I am getting ready to run my second leg 8.2 miles through the Everglades - it's pitch black outside, there's a mugginess in the air that would have made me guess that we were in swamp area had I not already known. I found the air smothering and the blackness around me a bit nerve wracking. However, I absolutely LOVE running at night in the dark. It's exhilarating, mysterious, and a little bit dangerous. Because I so love running in the anonymity of night, my excitement overruled my nervousness. My stomach was a little off, but it did not seem to be serious; and I joked around about being afraid of alligators, but logically I knew that they probably would not bother me. However, I was a bit nervous about it all; running in the dark in a completely foreign atmosphere is a new thing for me. And because me, being me and as random as I am, if there were a random alligator attack on the course, I would most definitely be involved. To make matters worse, we saw this massive, freaky looking insect on the ground of the exchange point; it walked around a bit and then just sat there pulsing in a very intense manner. I pictured it reproducing thousands of offspring to assimilate around unsuspecting runners as they cut through the Everglades. My imagination went wild about the other creatures that awaited me in the night. I was golden. What seemed like ages later (but were actually only minutes), Meredith came running in and slapped my wrist and off I went.
I had some trouble getting started, I have never run on gravel and I suddenly realized that pretty much my entire run would be on gravel. Great. And the air was even thicker while running, though at least at night the sun is not blazing on you and there was actually a nice cool breeze! My pace definitely suffered from the humidity and the gravel, but I reminded myself that the team was really supportive and would not hold pace against me.The film crew had strapped me into a GoPro - a little camera that projects from your chest, so I set about trying to make conversation with myself. This task was a tad trickier than I envisioned. In fact, I'm sure I made a fool of myself on the little camera, babbling nonsense the whole time. So I'm running along, rambling on about this and that (I am hoping they got SOMEthing they could use for the documentary!)... I made a Finding Nemo reference at one point in my monologue and I think I talked about my weight loss some... and people would come running up behind me making me "roadkill" ( a Ragnar thing). I would get really quiet as they passed to avoid looking like a raving lunatic. A couple miles in, someone came running up behind me and thus I quieted, but this person stayed behind me and to my right and would not pass me. This unknown person made me nervous after awhile and finally I turned back to ask how it was going. It turned out to be a fellow (and luckily not someone planning my demise) and he ran up beside me and we got to chatting. Apparently I was a good pacer for the fellow. We talked about all sorts of things and come to find out he was quite the experienced runner and was in fact running on an ultra team! I was impressed! And the poor guy was pretty worn out. :( I also mentioned that I was wearing a GoPro and I appreciated his company because it beat talking to myself the entire time. He seemed relieved that I was not a crazy person (I guess he heard me!). ;) I also mentioned my nervousness about the alligators and mentioned that I was kinda disappointed that I had not actually seen any. Apparently this young man had seen several and all one had to do was look for their beady eyes glimmering off the lights! Then I was really disappointed. Of course I would not have been thrilled to be charged at by an angry alligator either. During this time, the guys were following along in their Jeep, filming and dealing (quite gracefully) with my attempt at wit. Again they were SUPER awesome. I asked them if they knew about how much further we had to go. Would you believe that they actually pulled out a map to check for me? How awesome is that?? I promised them beer at the finish line, but unfortunately I never got the opportunity, so here's to next Ragnar! I am so thankful to have had company for those middle miles, it really helped the time fly by and to distract me from the smothering humidity and the endless stretch of gravel road. Probably about a mile and a half from the exchange point, my running company's van was waiting to give him water and support so he branched off from me. It was probably less than a minute later when my GoPro started beeping at me and sputtered out the remainder of it's life. I felt strangely alone. Then I swear less than 30 seconds later I heard this crashing/thrashing noise coming from the swamp to my left. I started running faster and freaking out a little bit (I think I even started cursing and talking to myself again) though all I could see was my head lamp light bouncing around the swamp as I searched desperately for the cause of the disruption. I was also cursing the GoPro for dying right when things got exciting! I passed the "One mile to go" sign a couple minutes later and tried to pick up my pace. I still felt as though I were running through quicksand, but I was proud of myself for not stopping to walk at all during my second leg. When I finally got to the exchange point, I felt so relieved. I was done with leg 2 with only one more to go tomorrow mid morning! w00t w00t! I think my pace ended up being around 11 minute miles, totally unsatisfactory under normal circumstances, but at this point I had thrown pace out into the wind.
I was again absolutely drenched in sweat at the end of my run, I felt disgusting. My stomach was really bothering me, as well, and I was hungry at the same time so I snacked on a Cutie, hoping it would be a safe choice. Ada was doing a 12 mile leg with no van support so we had plenty of time to kill, so I asked that we stop at a gas station so I could clean up and grab something cold to drink. My adrenaline was rushing due to my recent run so I was wide awake while the rest of van was incredibly quiet and subdued, the fatigue was starting to set in. When we stopped, I went to the restroom and completely wiped down with wet wipes before changing into my leg 3 outfit. It made all the difference in the world, I felt SO much better and wet wipes have definitely made it to my permanent Ragnar list! My stomach had been cramping up on and off during my run, but luckily not bad enough to have to stop running, however it caught up with me at the gas station. My stomach erupted violently and uttered it's complaints about the heat, humidity, and the swamp air, it was not happy with the way I had been treating it. This was not good, but I was confidant that after a little rest and plenty of fluids that I would be able to coax my stomach to behave before having to run my next leg.
We drove to the next exchange point and after awhile, we got a text from Ada saying that she was having horrible stomach problems and was having to walk, no bueno! Poor Ada had to walk a large part of her leg due to her stomach issues, but she toughed through it and got to the exchange point at the end of it all! Now it was my turn to do my half of the driving. We got through the next three legs with little incidence, however we all complained about upset stomachs, it was an epidemic!
Once Rik finished his leg, we headed to the next exchange point at Key Largo High School, where we got ready to settle down for a couple hours. Rik got a picture of the school's sign, pay special attention to the time and temperature.
|76 degrees at 1 in the morning? Really???|
There were choices between showering, eating, and sleeping in the gym; all available for a small price. None of us were interested in eating (yuck!!!), but some of the group decided to shower. I was satisfied enough with my "sponge" bath earlier and decided I would rather try to grab some sleep and chill in the van until it was time to move. I milled around some before heading back to the van, went to check out the school and of course the restrooms since my stomach was on strike. Katie and I chatted for a bit while we laid in the back two bench seats and whilst we were chatting people kept coming up to our van and talking excitedly about our pictures. I did not have the energy or desire to pop up out of my seat and make conversation, so I just laid there wishing for sleep. I feared I would not be able to sleep at all since we were really close to the actual exchange point and it was awfully loud, however I did pass out for a couple hours before people started fidgeting and getting ready to move on to our next point. I woke up feeling slightly refreshed, albeit groggy and nauseous. But I quickly became excited, it was time to get ready for our third and final leg!
To be continued...