Let’s see, where were we…ah yes, I had just run my first leg in 90 degree heat, was convinced I was dying of heat stroke and had passed the torch to our next runner Ryan who had arguably one of the hardest legs of the race. Of course he nailed it, so I decided I should probably keep quiet about how hard my silly 4.4 mile flat run was — but you guys I really wanted to whine OMG THAT WAS HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARD. Luckily though, like I said, I had worn a tank top. I was glad I wasn’t running in this whacky lizard get up. This is our teammate Grace with some guy running in a unitard. With a mask. I mean, I thought we were crazy for running in this race in this heat, but we weren’t THE CRAZIEST people on the trail by any means!
So our runners 10, 11 and 12 headed out to do their runs (ROCKSTARS, by the way — they had some challenging legs with respect to both distance and terrain — not to mention heat — HAVE I MENTIONED THE HEAT YET?) and then it was time to meet up with our other Van at the next Van exchange. The exchange was at the Marin Cheese Factory, which is ironically a really relaxing place that Garrett and I love to go to when we are in the mood for a day trip.
It’s beautiful, charming and fun, and by the time we got there I don’t think any of us felt beautiful, charming OR fun. But we cheered our team on — Carolann (Runner 1) was back out on the course and then it was time to head to our next van exchange. We had about 5-6 hours until we had to run again so we figured we’d get some food, head over to the next van exchange at the Golden Gate bridge and then get some sleep. Things only SORT OF went as planned.
First we drove closer to SF. Our exchange was at the bridge so we figured we’d just find a place to eat that was local. Despite all of us with our fancy, scmhmancy iPhones and apps we couldn’t really find a suitable location. Also — 7 peoples opinions, cravings and nutritional preferences to contend with — so, you know how that goes. We finally found a random restaurant that seemed normal — I can’t even tell you what city we were in because, also? We were all sleepwalking at this point. It was about 7:30 and we had been up for 15 hours and running in the heat with no showers, so um…geography? Not really at the forefront of our minds — but the line was really long. Our time was limited, so we just headed to some other place a few doors down and grabbed a table. I probably have a receipt somewhere that would tell you the restaurant, but rest assured it was not worth remembering. We shared a table with a family that had a rambunctious child, we were right by the bathroom, and all of us were comlete zombies. BUT THE BREAD WAS GLUTEN FREE! (I’m reaching for silver lingings here.) At this point we were so tired that we had to apologize to our waitress for how low energy and anti-social we were. We explained what we were in the middle of doing and she was like “Ah, makes sense. Hey, you don’t smell like runners!” so, you know, that was nice.
We finally got back on the road and drove down to the bridge where we were supposed to have all sorts of time for sleeping, right? But a few hours had already gone by when we were traveling and eating and then traveling again, so by the time we got to our destination there was only about 2.5 hours until it was time to run again. We tried to get some shut eye, but the attempt was pretty laughable. There were CRAZY (like 40 mile an hour winds) up at the bridge so our van was a rocking (and we sure as shit didn’t want ANYONE to come a knockin!) and the van was FULL. Person in the driver seat. The passenger seat. Both captains chairs in the back seat. And then there were 3 of us in the back bench seat. Garrett on my left. Ryan on my right. AND ME RIDING BITCH! Have you ever tried to get a few hours of sleep while squeezed on a bench seat between 2 other people? I DO NOT RECOMMEND. Look, I can’t even relive those few hours of exhaustion without having some serious PTSD but I will just say this…VERY LITTLE SLEEP. And then it was time for Garrett to get ready to run, because, again, he was the first runner out of our van.
The thing about night runs are that they require a whole mess of different gear — headlamps, reflective vests, flashing butt lights — the works! It was our first time running in all that stuff so we were a little nervous. Garrett again took the hand off from Gina (who had just run over the Golden Gate Bridge in the middle of the night: fun!) and he was off to go 6 miles through the streets of San Francisco, and we would meet him at the next runner exchange. (PS, thanks for the photos Gina!)
Except uh, we didn’t…because we got lost. Call it sleep deprivation or crazy SF streets, but in the time it took for Garrett to go 6 miles on foot, we could not DRIVE to the next location. Things were about to go DOWNHILL. So we were late to pick up Garrett, which meant he had to stand around and wait for Grace to do the pass-off. When we finally showed up, Grace started running and I immediately became nervous about running my night leg because I was next. This was my “hardest” leg as far as difficulty rating, plus it was 6.5 miles, plus I was going to be alone, running in a town I had never been in, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. So um, anxiety. Which meant we high-tailed to the next exchange so I could hit up the porta-potties. Sorry, real talk. I was FREAKING NERVOUS. And right about when I instagrammed this lovely, and oh-so-well-lit porta potty (2:30 am, btw if you are keeping track) a man walked out and said “Sorry. No more toilet paper.”
And then I contemplated murder and suicide, both right in the same moment.
Luckily we had brough TP in our van (BRING TP FOR YOUR VANS, PEOPLE. IT WILL BE NECESSARY.) but right as I went to grab it the van heard from Grace, who was on course, but whose head lamp had just run out of batteries. The van had to leave to go give Grace replacement batteries so I had to grab TP and ALL OF MY FREAKING RUNNING GEAR at once. It was trial by fire and all I can say is I’m glad Garrett was there with a level head because my mind was otherwise occupied with thoughts of “Hey Holly, don’t shit your pants. Mmmmkay?” It was a low point, you all. A really really low point.
But hey — then it was time to go run 6.5 miles. Just like that. It was so freezing out there that I couldn’t even stand at the exchange without Kalie’s super awesome leopard snuggie (Also add to your packing list: LEOPARD SNUGGIES) but then it was my turn, so I let the snuggie go, put one foot in front of other and ran my tail off! And you guys, NO JOKE! It may have been the best singular run of my whole entire life. For about 4.5 miles. It was cool, it was peaceful, and I felt alone but since a runner would pass me every once in a while I knew I wasn’t like ALONE ALONE, you know? I was listening to the best playlist ever (which I will TOTALLY publish shortly) and I was getting in my groove. Then, during the last 2 miles everything sort of got wonky. All of a sudden those crazy gusts of wind that we were feeling at the Golden Gate came back with a vengeance and I felt like I was running into a wind machine — only at the moment I looked much less supermodel and much more Chris Farley yelling “Luuuuuuuuke. I AM YOUR FAAAAAAAAATHER.” One minute I was running a 12 minute mile and the next minute (with no change in effort or “speed”) I looked down at my Garmin and I was running a 16 minute mile. CRAZY headwinds. Mentally, it was brutal. But I huffed and puffed my way to what I thought was the runner exchanged and went to do my hand off…
…but my team wasn’t there. It was a really crowded exchange and I was looking all over for my team but I couldn’t find them anywhere and I was so tired and disoriented that I finally looked at one of the volunteers and said “Am I in the right place” and she looked at me and said “Up the road and to the left.” Ah, ok. This wasn’t the runner exchange. That made sense as to why my team wasn’t there. So I started running again and got half a mile down the road and the course started to turn and I thougt back to the map of my course and my leg of the race HAD NO TURNS. All of a sudden all of these speedy, fresh legged runners were passing and just flying by me. It was then that I realized that the volunteer had given me directions for the START of the following leg. The one my teammate was supposed to be doing when I handed our stuff off to him. SO I HAD TO RUN BACK. And you guys, I just started crying. I don’t know why…tired/disoriented/realizing that I had to run an extra mile, that my team was obviously lost again, that my water bottle was empty, that I just wanted a hot fucking shower and a bed, and that I still had one more leg to run in 12 hours — all of it just got to me in that moment and I really almost lost it. HELLO, BASKET CASE.
The conclusion of this whole saga the next time we chat. I have to go sit in a corner and rock back and forth just from reliving this night to tell the story. haha