Wednesday, December 17, 2014

24 Hour Relay for Aaron (Runnin With Spidey)

24 Hour Relay for Aaron (10-11pm Hour)
70 Laps, AKA 6.36 miles
Estimated Team Pace 9:26/mile

This past Friday, I walked into a room full of strangers and ran in memory of a man I never met.

When I say it like that, it seems incredibly odd. Why would someone do such a thing?  And the truth is, when I was put on the spot about it upon my arrival, I realized it was truly a weird thing to do. 

Let me back track a second. 

I wasn't really put on the spot, and it wasn't entirely a room full of strangers. First off, I had a friend in tow who was going to run with me. And second, I was technically just asked:

"So, how did you know Aaron?"

But that simple question stuck with me the rest of the night. Because I didn't know Aaron, and would now never know him, and yet ... there I was. So I started asking myself why. 


Walking into a room full of complete strangers is always somewhat awkward. Even more so when you sort of know someone in the room, but they don't know you at all. I say this because I've been reading the blog Steve in a Speedo for about a year now. So showing up at this event gave me some sort of weird stalker feeling in the pit of my stomach. Even though his presence had nothing to do with my participation what so ever. In fact, I was kind of hoping he would have gone home for the night before I arrived. But no such luck. 

So there I was. With my friend, but feeling incredibly awkward and introducing myself to Steve.

And internally asking myself why was I doing this.

Oh, and also feeling EXTREMELY slow. Seriously, WTF. The relay group the hour prior to us was running mile paces of 5 and 6 minutes. And they were making it look easy.

At least the mood lightened a little when the guy who just ran a 5:08 mile asked where the bathroom was.  Because when he returned in what felt like 30 seconds, someone mingling on the track said "Geeze, he even goes to the bathroom fast."

To which someone else snarked to his wife girlfriend (see correction in comments below) "Soooo... how is he in bed?"

The conversation ended with a perfect response from her "I wouldn't know, we're just friends."


Before I knew it, it was time.  The 9-10pm team was KIILLING their last lap at warp speed, and my partner was queuing up to take the baton - er, Spiderman action figure (which was the size of a Barbie doll).  Yes, it's true.  No, I'm not kidding.  That was our "baton".

Thank goodness my partner had volunteered to run the first mile, which was actually per my request given my stupid sore feet and not having run since the Mankato 10K back in October.  I had suggested she start because I wasn't sure how fast I'd be able to "run", or if I'd end up walking, and I wanted to maximize our average speed.  So I figured if she started, we'd at least be able to get 5 miles in total: 3 with her, 2 with me.

Unexpectedly, this plan appeared to have worked out huge in my favor, as it meant I would not have to show my mad slow running skills to this group of elite runners.  Or at least I thought.

(And say what you want, but if you can run a 5-6 minute mile, that's elite in my book.)

Anyway, my friend ran her first mile in something like a 8-9 minute time.  But shit.  The fast runners hadn't left yet.  God damn it, I thought to myself.  I guess that means I have to pretend I can run sort of fast.

And I again internally asked myself why was I doing this.

But there was no time for hesitation, I was committed and I had to do it.  So, I grabbed the Spiderman and away I went, with a little pep talk of course: move fast, light on the feet, don't make an ass of yourself now...


Aretha Franklin.  Stevie Nicks.  The Spiderman "baton" telling me I "have a face only a mother could love".  I was being assaulted by sounds I had never heard while running, and would likely never hear while running again.

But mixed into the chorus of sounds?  Cheering. Encouragement.  From the fast people.  They were encouraging me.

And I again internally asked myself why was I doing this.

But before I could contemplate it too long, I was done.  Somehow, I cranked out a mile at just over 10 minutes.  How, I don't know.  It was some sort of voodoo magic, that's all I could figure.


Eventually, the fast folks left.  And although I could sense some hesitation from Steve, as it seemed he wanted to stay all night, he eventually left as well.  It was down to my friend and I. 

Not too slow, but nice and steady, we tallied up lap after lap. 

And I again internally asked myself why was I doing this.  So, on my turns running, I thought about how young Aaron was, and how much it sucks to know someone in their 30's could die so young ... and leave their wife and child behind. 

I thought about a friend of mine, also in her 30's, who fought melanoma of the eye last year just to find out the week after Thanksgiving that it has resurfaced on her liver. 

I thought about the odd coincidence that on the morning of this relay, two more deaths had entered my life: my husband's uncle died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack, and my relay partner's long time family friend was laying in a hospital bed, brain dead from a terrible fall in her own home.

Despite these thoughts spinning in my head, I couldn't help but smile too.  How could I not?  My partner and I looked ridiculous.  And we were running/dancing to an odd compilation of doo-wop and 70's rock which was being piped into the gym below where they were cleaning up after a gymnastics event.  Not to mention, we were running in continuous circles carrying a talking Spiderman doll.


Somehow, the miles were flying by.  I completed my second mile, our fourth as a team, and handed off to my friend.  Shortly after our transition, the 11pm-1am group showed up (they had a large head count and were going to fill two hours worth of the relay). 

Oh great.  I realized it was another group of EXTREMELY fast runners, and it was my time to run again.

And I again internally asked myself why was I doing this.  But before I could even doubt myself - cheering, encouragement.  From another group of fast people.  They were genuinely excited to see the baton passed, regardless of my speed.


Finally, our time was winding down.  The clock was showing 10:56.  My partner took Spidey for one last time.  At 11:00.16, she finished her 4th lap.  At 11 laps per mile, and three full miles covered by each of us individually, with her last 4 laps we had hit 70 laps total.  Something I thought was inconceivable not even 60 minutes prior.

And then there it went - the Spidey doll had left our hands, and the entire group of runners took off for their first lap, welcoming Spidey into their possession.  And instead of running, we cheered.  And took photos for them.  And cheered some more.

But alas, it was well after 11pm, and my bed was calling.  So we wished them luck, waved goodbye, and headed for home.


The next morning, as I lazily climbed out of bed and started getting ready for my day, I again asked myself why I did this.

And I realized something.

Here's why.

Because I guarantee you read this whole post going, where the hell are all the pictures she usually posts in her recaps? 

In the thousands of words above, I could say a million things.  I could have good intentions to the heavens and back.  But until I show you I actually did it, does it really mean anything?

Team Skin and Bones.  We did it.

And yes, we DID do something.  We found out that something shitty happened to someone.  And we tried to make a difference.

We didn't just sit at home and click like on a Facebook status.

We didn't just say to ourselves "Gee, that's too bad."

We got up off our ass and said - they are asking for help, and we can offer it.  So we did.


So now I ask you - what are you going to do?


  1. This is awesome!! Thanks for being part of this. Speed NEVER matters.

    Clarifications: the speedy bathroom man has a girlfriend, not a wife. (She was the other speedy one on the track.) And that inappropriate person who asked "Soooo... how is he in bed?" Yeah, that was me. Maybe you were just trying to be nice and not point that out. :)

    Thanks for running with us!! And for DOING something about a horrible situation!

    1. LOL! Yes, I was trying to be nice and not call you out. :-) But if you want to incriminate yourself, be my guest!