Mudder, ready to relax for a bit, but instead I now need to meet up with a team from two states away, on which I only know two people - one of which I haven't seen in over a decade- and do an overnight relay race with them. In less than two weeks.
And as I've said before, most of my favorite adventures are the spontaneous ones that weren't well-planned at all so I just do it anyway. Even though I don't have details. Not who else is coming, not where we are sleeping, not how many miles I'm being asked to run - not even how much it's going to cost me. I just say yes. And try to wait patiently for more instructions.
And Former Youth Pastor Robert also happens to be a former Green Beret. So no matter what he tells me about how "safe" or "fun" this race is, all I can think of is the time he told us about eating a live rat that wandered into his cage during P.O.W. camp training so his idea of "not fun" and "dangerous" is leap years away from mine.
What did I just get myself into?
I wait several days without getting any more details and then go through a series of alarming discoveries.
-I'm asked to pick up a teammate from the airport. Who I don't know.
-his plane lands smack in the middle of my work day
-he's flying into an airport too far for me to get to during the work day
-then I need to figure out how I'm supposed to drive up to West Virginia to meet the rest of the team, but then jump into a van and go back down to D.C. - yet my car will still be in West Virginia
-then I wonder "why West Virginia? the race starts in Maryland"
-then we learn we are staying with friends of Former Green Beret (FGB)Robert in West VA the night before the race. Who I don't know.
-Then I'm told another teammate - who I don't know - also lives near me and maybe me and Airport Boy can just ride up to West VA with him
Ok. I'm sure all this will work out. I won't worry about all these unknowns....even though I coordinate things for a living...and I have a Type A personality.... no I'm fine, really.
Sometime early the next week, Airport Boy calls me. Finally! Someone on the team who wants to discuss details! So we chat away as if we know each other already (I figure everyone else on the team knows each other and I know FGB Robert so that's kind of like knowing everyone else) and we figure out the other teammate is in fact going to just pick us both up and we'll all ride to West VA together.
So Other Teammate picks up Airport Boy at the airport, drives all the way into Arlington to pick me up at my apartment, then we head out to West VA. And we chat away at what we all do for a living, and how I know FGB Robert, and we get about 40 miles down the road and I finally ask how they know Robert -
and they don't.
I've just jumped into a car of two random strangers who now know where I live and we are heading to a different state.
Okaaay. So how are you guys on this team? Apparently people can check on the Ragnar site for teams in need of runners and just sign on as a random. And apparently Airport Boy actually lives in Utah and Other Teammate actually lives in Pennsylvania (very close to the race starting point) but because FGB Robert asked if he could pick people up - he just did! Even though it was completely out of his way! I could not believe he went to all that trouble. But I was so glad I didn't have to figure out all the logistics on my own. Now we just needed to get up to the house where we were apparently staying the night with people none of us knew.
Wait, where is that house?
We realize FGB Robert never gave us an address. And I know he and the rest of the team were driving up from Tennessee that morning so I call his cell. And it turns out they are driving one of the vans we are going to use during our race.
And that van had just broken down somewhere outside of Knoxville.
Yep. This is starting out pretty typical for one of my adventures.
More in the next post.