|Running in my super cool Trakkers kit and wicked fast|
Avia Quest Lite.
I know what you're thinking "...sure we've heard this all before. He builds us up with the anticipation of these stellar blog posts—complete with his self-proclaimed witty humor, and over the top sarcasm—and just toys with our poor emotions as we are left stranded wondering if he is going to end up on the back of a milk carton, or need to be relocated to Sioux City, Iowa for a crime he witnessed at a high-profile Italian eatery."
Nope, neither of those. I have just had the busiest year of my life. I had been commuting an hour to work five, sometimes six days a week all year. Twice a week, I did not get home until after 9 p.m., and there were times that I was enjoying my dinner at midnight! Okay, enough of this 'woe is me' me type rhetoric, now on for the good stuff.
About eight months ago I saw one of those advertisements on Facebook that runs along the sidebar that read something about Ragnar Relay. I never pay attention to adds, or so I thought, but on this particular occasion I decided I would check it out. And so I did. Ragnar Relay is a running race series that has teams of up to twelve members compete in a relay that runs for—in our case—197 beautiful miles of New York state. And so, I thought to myself, "197 miles in a van with eleven other runners who are going to be tired, cranky, stinky, and hungry by the end of the experience.... what could possibly go wrong?" Coincidentally, the phrase "what could possibly go wrong?" became my mantra throughout the Ragnar experience. You see, with five children, I have the attitude that you just have to roll with some things in life otherwise you are going to be confined to a straightjacket wondering where it all went wrong. It was right there while reading the Ragnar message and what the race entailed that I decided that this all seemed completely crazy, and was therefore obligated to try to run this thing with eleven of my soon-to-be closest friends (whether they liked it or not). The first thing I did was post a message on The Facebook to four hundred or so of my closest friends asking who was "in?" What I soon realized is that most well-adjusted people with careers, families, and household projects are not easily eager to commit to something this undeniably
From l to r: Danny "Talker" Vandonginator VanDongen, Terry "Pinky" Christo, Greg "Chef" Christo, Nicholas "Honey Badger" Grenses, "It's not Ryne, it's Ryan" Ryan "Camel" McClean, Mitch "Instigator" Mitchell, Mike "Squirrel" Texiera, Sharon "Sunshine" Mitchell, Me "Gimpy", Sarah "Stealth" Beyler, and Derek "Franchise" Lockhart
Oh, where is wifey? Yeah, it's been a bit since the last blog post, eh? Wifey decided that on one spring like afternoon she would get on my son Luca's Ripstick (kind of like a skateboard, but with only two wheels) without helmet or elbow pads. Needless to say, this did not end well. After a trip to the hospital, an MRI to look for a concussion and several stitches to close her grapefruit-sized swollen elbow, it was back to the house. As if it could not get any worse, a few days after removing her stiches, her bursar sack ruptured and fluid flew out of elbow in the manner of bad special effects in a B movie. Sadly, wifey will have to wait for the next one. I was REALLY disappointed. I wanted to share this experience with her.
|Here is our ex-Pentacostal church van. I am NOT kidding!|
It would take a manuscript the length of the Harry Potter series (which I finished by the way) to tell you about everyones legs, and all the crazy and amazing things we saw along the way. Let's just say that my team surely rose to the occasion and ran their proverbial asses off with a total time of 25:03:46. Not bad, right? That is a team pace of 7:38 over 197 miles. The amazing thing is I actually think that had circumstances been a bit different, we may actually have run it slightly faster. Unfortunately, I was "nursing," "coping," "bearing as much pain as I could possibly withstand" throughout the race. (More on the knee later). So, taking one 15-passenger van meant being at the next exchange in time for the runner who was out there. Sometimes it was difficult. There were a couple of legs that were only 1.9 and 2.4 miles long. If you have someone running low 7:00 minute miles, you barely have time to drive to the next exchange, get your next runner out and cheer on the next exchange. We gobbled on stuff throughout the trip: peanut butter pretzels, banana muffins, a huge bag of granola (thanks to the large team of runners that stayed at the hotel with us who left it in conference room at breakfast time). We, uh... borrowed it.... forever. I had a peanut butter sandwich somewhere along the way, and a local fire house put together a spaghetti dinner or turkey wraps for dinner when we arrived at one of the exchanges at 7:30 on Friday. It cost $8.00 dollars. My cousin Danny and I had $12 dollars between us when we got to the exchange and some runner offered to make up the difference of the rest of our meal. Very cool. Whoever you were—thanks!
Our team had two Ragnar magazines that had detailed printouts of every leg of the race with their ratings: Easy/Moderate/Hard/ and Very Hard. Personally, I had one moderate, a hard, and then finished with a very hard run. It was a beautiful trail run. The first two miles were straight uphill. I almost went the wrong way when I set out to run my last leg. I got to a point in the trail that looked like a pool of mud and said.. "certainly I am not suppose to run through this." I was incorrect in my thinking. So, I ran back down and started to set off on a different trail when I heard my teammates yell, "No... Mark! You were going the right way!!" Oops.
Here are some pictures from the race:
|I called PETA shortly after taking this pic.|
|The legend continues.|
|I don't know why, but I just think of Bananrama, parachute pants,|
Flashdance, and MC Hammer whenever I look at this picture.
|This is one fast viking!|
|Don't ask, don't tell.|
|This takes guts... or underpants....|
|We would have faired pretty well in this category as well!|
|.. but well worth it!|
|Showing off her bootie for the camera, these runners|
were rocking the 90's metal scene.
|I love this picture! A well deserved rest.|
This race has inspired me to want to try the Rev 3 Adventure Race Series next year. Okay, I hope I did some justice to this amazing race experience.
More soon! Train Smart!