Read about the pre-race fun here, Leg 1 here, and my love letter to Nuun here.

After we grabbed Devon from Exchange 12, we headed out for food. It was late at night but we found ample nourishment at some Portland place. We did not order this as there would be no DNF in the cards for us. Heh.

No Did Not Finish meals for us.

No Did Not Finish meals for us.

Team Lemonade Van 2 joined us for the latter part of the meal so it was great to see them. My foam roller had it’s own seat at the table and why yes, I did get down on teh floor and foam roll (and I wasn’t the only one who did!). We also did that food-gamble thing you do after Leg 1: How much is enough to power your next run, but not enough so that you see it on the side of the road or suffer a Code Brown on Leg 2? Always a fun risk to take.  I got chicken & fries. And pickles.

Obligatory pickles-in-the-middle-of-the-night relay pic.

Obligatory pickles-in-the-middle-of-the-night relay pic.

Still messing with Holly.

Still messing with Holly in the kids’ section of the restaurant. Because I am 10 years old.

"You are Beautiful" painted backwards on wall so the mirror reflection tells you how it is.

What a women’s team does a lot of during a relay: wait in line in the bathroom. I love this, though: “You are Beautiful” painted backwards on wall so the mirror reflection tells you how it is.

After dinner we headed to Exchange 18 for sleep. Hands down this was the most sleep I’ve ever gotten in a relay, but it was also the most uncomfortable. In every other relay I’ve been with guys who are totally up for either sleeping in a field or whatever area has been made available for sleeping. But no one wanted to get out of the van and sleep outside this time–least of all me! So instead of having my usual choice of benches, I was looking at sleeping sitting up or hunched over against a window. No dice. I crawled in the back of the van, pushed all the luggage out of the way, and cuddled up with the Nuun cooler made myself a nest on the floor. Then, since I didn’t have to run for a long time even after we started again, I claimed a bench when our first runners went back out. I managed two hours of sleep, which is LUXURY during a relay.

My nest in the back of the van.

My nest in the back of the van.

Foam Roller: doing double duty as a pillow

You can see my feet for scale on the size of the space. And my foam roller: doing double duty as a pillow. I love you, foam roller.

Oh, those night runs were surely lonely. This area was extremely rural, so no illumination of any kind beyond headlamps and headlights. There were hills on hills, and it was dusty. But the other gals powered through like champs, and posted some pretty awesome times despite the weirdness that always comes with a night run. (also, no cell service for 8-10 hours. Can I tell you what that does to a group of bloggers? It is a wonder we are still alive, people. TORTURE.)

I have no idea which exchange or runner this is.

I have no idea which exchange or runner this is. Possibly Megan handing to Laura. DARK.

Soon enough, Lisa was out and I was up. It was first light, and I was excited to have the sunrise leg, though with the Oregon clouds there would be no real sunrise. They must sell loads of Vitamin D supplements there.

Speaking of pills, guess who forgot to take any Advil during the night? THIS GIRL. So when it came time to run, Laura graciously went back to the van to get me some, but it didn’t really kick in until it was too late.

This one hurt from the first step. The van passed me shortly after I began and I faked a big smile and a peace sign as they went by. Then I settled in to just get the miles under my feet. I honestly haven’t had the heart to even look at my Garmin from this trip, and I doubt I ever will. The runner I was on this trip is not the runner I have worked to become, and not the runner I will be once I am healed, so why torture myself?

I got passed. Passed by a man from Atlanta, passed by spry woman after spry woman, passed by ELVIS. Yes, passed even by a man dressed like The King. For future reference, please know that the coverage offered by an ill-fitting Elvis suit is minimal. Oh, if my eyes could un-see…

Then finally I got straight in my head. It was sunrise. We’d made it through the night. I was on the course of the Mother of All Relays, an experience that in all probability I will never have again. I needed to enjoy this. I turned off my pump-up music, which at this point was only weighing on me. I could be mentally pumped up as any person out there, but my body was not going to respond. So I put on music that I really like (Coldplay), and decided to just enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I was on the side of a mountain. Huge conifers towered overhead. There was a swift-moving creek beside me. The lush, Oregon summer spoke of the beauty of God in ways that I’d never had the privilege to see before in person. The road was a small two-lane, but pretty much empty due to the hour and how very isolated this place is. I passed what I think must have been an athletic training lodge, and thought how perfect this place is for that. I enjoyed the weather, which is so nice for August as compared to Atlanta’s blanked of heat that lingers in to September. IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL.

Yes, part of me wished I’d blazed through this run without noticing all that. But the larger part of me is glad for the pain, because in it, I saw glorious things, and I’m so thankful that I was there.

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“The sky above proclaims His handiwork,” perhaps nowhere more so than in Oregon.

Up next: I stalk an HTC celeb, and the Lewis and Clark Trail of Tears.

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