After completing the Ragnar Florida Keys event in February I was more excited than ever to get my team to the starting line. But alas this year was about to turn into a big struggle. Although I had 9 runners committed when I purchased the extremely large race registration (I always pay up front for the entire team and then have folks repay me when I register them to the team page), the closer we got to July - the worse off my team was looking. I had runners dropping left and right on me - including some of my long standing team members that I was really counting on to fill seats. So I started scrambling. I would fill a position or two only to have more members fall off for other commitments. And then the biggest blow of all - I myself had to find a replacement due to my unplanned knee surgery in June.
When my knee doctor initially sat me down to talk about my needed surgery he told me I would be up and moving in 2-3 weeks. I knew it wouldn't be wise to run an entire three legs, but I thought I could at least run a short leg or two and drive the rest. Because my surgery ended up being the 'worst-case scenario' that dream was shattered in the recovery room. Not only would I not be running by NW Passage, I wasn't even going to be able to walk without crutches. I reached deep into my pool of runner friends to find a replacement only to secure one and have yet another drop out in the last stretch.
Not being able to train though provided one big benefit - TIME! I had time to spoil my team. For the first year ever I was able to have a team logo, team shirts and van magnets for tagging during the race. I also got crafty and made team headbands for everyone and really went to town on the van decorations. Even for little organized me, this was proving to be my most thoughtful and organized Ragnar to date. I made Excel spreadsheets (with formulas!). I coordinated van pickups and reservations galore! I wasn't going to run, but I had everything else locked down!
True to form, all my best laid plans couldn't control every detail. When I went to pick up the passenger vans I found out that the person that rented one of the vans failed to return it that morning and my team was down one vitally important and necessary accessory to the event. Several hours later Avis did indeed find us another van and by 6:00pm both our teams were heading north via I-5. My van stopped in downtown Seattle to pick up three runners hailing from California and Tennessee. Our van 2 driver was also flying in from England where his collegiate rowing team had just secured an international championship. We continued North to Bellingham and found our accommodations for the night and waited for van 2 to greet us around midnight.
Once all 12 of my runners were accounted for, I was able to drift off to sleep but only for a short sleep as we had a 6:30 start time and they had a 30 minute drive to the Canadian border. Van1 started on time and my van began loading up and getting acquainted. I took my position in the driver's seat with my crutches tucked behind me ready to drive and not run. It's a different vibe when you know you aren't running. No fears of digestion trouble, no need to partially dress for your first leg. No scramble to find your iPod in the bottom of your backpack. It was nice, no running stress - but team stress for sure.
Constant checkins from van1 proved the team was staying fairly close to our estimates - running about 15-20 minutes behind. Not bad for a newbie team. We made our way to the grocery store for supplies, the gas station for fuel and off to the exchange point where my handicapped parking pass came is VERY handy for the first of many times this weekend. You see, there aren't a lot of vans in a foot race with a handicapped parking pass. It was glorious - especially since going more than 100 feet or so resulted in me being a sweaty mess and needing a pause to catch my breath. Crutching it is not easy when you only have one functioning leg. By the time my van started their rotations, I looked like I had completed a 3 miler.
Our first round of rotations overall went really well. We were behind our pace predictions but within a decent window. Both vans were decorating and everyone seemed happy. The weather was hot for running, but great for spectating and as always the course was beautiful. Our out of state runners frequently commented on how beautiful this course was and I couldn't disagree. Stunning views at every turn.
This is usually the time I write about my experiences on each leg but alas I have nothing to write as I had no legs to run. Even now a week later I'm still really sad about this but it just wasn't meant to be this year. Overall things went well. Our one major issue was with my girl Kate in the middle of the nighttime runs. She had a 9 miler scheduled and within the first 3 miles, she rolled her ankle. I saw her hobbling up in the darkness, her silhouette screaming pain from the darkness but she refused to step off the course. We stopped several times but she was determined to finish. Unfortunately, it was a bad turn and she was done for the remainder of the race. On the plus side we are the same height, so I was able to share my crutches with her so she could get around a little.
Our two strongest runners covered Kate's final miles after much discussion and I am so proud of them and grateful for their ability to run extra miles after already carrying the hardest of all the legs in our van. I must say that is what I love most about this event - the true team spirit that is reflected every mile of the journey.
Although we got very off pace for a while we finished very close to our projected time. We celebrated with the entire team at the finish line with beers and pizza a toasted another exceptional year.
Can't wait to come back and run this event again!