Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ragnar recap

Boy... taking three days off from life really set me back! Whew. Work, laundry, blogging... I am behind, behind, behind. I am slowly catching up though and I think by tomorrow I will be back on track. Fingers crossed!

I want to get this Ragnar recap done though. Let me say first that if you live close enough to get to any of the 16 Ragnar Relays in the country, it is SO worth it. These races are so much stinking fun and are just an awesome experience. And, it is a totally different race/running experience from anything else.

If you don't know what a Ragnar Relay is, you can check out their website here. In a nutshell, 12 runners in two vans run about 200 miles. One van is always "on" the course while the other van has "off" time to rest, eat, etc. and one runner from the team is always running. There is a lot of sleep deprivation, a lot of running and crazy amounts of fun.  Ragnar Wasatch Back is the largest of the races, and they estimated there to be 14,000 runners involved this year. It is kind of like a 200 mile party for runners. LOVE IT.

We left here around 2:30pm on Thursday afternoon with the six girls in Van #1 and my 13 year old son, Ryan, who ran on a family team. After some driving around to track down Jenny's new running skirt from the UPS man we were on our way, and we got to Logan, UT just in time to do a couple of quick errands, drop Ryan off with Josh's parents and get to Olive Garden for some team carb loading.

We met the other six girls on our team in Van #2 at Olive Garden and had a nice dinner. From there we went and loaded up on groceries, drinks and ice and packed up the vans, checked out the start line, and then went to the parents' house of one of the girls on our team who offered to let us ALL stay at their beautiful home (10 minutes from the start line). It was the perfect set up and saved us a lot of money on hotel rooms. It was getting dark and cold so we hurried and decorated the vans, had some birthday cake for one of the girls' birthdays, and then went to bed for an EARLY start.

The alarm went off at 3am on Friday morning and the six of us in Van #1 were on the road by 4am. We got to the starting area, got our numbers and packets, went to the safety training, etc. and before we knew it our runner number 1 (my great friend Alana) was off and running at 5:15am! The girls in our second van got there in time to cheer as our team was announced and Alana took off. It was cold and still pretty dark, but the weather forecast was perfect so I was not complaining about being cold.

Everything went super well! Our team finished in just over 30 hours, and we placed 18th out of all 90 women's teams in all divisions, and we placed 11th out of the 62 teams in the women's open division.

We were done by around noon and we went and had lunch at Cafe Rio and then were home and had the cars unpacked by dinner time. Perfect!

I was really really happy with how I did. I ran the same legs that I ran last year, and to be honest, I felt like a different person. Instead of being the one being passed and being encouraged by other runners, I was the one passing people and encouraging others. I felt fast and strong, which is a pretty awesome feeling.

My first leg was a 6.7 mile run. The first mile and change was steep climb (to the top of a mountain pass) on a dirt road, and then the rest of it was crazy down hill the other side of the mountain (7% grade and switchbacks in places) on dirt road. There has been so much snow this year that the road was just cleared of snow and approved for traffic last week, and it was ROUGH. Big rocks, little rocks, sticks, mud, dust, loose dirt, grooves, etc. made for some very trail-like running. It was rough because I wanted to run FAST because of the steep downhill but I was super afraid of hurting myself too and had to watch every single step.

On this leg there was a promo by the restaurant Cafe Rio, that the first so many runners through would be handed a sombrero with about a half mile left to run, and if you came through the exchange zone with a sombrero on you got a ticket for a free dinner. I REALLY wanted a sombrero.

I was super excited to see the man handing out the sombrero as I was sprinting in to the finish line and two of my friends waiting with cameras to get pics of me getting my sombrero. So fun! As I took off the guy yelled at me that I had to actually wear the hat. It would NOT stay on, so there was me, running at a 6:45 and faster pace (sprinting to finish) with both hands holding a sombrero on my head. It was hilarious! It looks like I am holding a sword in the pic but it is the slap band that was used as a "baton" and passed from runner to runner. I was ready to slap it on to the next runner!! I finished this leg at an average 7:55 pace and was very happy with that considering the steep climb for the first part of it and the rough terrain (although my quads have paid the price!) I didn't get passed by anyone on this leg and I passed quite a few runners  (10 or 11... can't remember).

My second leg was brutal. It was over 8 miles and it was almost all up hill. REALLY up hill. Big hills. Switch back hills. Up around a dam hills. I was determined to run this leg without walking. Last year this leg kicked my butt. It was a curse and a blessing to know what was ahead of me and knowing what to expect. I don't have much to say except that it was TOUGH. I paced myself well and never walked even a step. I wanted to be under 10 minutes a mile average, and was thrilled to finish with an 8:59 average pace. I got passed by two runners (one was so fast he sounded like a train and I had to just watch him go by in awe!) and I passed 7 or 8 runners. It was a major personal victory to sprint into the finish line at the end of this leg, having conquered such a beast of a run.

My last leg was an easy three miles of flat running. Last year my body was so physically exhausted from the lack of sleep and the two previous legs (which were the furthest I had run at that point) that I literally could not force myself to run these last three miles. I would run a little and then have to walk a little. It was so hard and I had never been so tired ever (not even after child birth).  So this year my goal was to run the whole thing and to finish strong.

Woo hoo! I finished with a 7:44 average pace. My quads were SORE when I started so I took the first mile easy (about an 8:30 pace) and then picked up the pace as I went. It was about 6:30 in the morning when I was running this leg and it was quiet... not a lot of other runners on the course and not much traffic. During those three miles I thought a lot about how far I have come. My weight is down 18lbs from Ragnar last year (over 70lbs over all). My speed has improved greatly. My endurance has grown by leaps and bounds. I literally felt like a different person and a different runner. It was pretty awesome.

All of the girls in my van did a killer job. We didn't really see the runners from the other van much but I heard that they gave it their all too and their times were great. We botched up a couple of the exchanges and lost about 30 minutes on our time which was a bummer, but lessons learned.

Sleep? Hmmmm... not much. We slept about 2 hours on a high school gym floor in the middle of the night (about 10:30pm Friday night until 12:30am Sat. morning) and then most of us cat-napped for an hour or so in the van somewhere in the 3-4am range on Sat. morning. We got to shower at two of the high schools too and being clean never felt so good.

Food? Fueling is tricky for these relays because your recovery and your fueling are all blurred together. We had a lot of turkey, bagels, trail mix, bananas, apples, chocolate milk, yogurt, popcorn, M&M's, etc. I was drinking my Hammer Perpetuem all day but didn't eat a whole lot before my first two legs because I was really worried about my stomach. I SO did not want to have to make any emergency pit stops during the race and was super happy that I didn't have to. I did eat like a teenaged boy at one of the exchanges. We got to a high school around 9pm (after my first two hard legs) and they were selling spaghetti dinners as a fundraiser. I ate a huge plate of spaghetti with meat sauce, a roll and a salad and it tasted awesome.

Drama? Happily, no! The girls in my van were the greatest, and even though we were going on almost no sleep and were pushing our bodies hard, everyone got along and was so good to each other. We had three girls in my van that had never done a Ragnar before and they were all amazing! I heard that the other van had a great time and all got along well too. Yay! :)

Weather? Could NOT have been more perfect. Lows were around 40, highs were in the upper 60's. No rain, no wind, blue skies. Heavenly! Last year it was SO HOT. This was perfect. We really loved the early start too... we started off when it was nice and cool (cold!) and finished early in the day. I liked it much better than our later start last year, even though getting up so early on Friday morning was a little icky.

Ryan did an incredible job! We saw him run part of his first leg, and then we met up with him and the rest of his van (got to see Josh's parents, brother and sister in law) a bunch of times at the exchanges. He was always smiling and never complaining and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I am crazy proud of him! What an awesome kid he is.

Registration for Ragnar Wasatch Back opens tomorrow for people who ran it this year and HECK YEAH I am registering a team. BUT, this time I am registering an ultra team! That means we will have six runners instead of 12, and each of us will run two sets of legs at a time (30-35 miles or so each total). AND the best part is that Josh and I are going to do it together! We decided to put together an ultra team of three girls and three guys. Josh hasn't gotten to run a Ragnar yet and really wants to, and it is something I really want us to do together. Jenny, Alana and I will be the girls and Josh and two of his buddies will round out the team. I can't even imagine how fun this is going to be (those of you who know Josh, know it is going to be dang fun). And, I am really excited about the challenge of doing Ragnar as an ultra. Woo hoo!

Here are some of the pics! My camera was "lost" for awhile so I don't have any of our team pics from the finish line but I will share when I get them. There were lots of other cameras and other pictures taken. These are all of the van I was in. :)
This is Alana at the end of her first leg. We had to wear reflective vests, head lamps and "butt lights" when we were running in between 7:30pm and 6:30am.  Alana is great!!!

This is Ryan coming into the finish at the end of his first leg!!! How cool is he ??
This is my friend Lorrie. This was her first Ragnar and she did a crazy good job!
Yay for Jenny! Her first leg was a BEAST and she did such a good job. We need more excuses for getting away together because getting to hang out with her for 48 hours was one of the best parts of this whole thing!!

This is me during the downhill leg. The trail isn't too bad at this point.
I love this pic enough that I am posting it again. Definitely captures the fun of the moment! Right after this I put it up on my  head and was running with both hands holding it on. Hopefully one of the girls has a pic of that. :)

Vandi, Alana, Lorrie and Lauri at a snack break. These ladies are so much fun!

Jenny was the driver most of the time. She will love me for posting this pic. I told her to smile!
Alana (in pink) ready to go on her second leg!
Vandi running her second leg. This was Vandi's first Ragnar and she was amazing.
Lauri finishing her first leg. Lauri is fast and super fun.
Jenny modeling (and trying out) an awesome Active Band. Review coming soon!
This was during the beginning of my 8 mile up hill leg. I am still smiling. :)

This is the end of my 8 mile uphill leg. Now I am REALLY smiling. It was DONE! :)

Vandi, Alana, Lorrie and Lauri

And because this is one of my favorite pics ever, even though we have no makeup, no sleep, etc. I am posting it again. :)


Jen @ Run for Anna said...

Great running!! Sounds like so much fun.

Christy said...

Wow! How fun! Great job and congratulations!

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

How great!!! Congrats on having a great time and running a great race!!


Sounds like so much fun! I hope to be able to do a relay like that one day. Hmm, now to find 11 friends ...

Terzah said...

I love the pic of you on your downhill leg! It looks like so much fun. I wonder if I could find 11 people, too....not sure I'm for the ultra version. :^)

C. Crosby said...

I was going to say that I wanted to do it with you all, but then you said Ultra and instantly changed my mind. :) This is for sure something I would love to do sometime!

fancy nancy said...

Oh it sounds like so much fun!!! They already had the relay in my area but seeing this has me thinking about next year!!! I love the pic of you with the sombrero! Your team did great!!

Penny said...

That sounds like a lot of fun, but a tough race with all the hills. You Rocked your two legs of the race. Loved all the pic's. You did awesome. That is so exciting that Josh and you will be doing it next year.

treadmill India said...

It is good that he is playing doubles along with his singles because playing doubles usually improves one's volleying aspect of the game.