How is it that in a van of 6 people coming from Seattle, I am the only one that drinks coffee?
This past Saturday was the Rainier to Ruston Relay race, and our 6 person team departed from Green Lake at 4:50am to make our 7am start time from Mt Rainier National Park. From the moment my alarm went off at 3:15am (snoozing multiple times until 3:32am), I was relying on coffee to keep moving forward. Once the team assembled at the van, I quickly realized that no one else was tightly grasping a travel mug. This is the land of Starbucks, and its just me. Huh.
Over the next 14 hours of travel and racing, there would be many jokes, pop culture references, wardrobe changes, conversations about donuts, and snacks. I have always been a fan of relay races, because the team dynamic is unique and incredible. With a typical race, you see others for short increments, or maybe you struggle with a conversation over labored breathing as you trot up a hill. In these races, you get to interact with people for a prolonged period in confined space. Pressure cooker friendship molding!
Whether it was rocking out to En Vogue’s Don’t Let Go on the radio (and subsequent replaying from youtube), recalling of the Jamiroquai Virtual Insanity music video, or inspecting the scary ingredient list of Brownie Brittle, the chatter in the van was constant, a sign of a great team. In my mind, for relay races, the running is really the secondary element of the race. The experience that each person takes home more often ties to the connections off the course than on it. I remember a few things about my two runs – the first leg had a bit of an uphill, followed by a pretty intense 3 mile downhill section, where I used the “Type 1 donut” to my advantage (for those that don’t know this term, it is the sometimes pronounced love handles that can develop at infusion sites), and barreled down the hill. My second run was fairly uneventful. I do remember, however, each exchange from our team, whether it was a pronounced hug, high five, or even an occasional kiss (between married teammates). On a day of great weather and beautiful courses, filled with amazingly inspiring athletes, it is always the random conversations that steal the event for me. That is why I strongly recommend this type of event for anyone looking for a new experience. I believe this was my 5th relay race with fellow T1s and T3s, and each has been different, and each has been amazing.
I am definitely looking forward to the next one – Ragnar Rainier in August. Camping, beautiful trails, smores, and T1s with no sleep? Get excited.
Lastly, since I got called out for using the more ridiculous of pictures for facebook posts, see a not so flattering picture of me below...