Precursory Thoughts On A Relay

Got back from a jaunt to Target last night and laid out all my wares on the counter like a kid with a semi-disappointing Halloween haul (“Beech Nut gum and no full sized anything? Aww...”). Nothing I suppose out of the ordinary; snacky bits and various accoutrements, side-by-side with a pile reflective stuff and a collective heap of dry-fit shirts to sort through and select.

“This is a weird thing I am doing.”

There are a few things going on in this moment near the kitchen. For starters, I am horrible when it comes to packing. An attempt to be better at such, be more thoughtful and not leaving it until the last moment so as not to intrude on space, is nothing more than fantastically awkward. Newborn baby foal awkward. I rarely pre-plan outfits, much less shove ‘em into big freezer bags.

Secondly, and probably the driving facet of this evening’s noise, is anxiously second-guessing my desires to try something rather different.

I’m going off to spend 30-something hours in a van with people I don’t know, all in the name of running a relay.

This is a very weird thing.

Running is an inherently personal, selfish me thing. Still don’t consider myself a morning person (conversely, I am in denial with how bloody early I go to bed these days. Sorry, 20 year old me, couldn’t keep it going forever. Also: lots of unanticipated things in life will happen, we drink coffee now and went back to being blonde. I know, right? Shibity...), but I like nothing more than to get up and start my day with a few miles, think things over as the sun grows, not get sprayed by a skunk or what have you. If I see people, some acknowledge with a nod or a word in the brief moment as we pass by each other, others don't, but on we both go. I like the quiet nature of my neck o’ the woods, being privy to what’s out there before the rest of the world wakes up to eventually shat all over everything.

But races (like speed work) don’t possess the same solitary quality, at least not any more. It’s nice to be told you are missed for a workout and be someone to push someone else. There’s something to be said about the camaraderie of a bunch of people waiting in a corral.  Being part of a group, sporting a club logo. Transferring that pre-race nervous energy into a pleasant conversation with someone on a shuttle heading to the starting line. Or someone having your sweaty back and commiserating on that slow, agonizing shuffle somewhere ( dear god, anywhere) after a crappy effort.

I’ve always had a squishy soft spot for the relay, originating from high school. Four legs, each with a different piece of the process--lead things off, maintain, keep contact or expand the lead, bring it home. It didn’t hurt that the longer distance teams were comprised of pretty excellent people, too.

Throwback Thursday Click-bait.

Confidence and the notion of responsibility, hell-- throw leadership in there, too---grew from that team facet within a very individualized sport, so the idea of being able to do such in a different realm as an “adult” (questionable, Kind) has always been of interest.

When the opportunity arose back in the winter to be part of a team for Ragnar this weekend, I went for it, joining a group through a contact within my running club. “What the hell,” I thought. “If I don’t like it, at least I’ll have the experience to know that I don’t like it with people I don’t really have preexisting relationships with, so it is what it is. And if I do, well.”

Could get worked up over the unknown, which is a lot. I have no idea what to anticipate.
I mean my god, what if these people don’t like my Simpsons references?  What if my leg falls off? Sleep has been elusive as of late, so how badly (or easily) can I doze off while not driving a van?

I’m in the second van, which is composed of the 7th through 12th runners as both vans of six kinda leapfrog each other throughout the course which starts in Madison and meanders east then south to Chicago, finishing in the afternoon on Saturday. I am looking forward to my second leg of a bit over five miles, which will fall somewhere in the middle of the night in south suburban Milwaukee.

As predicted times ebb and flow based on total pace or shifts in the 12-person team, weather, errant bear attack, etc.,  I was initially kind of bummed when I saw a start time of around 4:30a. My initial mental response? “Well that’s no fun, I used to be up at 4a to run last summer.” You know, because rational folks want to run earlier. I actually thought (think) that was part of the appeal.

Here goes nothing. Or something. I may be tweeting things intermittently, or throwing random stuff up here or elsewhere as things unfold. We shall see. Until later.