Run Now Relay: What day is it and where am I?

I'm back!
Long story short, the thing that I found out about in between running down the National Mall with the Relay team Wednesday afternoon, and jumping into one of their vans that evening was: a giant tumor in my lower abdomen.

Awesome. I'm about to go on a crazy, physically challenging adventure, and this doctor is telling me I'm basically 5 months pregnant with a muscle mass. Never a dull moment!

I didn't tell the relay folks the whole story so they had no idea what was going on, but I did make sure I was cleared to run and the doctors and nurses even rushed around in order to get me out the door in time to leave with my "flight" because they thought the relay sounded awesome. But they did inform me I'd need surgery when I got back. (really? but doesn't everyone want to go around 5 months pregnant all the time?) 

That surgery is now complete and praise the Lord, there were no complications and the tumor was benign (and I now have an awesome scar that I'm totally going to tell people came from a prison knife fight). But that's another story.

Back to the Relay. We left off with Race Horse getting ready to run. But what I forgot to mention was that right before that, as we were leaving Baltimore at three in the morning, we stop by a gas station where there is a ...unique... group of people inside. 

Race Horse is a quiet, extremely kind and earnest person, so he is unnassumedly looking for food in the mini mart when he is complimented on his "outfit" by one of the male members of the group who apparently really appreciates lycra running gear. I imagine Race Horse turned red when he politely informed the guy that he was simply going for a run, not that he normally walks around in skin-tight "outifts" at 3:00a.m. in the inner city.  

Guys hit on in the van: 1
Girls: 0

Back to the road. Right as Johnny got GPSy, our driver tells me "you are about to see something amazing..." And we all stop and watch in awe as The Race Horse easily glided away from us. 

It really is beautiful to watch. It's like he's sprinting, but he holds the pace for 26 miles, looking effortless. We'd call him during runs to check in and he sounded like he was sitting on a couch somewhere, just hanging out.

You'd totally hate him if he wasn't so darn nice.

So we successfully launched the first runner of our flight that day, after a crazy day prior, and little sleep. From then on, the whole journey felt very similar to Ragnar: disorienting. You never know who's running, which van's next, how much time you have before you need to run, what state you are in, what time it is, what meal you should be eating, etc. 

At some point during that day, the entire relay team gets a group text from Matt C. that simply says, "anyone know what day it is?"

And we all laughed in my van...but then realized we didn't actually know. And I had only been with them 24 hours.

It was even crazier for those in the van who were following the map and the runners. 

Remember, no one had seen the course in person, only maps and GPS images. So Matt R. in our van was constantly staying up with when our van needed to get GPSy, as well as what route we needed to be driving. He joked that he was on the phone with Duane, the leader of the flight in front of us, more than he was his wife. An admission that was made evident one night when Matt received a late night text from Duane that ended with "Miss you. Love you."

(Turns out, the text was actually from Matt's wife but it took Matt a very confused second to realize that.)

All in all, we had: regular texting and phone calls; flight group-texts - a group set up on our phones of only those in our vehicle; a giant group text for everyone in the relay; and then everyone's social media posts, because the buzz around this thing was being driven by that.

Talk about sensory overload. But it was often very humorous overload.

Each vehicle developed their own group personalities, and we also had some strong individual personalities, which all resulted in hilarious, sleep-deprived messages. Former Green Beret Robert began taking selfies with anyone who fell asleep in his van, in what he termed as photos from "The 'Z' Monster":

And our driver, Fred, was doing Selfies before Selfie was a word. But he called them Frotos (Fred Photo) and it morphed into videos for "WFROTO," the fake Froto news station. I ended up in one WFROTO live report when Fred and I ran a few miles together, while singing "The Battle of New Orleans" in between breaths, because why wouldn't you do that during a run?

I wish I could figure out how to post the whole video. It was special.

He occasionally did FROTO reports while driving, nearly running over the Race Horse, Leader Matt, and myself. Eh, just adding to the adventure.

Here's Fred wearing not one, but two pairs of glasses, and his up-turned hat, while driving and checking his phone. Welcome to our van.

That WFROTO report above documented my very first leg with the team. I honestly can't even remember what state we were in by that time, but I do remember getting my first ever debilitating calf cramp.


I had to jump back in the van for a bit before jumping back out to try to hobble to the end of my 6 mile leg. I had 12 hours to get this thing fixed before my next leg. By the time we stopped to eat, I could barely walk. This is starting out so well!

We finally turned GPSy over to the next flight, but not before they saw Nikki - the other female runner in my van - being chased towards them by what they believed was a homeless man.

It was Fred again. 

Fred shown here in his running get-up, complete with the dead squirrel he PICKED UP along the way...

Have I mentioned I love these people? More adventures in the next post.