Friday, September 30, 2011

2011 Ragnar Relay Redux

It could have been the rendezvous point for escaped mental patients or the freakshow tent at a circus. There were dudes in tutus, disheveled superhero costumes, drag queens, *cough* mustaches *cough*, ladies in bright gold shorts that would have made Michael Johnson jealous. No. Instead, it was the complete manifestation of all things that give runners the rap of being weird. It was the Ragnar Relay DC. And for 200 miles, it was ok to be weird.

Our team, All Night Mustache Ride, gathered together in a loose circle on the grounds of the Rocky Gap Resort. The great orange Ragnar arch that marked the start of our 29 hour journey rose behind us, the lines of other teams checking in at our back.

We looked on nervously at the ominous clouds moving in over the mountains and pretended not to notice the intermittent spits of rain.

"Ok, I'm going to go try again," our friend Katie said matter-of-factly. Heads turned toward her and we watched her make her way over to the line of port-a-potties.  That's when the cheering began.

"Wooo! Yeah, Katie! You can do it!"

That came from our team.  Then the team next to us caught on.  "Come on, Katie! We're rooting for you."

Then strangers began to clap for her. She turned and threw a wave at her fans. Why the boundaries of bowl movements suddenly disappear when more than one runner is gathered, I'll never know. But, the team bonding had officially begun.  And soon after that the relay itself.  Here's what happened along the way:
  • I arrived with a beard. I left with a mustache. It was creepy, it scared my wife, it got approving nods, it got pointed and laughed at, it was perfect.
  • Everyone ran their first leg in the rain or mist or fog except for Ebo and me; instead, we ran in the humidity that followed the rain; also, I had to second guess myself when contemplating going shirtless with only a reflective vest on...with the chest hair, it was, um, a bit much.
  • It's always nice to pass a runner and overhear, "I didn't realize I was standing still."
  • The best spaghetti is served at Clear Spring high school. Could be because we were ravenous after our first leg but I'm not one to argue with someone putting a heaping plate of noodles, sauce, and chocolate cake in front of me.
  • Mustaches make everyone uncomfortable in a high school cafeteria.
  • It's possible to sleep in a hallway but it will not be good sleep and, really, the only way I knew I actually fell asleep was the sour taste in my mouth; also, our new teammate Sharon needs her sleep!
  • It's torturous to smell burgers grilling at a creamery in the middle of Nowhere, MD at midnight...and you can't eat any because you have to get ready to run.
  • Apparently some people took issue to our name and thought we were some weird 70s sex van theme; we promptly considered changing our name to team Lighten Up.
  • Mud+Suburbans and/or 12 passenger vans = Puuuuuush!
  • Few things are more peaceful than the moon at night.
  • Geico's headquarters have a nice lawn to sleep on, though local DC-ites will think you are homeless; and let's face it, we probably smelled homeless.
  • The first leg is adrenaline and excitement; the second is bliss; the third is all guts no matter how short; on my last leg, I wore my dad's singlet from the University of Florida and ran by people who had Gator gear on; I started pointing wildly at my chest; when they realized this crazy freak with a mustache was just a runner wearing a Gator singlet, they hollered, "Yeah! Go Gators." It was enough to get me through another quarter mile.
  • The beer at the end of 200 miles and 29 hours goes down easier than water and it makes me a little dizzy.
  • The enchiladas I ordered after getting home never stood a chance.
  • It's acceptable to go to bed at 8:00 p.m. and sleep for 13 hours after a relay.
All Night Mustache Ride crossed the finish line in D.C. 29 hours 16 minutes after it left Cumberland, MD. I woke up the next morning with what can only be called a "Ragnar Hangover." It has all the markings of a "hard night out drinking" hangover. I was still groggy, still a little sore, still finding unaccounted for bruises, the late night hours were a little hazy, and I craved greasy food. Nevertheless, I moved through the house glowing with that exhaustive euphoria knowing that I regretted nothing and am all the better for having done it.

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