Its taken me a few days to pull this blog post together due to 1. fatigue, obviously. 2. the sheer amount of photos my sister-in-law, Dinara and I captured over the 2 days. Hundreds. To say we were trigger happy would be the biggest understatement. Combing through and narrowing so many moments and fun memories down to just the ones I’m sharing here on the blog has been quite the task. And 3. my struggle to pull together the right words to articulate just how amazing this entire journey was, from start to finish. I mean, 12 people, most unknown to each other, coming together as a team, traveling in 2 vans, running in shifts, day and night, to cover almost 200 miles for an amazing cause. That my friends, is no mean feat let me tell you. There were of course lows, lots of them, mostly in the form of wore out legs, bouts of nausea, sleep deprivation and general discomfort one could imagine comes with living in a van with 6 people for 2 days. But there were also highs. So many highs. Mostly highs. Highs that overshadowed any of the lows. Highs like realizing you’re team mates are actually some of the coolest people ever and although we all started this journey on day one as strangers, mostly, by the end of day 2, its like we’d always been friends. Friends for years, with a history and inside jokes. Legit friends.

Some other fantastic highs from this whole experience:

- Learning that the sound of a cowbell, while in the “real world” might be considered annoying, in Ragnar world this was the sound of your van support arriving. Your teammates pulling over to cheer you on, offer hydration and yell aggressively at you words of motivation and encouragement.

- Teammate Casey (who hasn’t run in 8 yrs BTW, joined the team at the last second when another member had to pull out), learned that you should probably train if you plan on running miles for a relay. And that everything is 90% mental……except sunscreen.

- The girls in the van sucked at sharing the driving duties. As in, they didn’t. Major woot! woot’s! to Matt and Casey for doing ALL of the driving.

- To avoid future awkward wristband hand-offs, the team needs to come up with a uniquely cool slap hands type of routine for Ragnar 2019. Thats right, we’re already talking about doing it again next year.

- Nighttime running is scary, but survivable. As long as you keep the Blair Witch stories and conversations on all things crime to a minimum.

- Even in my hungriest moments, I am incapable of choking down a PB&J (Peanut butter & jelly) sandwich. Proof, I’m NOT 100% Americanized.

- You can’t swing a cat in Massachusetts without hitting a Dunkin Donuts.

- Its easier to rise above the pain, quit your whining and bitching and dig deep for every painful mile when you’re running for a cause bigger than yourself. For those of you who may be unaware, we took on this Ragnar almost 200 mile challenge in support of The Avielle Foundation. The Avielle Foundation was set up by our team mate Jennifer. Avielle was Jennifer’s daughter. An adorable 6 yr old little girl who back in 2012, lost her life in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. As a team we vowed to raise $12,000 to aid this foundation with its crucial and ongoing research, and I’m happy to report that we reached our goal. To everybody who donated “Thank You!” Your support means everything to the team, but even more to the family of little Avielle. Ya’ll rock.

But now, on with the visual show. Lots of photos to share from an unforgettable experience.

The Van 2 crew. Also knows as The Lit Bisches.

Van decoration. Gotta let the world know who we are and what we’re here for.

Avielle Foundation sign in hand and ready to slap it on the van.

A team that means business.

My pre-run strut.

Buddy love.

Team mate and fellow memory capturer, Brian.

Me, giddy with nerves, waiting to head off on my 1st of 3 runs for the team.

Everyone, this is Jennifer, Aveille’s mother and the strongest women I’ve ever met. She has suffered the most unimaginable loss, but somehow, I don’t know how, powers forward with a massive heart made of solid gold.

My cheer squad has arrived, headed by Monica.

Stripped down and ready to rock.

Wahoo! Incoming team mate Sunny, about to hand off the wristband to yours truly.

And I’m off!

Team high-5’s for Sunny.

And while I’m busy logging essential miles, the others busy themselves with selfies, sort of.

My van support has arrived, checking in on me somewhere around half way.

A little closer and you’d be able to see the desperation in my face as I near the end of my first leg.

Dinara all smiles as she awaits the wrist band and the start of her first run.

The hand off.

YAY! Heart in the box to signal the completion of my first run for the team.

Then its back in the van and The Lit Bisches are on the road to give their support to Dinara.

Here she comes.

Water bottle fill up.

Yes girl, you have the wrist band, therefore you must keep running.

The hand off to Casey.

A job well done.

Heart in the box for the completion of Dinara’s maiden run.

Van support for Casey.

A break for hydration from lovely team mate, that also happens to be his wife, Monica.

Next to run for the team, Ashley, and look how happy she is.

Casey coming in for the hand off.

And Ashley is off!

Casey gets to heart his first box.

Ashley powering through the end of her leg.

Now the wrist band is passed on to Matt.

These runs are tough, make no mistake.

First box heart for Ashley.

Van support for Matt.

The happiest girl in our van, Monica is pumped for her first run.

Matt nearing his finish line.

Wrist band to Monica…

…and away she goes.

Well done Matt.

Roadside cheer squad for Monica.

Rehydration point.

Leg 1 for Monica is complete.

Lots of support from hubby.

Later that night, somewhere around 10.00pm, we are back on the course for the night shift run. The 6 team members in Van 2, running in turns, til about 1.00am. Then the 6 members of Van 1 took over. No photos from our night run, cos, darkness. We were just a bunch of moving reflective vests and blinking headlights. But we did grab a quick team shot before running off into the night.

Somewhere around 5.00am, with barely 2 hours of rest and here we are, back on the course, for our 3rd and final runs. Getting closer and closer to our finishing point in Provincetown, Cape Cod. If you think I look rough, its cos I do. This last run was for sure the toughest one to rise to.

But its time to pull it together. Game face. Lets do this!

Van 2 group shot before we all do our last run for the team.

Half of our team are already done. Gathering to share the stories of struggle and pain.

The wonderful Jennifer, exhausted from finishing her final run, but still smiling and here to give the rest of us who still have 1 run to go, some encouragement and support.

Monica and I manage to find something to laugh about.

Team mate Brian either pumping me up or giving me a bollicking.

And here she comes, Sunny at the end of her final run, ready to hand off to me.

Me trying to roar her home.

Wrist band hand over….

…and I’m off. My last run.

Well done Sunny.

Support van in motion.

This is how they kill time waiting for me, taking headshots.

Here I come.

The halfway point on my last run.

Some of the hard working volunteers entertain themselves teaching each other the floss dance.

No photo of me at the end of my last run. But trust me, I made it and delivered the wrist band safely to Dinara.

Dinara sees the end of her last run.

Wrist band delivered for the last time to Matt.

That feeling you get when your all done running.

A heart in the final box.

Cheering on our last remaining runners.

Cowbell support.

Monica, Casey and Ashley.

Matt in full throttle mode up the hill.

Ashely in position and ready to go.

Wrist band on and off she goes!

The relief, but the pain.

Matt stars his last box.

Ashley powering along.

Support from team mates over these 2 days, was top shelf.

Ashley is nearing the end, she can feel it.

Casey is off and running.

Well done girl, put the last heart in that box.

Working hard.

Casey hands off to his fabulous wife. This is not only Monica’s last run, but its the last run for the team. The final 8 miles to the finish line.

Great job Casey!

Matt and Casey, the only men in our van and they both shared the driving duties for the team. Love them!

There she is, plugging away, getting closer and closer to that finish line.

Another team injecting a bit of humor into their run. Assholes! (get it??)

Van support and Monica in the background removing layers. Gets hot out there when you’re pounding through the miles.

The rest of Van 2 meeting up with Van 1, getting in position to cheer Monica home and to run the last 150m through the finish line as a team.

So happy, so relived and starting to realize what it is we’ve accomplished as a team.

Eager to get celebrating.

And here she comes. Pause in stride to wrangle Monica into her team t-shirt.

Gunning it towards finish.

Finally, the finish.

And here we come, the rest of team.

Ragnar Cape Cod 2018, WE DID IT!

Meeting up with family.

Medals for the team.

This was so cool. The medals joined together to reveal a positive statement.

Our medals, read “TOGETHER WE CAN ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING. WE ARE RAGNARIANS. WE BELIEVE”

Nothing but love for this team and all its amazing people. Well done to everyone!

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