Well, I’m home. Where to begin? I miss my new friends. This past weekend was just what I needed on so many levels. It was fun, amusing, exhausting, challenging, and crazy all rolled up into one big adventure.
As it turned out, Colleen had a connection in Phoenix from Denver and was on my flight. Since we were flying Southwest, she boarded first and saved a seat for me. It was a quick one-hour flight to San Diego. When we landed and got my luggage, we texted John and he picked us up – he was waiting for each of us from the cell phone lot at the airport. We went back to the lot to meet up with those that had already arrived and John asked if it would be OK if I went and picked up the second rental van and put it on my credit card since they wouldn’t let him reserve two vans at the same time (because they knew he could only drive one at a time). John told us that he had it all worked out with the guy at the rental counter and to just look for “gay Ben Stiller” when we got there and he would help us. So, Cat and I went over to the rental place, found “gay Ben Stiller” right away – and he did know the whole scoop. We picked out Van #2 and drove straight to John’s house with it. Once there, we started unpacking and repacking our smaller bags for the next couple of days.
Everyone landed on time, except for Thomas – who was delayed at his connection in San Francisco, so we waited at John’s house for another hour or so and ate lunch. We were looking forward to Thomas’ arrival because he was bringing us all donuts from VooDoo Donuts in Portland. You might remember me coveting them when I was in Portland last summer. He had taken our special requests and packaged them all up for the flight. If you are easily offended, please jump to the next paragraph. (Still here?…) So I ordered a donut called “cock and balls” and it was so huge that it required its own box. The other 9 donuts fit in one box and mine took up a second box. Nice. The other box contained such gems as the Old Dirty Bastard donut, Gay Bar, etc. I will blame 1 pound of my 3 pound weight gain from this trip on the “cock and balls” donut alone.
During our planning process in the months leading up to this, Dean had designed a logo for our team “From Strangers to Sole Mates” and we had decided to have hoodie sweatshirts made with our names and runner #’s printed on the back. I love how they turned out and, wow, did we ever need them as it was incredibly cold in the dark and cold mornings/nights – especially near the ocean. Caitlin also had t-shirts made for us as well with the logo and our names on the back. So cool.
We finally hit the road around 3pm or so and drove straight north to the Huntington Beach area. We had 3 “starting line” hotel rooms which we assigned roommates by lining up Van 1 and Van 2 then put 2 people from each room so we would at least get a chance to hang out with people who weren’t in our van. I shared a room with Bonnie, Paige, and Caitlin that night. We went to our team dinner at a cute restaurant called Stonefire Grill (which I wish they had in Phoenix – it is a chain in the LA area). We sat on the back patio and loaded up on protein, carbs, beer, etc. They had a “half piece of carrot cake” on the menu that looked pretty good – not that I needed it after the “cock n’ balls” – but I got it to go – thought it might be handy later on. Well, it ended up being about the size of dinner plate and weighing as much as a bowling ball. It was HUGE. We snacked on that in our hotel room late that night and again for breakfast!
After dinner we all headed over to Party City to pick up things to decorate our vans (and ourselves) with. John made us all pick out some sort of funny hat or accessory to wear. Some of the girls bought tutus, some of had brought ones from home. We bought a bunch of paint pens to write on the vans with. And we took a lot of pictures…
Then we headed back to the hotel rooms to get some sleep – the last sleep solid we would have for a long time. We had to share beds but, fortunately, we all sort of knew each other pretty well at this point. We were all about to get much more cozy anyway….
So I have to amend my post since publishing it. Paige posted this picture on our Facebook page tonight of me completely hogging the bed that we were sharing. Too bad she didn’t know me well enough to push me back to my side of the bed 🙂
The Van #1 crew had to leave around 3AM to get to the Ragnar starting line, get checked in, attend the safety briefing, etc. I was in Van #2 so we got to sleep in a bit longer – about 4AM – and we headed down at 4:30AM to Huntington Beach to see Thomas off. The crowds at check-in were huge and many teams were delayed getting to the starting line. It was really cold too – many of our team who had traveled from the east didn’t think it would be so bad but we were all huddled up in our sweatshirts trying to stay warm. John had requested a 5 AM start (the earliest) so that we would be ensured of finishing on time and so that nobody would have to stress about their running pace. It was painfully early but having that pressure off of us made it worthwhile. Thomas was ready to run and we took a bunch of pictures in the dark at the starting line. Mine looks like a mug shot 🙂 We waited and waited and they kept delaying the start of the race because so many people were still in line. I felt badly for the runners that were at the starting line waiting to get started. The first leg was a tough one, I’m sure they wanted to get it over with! There was an official Ragnar photographer there and he wanted us to act like we were excitedly cheering our runner… how do we look?
Finally, they started the race…and Thomas took off to start us on our way to San Diego!