There are at least 11 stages of the overnight relay:
Stage 1 – Excitement, when you are first recruited or assembling the team, and discover the roster.
Stage 2 – Apprehension, as you begin to anticipate the effort required for the legs you were assigned
Stage 3 – Stress, when you start to wonder when you’ll have time to pack and get everything ready, and if you’ll remember everything.
Stage 4 – Anxiety, when you leave your house empty for at least three days.
Stage 5 – Acceptance, when you realize you’ve prepared as well as you can and it’s time to load up and head to the start.
Stage 6 – Exhilaration, as you set off on your first leg.
Stage 7 – Discomfort, as the weird diet, unusual meal schedule, and lack of sleep begin to catch up with you.
Stage 8 – Delirium, as the rest of the relay plays out in a blur.
Stage 9 – Happiness, when you cross the finish line with your teammates.
Stage 10 – Relaxation, as you hang out with the team post-race.
Stage 11 – Zzzzzzzz
There are plenty of things I’ll miss about overnight relays, and many I won’t.
Things I’ll miss:
• All my teammates, past and present.
• The creative team names and van decorations.
• The enthusiasm and support of all the runners, friends and strangers alike.
• Wearing my “Death March” skull-and-crossbones socks on my final leg
• The constant stream of fit, cheerful women passing by the van window.
• Being cheered on by fit, cheerful women.
• Having fit, cheerful women in my van.
• Sharing my Funyuns with my van-mates.
Things I won’t miss:
• Thinking I’m in the final stretch of my night leg, then looking at my watch and realizing I’ve only been running seven minutes.
• No matter how carefully and methodically I pack, once the relay starts whatever I’m looking for is inevitably hidden somewhere in the nethermost regions of my duffle bag.
• Changing clothes in a sweltering Port-a-Potty.
• Doing anything in a sweltering Port-a-Potty.
• All the cliches you hear at every exchange: “Who has the clipboard?”, “Is that him/her?”, “Oh I guess not, it’s another runner who looks nothing like ours, and is wearing completely different clothes.”
• Hearing myself uttering those same familiar cliches.
• Having to choose between two or more teams of fun people, and regretting not being able to run with all of them.
I’ll miss sticking to a 24-hour diet of Sun Chips and Gummi Bears; I won’t miss the sensation that Satan is making macramé with my intestines and playing the bagpipes with my bowels – simultaneously!
I won’t miss other teams’ vans rolling into the exchange blasting their insipid, obvious, and unimaginative musical choices; I will miss our van rolling into the exchange blasting our inspired, classic, and universally beloved tunes.
I won’t miss the stress and anxiety, but I will miss the people. And I’ll miss writing about it all for Run Oregon, so it may end up being a short retirement after all 😉