The Run Now Relay: D.C. to Baltimore

Back to The Race Horse.

The Race Horse's actual name is Johnny. AKA "Johnny Marathon." He ran a marathon a day for 6 days, BEFORE he ran Boston in less than half the time it took me to finish my marathon. He literally ran across the entire state of Delaware for us. He is a machine.

So when I started to pre-apologize for being slow when I joined my van, the driver waves me off with "we've got a horse in here so fast, that it won't make a difference how slow you are."

And it turns out, I didn't have to run too far, either, thanks to the Race Horse. If you do math better than I do, you'll figure out that if each flight needs to complete 30 miles a leg, and Johnny runs 26 miles a leg -- there are not many miles left for the other 4 runners in our van.

Granted, different flights started shuffling mileage around to spare anyone needing a rest, so I did end up being able to contribute miles along the route. But not doing anything too crazy was fine with me, because the day we left, I found out I had a 4-6 pound benign tumor in my abdomen that would need to be taken care of fairly quickly. Perfect timing! Thankfully, I was still cleared to run, but I felt sluggish and slower than ever. I was basically 6 months pregnant, in the words of my doctor. Excellent timing for an endurance challenge! 

But I'm getting ahead of myself again. Let's start in D.C. 

The "flights" rolled in one by one to join the big group "fun run" I organized with local running groups and the local Tennessee State Society. Me and the relay runners that I knew were all bouncing around excitedly, as they told me a little of the trip thus far. We do the fun run, take some photos in front of the Capitol, then the runner who had the next leg (Former Green Beret Robert from my Ragnar) took off to continue our trek to Boston.

Since my van didn't have legs for several hours, they took off in search of food, while I:

went to get medical tests done.

Exactly what you want to do right before joining a crazy road trip with lots of running involved!

So yeah, I was definitely having issues but like I said - I was cleared for running. In fact, my doctors were all rooting for my trip so they scurried around to get me all fixed up in time to jump in my van as it drove past my house. I was told "yeah, we'll need to schedule surgery when you get back..." as I raced out of the doctor's and back home to grab my things, texting ETAs the whole time to Matt who had no idea what was going on. All he knew was that our van needed to head north, with or without me in it.

I raced out of my apartment and literally stood on the corner of the street, bags in tow, fleece sleeping bag unfurled and thrown over my shoulder like I was Linus from Charlie Brown on my way to summer camp. I might as well have been sucking my thumb when my flight pulled up and whisked me away to Baltimore, where our hotel was awaiting us.

This was about 5:30p.m.

Yes. We were going to sleep. Because the relay team was already on the erratic schedule of "if there's a bed, we should sleep, because who knows when we can do that again." So I had to force my body to jump into that rhythm as well, because I was now officially one of the runners on the route.

How did we have a route? An engineer on the team had painstakingly mapped it. From Cleveland, Tennessee all the way to the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Many of the runners had never even seen some of the cities we'd go through. 

Which made me nervous. Having lived in D.C., I know there are parts of large cities where some emergency response folks won't even go. And you don't know that info unless you live there. So not that I didn't have faith in the planners, but I was a bit nervous about this team running day and night through Baltimore, Philly, New York... 

Not to mention traffic. Our hope was that the vehicles could stay right with the runner, but if you've ever been on a major highway on the east coast, or on one-way streets in suburbia, you know that can't always happen.

We ended up having runners on the Jersey Turnpike, people. But more on that later.

As my van leaves DC, we drive up to a police scene right off the bat. We see cops standing around a man down on the ground, hand behind his back. As Matt starts to take a photo, one of the police officers notices us and starts to lift his arms. Just as I think he's going to gesture to Matt to put the camera away, he puts his arms up in a "yeah, I'm cuffing a perpetrator on the ground, woot woot!" pose. Welcome to Maryland!

We arrive at a hotel in Baltimore and I set my alarm for this: 

Yep, I'm officially on the route for sure.  

I wake up, shower (since I wasn't able to between the fun run, the doctor, and jumping in the van) and I go to dry my hair:

and the hotel hairdryer explodes in my hands.

Like, starts smoking, looks like it's on the edge of spewing a fireball into my face, kind of explosion. 

RIP, thing that tried to singe my hair.

Well, looks like Murphy's Law jumped into my luggage! This will be fun, van teammates!

We all meet in the lobby and throw our stuff back in the van, and get ready to get "Gypsy"

GPSy is our GPS. She is tracking the team's progress for those following along back home, though occasionally she gets dropped, taken by the wrong people (which is why my boss texted me at one point and asked if we were inside an IKEA....), or killed, like when the team's first GPS was dropped to the point of no return, earning one of our teammates their nickname "Assassin." (My nickname was nearly "Stalker Bait," and ended up being "Wedge." Both of which, I'll explain later....)

So GPSy was with the flight before us -- Flight 2, the "Blue Boomerangs." I never learned where they got that name, but they were considered the "Middle Schoolers" on the trip because they were so bubbly and usually were yelling and blaring music whenever they rolled up. I heart them.

The flights stay in order, so we were always right after the Boomerangs and right before flight 4, the Green Machine. (each flight had a number and a color. We were the Mellow Yellow Submarines.) 

The Green Machine held my friend Matt C. who nearly made my nickname "Hoss," for the sole reason that when he called a guy that, I informed him that he should never refer to me -or any female ever - that way. So of course he immediately started referring to me that way.
Back to the road. We met up with Flight 2 around 3:00am-

And made the hand-off of GPSy to The Race Horse.

The team doing a quick interview with our travelling
documentary team, as The Race Horse prepares in the background
More in the next post.