It’s been over a week since my team and I crossed the finish line at the 2013 Hood to Coast relay with Nuun hydration. I waited to write about my experience intentionally. It was one of those moments in life that I needed some time to process. There were so many layers to the five days I spent with Nuun, I needed time to go over everything in my mind. I knew that if I wrote immediately following the relay I would miss something. Like a river that’s sediment has been churned up from a storm, I needed my thoughts to settle before things became clear. Now that the excitement has faded, the memories and feelings I walked away with remain at the fore front of my mind, and will remain a part of me, part of a dream fulfilled, one that far exceeded my expectations.
On the outside, it may appear that we’re just running, and that is true, we are. Even during the actual relay, there were times when you feel like any other race or event, but much longer and with no sleep. What is different about relays, and more so with Hood to Coast (The Boston of relays) and running it with Nuun, is that you walk away with so much more. Relays are about struggle. The struggle to run your best, to stay awake, sometimes to overcome personality differences, and to get to the next exchange on time, just to name a few. You learn to stand side by side with that strife, knowing that it’s temporary, just like most pain in life.
This experience was so different because with relays you take a normally individual sport and make it into a team, a team of strangers that may have only one thing in common: running. I am not saying I did not have anything in common with my team, quite the contrary, but in many cases, you don’t, we were fortunate this way. What bonds you is your mutual love of running. Fast or slow, old or young, we all love and appreciate our sport, and that united passion makes running 200 miles over the course of 28 hours seem like the grandest vacation ever.
If you don’t run, you may look at us and not understand these events, or ask “why would you want to do that?”, I get that. I am very aware that there are many who don’t understand or empathize with what we do, but that’s the thing, runners get each other. We’re a tribe, we connect with each other in a very intimate way without having to say it out loud. Not only do you feel the camaraderie with your teammates, but you feel it with all 1,000 teams running. When you run your legs, it’s painful like any other race, but it’s also crazy (many teams have their vans decorated – the raunchier the better!), you belly laugh often (at two in the morning just about anything comes out of your mouth, and it has everyone on the floor dying with laughter). It’s a way for grown people to escape from the grind of modern life and act like you’re in high school, only healthier. Relays make an otherwise difficult sport a combo of struggle and fun. A delightful paradox of sport.
The running community has always embraced me. They have taken me in, and given me a place to feel accepted and understood despite my crazy, quirky, deep, and sometimes difficult personality. Running Hood to Coast with Nuun has taken this recognition to an entirely new level. There were three teams of 12, so I did not have a chance to connect with every runner, however in our short five days together I made some uniquely deep and meaningful connections. I say this at the risk of sounding cliche, but there really are no words to express the appreciation that is overflowing in my heart. Having been given this opportunity, I have established friendships that I am confident will last a life time. And, I created memories so out of the ordinary, they will be treasured in my mind for many years to come.
These were my amazing teammates for the 2013 Nuun Hood to Coast Relay:
27:45 – 5th in Women’s Corporate Open
Up next: a more specific post on what happened over the course of those five days.
Your turn: Tell me the craziest, most moving or greatest memory from a relay or race? Talk to me