Monday, June 24, 2013

Ragnar Mania

What's a Ragnar? It's a relay race where 12 people run 200 miles in about 30 straight hours (depending on how fast the runners go). Runners 1-6 ride in a van together and rest while runners 7-12 do their legs. You repeat that 2 more times til you get to the finish line. It's like a road trip with occasional breaks for running.

Somehow I ended up doing 2 Ragnars in June. The Chicago race with team Mixed Nuts flew by thanks to Jessica, the most organized team captain and Sally, our fun loving, supportive Van 1 driver. My first Ragnar experience was exactly what I thought it'd be: the fun of a no sleeping sleepover combined with some excellent running.

I'd spent the week leading up to the Ragnar with Meghann and enjoyed getting to know her better. Sarah and Katie drove over from Southfield so I could see them before they go to Okinawa. Lunch at The Purple Pig, shopping at the Water Tower and manicures were just what we needed. Seeing an American Girl collection based on the 1970s made me feel ancient though. Very surreal to see your own era captured in doll clothes and accessories next to dolls from the Civil War and American Revolution.

The Madison to Chicago Ragnar was a beautiful route. All 3 of my legs were on bike paths, my favorite running surface. I loved having so much time with Lauren and totally enjoyed everyone on the team. Christian, the team captain's 15 year old nephew, was so much like Maddie that I spent a lot of the time thinking how fun Utah would be. He was quite, super polite, didn't eat much and always answered in one word sentences. Just like Maddie!

Since the routes were so flat I decided to try for a good pace on each leg. 7:19, 7:14 and 7:22 were definitely not going to happen in Utah so I was very happy. 5 kills on the first leg and 14 kills on the last one added to my sense of satisfaction.

Here's a brief slideshow of my Madison experience:

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I flew back to Madison less than a week after leaving Chicago to attend the Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Conference. Mike picked me up at the Salt Lake City airport at 8:30 pm on Wednesday so we could be in Logan at 6:30 am to check in and attend the safety briefing for the Wasatch Back Ragnar. A huge shout out to Rachael who worked 2 volunteer shifts for Team TBD, despite being pregnant with twins. Plus she endured house guests for an extra day when Matthew threw up the morning we were scheduled to go home. I'll be paying her back in babysitting when those babbies arrive.

In addition to holding down the fort while I was gone so much, Mike created the best part of my show girl costume for the race. I got tons of compliments on it as I killed other runners. (You kill someone during a Ragnar by passing them during your leg.)

Only 10 of the 12 people for our Wasatch Back team were able to make it to race day. Van 2 had plenty of space but had to dig deep to cover all the legs. Eddie, Kym, Karen and Joanna were amazing, each taking an extra leg in addition to the hard legs they already had. Mike, Allison and I pitched in with some extra short legs. When Van 2 was exhausted, Maddie volunteered to take the hardest leg of all and she crushed it. She had 20 kills for her 3 legs, 9 of them on the Ragnar leg! Here's the description of her final leg:

Leg 34

This is it. The leg that started it all and brought “RAGNAR” to life. By far the most challenging leg on this course and any of the entire Ragnar Relay Series. 1700 feet of elevation climb in just 4 miles takes you to almost 8900 feet above sea level. The rest of your team will thank you for tackling this beast! Don’t feel bad if your run turns into more of a hike, most do!

I'd been really worried about the tough elevation changes and the fact that my last leg was hard with rolling hills. Plus the race bible and the captain's meeting where they give you guidance on the route kept talking about "honey buckets" on the course. I knew the race would be more rural than Chicago but I thought it must be seriously extreme if they use buckets instead of port a potties. What a relief to see that Honey Bucket was the supplier of port a potties and it wasn't a chamber pot type of set up for 200 miles!

I'll be adding to the slide show below when I get Karen's pix but here's what I had access to so you can get an idea of the fun we had during our Wasatch Back experience. We're already planning for Vegas. Saints to Sinners, here we come!

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Story of Us

I just posted the news that I'm getting remarried on my facebook page and wanted to tell the story that goes along with that wonderful twist in my journey.

Long story short:
  • Mike decided we had major differences and chose to divorce in November 2004.
  • November 2009 Beth decided the paperwork needed to be finished so she could move out of limbo & on with life.
  • In between Mike experienced life and learned more about what he valued and Beth realized everyone is doing their best, it's only hair, it's only money and the only constant in life is change so you might as well embrace adventure and drive some of the change yourself.
  • During November we each thought about what it would take to make a lifetime partnership work, discussed it and decided those major differences weren't so major anymore.
  • June 2010 Mike proposed that we officially become not unmarried.
  • A celebration, Las Vegas style, is being planned.

Short story longer:
Thanksgiving weekend 2004 I asked Mike if he'd made a final decision about divorcing. He had so the kids and I moved into an apartment and 7 months later I bought a house in Bloomington, Indiana for us to live in while I worked on two huge projects: figuring out who I am and what I want in life (still working on that one) and helping the National Park Service revise their interpretation and education training curriculum (the most rewarding professional project I have ever been involved in). Because it was a temporary position that depended on David Larsen's magical ability to find funding for it, we didn't process divorce paperwork in case I needed healthcare coverage at some point.

My job at the university involved a lot of travelling so Mike flew from San Francisco to Bloomington about once every five weeks to take care of the kids while I was gone. He'd rent a car and drive down from Indy and I'd take it right back up to catch my flight.

In 2007 a previous professor of mine called and asked me to apply for a position at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I flew out on Valentine's Day for the interview just to get interviewing experience. It turned out to be an opportunity to be out in the field, applying what I'd been helping build and after much prayer and soul searching, I felt like a move to Las Vegas would have some sort of happy ending.

Mike relocated from San Francisco to Las Vegas a few months after I did so he could be closer to the kids. After both of us doing the single parent thing for so long, it was nice to be able to share the taxi driving and to get some time at home on my own too. I even had time to pick up a new hobby - rock climbing!

With a chance to have some non-Mom time I started to feel like I was ready to move on with life. As universal health care became closer to being a reality, it seemed like it was time to process the paperwork and put an official seal on our common law divorce.

Mike often joined us for family dinner and after fasting in November I was particularly grumpy at the table. I was feeling like I'll never be able to quit making mountains out of molehills or nagging everyone in the family so I announced that I felt like I needed to go and live by myself. The kids could move in with Mike and I'd find a smaller place for myself. Mike suggested we talk about it in the kitchen since it wasn't the best dinner table topic.

I hadn't intended on bringing up the divorce papers but it just came tumbling out. During the conversation I asked Mike if he'd accomplished what he'd hoped to with the divorce and he said No, the differences he thought were so important at the time didn't seem important anymore. I never expected that to happen! One of the reasons it took me so long to bring up the paperwork is because I knew the closure it would bring would bring a ton of sadness. Instead it has opened up a conversation that extended over a few months. We each thought about what we needed in a life partner and discussed what was important to us.

Those conversations were unlike anything we'd had in the past. It seems that both of us needed a chance to grow and develop on our own so that we could get to a place where we're more open and honest about who we are, what we need and what we can offer each other.

Life is so amazing and it's wonderful beyond words to be sharing life with Mike again. Sometimes it's difficult to sleep. Miranda shared a Dr. Seuss quote with me that explains why:

You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.