So, this whole time I've been nervous that I'm going to miss a course sign and get off track. And sure enough, I take off on my very first leg, follow other runners around a corner, start up a hill --
and lose sight of most the other runners.
I see one girl up ahead so I hurry to catch up and ask if she's in the race (we are in the middle of a town at this point so she could just be a random jogger). She said yes and asks if I know where I'm going. Crap. Neither of us know where we are going.
So I pass her and keep straining to see a sign telling us where to turn. And I hear some man come up and start to pass me, so I ask him if he knows where we are going. And he says:
No - I was following you!
Sigh. I'm thinking "at least I can count that first girl as a Kill*, if nothing else..." and we thankfully find the sign and turn onto a trail to finish out our leg.
*Kills: during Ragnar, teams keep track of their "kills." A Kill is when you pass another runner. You come back and proudly report it to your team, who marks it on the window to intimidate other teams.
And I can be competitive if I let myself, and the Kill thing started to get to me. I started this relay thinking "I just did Tough Mudder - I've got nothing to prove, I'm tired, I've been sick, I'm going slow and not worrying about it."
And then - I spot a runner in front of me.
And I instantly think: "You are MINE."
And I go in for the "kill"- and keep doing that through my whole 5.7 miles, propelling myself to run it a little faster than I thought I would.
I'm now considering keeping my own personal Kill chart in my house and using that to make myself run faster on my own trail. Of course, I'll have to remind myself that no one else is playing and not to yell "YES!" when I pass someone. But I think I can do it.Anyway, I end up getting 5 kills, which I'm stoked about considering how slow I am. And I come back proudly and announce -- "I passed 5 people!" ....but then have to follow it up with...
but 10 people passed me. :\
You're supposed to keep track of the net kills, so basically I was -5 at this point. And that's when I decided to follow the lead of my other teammate who finally just wrote: "Pacifist" next to his name on our Kill Tally....
So back to hour...like 16. Somewhere around 12:30 am, we get to an exchange on a cow farm that is serving cheeseburgers so most of the people on my team get one while waiting for our next runner to come in. Even though it's 12:30. And we just ate spaghetti at the highschool a couple hours before that. And we keep getting alternate whiffs of Live Cattle and Cooked Hamburger, giving us the full Circle Of Life to ponder while we stood there. Whatevs.
That's the thing about this race. You're not only not getting sleep, but you aren't getting good nutrition either. We realized we hadn't actually had a meal since that first breakfast before the race. And you lose track of what time it is, so the whole thing is just one really long, poorly lived day.
About an hour down the road, my teammate notes that he thought that Cheeseburger was really doing him a solid....but now it was doing him a liquid.
Good thing there were port-a-johns at each exchange.
And this whole time, I've been nervous about the night run. Because I've heard that at times you might be completely alone and I fear: A. Getting lost. And/Or B. Getting picked up by a van offering Cute Puppies ...and it not being part of the race...
Thankfully, my leg was full of other runners so I was never out of sight of another bobbing headlamp. And it ended up being a really cool experience. We ran through a quiet subdivision and then ran past long stretches of corn fields. All the while the other vans would drive past, occasionally yelling out encouragement. At one point a bobbing head lamp trotted up beside me as we were nearing the next exchange and laughingly ordered for me to "run towards the liiiiight!" and I do and make it back safely to the inside of our now-smelly-again van to get ready to move on to the next exchange.
We'll finish in the next post....