It was almost midnight by the time we handed off to Van 1 for their overnight adventure. We were tired, hungry (at least I was) and had only a few hours before we'd be back up again for our next leg. I suggested we stop off at a diner for food, but since the rest of my van felt sleeping was more important, we drove off to the next major relay in search of some z's. We eventually found ourselves in the back of a high school parking lots with lots of cars and people and teams moving to and fro. Although the atmosphere was very lively, we were a bit too tired to take pictures or enjoy the festivities. BS and CK offered to stay in the van while the rest of us pulled out our sleeping bags and found an open spot amidst the crowd to lay our heads. I pulled out a few of the fruits that I had brought from home and re-carbed a bit before I hit the sack.
Amidst the noise, lights, and random chaos, it was a bit hard to actually fall asleep. I don't think I got more than 30 minutes of total shut eye time when my phone rang. It was BS informing me that van 1 was running ahead of schedule and was only 45 or so minutes away. Dang It Van 1, why you gotta be so damn near efficient! I yelled under my breath as I reluctantly packed my bags and loaded them back into our van. We all got ready quickly to await the arrival of our fearless captain with the pace bracelet to begin our second leg. As we did, we chatted with the other Flyer teams who were also there for the exchange as well as other local runners and friends we recognized who were there, just hanging out. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, enjoying the commaderie and commiserating with one another on all the tough hills we've encountered thus far.
It was around 2:30-3am when DC appeared like a flash in the dark and handed off her bracelet to SE beginning our second round of duty. Unlike the previous set of legs for our van which was all long and hard, this set was going to be short, still hard but fast. We tried to still stop off in the middle of each runners legs to offer support and fluids if needed but because these legs consisted of 3, 4, or 5 miles each, there was not as much need of a need for hydration mid-run. Everyone ran well and had good results as our road kill totals crept up higher and higher. To be honest, we did have some difficulty in the middle portion of this set of legs, as BS was led off course for about 1.5 miles by a dysfunctional road sign and a set of runners who had no clue where they were going. (He was eventually picked up and driven back to the exact point where he was led astray by another team. What a show of sportsmanship!) CK also had a tough leg here as her injuries caught up with her and she had to walk/limp the rest of the way after cramping a half mile into a 3 mie run. We didn't lose too much ground though as JT brought us right back into the thick of things with a solid run of her own.
My description of my second leg, Leg 24 can be found on the previous post.
Breakfast and Sleep Some More
After I handed off once again to JPM in Van 1 again, we headed off in search of gas, coffee, and food. We had been resorting to the assorted mix of cookies, bagels, fruits and candies for the past 24 hours and we were all craving for some real food. Luckily, after finding a gas station near the next major exchange locale, we found a little deli across the street serving breakfast food. Score! I had a bacon/egg breakfast panini (I was hungry...don't judge) and Earl Grey tea while others had their assorted sandwiches and loaded up on their coffee. It was close to the best breakfast I've ever had.
We still had about an hour to kill when we arrived at the next exchange point. By now, the sun was out in bright force and what was once a brisk and chilly morning had completely given way to a beautiful day. Some of us used the excuse to lay out in the sun and nap. I stayed awake with CK helping to tape her knee and talk through her injuries with her (felt like I was the on call Ragnar doc for some reason). We came to the conclusion that it was probably not a good idea for her to run her third and final leg in the state that she was in and so we tele-conferenced with Van 1 and asked for a replacement volunteer. To no one's surprise really, our fearless captain, DC came through and offered her services for more miles.
These last set of legs were completely joy for us. The weather was perfect. The scenery was spectacular. Everyone ran strong. Everyone ran well. SE/MT randomly got to drive by the church where they were married. BC ran hard, looking for redemption for when he got lost. DC ran her extra 4.5 mile leg like a champ. JT got her wish of running on some real trails while I got to run the anchor leg and finish off the course for our team. The best moment was when we all gathered 100 feet before the finish in our team shirts and crossed the line together, hands held high, knowing that no matter how tough the course was, technically and logistically we all "worked it out" got it done effectively, efficiently, and with smiles on our faces the whole entire way.
It wasn't until we were all home later that night, passed out on our couches and beds, that we found out that we actually won 3rd place in the Mixed Open Division with our time of 24:28! Holla! It was all so unexpected but very well-deserving at the same time. To me, the award validates the fact that we all killed it out there and really worked well as a team. A special thanks and congrats goes to team captain DC who assembled and organized this bunch of speedy bandits and worked out all the logistics so we could all run our hearts out and have fun. Special mention to all my "Kidz Who Whiz" teammates who banded together and got the job done! You all are ROCK STARS in my book!