Ok, this post is not going to write itself. I wish it would just magically appear. You know...transmit from my brain to le blog. The problem (in my weird little mind) is that this was such a grand experience that I don't know where to start and there is SO MUCH to tell. And, well, let's face it....I can talk & recap things until the cows come home. I recently verbally recounted the race in its entirety to my RP while we were on a 20 mile run. Her last long run before Chicago. No, it didn't take the entire 20 miles, but from about mile 11 to 15 I told her allllll about it. Also I'm such a detail person that it's then hard to get all of that down into word format for you all to read without it feeling like a novel. Anyway....here I go......
(taken right when we got to Ames)
Once 4 Jills & a Jack got to Ames, the starting point, we sat down for a nice dinner, hung out/prepped for the race in a college boys (RP's nephew) dorm room and then headed to the start line which was right outside the football stadium. Despite the really nice fall weather we had been having it was pretty chilly going in to the evening hours.
(waiting to start)
(moments before RP started)
RP was our 1st runner and she set off on her leg at 10 p.m. The rest of us took one last trip to the porta potty and was ready to pull out of the parking lot. Except I spotted another support vehicle. Not ANY vehicle, but one from the opposing team. There it was all, all decked out in its
ISU support and completely unattended. So I pulled up next to it and said....."wouldn't it be funny if we messed with their vehicle?" Now, I like to have fun, lots of good, innocent fun and when I say mess with their vehicle I didn't mean anything like slash their tires or key their vehicle. But we still had some window paint left over so I was thinking of leaving a smack talk note for them to find.
Now, even though I had only met Patches a few hours earlier I quickly got the sense that she was quite the smack talkin' daredevil who could not pass this opportunity up. So even though it was my idea, I quickly volunteered Patches for the job & she got the work done.
Soon after we headed down the road to catch up with Kandice who was off with a bang on her first leg. Ideally in these races the support van drives ahead to each pitstop/exchange point and waits for the runner to finish their leg. However, since it was dark and we were in unknown territory we had decided to not do this. We drove ahead a few miles at a time & waited for the runner to catch up & gave them support if needed, even if just verbal or emotional.
What started as a bang with Kandice quickly faded and she wasn't feeling too good & her supper was threatening to be upchucked all over the country side. She hung on for as long as she could, but it because very evident that she was beyond struggling & about ready to die . Being the team we were someone was always ready to jump in for another runner and since I was next up I finished the last 1.5 miles of Kandice's leg and went right into my leg which was suppose to be 6.7 miles.
Patches meeting me at the end of Kandice's leg & the beginning of mine
Despite jumping into it full force and feeling very off I still managed a good pace. Being in the dark on a rural country road didn't bother me too much. We were required to wear a head lamp, a flashing light on our back & a reflective vest. Still these were very rural places with no other form of light. In theory it was kind of freaky, but I'm kind of used to running solo in dark surroundings. Guess all my late night/early morning runs were good for something. I did eventually move off of the gravel back roads & on to a paved highway. However, I never felt like I settled into a good flow of movement. I think there was too much going on and I felt off the entire time. Luckily I was on auto pilot and just kept moving forward at a good pace.
When we approached my end point my team was close by letting me know where to go to find the exchange point. Except that even with them following the maps and having a phone on GPS we still couldn't find where we were looking for. Finally we saw another team and the pointed us in the right direction. Once I got there GG was ready to go for our next runner.
Almost immediately we, again, had issues following the map and/or GPS. Nothing was making sense with what was going on. Every time we followed the map we were going the wrong way and had to back track and come up with some other plan, ask other teams where to go or simply figure it out our own by spotting other teams & following them. All while GG ran the wrong way too far and had to turn back to get on the correct course. This was beginning to be a little thorn in our side.
GG made it to the next exchange point and then Teri took off. She only ran a few minutes and then had to disappear down a path.....a completely dark, unknown path, where a vehicle could not go. *gulp* We as a team was not ready to lose sight of her, but felt we had no choice. We followed the map meticulously and waited for her where she would come out of that path. And we waited and waited and WAITED! Something was wrong and we were all slightly panicked over it. Seriously, just imagine being in a horror movie and that weird creepy music begins to play.
We headed back to the last exchange point to see if we could find some other teams. Maybe Teri was lost & went back there?? A million things raced through our minds. At this point we were also contacting the race director. We had been having one problem after another with our maps & routes and now we've lost our runner. While we out doing we came along side of some other teams. We pulled over & asked if they were going the right direction. They thought they were, but according to our maps, they weren't. I wasn't about to just drive off and let these people also get lost. One runner right out refused to get in my van when I offered. Another runner put full faith & trust in us and hipped in without asking any questions.
Well, long story short, we did not have the most recent updated maps and WE WERE WRONG! No wonder we were having such a hard time!! We found the exchange point. We apologize profusely to Adam (the runner who blindly jumped in our van....good thing we weren't serial killers or anything) for taking him in the wrong direction and giving him a joy ride. We actually met up with his team at the exchange point and they kindly gave us updated maps (they were an Iowa team.....no wonder they were so wonderful!!) And Teri....she had missed the exchange point, ran 3 miles too far before turning back around and then kept running since we, her team, was no where in sight.
Crazy runner that we picked up! He was a good sport about it!!
Yeah, all of this was just in the first 4 of 20 legs!! After that we settled into a routine and knew we had the correct maps. The race director finally caught up with us and apologize profusely for what had happened & took responsibility for not making sure we had updated maps.
On my end, when I picked up my 2nd leg (7.1 miles) it was 3 or so in the morning. Again, it was weird, but peaceful to be running down a road in the pitch black. I actually had no fears of anxiety about this part of the race. Half way through my leg it started to rain. A nice sleety pelting my face sideway rain. By my 3rd leg (6.9 miles) it wasn't raining, but lack of sleep was catching up with me. By this point I have been up and in motion for 24+ hours. I never really slept. I'd close my eyes, maybe get 5 minutes here or there of shut eye, but no real sleep. And it was taking it's toll. Each leg I ran slower and slower and I was miserable, but yet in a fun once in a lifetime experience kind of way. Perhaps it wouldn't have been quite as bad if I was running on flat paved roads, but contrary to the belief that Iowa is flat & boring we were running very hilly back gravel roads and that just made it that much more challenging. Leg 4 (5.5 miles) was my shortest leg, but it still took "forever". I wanted to quit and my team mates were more than willing to jump in & take my place (at one point I ran a few miles for someone myself), but no matter how slow I was going I knew I couldn't give in. So I kept on running!!
See that hill? There was nothing but one after another!!
Done with my final leg!
I could tell you story after story after story of what else happened, but I'm sure you get the idea of how the race went. And honestly, somethings that happened on the race.....stays on the race and between us 4 Jills & Jack!! We finished at 5 o'clock the next day and I've never been so happy to see a finish line in my life!!
It's pretty safe to say that I'm in no rush to complete this kind of race any time soon. Although knowing me I'm a sucker for a running adventure and I'll likely do it again. For now though I'm happy just to say I've done it!! And the time & memories I spent with my 4 other teams mates is unbelievable & I'm glad that I was able to spend this time & create these memories with them!!