Ok friends, so here it is. I’m usually over the moon after running a Ragnar, and I generally post a million things before, during, and after the race about my amazing team and the amazing race and all the amazing things. I usually talk about my next race and how excited I am for it to be coming.
I am, trust me. It’s just that this one…well, this one has a little unexpected twist at the end, one I don’t feel like I’m ready for just yet, but one I think I need to get off my chest.
But first, the race recap.
I captained a team for Ragnar Los Coyotes with friends I’d met through running groups, friends I’d met through Ragnar races, and one new friend I met just because of this race. Thursday morning found me excited to set out after picking up the rental SUV-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-van and meeting three team mates at my house to begin the nine hour drive south. We packed the vehicle Tetris-style with all our gear (after all, how else would four females travel to a 24 hour relay if it weren’t with twelve days of provisions?), jumped into the car, and set off on our long journey…to the corner (literally) where we made our first stop for Chipotle.
A girl needs lunch, right?
After ensuring we would not starve, we got on the road and headed south in earnest. The drive was long and we chatted, laughed, and entertained ourselves with stories of running, family, and assorted other miscellaneous topics. It was a good time (or at least I think it was) and we pulled into the race venue around 10pm to find our campsite and remaining team mates.
In the pitch black, a little worried about how to locate everyone. We knew they’d hung a blue Ikea bag in the tree but…it was DARK, so that didn’t help.
As luck would have it, we had the fortune of spying one of our troop walking near the road, so we shouted his name and he led us to the campsite.
Thank goodness for small favors.
Before long, we’d unpacked the car, set up the tent, greeted our friends, and settled in for the night. The weather was perfect and we looked forward to a great run in the morning.
Heather was up first, so after the race kicked off, she headed out on the green loop around 9:15am. The loop was 3.8 miles with about 650 feet of climbing, and we eagerly awaited her return to find out how it was.
When I say “eagerly awaited” I mean we sat around camp eating pancakes and chatting, but that’s beside the point.
Soon she returned to tell us the trail was rough. Loose sand, tons of climbing, and little shade. Walter, who had gone out after Heather to do the yellow loop (3.1 miles), was likely to encounter much of the same.
I, unfortunately, would not know because I was after him to tackle the red loop. 7.9 miles of desert misery, 1,800 feet of climbing (most in the first two miles), and trails freshly cut into the side of the mountains.
While waiting, I ran into some friends from other teams, some Ambassador friends, and some others I knew from here and there. I chatted a bit then headed back to camp to ready my pack for the loop. As I was battling some type of respiratory crud, I took a little medicine and hoped for the best.
It didn’t happen.
I met up with Walter and headed out on the red loop which was as miserable as I’d expected. I had to walk much of the route, including the first 1.86 miles where I stopped and hacked up my lungs on a regular basis. I tried to run much of the downhill, but on a bionic ankle and loose sand, that was tough. I did run miles 4 and 5, all downhill on a fire road, but that didn’t save me from an abysmal pace and the defeat that comes with understanding the last two miles of the loop to be uphill.
After my run, I came in to report out to my team how miserable red loop was and straighten myself up a bit before enjoying a bit of Ragnar village. It was every bit as fun as Ragnar villages are wont to be, and I was happy to run into friends all around. Dinner was by way of food trucks (five to choose from) and I didn’t have to run again until about 9pm.
Given the weather of the previous night, we were hopeful for a repeat performance. However, when the sun went down in the valley, things got cold really, really fast. My cough got worse, I couldn’t breathe well, and I awaited my turn with trepidation. I was actually dreading the run, psyching myself out and worrying about what could happen in the dark on that trail.
The yellow loop, it seemed, was the same route as red for the first 1.6 miles. I knew what lie ahead, and it wasn’t pretty, particularly given the frigid nature of the night.
Eventually, my turn came again and off I went. I once again proved to be the weak link in my team, coughing my way up the incline, sliding around on the sand on the descents, and finding every reason not to want to be out there. I was a disgrace, but I hauled my sorry butt across the finish line once again, handing off to Craig who set out on the red in the middle of the night.
I made my way back to camp, feeling off. Something other than the crud was wrong-had been wrong, if I’m honest, for a while-and went to bed to forget about it.
Runners came and went and due to the difficulty of the course we fell farther and farther behind. My team held up their end of the bargain while I personally was unable to do so. Green loop came up as my last, and once again I proved to be as useless as before, twisting my ankle and knee on a sandy part of the trail. I kept that misery from my team mates, however, because I just didn’t feel they needed to hear my woes. After reading this, I suppose they know, but they could tell I was sucking wind so they’re likely not surprised.
As we made our way through the order, one of our runners suffered heat exhaustion on the red loop and was brought in by the medic for fluids. We knew we had a long day and long drive ahead, so we got the ok from the race director to double up our last runners and get the heck out of there. A few hours later, in the heat and dust, our last runner crossed the line.
We picked up our medals, took a few photos, and headed out for the nine hours on the road that would bring us home. That drive too was a good time, although fatigue, lack of showers, and the coughing crud made it a little less pleasant than it might have been. Somewhere around midnight, we made our way to my driveway. Whitney, who had left her car at my house, set out for her hour drive home. The other two ladies came in to wait for their ride.
And that, my friends, is where this little tale of (sorta) misery takes a turn for the worse.
You see, waiting for me on my counter was a registered letter signed for by my son on Thursday after I’d left. From my doctor.
Who knew they sometimes decided to deliver bad news via certified mail?
It seems the odd phone number I’d been ignoring on my cell phone was from my doctor (not my ankle surgeon), and she’d not seen fit to leave even one message asking me to call. She’d just sent an urgent, certified letter I’d receive at midnight on a Saturday when I could do absolutely nothing about its contents.
This, my friends, is how one learns that the latest in a series of biopsies, scrapings, and assorted other pokings and proddings is most definitely not good news.
This is how one learns that she may not have been feeling her best because her friendly illness is back for another go around that isn’t so easily handled this time.
Yep, they cut out part of my body, they hacked on my face, and yet…I still have it. Or have it again. Or whatever, the result is the same. Cancer has set up house in a difficult fashion this time, and I don’t exactly know what it means for the long haul.
I’ve ignored it today, because it’s Sunday and I had a riding lesson and brunch and happiness to try to find. Also because there isn’t a damned thing I can do about it today.
So until about an hour ago, I just…didn’t. But now I am. And it sucks.