We pulled up to Exchange 18 and saw it was some sort of outdoor 90210-type school. The place was packed, and it took us a minute to find a parking spot. Bob used his skillz and backed into a tricky spot. I decided to check out the grounds & walk around.
I hadn’t packed a towel so I couldn’t take advantage of the showers. A shower at this point would have been amazing.
We’d just eaten so I wasn’t really interested in the spaghetti dinner, though it smelled delicious.
I headed back to the van to lay down for a bit. I tried to sleep in the van a bit but it was impossible. It was way too hot. The only windows that would roll down were the driver/passenger. The others only popped open a few inches. We couldn’t leave the doors open because the interior light would come on, and that would drain the battery. We couldn’t run the ac because that would just waste gas.
There was also supposed to be an air conditioned gym with mats. Hmm. I found the gym, no Ac, no mats. After the race, I checked the Ragnar website & realized the ac was a dream I’d made up. They’d only promised mats.
Regardless, of those conditions, there were people sleeping…well.. everywhere they could without getting driven over. These pictures were actually after it had cleared out a bit. There literally were people on almost every inch of grass when we first arrived.
Is that person in the picture above sucking their thumb?
When I got back to the van, I decided to lay down again but this lady in the van next to ours was talking loudly to someone on the phone about how tough her route was and how it’s the hardest of her teammates. Ahhh! I finally interrupted her and asked if she would walk away from the vans while on the phone. She did, thank god.
I laid down again but there was a street light shining in my face.
It was at this point I remembered I’d packed a cot and comforter so I tried to track it down. That was when I was told it was in the OTHER VAN. I even grabbed a few waters from the cooler to hold onto to see if that would help cool me down. It was so hot, they were warm again in a few minutes.
Sleep was just not happening.
Roxie wasn’t able to sleep either, so we decided to walk around. We ended up chatting in the parking lot for TWO AND A HALF HOURS while I foam rolled the s*** out of my hip. Crazy. I felt like a zombie.
At this point Adam woke up. I walked with him into the school to show him where stuff was and it gave me something to do. When we got back to the van I was suddenly really tired, but he and Roxie would not STFU! Every time I got close to drifting off, they would start taking. Then Adam HAD to have hand sanitizer. I looked aaaaallllll over where I was. No luck (I finally found it the next day pretty much right by where those two punks were talking) I finally gave up, got out & walked around.
I looked around when van 1 showed up at exchange 18 and realized how much the area had changed since we arrived. There were a lot more open parking spaces, a lot of people that had been sleeping on the front lawn of the school were gone and the spaghetti dinners had shut down. In fact, they had cleaned up the cafeteria by then too.
It was starting to dawn on me that our team was running a bit behind. I returned to the van to look over the timing excel sheets Ragnar provided us. We were running 2 hours behind! On the sheet, I was scheduled to cross the finish line at 7:29 pm Saturday night. Given the fact we were running 2 hours behind and had only completed half our teams runs (Van 1 had each run 2 legs, and van2 was starting their second leg), if we continued at the pace we were going, we would finish FOUR HOURS behind schedule. That would put me finishing at 11:29 pm.
Honestly though, who cares. the heat and humidity were brutal. I wasn’t surprised we were running behind as a result. I know, I’ve had several people ask me “Wasn’t the heat sorta expected?” Uh, not exactly. Yes, heat and humidity was expected, but not THAT heat and humidity. I just cannot explain how totally unusual the heat wave they were having was.
Unfortunately, we had been previously told there would be consequences if we finished too far behind. They might close the course, we might not qualify for medals, THE BEER AT THE FINISH LINE MIGHT ALL BE DRUNK. THE HORROR!!! No seriously. Things were bad. (I hope you know I’m kidding here.) I didn’t really know what to do if anything, so I just kept this to myself.
While we were at exchange 18, there was a really scary moment. Everyone was sleeping in the vans. Adam was the next runner up. We walked up to the exchange point & waited for Lindsay to arrive. We were standing there, in the dark with about 20 other runners around us. A runner came in (not ours) and slapped the “baton” onto their teammates wrist who then took off down the tree covered and very dark side street. When they were about 50 yards ahead, a fancy, grey infinity came squealing around the corner pointed directly as us, the crowd. It spun its tires out, made a bunch of tire squealing noises, and turned right fish tailing down the road TOWARDS THE RUNNER that had just left. Clearly we had a VERY drunk driver on the road. It literally took my breath away. Everyone seemed to pause, hold their breath, watch, and wait. Just when the car seemed just feet away from the runner, the car cut a sharp left hand turn and was gone. I just stood there watching the darkness stunned speechless.
Then my paranoia kicked in. Adam was the next runner. What if?? WHAT IF?? Just a horrible sinking feeling. Add on hunger, lack of sleep and heat and you have me at my absolute worst. I managed to keep everything all bottled up inside though.
At that point Lindsay appeared, and Adam took off.
We caught up with our friends in Van 1 for a quick second before we took off to meet up with Adam.
From there, our van packed up and left. We stopped along the road 5 miles down to wait for Adam & give him a water break. I was co-pilot in the van at this point. Once we stopped sleep tugged me under. Suddenly I woke in a start hearing a heavy breather! Creepy! It was only Adam. He said it was really hot & he was hurting. He was glistening with sweat. I can only imagine how he felt running in the dark heat after only a few hours sleep in the crappy van. After his quick break, he continued on to finish the rest of his long run.
We drove to the exchange of his leg & waited. While waiting I started talking to another team that explained that their teams were so behind due to the heat they were having to leap frog. Hub? What’s that?
By the time Adam came running in, the sun had started rising and we were no had to wear the headlamps.
He passed the baton to Roxie, and she took off on her 6.2 mile leg of the race. Since she was set, we had time to talk to the other team. It turned out there was a Ragnar staff member there who explained to us our options.
a) We could continue on, and finish at midnight.
b) We could leap frog. Instead of teammates running their legs of the race sequentially, they could run them together. This means, instead of running the scheduled leg, Runner B would actually run alongside runner A. This saves time because two legs are being done at the same time.
c) Runners could elect to skip a leg. Teams would have that missed time added onto their finish time at the end.
I called Stephanie in the other van to catch her up on the conversation and discuss what we wanted to do. We decided to have both vans meet up at the next exchange point so everyone could discuss it together. This was a really good idea because it was just a lot easier to discuss in person.
We passed Roxie on the way to the exchange point. She was looking good.
Yay! Water! We were finally able to see and enjoy driving through the keys because it was light out!
Both vans met up at the next exchange point and waited for Roxie to come in. I explained everything again and discussed it. It was extremely tough because I was so freakin tired.
I was relieved when several of our teammates had no issue with doing option B – leap frogging. Several of the runners teamed up to run legs together. This actually worked to the advantage of some runners, specifically Andrea. Andrea really wanted to do the 9 mile leg that runs the 7 mile bridge, but it didn’t work out. That ultimately was assigned to Leif. Andrea was scheduled to run a 9 mile leg right after Leif. This way, they could run it together and neither one was shorted any miles. Kinda nice how that worked out, honestly.
My leg was still really killing me, so I actually decided to skip my second leg which was my long leg. I really wanted to run my last leg because as the last runner on the team, that leg had me crossing the finish line. Who could pass that up, right?? I am still extremely frustrated and bummed that I chose to skip the second leg. I feel like I gave up. I still continue to beat myself up about it. In fact, I almost wanted to skip over this part, but honestly, I just couldn’t. Maybe reading this would help a future team.
With everything coordinated, I calculated we would finish around 6pm this way. Muuuch better.
Plus, almost our entire team was leaving first thing the next day. By getting in at a decent time, they would still have a little bit of time to check out Key West a bit before having to head back.
After we had that sorted out (huge thanks to Stephanie who communicated all our notes to the Ragnar staff), Roxie finally came running in and Amanda took off on her leg 8.1 mile leg of the race. I remember riding in the van to her exchange point seeing the first bridge thinking “oy, she’s not going to like that..” and then seeing a second bridge on her route and thinking “yup. she’ll hate that more!”
Well, Amanda rocked her leg, passed the baton off to Melissa for her 4.1 mile leg. I’m sad I don’t have a picture of this exchange either.
I thought it was interesting an entire tree/bush/weed thing was growing on an abandoned bridge.
Next up was Bob. He was prepared to tackle his 2.9 mile leg.
The exchange went smoothly…
… and off he went.
The next exchange where we would pick Bob up was pretty interesting. We pulled in here and waited for him to cruise on in. This is the leg of the race that I chose to skip (boo), so we would be picking Bob up and not dropping off another runner.