I think it’s too far past apologies for this – but the tale needs to be told. So, a month later, here’s (most of) the rest…
continued from Part 3.
After handing off to Margot and saying farewell to Pacer of the Year Kristina, we booked it to the next exchange. We knew Margot had another tough leg ahead of her and wanted to be there for support.
Whether #SaintBrian took “support” more seriously than the rest or just had a case of cabin fever, he asked someone to stand in for driver duties so he could run with the FasterBunny through her 7+ mile climb.
(not only is he a saint, he also looks really good in dayglo & neon sweatbands. Lucky OUaL…)
I hopped in the driver seat – it’s surprisingly fun driving that big ass van, p.s. – and towed us up, up, UP to the exchange. Good God even the van was having a tough time powering up it. We shamelessly laid on the horn for every runner we passed, hoping the beep-beep cheers would help them up.
We pulled into a quiet spot ex18 – runners were laying in sleeping bags in the grass and you could see feet propped up against the van windows around us. Pam, Nicole, and SR were able to catch a little shut eye – not ACTUAL sleep, just resting in quiet for a bit – while Chiara and I chatted up front. She hadn’t been feeling well after her 12.7 mi run through the heat, and was trying to get geared up for her “easy” night leg.
(the exchange area was a freaking party town compared to the sleep camp just a few hundred yards away)
Eventually we made our way over to the portas, cozied up under a heat lamp, and awaited Marg & Brian’s return. Suddenly through the delirium and chaos we heard “Number thirty eight!”
chacha : “Oh shit. What? Ahhh take my flannel clip on my taillight shit there they are!”
* Relay tip – have an accurate ETA and be there way before. Waiting runners are not happy runners. We had a spreadsheet (will share later) but kept forgetting to take down actual departure times. … every exchange.
The next few hours are a blur. We all took turns laying down/resting, and SR/Nicole even took on some driving duty so Brian could catch some ZZ’s. I think the hardest part of Ultra vs. “Regular” relaying is being in one van that is CONSTANTLY in motion. You’re frantically driving from one exchange to the next, and giving support at the “pass through” exchanges. The time you actually are still someone is either getting prepped to run or getting back and trying to change/cooldown/refuel. Constant chaos.
It was around the halfway point where we decided to sacrifice cheerleading for rest. The early legs we would all pile out of the van and cheer our faces off to whomever was out there killing it. But as the hours wore on we had to get selfish and use every opportunity possible to recharge. As the runner it was a bummer to pass through a dead exchange, but that’s the reality of the Ultra. Conserve, conserve, conserve.
I managed about 45 minutes of decent, actual sleep, but woke up completely disoriented and panicked.
“What exchange is this?? When did SR leave/ How much time do I have? Is there any freaking coffee around here?! Where’s that roll of TP??”
I calmed my shit and prepped for my final leg – my easiest at 7.3 flat miles through Encinitas and Solana Beach. Everyone was pretty down at this point. The smiles and jokes and cheerleaders moves were gone. Any laughter was 100% because we were slap-happy and completely delirious. Nicole’s vlog captures the moment pretty well.
At least it was daylight by now.
I did my best to wake up without coffee and shake some willingness to move into my legs. A few people we knew stopped to say hi, including a really nice girl who walked up to our van and asked me,
“Hi! So Much Cooler Online! Do you know Brian?”
Ummmm WHAT? I gave probably the foulest/most confused look of all time. In a van with 6 bloggers the LAST name I expected was to hear was Brian’s.
S: “… what.”
nice girl : “Brian, Sarah’s husband?”
S: “I’M SARAH.”
(Look at the screen shot above while you read that for the full bitch-effect.)
ng : “Oh, hi! (?) Umm I work with Brian…”
Annnnd bitch face folded up nicely and tucked into my
A short while later I said bye to the comatose van and headed to the exchange to wait for my final handoff from SR. I wasn’t jump-up-and-down pumped, but the realization that this was my final run of this incredible journey was not lost on me. I stood with Margot in kind of stony silence mustering as much energy as I could into my tired body.
The run itself was kind of a fog. I kept my eyes off my watch and just let my legs go how they wanted. My thoughts jumped back and forth between “I can’t believe it’s almost over!” and “can’t it just be over already?!”
When I saw ex27 I would have given ANYTHING to be done there. Every other pass-through exchange gave me a boost, but this one almost broke me. I only had 2 miles left and tried to focus on all of the excitement that I had building up to the race. How I knew I’d regret having this poor attitude for my final miles. How my team was waiting for me at ex28.
I was running steady but leapfrogged a while with a girl who kept fading/surging. Homegirl did NOT want to get passed. I didn’t have the fight to race her, but she finally tanked up the final “hill” and I got my boost for my downhill homestretch.
(Next year we’ll wear shirts that say “ULTRA” on the back so they know who they’re being passed by. :) )
I heard the announcer calling out our number, and the relay excitement IMMEDIATELY came back to me. I couldn’t wait to slap that bracelet onto Margot’s wrist and give her the biggest butt-pat send off. I had energy to share and hoped it could get the team ready to finish this thing strong.
Approached through the final hundred yards and waited for her to appear in the chute. I came to a screeching halt and looked around in a frenzy.
Where was she??!
I turned to the announcer and pointed at my bib, asking for another call out. I saw Mason on the sideline and gave him a pleading look to find my teammate. Where the hell were they? Was something wrong??
A ton of time didn’t pass – maybe two minutes – before Margot came sprinting up with the worst panicked look and a million I’m sorrys. All the encouraging words and butt-pats left me, and instead I threw her the bracelet and a “WHERE WERE YOU??” as she sped off.
Yes, I was pissed to have run so hard and have to wait, but sending a teammate off on ANY leg, let alone the notorious Torrey Pines, was a super bitch move on my part. I felt terrible as soon as I walked away but it was too late to undo it. She was gone.
Final installment on its way. You’ve waited this long, one more day won’t kill you ;)