Not since college have I woke up – head ache, sore, confused – to find myself lying on the floor of a bar wondering what the hell just happened. This was the position I found myself in the wee hours of last Saturday morning. And the worst part of the situation was that once I got my bearings, I realized there was no alcohol to blame. No friends, my predicament was a result of an addiction much more dangerous: Relay running.
So there I was rolling out of “bed” on the floor of a boat marina bar in Sconnie where my team captain had arranged for our van to grab some shut eye while van #2 raced. For those not familiar with the Ragnar Great River Relay, let me back up and explain. The race is a 12 person, 2 van, 193 mile relay run along the mighty Mississippi River from some town you’ve never heard of in Minnesota, through about 20 other towns you’ve never heard of in Wisconsin, before crossing back to Minnesota and ending in Minneapolis. Each runner completes 3 legs of the relay with hooooours of down time in between.
Running around the clock in the humid August heat (90 degrees that day) with a full 24 hours in a van with smelly dudes I don’t really know. Why would I do it? Well, truth be told, my boss’s, boss’s, boss asked me and I couldn’t say no. Besides, after my decade of work the financial services industry, I was just happy that he wasn’t asking me to go to a steak house, gentleman’s club, or any of the other asinine venues I had to spend my days being entertained as a sales guy in Corporate America. Running? Sure. Truth be told, I was actually a little excited for the thing.
Being the new guy on a team that knew nothing about me, I actually had it pretty easy. My three runs were 5.5, 5.3, and 3.4 miles. That they were flat and fast was no question. It wasn’t until I ran into the Twin Cities Run Club that it became clear how easy they were. “Yeah, we’ve got a woman who had a c-section eight weeks ago covering those segments for us,” Head Coach Dave Coyne was so kind to point out. Thanks Dave.
In the end, my team walked away victorious on two accounts, receiving hardware for the Almost First Award in the Sub-Masters Division and the Nom De Plume Award. Best I can tell, that means that we were 2nd place in a division for people who are getting kinda old but not yet ready to admit it, and that we won the most important prize of all, Best Team Name, with Super Karate Death Monkey.
The biggest downside to the relay was that it was the last race on my calendar for the summer and the realization that the end of my season was marked with a hand off at an exchange point to the next runner. That’s too anti-climactic for me. I’d rather go out with a kick down to the finish or an epic failure.