“I’m the parking police and you are taking up two spots.” That’s how we were welcomed to the exchange where I would be starting my second leg of the relay. You try parking a 12 passenger van in a parking lot full of other big vans, I know I couldn’t do it! Luckily our driver had a great sense of humor and the whole thing kept us laughing for a while. It was after 2:00 a.m. and I was ready to run my second leg which was 4 miles long. I had never run in the nighttime before so I was a little nervous but excited to be out of the heat. To keep us safe and noticeable to others, we had to wear safety vests, and as you will see in the picture below that mine was just a standard construction site vest that was gigantic on me, no fancy runner vest for me! We also wore headlamps and taillights.
My run went great, it was my fastest leg of the relay. The weather was cool and I was on a trail for a good amount of time so I didn’t have to worry about cars or traffic. When I finished I was ready to get some sleep. I hadn’t really slept yet, so I couldn’t wait!
Luckily I was able to sleep, and when I woke up we were at the next major exchange and the sun was coming up.
At this point van 1 had some longer legs to run, so we knew we could finally have some down time. The next major exchange was about 45 minutes away so we made our way there so we wouldn’t have to worry about being rushed. On our way we jammed out to some old school Destiny’s Child and other fun “throwback” music. The last major exchange didn’t have a very big parking lot so they sent our van to a Metra station lot. It was the Metra station in Lake Forest, which we found out is near the house from Home Alone, it was a beautiful area. We found some trees and laid under them to stay cool while we waited to run.
Once it was my turn to run it was once again hot and I was nervous that my legs didn’t have much left in them to complete my 4.5 miles. Between the marathon and my first two legs I had over 37 miles on my legs, and that doesn’t include the 13 miles we walked in one day at Disneyland! My run started out with me running on the streets of a “main street” type area and then moved onto a trail. Early on I could tell that I was moving pretty slow and probably wasn’t going to make my 11:30/mile pace. I couldn’t wait to be finished and I was fully prepared to tell my team how sorry I was that I didn’t make my pace and that I felt really bad about it. I was so excited to see the exchange point and ready to be finished with my part of the relay, but when I arrived there were none of my teammates in sight (I told you it would happen again)! I sent them a message and they told me they would be there in 5 minutes, later I found out they went to the next exchange point and didn’t realize it until I was almost finished running. Luckily, the other people at the exchange waiting for their teammates were very friendly and even offered to take my picture as I reenacted finishing. When my teammates arrived I was so excited to finally be finished, and that I didn’t have to feel “guilty” for being slow because it didn’t matter since they weren’t there anyway. I checked off my last box on the van and relaxed a little before we met the rest of our team to cross the finish line together.
The finish line was at Montrose Beach in Chicago. It was a beautiful setting, but it was a very windy day with winds in the 20+ mph range. As we waited for our last teammate we got pelted with sand. When our last teammate came towards us we all joined her so that we could cross the finish line together, I am so glad we were able to do that. We collected our medals and went to have some pizza that they were giving out to the teams. After eating we decided to have a beach photo shoot. The water was chilly, but worth standing in to get some cool pictures. My picture of me with my medal was even featured as the Medal Monday picture on the Team Run Disney Instagram!
The Ragnar medals are super cool and double sided. When you put all 12 medals together they make a saying on the back.
What an amazing experience! I am beyond thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in such a unique and challenging race. It’s truly amazing how you can spend just a few days with people but feel like you have known them forever. I was lucky to be able to join a team full of wonderful people that made the experience even better. People have asked me if I would do it again and my answer is always absolutely! Although, I would like to do it without having just finished a marathon to see if the running feels a little easier. People also ask if I would like to be on a team with friends the next time. That one is a little harder to answer. Of course I want to do this with my “friends”, as in people that I have known for more than a few days, because I am sure it would be a great time. But, for me I did really enjoy getting to know new people, and I think it made for a different experience than I would have had with people that I already knew. All I know is that no matter who I am with, I would love to do another Ragnar.