33 Hours in a Van

ragnar start

It’s 7:30 am and twelve moms are arriving in two vans at Peace Arch State Park in Blaine, Washington. The plan is to race with 500 other teams on a 200 mile course from Blaine to Whidbey Island, Washington. Each team member will run three legs over the course of about 33 hours. Some legs are easy and some are hard. Some will be run in the heat of the day and others in the dead of night. We are all excited and nervous at the same time. Am I ready? Can I do this? Too late now. The announcer is calling our team. We line up to see our first runner go. Five, four, three, two, one…..race!

Lisa starts us off with a 10 km leg while van two heads back to the hotel. They won’t start running until 1:45 this afternoon. They may get a bit more sleep but I don’t imagine waiting around for five hours does anything for the nerves. At least we, van one, are off and running; literally. The temperature isn’t bad for the first two or three legs but by the time I run at 11:40am the sun is full on and it’s hot in Ferndale. As I start my 10 km run through the small town, I can’t see any other runners and no vans have passed me for a while. I start to panic and my heart rate goes up. What if I missed my turn. I don’t see any signs. Crap. Finally a van passes me with writing all over the windows. Okay, I’m going the right way. Head down keep running. Where the hell is that “one mile to go” sign? Once I’m done there’s one more runner and we are done our first legs. Time to eat and rest.

ragnar 1

After a much needed meal at the Train Wreck pub in Burlington (how appropriate) we get out our sleeping bags and find some shade at the high school designated for our exchange with the other van. All over the schools lawn teams are sleeping, fueling or just chilling. Team spirit is alive and well in these events. Some go all out with costumes and themes. We see two team members dressed as sumo wrestlers preparing to meet their runner. The “butt girls” as we have named them, are all running with plastics bare butts around their waists. These runs are hard enough as it is, why make it harder? Another team is dressed as the cast of Star Wars. Storm Trooper and all. We are Team Reruns Eh. We proudly represent Canada in our red and white maple leaf t-shirts with some embellishments provided by Sharon. We can easily identifiy Emily by her sparkly tutu. We wonder how van 2 is doing? It’s hot and they have some serious elevation to run.

At about 6:30pm our second legs start. It will be dark soon so we all make sure we have our night gear. Reflective vest, butt flasher and head lamp. My second leg starts at about 9:30pm. It’s pitch black as I ran up the hill and around the corner in a light rain. I hear bull frogs croaking in the ditches and imagine some backwoods crazy jumping out and pulling me into the woods. It weird what goes through your head when you’re running alone in the dark. All the runners I had seen during the previous leg have suddenly disappeared. Did I smell that bad? Slowly they start coming up behind me. One at a time they pass me. Good job. Good job. They each say as they motor past me. I was probably at about 13km and I needed to walk for a bit and stretch my calves. A guy comes up behind me and says “Don’t stop.” Under my breath I say “Asshole.” Two seconds later another guy passes me and says “You’re doing great. Keep it up”. As he catches up to the asshole who has just passed me he chastises him for being negative. My faith in runners is re-established.

So we are done with our second legs and it’s time to get some rest. We drive to Oak Harbour and find some space in the gym to lay out our sleeping bags. It’s 1:15am. Within minutes we were all asleep. Okay, maybe not everybody as Donna made the unfortunate choice to lay down beside somebody who snored; loudly. In what seemed like about 10 minutes it’s time to get up. it’s 4:30 am.  At this point the only thing keeping us going is the fact that we know this will be our last leg. When this one is done we were finished. It’s cool and threatening to rain. The last runner for van 2 is coming in. They have had a brutal night. Three of their head lamps died, Leanna had to give another team her flashlight as their headlamp died too and didn’t have a back up and Rosa tripped and gashed her knee. They are still smiling though.

ragnar 2

At this point you can tell that runners are tired. Stiff legs and lack of sleep is catching up with everybody. My final 8km leg is along a beautiful shady road with views of the water. I could have just stopped and headed down to the beach. No, really I could have, that’s how tired I was. Somehow, though, we all manage to cut a few minutes off our projected times and arrive in Coupeville ahead of schedule. Chris, van 2’s first runner, is fueled with a good breakfast and ready to go. They have gotten some rest and are also looking forward to their last legs. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you have accomplished so much in really, a very short time. As Jen said on Saturday night when it was all over, it’s a leap of faith to get into a van with 5 women who you may or may not even know and push yourself to do things you probably have never done.

At about 3:45 pm as we all run across the finish line together I think to myself, The Best Thing in Life is spending 33 hours in a van, finishing a race with 11 other crazy women and having memories and friendships that will last forever. It is a leap of faith that I will most likely take again…..but not for a couple of years.

ragnar 3

You Can’t Pick Your Family

familyThis past weekend my daughter and I spent the day with some friends in Whistler. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and while our girls played in the water park we had lots of time to catch up. We talked about lots of things. One of the things we talked about was family. More specifically our parents and siblings. We both admitted that if we had a choice we probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time with them. It got me thinking on the drive home about my relationships with my parents and siblings.

I wouldn’t say we were a close family. If I had to use one word to describe us it would be judgemental. Don’t get me wrong, I include myself in that statement. We each judge each other and my parents judge everybody. It’s weird though because they are very accepting of other cultures but judgemental of people who don’t live life the way they do. I know that probably doesn’t make sense does it. For example, they are accepting of somebody from Japan or somebody who is Muslim, but not accepting of the guy who lives down the street who doesn’t like to garden and has his front yard paved over so he can park his RV.  Over the years I have tried to be less judgemental but at last I come by it honestly.

My sister and I have never had a solid relationship. I was the youngest and was kind of spoilt. I wanted to be just like her but she wanted nothing to do with me. She never let me borrow her clothes so I just took them. I wanted to hang out with her and her friends so I just tagged along. That didn’t make her very happy and I was often told to go home. When she was in college she suddenly decided we should be friends. After years of being pushed away, I was not interested. We’ve had periods of time when we’ve gotten along but it always seems to be at arms length. At least for me anyway.

My brother and I used to get along really well but have drifted apart over the past ten years. We have very different approaches to life and tend to butt heads a bit. We live close to him and his family and sometimes I feel bad that we don’t see them very often but the reality is that I don’t have an over abundance if time and would rather spend it with my husband and kids. Ya I know you are all shaking your heads thinking how selfish I am. I’m guessing some of you feel the same way but just don’t want to admit it. I’m right aren’t I?

Getting back to being spoilt. Yes, my mom spoilt me. I’m not sure why. (Okay, I was pretty cute). The problem is that I think she still thinks I’m a little girl who isn’t capable of looking after herself, despite surviving a divorce and having two children of my own. I am grateful for all that my mom has done to support me through some very difficult times, however, not returning her phone call in an acceptable amount of time does not mean that there is a problems in my marriage. Being tired and stressed from working and having a husband who travels a lot does not make me depressed. And no, I haven’t lost weight in the seven days since I saw you last.

When I was little my dad worked a lot. He owned his own business and it required time and dedication. I admire that in him today. What I don’t admire is the fact that when he did come home from work we, as his kids, were pretty much taught to be seen and not heard. It’s a British thing. As soon as his car hit the driveway we had to turn off the TV. There was not a lot of affection. He taught us a lot. Skiing, fly fishing and how to tell a spruce tree from a fir tree. But there wasn’t a lot of playing and laughing.

I know all of this may sound harsh but at the end of the day we do all love each other and have supported each other through the years. We don’t fight. We just judge from a distance. So is it wrong that I don’t want to hang out with them? The saying about how you can’t pick your family couldn’t be more fitting for me. The Best Thing in Life though, is that you can pick your friends and enjoy spending the day hanging out with them in Whistler.

Uninspired

I don’t know if it’s the amazing summer weather or my inability to focus due to lack of carbohydrates (see previous post “Sugar Free”) but I have not been able to produce a post this week. I’ve alternated between worrying and really not caring too much. For some reason though, I keep coming back to this saying.

“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad”

I’m not sure what it’s trying to tell me, but as soon as I can figure it out I will let you know.  Until then, enjoy the sunshine.