Going into Ragnar I was worried about 3 things. (1) The lack of training I had done. (2) An injury I had been dealing with, my quad, flairing up. (3) And my night run.
I am not an animal person. Let’s me say that again – animals terrify me [with the exception of my own cat and many reptiles… I know, weird. What little girl gets a pet frog?].
Luckily, the lack of training hadn’t put in me in a position of NOT finishing. I HAD run a marathon only 2 months previous. I was capable of getting through it. Still, I am disappointed in my performance, because I am better than the performance I gave, had I the chance to have trained regularly. And miraculously my quad didn’t give me any problems. So good and great!
But, my night run…
After the gun went off and I saw only 10 runners and RunWiki take off...
My first thought was… “Oh crap. There isn’t going to be ANYONE around during my night, and it’s inevitable. This is really happening.” I immediately started to have a panic attack, despite what my teammates kept telling me… that the night run typically ends up being people’s favorite leg. But, this was me… scaredy cat, Vieve! I mean last time I went camping (last summer) I didn’t sleep a wink because I was convinced a bear was lurking. It’s not like we had seen one… I was just convinced one would find me. Wimp.
Only certain people would understand exactly the magnitude of my running-meets-animals phobia. Nate. Krick. Mom. They KNOW.
So as I was about to embark on my 1,200 elevation climb over 8.5 miles at midnight of the summer solstice, I hit the portas and geared up in my reflective vest, headlight, reflector light, and knuckle lights. On my way back to the van from the potties, I overheard a breathy runner return to his team and say, “Did you guys see that bobcat cross right in front of me?”… my heart rate picked up…WHAT! THE! *#!$!
I scurried over to the van, “Holly, that guy just said he had a bobcat cross in front of him!” The look on Holly’s face went from smile to terror, “Don’t say that! Big cats are my worst fear. I can just picture them tearing apart my skin with their sharp nails and teeth…tell me you are joking.” Me: “Yaaaa…I am joking….” [I totally wasn't]
So when my teammates asked me what they could do during the partial van support distance. Typically the request would be for water, Nuun, fuel, and cheering. My request, “Let me know if there are any animals ahead of me. Anything I need to watch out for: Moose, coyotes….BOBCATS!” Classic Vieve.
I stood waiting in the below 40 degree weather, panicking within, and waiting for Bry to come running towards me with the Baton. I stretched. I turned on my music. I thought… “This could be either a really slow run, because it’s gonna be very hard. Or this could be a SUPER fast run, because I just want it to be over with (or I might be running from something).”
As soon as the baton was slapped onto my wrist, I took of for my secluded mountain run. I was stiff. I was anxious. I was jumpy. For the first two miles, I was on edge. I couldn’t see runners in front of me, nor behind me. It was dark, only lit by the full moon. I was intensely focused on my surroundings.
I jumped when I heard something ahead, but relieved when I saw that it was Holly and Ned standing on the roadside waving the crossing flag. As I passed Holly says, “No animal sightings… Just 2 bobcats is all. You’re lookin’ good!” [I love that girl.] She made me smile and instantly calm down. I can’t say enough how much the team aspect got me through this. Thanks, Holly, for that specific help.
The next 6.5 miles were physically hard. I climbed hill after hill. Ocassionally, seeing a runner and passing by them… most walking up the hills. But, my fear subsided, and I sunk into the incredible experience. I say that running is probably the most spiritual thing I do. It’s when I ponder life. This particular run was more incredible than just a reflective period. I lived in a different world for that 50-60 minutes. It was indescribable.
I wanted to hear my surroundings, during the run, so I had wedged my earplug up into my hat and turned up the volume. I had a soft, faux stereo going. One of which, runners would overhear as I passed by. I listened to a special playlist I had made for that run. I had to laugh as I passed people who got a taste of it. My favorite was a look I got on a particular hill while listening to Celine Dion (Talk about cheese! Moonlight mountain run to a little Celine!). I joked with my team the list was, “Love songs after dark.” And that wasn't an exaggeration. It was.
By the time I came through the exchange, I had passed 15 people. The most our team had seen yet. It set us on fire. Bry never got passed. I think Meghan had some absurd 40 kills or something during her 12 miler. Just incredible.
But, my teammates were right about the night run... it was my favorite. It was special. Life changing. I didn't expect this to happen... but, I fell in love more than I ever would have thought I could. I can't wait until get here again. Then again... What are the Colorado mountains infested with?
(And I know this was out of order... considering this was my 3rd leg...but I just didn't want to risk losing any of my memories about this run. So it's getting priority. And because it's my blog... and I roll like that.)