I'll admit to never having seen the movie 300, BUT I can imagine the character felt a little like I did after completing Ragnar DC Road Relay with team AllStar WrapStars exactly a month ago! It was empowering, humbling, challenging, exhilarating, physically and mentally intense, exhausting, and when it was all over I felt like I could do anything! 2 vans, 12 runners, 1 AMAZING driver, and 207 miles of road, trail, and sidewalk from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC. I'm STILL in a euphoric state when I think about it!
THIS MEDAL (or collection of medals) was one of the things I looked forward to the most! I couldn't wait for our team to put our medals together to see what phrase was one the back. The extra surprise in our medal is that the Ragnar logo glows in the dark 💡
Ragnar DC Road Relay is absolutely one of those things you have to experience to get it. No words can do it justice. So I'm not even going to try. I will leave you with these videos as I take you through my journey as Captain of Team AllStar WrapStars for Ragnar DC!
FIRST RUN: LEG 12, 7.1 MILES
Team AllStar WrapStars has been running since 4:45 Friday morning, at this point all 11 of the other team members have run their first leg. I start to run my first leg just as the sun is beginning to set. I'm not a huge fan of nighttime running, but I knew that I wouldn't be out there alone so it will be manageable. Only I DO end up out there alone for quite a bit of the run, I have to walk up some of the hills because I just can't see where I'm going and what is up ahead. I got spooked by a couple of cows moo'ing from across the street, and began to question my entire existence and decision to do this race 😱😱. Nonetheless, I push through and finish strong! Just in time to take a shower at one of the local high schools that graciously hosts the Ragnar DC teams every year. I LOVED seeing the community involved and supportive of the runners!
This was probably my most favorite run of the 3 legs. It was a morning run, similar to what I'm used to in my personal run training. I'd just had a 20 minute power nap, and I was fairly refreshed. The roads were pretty vacant but the route was relaxing, not too many hills, no major intersections, just countryside on top of countryside! PLUS, I knew that once I finished this leg, I only had one more leg before it was all over. The anticipation and excitement about being relatively closer to the finish line than when I started was motivation to keep moving!
This is what happens at a "major" relay exchange. The major relay exchange is an exchange between the two vans, it happens every six legs, between legs 6 & 7, 12 & 13 and so on. This is different from a minor relay exchange that happens between two participants in the same van. So between 1-2-3-4-5-6 are all minor exchanges. At the major exchanges, it's a white van parade. We check-in with the other van, and we take a small break from driving while the other van members run their 6 legs before it's time for us to run again. We get to see the other half of our team, except for the one person who is running. It's crazy because once the race starts the 12 of us aren't together again until the finish line. At this particular exchange, van 1 was just about to embark on their last legs and we were all feeling the fatigue from not only the running, but the lack of sleep, being cramped in the van for the most part, and just mentally tired. We used this exchange to give a little pep talk and to say a collective prayer.
THIRD RUN/FINISH LINE
LEG 36, 12.3 MILES
We started this race at 4:45am Friday morning and finished around 8:20pm Saturday evening! We were a little behind the time that we predicted, but I am SO PROUD of our finish. I started to run the last leg of 12ish miles, after having run two previous legs totaling 16 miles, AND after having been awake for the last 36 hours (except for a couple of 2 hour naps, and 20 minute energy boosting naps here and there). I was nervous that my energy would be zapped, and I would be much slower than I anticipated. As I got to the exchange zone, the volunteer there looked at me, very concerned that I wouldn't cross the finish line before the 9pm course cut-off time, and told me that if I got tired just to let someone know and they would pick me up off of the course. I DID NOT COME THIS FAR TO GIVE UP NOW!! Do you hear me?!? I was low-key offended. I looked at her and looked at my watch (the time was 6:19pm). I looked to my teammates and said "2 hours, meet me at the finish line in 2 hours". This wasn't a statement of arrogance, but of conviction. I WAS NOT giving up, I WAS NOT going to let my team down, and I was going to FINISH THE RACE I STARTED! I grabbed my water bottle in my hand, adjusted my waist belt and took off running. The course through DC was fairly simple to navigate, the only hiccup of sorts was that because this wasn't a closed course, I was running on the sidewalk with people enjoying a Saturday evening, which slowed me down just a bit. In the end, I finished leg 36 in 2 hours and 2 minutes. I attribute those extra 2 minutes to getting turned around right before the finish line ;) I later learned that there were a couple of teams that were behind us that they did not even allow to start running the final leg. I was so incredibly grateful that I was the last person to get through. THIS is what it all boils down to. .. 12 phenomenal women, supporting each other, and being supported by our family and community! The final finish line! *Shoutout to Lateefah for capturing the totality of this moment!!
IT'S a WRAP for them AllStar WrapSTARS! The FIRST Muslim women's Ragnar Road Relay! We came, we ran, we FINISHED!!
~Dr. 'Ali, Ragnarian