Thursday, July 12, 2012

Testing limits, Ragnar style; Part 2

Somehow I got a decent night sleep before waking to what I feared would be a disastrous day.  I had packed, for the most part, and just needed to close things up and make sure I had my iPod charged and playlist updated.  OK, it wasn't updated, but the iPod was charged.  Out of all that I had to worry about, I figured I'd done pretty well.

I got up and worked for an hour or so before the kids got up.  Then the painter arrived.  Then I fed the kids.  Then we took Ethel to school.  Her last day of first grade {sniff, sniff}.  We would get home, I'd work and Fred would play, then we'd go back for the assembly, leave that early and get home so I could keep working, go back and get Ethel, say goodbye to classmates, parents, and teachers, go home, eat lunch, work, wait for the sitter, move furniture with the painter, make sure everything was in order for the next two and a half days for the sitter and Hot Dad and the kids, and finally - my ride arrived.

With respect to the last day of school, Ethel had an awesome first grade year.  She came home with a boat load of papers, supplies, and notes from the school year.  We were able to say goodbye to her teacher and several friends we knew we won't see over the summer, and got a few pictures.  To say Ethel loved first grade wouldn't hold a candle to her feelings about it.  I will foreshadow a bit and tell you that the next day, Ethel wrote a note to her teacher, through tears in her eyes, telling the teacher she missed her and wanted first grade back.  I am still trying to identify Ethel's real mother, because that isn't anything she would have gotten from me!

Back to my departure.  With the painter all set and the sitter instructed about her day and a half with the kids, notes left for Hot Dad, and myself finally signed off from work, I loaded my duffle bag and pillow (yes, I chose a pillow over a Pillow Pet) into my buddy's car and we were off to meet up with our team.  This would be the first time our whole team would be together, and most of us would be meeting each other for the first time.  We would soon be keeping company in a van for two days.  To say I was unsure of what was to come would be a gross understatement.  I'll run down the connections (those which I remember, there are many).

I am a member of a racing team.  So is Carol.  Carol runs with a group from CARA.  So do all the rest of the team, except (I believe) Natasha and Jo.  They each know someone else on our relay team, although I don't recall exactly who tricked talked them in to this mess race.  Beth subbed in at the last minute for PJ, who had to bail due to work.  Josh, my buddy who picked me up, used to live next door to my mom, and we've found a common interest in running.  I first learned about Ragnar Relay from Josh in 2011 when I was a volunteer for the ultra team he was on that year.  Earlier this year, I'd posted something to my racing team's Facebook page asking if anyone was putting together a team (Josh and I having already agreed to be on a team together for 2012) for Ragnar Chicago, and through PJ, also from the racing team, I found Patty, our team captain. 

None of that makes sense.  It doesn't have to.  

"Good things happen when you meet strangers."
Yo-Yo Ma

 Josh and I made our way to Sarah's house and met a few of the team members who were already there.  There were more coming, and two had gone to get the vans.  We chatted and got acquainted with each other, commenting on the nice sign that Sarah's roommate had made for us, wishing us well for the relay.  We discussed who had what gear, snacks, drinks, and shared our nerves about different aspects of what we were about to face.  It was reassuring to know that many of our anxieties were shared.  Josh, a Ragnar veteran of one relay was able to answer some of the questions that some of the others had.  The one question that remained, though, was about logistics.  Josh did a one van, 6-man team last year.  Ours was a two van, 12-man team.  We honestly had no idea what we were getting ourselves in to.

Fast forward about an hour and we were outside packing up our van.  Still, we were one team member short.  Phil was driving in from the city, no easy task on a week day.  So we waited.  We got occasional updates from him via text with his location.  All I know is that if it had been me, I would have been on the news with a bad case of road rage.

While we waited for Phil, we decided to decorate our vans.  Nobody wanted to pull the first punch, we all hesitated about drawing on the two brand new vans that we were about to christen.  What should we draw?  Who would draw?  Who has decent writing?  Where are we going, again?  Who thought it was a good idea to rent new vans to a relay racing team?

Midwest geography at its best

Score keeper, van 1

Drink recipes are key in a relay
Once Phil arrived, albeit frazzled to the max, we loaded ourselves into the vans, agreeing to stop at a tollway oasis to grab a bite to eat.  We divided up into our respective vans, and hit the road.

And so the journey began.....