Thursday, May 1, 2014

honey badgers on the run!

Back in November, people in my running club were talking about getting teams together for the American Odyssey Relay. It's like Ragnar, but organized locally. I had never done a relay before, but kind of had it on my running to-do list, so thought I would join in. Somehow 6 months went by, and we ran the relay this past weekend.

Let me start off by warning you that relays are a terrible idea. You will get NO sleep, it will take up your entire weekend (plus the packing and organizing beforehand), it will cost too much money, and you are running a very small portion of the actual race. I texted Beau at 4am, "This is awful in so many ways."

But actually? It was tons of fun.

There are 12 people on a team, divided into 2 vans. The vans leapfrog each other- Van 1 goes first, runners 1 - 6. Van 2 is waits at the exchange point where runner 6 finishes, and then Van 2 takes over for runners 7-12. Van 1 drives ahead to the next exchange to wait for runner 12, and then runner 1 starts the whole thing over again. Each runner runs 3 legs and the total distance is about 200 miles from Gettysburg, PA to Washington, DC.

the whole team at the starting line

cool shot of Van 2
Our team was kind of a hodge podge group, and I didn't know most people super well. My van consisted of me, Jaclyn (a friend from my stake growing up), Brenna (someone I met through Jaclyn who thru hiked the AT last year), Lexi (a good friend from running club), Lexi's co worker Matt, and Matt's twin brother, Josh. Um, I loved my van. I cannot think of a better group of 6 personalities to be together for 30+ hours in a small SUV operating on no sleep.

Van 1, minus Jaclyn who was running at the time

Lexi, our Runner 6 and MVP
being cozy in the Pilot
At the suggestion of Everett (my nephew), our team name was "the Honey Badgers". There is a HILARIOUS youtube video about honey badgers, but I hesitate to link to it because of the bad language. Google it if you care to watch it. :)

The other team from my running club nicknamed themselves "the Badger Catchers". I thought they were pretty clever.

I was runner 4 and absolutely loved my runs. My first was the hardest at 9 miles, and hilly. My night run was pretty short, 4 miles, and my final leg was at about 5:30am on the C&O Canal for 6.7 miles. I loved that I got to enjoy the sunrise and beautiful morning.

this is me saying "wheeee running is fun!"

Runner 4 to Runner 5!
 Once Lexi finished her night run, we all intended on sleeping a few hours before our last legs. You'd think it would be easy to fall asleep after being up for so long and running.... but no. I think I slept about an hour and then our alarms were going off to go meet Van 2 the exchange. I felt SO nauseous and SO yuck. It was the weirdest feeling to be standing along side the C&O Canal at 3:30 in the morning to cheer on our teammates. Sometimes I looked around and was like, "Why are all these full grown adults choosing to make up silly teams names, cheers, and sometimes costumes for this crazy event?" It's this interesting camaraderie mentality. Normally I do not stick my head out of car windows and yell encouragement to strangers running as I drive by. But in a relay, you do.

"Honey badger don't care. Honey badger just TAKES what it wants."
finishing my first leg
Trying to sleep at the second exchange.
our darling mascot
Once our van had finished our third run, we drove to the finish line downtown and collapsed, waiting for Van 2. It was exhausting just laying there. Beau came to meet us at the finish line after volunteering at one of the exchanges. He saved the day, like usual, by giving us the opportunity to pack up his car with our stuff so we could get home as soon as Van 2 finished up.

Jaclyn, Brenna, and I at the finish
Finally, a few hours later, our last runner came in and we all ran across the finish line together. Success!

I'm smiling because I know I'm going home soon.
All kidding aside, it really was a lot of fun. I would be hesitant to do another relay because this one fell into place so well. My van-mates were perfect, the weather (for my runs) was perfect, the mileage and course was perfect, and I don't know if another relay would be able to live up to this experience. But just like SO MANY things in my life (Marathon! Skyline Century! Thru hike!) I will probably forget every miserable thing and still want to do it again if the opportunity comes up again. But this time maybe I won't be the team captain. :)