A week ago today, I, along with my two sisters, cousin Garrett, brother-in-law Tim, nephew Parker and others on my team I didn't know before, participated in the nearly 200 mile running relay race that began just below the Golden Gate Bridge. Below, see our team's first runner, Garrett Hill (A.K.A. Flip Flop Runner and my cousin that is more like my brother) twittering before the gun goes off. He ran in swim trunks, no shirt, new sunglasses (well ... they looked new because he leaves price tags and stickers on everything, and I'm pretty sure they were cheap or free), and the neon yellow safety vest Ragnar requires of it's participants between the hours of 6:30 pm and 7 am. I could write a book on Garrett. He is a fascinating guy, and he finds joy and fun in just about any circumstance. He believes everything happens for a reason and that we are given many "signs" that have specific meanings. After spending the weekend with him, I actually agree.
|Garrett twittering 2 minutes before the race|
|Garrett STILL twittering 10 seconds before the race.|
Because of bridge construction, runners could only run halfway across the bridge and then the van picks them up and the team drives to the next exchange, where Garrett passed the slap band to me for my first leg of the race. I ran to Sausalito, another one of my favorite towns, purely romantic at night with a great little handmade card shop I discovered over 15 years ago store called Pinestreet Papery. I didn't have the chance to see if it was still there. I literally ran right out of town.
|Emily after her first leg of her first big race, she did awesome! She made some major milestones this trip, way to go Em!|
Garrett got Ragnar's email that everyone was required to have a safety vest. So he went right to eBay and purchased the below cutie for around $3 with no shipping charges. It was all about finances, and less about style. But if you could only see how the LED's light up and blink while screaming "Vegas!", you would see how function turned to fashion and then strategy. With a sheriff on the run, everyone always slows down to stay behind him, right? It seemed to be the best winning strategy for our team at this point.
|Em, in the coveted vest of the team.|
Below Garrett taking off for his 2nd leg of the race. Now I need to mention that he was injured through over training and running races in flip flops for reasons you must go to his facebook page or website to understand, but in a nutshell he is raising money on behalf of a charity organization that benefits children and women in Zambia, a Southern African country plagued by disease and poverty, by running over 1000 miles in flip flops on the street or barefoot on the beach). He was barely walking 2 weeks before this relay race. He nearly pulled out of the race altogether, but stuck it out for his team. At one point in the race, we passed him in the van, and he was limping like a bird with a broken wing, and yet still passing runners on his path. It was amazing, he seemed to be keeping his 7 minute mile pace, maybe it was faster.
"There are people just standing in lines for the bathrooms", (which I later discovered may or may not be stocked with toilet paper.)
"And," he continues, "there is this concession stand with locals selling a bunch of stuff."
He described bodies, pillows and sleeping bags that were strewn across the gymnasium floor, where some participants were trying to catch a few moments of sleep before their next leg begins, and others were just playing cards and talking shop. I was confused by his captivating dialogue of this comfortless camp. So I paid a visit to the gym to see all the excitement he described with my own eyes. For the next half hour, I waited in line to use the bathroom, and contemplated on what could possibly be so much fun about this part of the Ragnar experience to cause such laughter from Garrett. But the guy just makes every experience fun in his head. Truly. He is the male cast of Pollyanna. I love this about Garrett.
Garrett's last run started at the van exchange in the Sonoma High School parking lot, he gets to the start line to wait for Trevor to pass the band to him. We know he's coming, there have been calls made to Joel already that Trevor will be running in very shortly. I'm freezing and still trying to catch some shut eye in the van. Garrett runs back to the van and announces he has had a thought and has ultimately opted for a costume change. Emily and I sit there trying to figure out why a "costume change" at this late moment was a priority, this IS a race. He quickly zipped this hoody over his lower body so as to discreetly change his bottoms. He took off his board shorts to replace with his grey underwear. I'm not talking boxer shorts either, I'm talking, tight, knee-length underwear. He's shivering and chuckling the whole time he's changing. I think to myself, "It's freezing out there, he's got no shirt on and now he's going to wear his underwear, soley his underwear? He's gonna die."
He makes the change. I yell, "Okay now, go!"
But he claims the outfit still isn't complete. He then throws on the Sheriff's vest to his bare chest, and lights it up like Christmas before running into the sunrise.
|Garrett, minus his underwear costume change. He tweets that morning, "Flip Flop Runner shoots the sheriff and all he got was this awesome (pic)"|
|Just a little house in Napa that I loved. I texted Matt a picture and told him it was for sale. I never heard back from him, I guess he figured it was out of our price range.|
|Living on borrowed grapes.|
|My nephew. What a cool kid, 15 years old and running in the middle of the night, in the heat of the day, and picking up an extra 7 mile leg because 2 teammates had to bail two nights before the race.|
|Van 1, done!|
You can't see, but below is an outdoor communal dining establishment entitled "Farm to Table" in Napa Valley. There were long wooden farm tables of people eating outdoors under massive shade trees. It looked like a family reunion. The place even had a tire swing in front. I wanted to just pull over, grab a bite to eat with them and gab in the shade with a tall glass of cold lemonade. In Napa, I bet they weren't serving lemonade though. The whole drive along the main highway was peppered with these cute little places. The architecture was exquisite, but an iPhone camera couldn't possibly do the scenic views justice. I'm not a wine lover, but I am definitely a lover of this wine country.
32 something hours later, a severe Cliff bar overdose, heat exhaustion, muscle fatigue, physically spent, this race was all that and more.
|Some of my teammates and one of the only pictures I got after the race of the Ragnar sign.|
|Garrett receiving his Ragnar medal.|
The Church meetinghouse is right next to the L.D.S. Oakland Temple. What beautiful grounds to visit. To the right of the temple is the most spectacular view of the entire city and the neighboring cities. It was a perfectly clear day, so we saw all the bridges and buildings you would want to see.
We went in to the meeting house to discover that an earlier special conference had already taken place that morning. Garrett rearranged his "crap" in his bags, we took several photos, talked to a few of the locals and visitors, then turned around and got back on the bus with our transfer ticket to the Bart station. We missed church. But we felt the spirit of the Sabbath day, our efforts granted us at least that.
And all I brought home to show my kids was this amazing medal.
Whoever designed this thing has got it down. I love it.