Read about our day in Miami, Leg 1 and Leg 2.
|Van 1 before our final leg!|
10-15 minutes after eating my Clif bar, I felt a rumbling in my belly and I knew I had a potential disaster on my hands. I made it to a porta potty in the nick of time and my stomach let me know again that it was not to be tested. This had me worried. Shortly after we sent Katie on her way and made our way to our next exchange point. When we sent Meredith on her way, I really started worrying. My stomach was not behaving and I felt so ill and weak and my turn was coming up. I had never done a long run under these circumstances and had no idea what to expect. To make matters worse, it was hotter than hell outside and the humidity seemed as though it was getting increasingly worse the closer we got to Key West. We stopped at a McDonald's while Meredith was running her 9+ miles in the intensifying heat and I sipped on ice water while the rest of the group drank coffee. I again had to visit the bathroom. Let me state here that I am aware that this may be TMI for some of you, but as a runner I have no filter about things of this matter. Not to mention this is an important detail to show you exactly where my mindset was at. Tummy troubles is no light matter in the world of running; I can tell you right now that many runners have a fear of crapping themselves mid run.
As we waited for Meredith and I prepared for my final run, 9.7 miles with no van support, I decided to try eating a couple Clif Shot Bloks to see if I could get some energy from them and hoped that they would not adversely affect my stomach since they were so small. Ah, false hopes, even those refused to stay put in my system.... Rik and I were standing at the exchange point waiting on Meredith as I gave myself a little pump up talk. I told myself that we were not doing this thing with time goals in mind and that most importantly above all was that I was about to be done! DONE!!! So I thought "Screw it, no pain no gain!" and convinced myself that I would be done before I knew it and it would not be so terrible after all.
I see Meredith, screech "Yeah, Meredith!!!!!" and take off. Again the heat/humidity hit me like a stack of bricks. It was close to noon and the sun was blazing down on me and I was already thirsty. I sipped on my handheld bottle frequently, drinking only enough to keep my mouth from getting pasty. I was dripping with sweat and I craved a breeze. About a half a mile in, I got my wish! A breeze flew in and caressed me, comforting my burning skin. I kept going at a slow, steady pace for the first couple miles, I was SO grateful for the breeze! Around mile three or so, I lost my breeze! It was like the small breeze had existed only to dangle in front of my nose like a carrot to a horse. Even worse, I ran with a man for a half mile or so whom informed me that we had around three hills on our route, all bridges. Fucking A. I told my knee right then and there that it had better behave itself.
I ran straight for at least the first four miles of my run (I'm thinking closer to five). Then everything hit me at once: fatigue and weakness; stomach acting up; my knee would randomly have a sharp pain here and there - mostly after going downhill; the heat was just horrible - I could not seem to drink enough water, but I restrained myself for fear of agitating my stomach even more. You know, looking back, I cannot even tell you which aspect of the run was worse: hunger, fatigue, weakness, pain, being overheated, tummy ache - pick one. I kept running for at least the first 5-6 miles of the run with very short interspersed walking breaks in the last couple of miles. I started sucking on the Clif Shot Bloks just to get some sugar in my system; I figured so long as I did not chew them up and put them in my stomach that I should be okay. Around mile 6 or so I met up with a pirate named Jonas. He was completely decked out in pirate gear, quite the costume indeed, he must have been smoldering! . I kept up a run/walk with Pirate Jonas and we chatted quite a bit. He seemed to be feeling the effects of being Runner 3 in the heat as I did. It's funny how so many runners have the same sort of story, he had a lot in common with my team as far as how running changed him. Having company helped motivate me some to try and keep running, but not nearly enough because we still ended up walking quite a bit of the next couple of miles. I kept telling Pirate Jonas that he should not feel obligated to stick with me, that if he felt he could pelt it out then by all means do not allow me to hold him back. And Pirate Jonas either has a really kind spirit, or he was glad to have an excuse not to run, because he stuck with me all the way! I chose to believe he has a really kind spirit. ;) At the last mile marker, we decided to run it in and with a quarter of a mile left, I insisted for him to go ahead and finish strong, I was giving it my all at that point and I felt like I was hardly moving and I hated to kill his finish, so off he took! I finally crawled into the exchange point and my team was waiting for me all smiles and holding water. I feel kind of bad because I am not certain I even mustered up a smile. I felt so groggy and weird, almost like I was disconnected from the whole scene (and maybe my body), I mean really? I'm done? Okay, hmm, well then, perhaps I should find some AC. LOL. My poor teammates were all super nice though and gave me water and led me to a safe haven - the van! I regretted not getting a picture with Pirate Jonas, he really made the last few miles bearable and he's obviously super awesome if he's running a Ragnar in the loathsome heat dressed as a pirate, no? I had lost track of him by the time I gathered my wits, though, and regrettably I never did see him again.
Back at the van I drank tons of water, sat on my shower curtain and tried to cool off with one of those disposable ice packs. It did not feel like the stupid thing was helping at all. I sat in a daze all the way until the next exchange point. I sat in the van, trying desperately to cool down while we waited, I did manage to lean out of the van as Ada came in and Andrea ran off to offer a bit of van support on my part. It was my turn to drive so Rik could get ready for his last leg, so I moved my shower curtain (I was dripping with sweat) up front and wedged my ice pack around my knee and went into driver mode. I was starting to feel a bit better now, my body temperature was starting to get closer to normal and I did not feel as if I were going to puke anymore. We sent Rik off and brought Andrea in at the next exchange point and then headed to our final exchange point before the finish line while I continued to drink fluids and started actually feeling normal! When we got to the exchange point, we were circling a lot trying to find van 2, when Andrea suddenly hollers "honk, Lealah!!" So, of course I honked, braked, and worried that I had just missed smashing someone under our wheels. At this time, Andrea says "look!" and points out the window at a van that has clearly written across the back "Honk if you're horny!" then proceeds to burst in a fit of giggles (this was actually rather adorable). I retorted that even if I could get laid at the moment that it was the absolute last thing on my mind. We continued our search for the other van in a parking lot further back (I was all too happy to get away from the hereby dubbed "Horny Van"), but ended up heading back to the first lot when we realized no one was at the van (to my dismay). I navigate around the parking lot (grumbling about the "Horny Van") and find a spot that seemed not entirely impossible to squeeze into and began the process of edging into the spot. My team got a crack out of me engaging my mad parking skills (I can be quite impressive, I tell ya!) I'm sure everyone in the surrounding vans got a good look at the tiny, horny girl that stepped out of the 12 passenger van after having maneuvered it into an ultra tight spot.
We went down to the exchange point to cheer Rik in and to also give Jen Roe some added van support since she had a tough run over night. We cheered her on and sent her off in a wave of glory while Rik ran with her a little part of her third leg to give her some encouragement. When Rik came back, team captain that he was, he admitted to us that he had done exactly what he had preached against to us. He pushed himself pretty hard in the heat and almost overdid it. I can't imagine having gone my hardest in the temperatures and humidity we were experiencing! It was around this time that the jubilation started to kick in, my teammates and I had done what we set out to do! Our van was done, the second van was close to being done and I had no doubt that they would finish in glory. I may not have had the smoothest road to victory, but I made it! (And without having a heat stroke!!)
Now it was time to head to the finish line and Key West! And soon, the celebrations would begin!!!
To be continued...