The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for Naomi and I, and boy was it fun! Sometimes it seems as though we never stop to let ourselves breathe! Here’s what we’ve been up to as we roll on down the river!
The craziness started last Thursday when I picked up my sister Janna from the Airport (I would come to visit the airport 5 times in the next 8 days!) So Janna, like us, doesn’t believe in having a real, relaxing vacation but decides to work her tail off during her time off! She came out and visited us for a week, and as you will later learn, most definitely lost that tail. Janna’s flight was diverted to Missouri for a bit because of weather in Chicago, so I had to chill in the airport for a few hours to wait for her. Never fun, but I did read almost an entire book on Greek History! Awesome stuff.
Next was Friday! And this time, it was Naomi and my turn to go to the airport! Janna drove us to the airport, and in a successful attempt at gaining stud-points, drove us in our car (she’s not used to driving a manual) through Chicago traffic in the afternoon, then back home by herself! Way to go Janna!
Naomi and I flew into Minneapolis and were picked up by Naomi’s sister, Becca. We had an insanely fun night playing with Becca and Taber, and I got to deliver Becca’s Marathon Frame!
When I got to run Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN with Becca last June I decided to make her a frame of all her memorabilia to remember her first Marathon! I’d say it was a trade definitely in my favor! I got to run a Marathon for free, and all I had to do was make a picture frame!
We went to bed pretty late that night and got up (no joke) 3 1/2 hours later! the Next two days would be pure insanity. Just look at this picture:
Does this person look sane to you? I think not.
Becca, her husband Taber and I ran in what’s called the Ragnar relay. It’s great! we ran a total of 195 with an 11-person team. Each person took turns running a leg, passing the baton to the next person as we went. Each person ran a total of between 12 and 21 miles. Now most of us just ran 3 legs, but some people, like our fearless team captain, Doug, decided that 3 just wasn’t enough and they did more!
We started in Winona, Wisconsin and followed the Mississippi River up into Minneapolis! The river was gorgeous and was really nice to run next to. This shot is at the river next to the starting line.
Now the Ragnar relay series has a very special place in my heart, as it’s the first organized running event that I ever did! The idea for the Relay came from a couple of guys from my high school and started back in 2004 in Utah, as the Wasatch Back Relay. I was invited onto a team that year last-minute by a good friend of mine, Ross Harris and his wife Alecia. I’ve done the relay every year since then (except last year, when doing an out-of state internship prevented it) and this year make relay #5 for me! Bring on the pain!
Here’ a quick synopsis of my legs.
6.6 Miles; category – Hard
Time 43:40 Pace 6:37 min/mile. Time of day: 3:30 PM
This leg ended up being the fastest pace I’ve ever run in any race, ever. I didn’t plan it that way, but my mind was changed for me after about 1/2 mile into the leg when a kid passed me and we started chatting. I’m a good-natured guy, and joked with him as he passed me to “slow down! You’re making us all look bad!” to which he responded without an ounce of emotion on his face: “well then speed up and I won’t have to waste you.”
Now I don’t know if this guy was just ultra-cocky or a natural-born motivator. Whatever the case, it did motivate me and I stuck to his tail like white on rice on a paper plate in a snow storm for the next 4.5 miles. This kid was fast and pulled me hard! As we passed our team mates (we always leap-frog the runner to give water and cheers) my team would always cheer for me, or squirt me with water! His team mates would always cheer for him as well, and add “He’s still behind you! your new friend is still behind you!” hahaha
After mile 5 I just couldn’t keep up with him any more and slowly started to fall off his tail. I kept up a good pace though and only let him gain a hundred yards or so by the final stretch. When we hit the last quarter mile, I decided that I wanted to see if I could catch, and I took off! It’s an exhilarating feeling the haul like that, and the only thing on my mind was that white shirt just a bit in front of me. My team mates told me later that his entire team was going nuts cheering for him and yelling “watch out! he’s right behind you! he’s going to catch you!” I didn’t hear this of course, I could only hear my heart beating and the cadence of my shoes bouncing over the pavement!
It wasn’t meant to be though, and I didn’t end up catching him. I was dang close though, within 15-20 feet. I passed the wrist band on to Becca who ran right after me, and enjoyed some much-needed stretching and water in the van as we tailed her!
I even got to play with the camera and take some really sweet pictures! Becca is smiling in this picture mostly because she’s an animal and thinks a mere 8-mile leg is a cake-walk!
After everyone in our van was done, it was time for the second van to do their legs, and we got some much needed rest! I found a lovely little spot in the grass at a park right next to the river and caught some much-needed Z’s.
6.8 Miles; category – Very Hard
Time 49:30 Pace 7:17 min/mile. Time of day: 1:10 AM
This leg ended up being simultaneously the most beautiful and the most physically painful run for me. The Mississippi river is gorgeous during the daytime, but it can’t compare to how beautiful it is at night! I loved how cool and quite it was. Before my leg started, I managed to hop on a bike and ride along side Taber as he ran his leg. Taber is such a stud, he’s like a machine. I think that even if an earthquake rolled through, a tornado touched down behind him, and the T-rex from Jurassic Park started bellowing, he would just keep trucking along at the same even pace. It was awesome to ride next to him and watch him go.
The reason my leg ended up being so painful is because in between our 1st and 2nd legs, everyone in our van ate these yummy chicken salad wraps from a booth at one of the exchange points. Like I said, they tasted alright and our bodies definitely needed the fuel, but man did they do some rumblin’ in the ol’ belly afterwards. During that entire run I could feel that chicken fighting around down there and threatening to launch itself back out of my mouth at any moment. It was very uncomfortable.
But I made it and passed the wrist band once again on to Becca!
7.2 Miles; category – Very Hard
Time 53:05 Pace 7:23 min/mile. Time of day: 10:00 AM
This ended up being my all-around favorite run of the race. I found some Maalox and Tums sometime during the night, and Mr. Tummy was quelled and I felt great! I didn’t push myself as hard as I did for my first leg, but by this time we were all so tired that I FELT like I was pushing myself just as hard. The course was all rolling hill, with 2 or 3 really good tall, steep hills! I got to run along side and chat with several other runners (several of whom had some choice words to say about the sport of running . . . but it was the 3rd leg of the relay, so I can’t blame them too much!) My biggest “oops” moment also came when I passed a guy and said, trying to get a smile out of him, “Come on! It’s our last leg! after this we’re done!” He turned his head and glared at me as he said “I’m on a six-man team, so I have to run two legs each time! I’ve done a total of 40 miles so far and I’m not done yet.” Then he turned his head back and kept running. Oops!
The last 1/4 mile of that leg was all downhill, so I sprinted to the end and gloried in the fact that was done! It felt very good to be done!
At the end of the run we were met by THE hottest girl in all the world. Naomi was watching the kids with her parents as we ran the race. She got to hang out with our team a bit and cheer us on as we all crossed the finish line!
Becca, Taber and I completing one more race together! I hope it’s not the last!
Our team at the end!
Told you she was hot!
Here’s a few random shots I thought I’d add that I just thought were cool:
After the race, Naomi Brooklyn and I flew back to Chicago where Janna was waiting for us! But she wasn't alone! And that’s a story for another blog post!