Monday, September 22, 2014

Ragnar Relay DC Race Recap: Part II

 Ok in case you missed Part I of the Ragnar Relay, you can read it here.  Part II is a long one.  Sorry!

After we ate a nice big filling breakfast for dinner, we traveled about 20 miles to our next exchange where we hoped to get some rest before it was our turn to run.

We pulled into the exchange and parking was a nightmare.  It was backed up and suddenly a volunteer started waving us away from the other traffic to a new parking area right near the exchange point.  We didn't think much of it until we were parked and ready to sleep.   There was an announcer there with a megaphone calling out race numbers as racers entered so the person waiting at the exchange would know their runner was coming.  As you can imagine this was loud and happened, oh I don't know, every 20 seconds.

No matter, I took my spot lying on the floor behind the driver and passenger seat and willed myself to fall asleep.  I am not good with sleep depravation and I knew sleep was a must for me.  I wasn't sound asleep, but I definitely slept.  Tracey said I was snoring at one point, so I must have been out.  I don't know what that "nap" amounted to, but at MAX 2 hours.  I think Diana and I were the only ones who truly slept.  The other ladies got maybe 15 minutes max.  They just couldn't make it happen.

Diana was the first off to run in the night.  She had 4.9 moderate miles.  To be honest, the hours through the night are a little foggy for me.  I think I rested my eyes the whole time Diana ran.  She returned unscathed and not eaten by any monsters in the night, so we sent out Tracey.

Tracey had 6.9 hard miles (why would you expect anything else).  She hooked up with a lady at the beginning of her run and they ran together the whole time.  Tracey was super speedy on this run and got to the exchange earlier than we thought she would.  She actually had to call me on the phone and tell me she was there.  I felt really bad, but Tracey wasn't mad.

Danielle was off for her 6.7 miles and I knew that meant one thing-- I was next.  I prepared myself for my night run and was talking to Tracey.  Tracey said the lady she ran with on her last leg was a veteran of Ragnar and told her my leg was super creepy.  So creepy, in fact, that one of the runners on her team last year actually cried.  I guess Tracey felt really bad for me and she offered to run with me.  I certainly wasn't going to turn her down.  Running in the night was definitely my biggest fear going into this.

My night was was 3.5 easy miles and for that I was thankful.  3.5 miles didn't seem all that easy to me however.  I was stiff, my ankles hurt and my stomach was just off.  I ran first through a neighborhood and then on a dark rural road surrounded by cornfields.  It was creepy, but it really wasn't that bad.  Tracey and I decided maybe the girl she ran with got her legs mixed up.   Nonetheless, I was so happy Tracey was with me and my night run was complete.  (We averaged just over a 10:00 pace).

Next up was Charlene and I felt really badly because it had been drizzling on and off, but had really started to rain.  Charlene's leg was 7.8 VERY HARD miles.  We set off behind Charlene and made our way on the course.  The road quickly became a dirt road that was VERY narrow.  We were driving VERY slowly and couldn't even safely pass runners.  On runner even got mad at us and said, "The vans are so annoying, just pass me please!"  I understand bright lights at your backside aren't exactly appealing, but there were points we truly couldn't safely pass.

Eventually we did pass him and catch up with Charlene.  Considering the conditions (rain and super creepy forest) she was in good spirits.  As it turns out, I think the leg that freaked out the previous runner must have been Charlene's leg.  It was in the middle of a state park of some sort, on a dirt road with nothing around by trees.  She was literally running in the middle of the woods.  We HAD to pass her so the other vans could get through and that's the last we saw of Charlene on that leg.

I took advantage of Charlene's longer mileage and slept as much as I could.  As a matter of a fact, when Charlene got back, I was still sleeping and awoke to the sound of poor Charlne crying.  She had been running in the rain, up a MOUNTAIN (forgot to mention that), AND her headlamp broke.  Despite telling other runners she was lightless, they all passed her by and didn't help.  I think exhaustion, and relief hit her all at once as she finished and she cried.  I felt so terrible because while she was out suffering, I was sleeping!  Charlene really was a trooper that night and gets the badass stamp of approval in my book!

Next up was Erica and she had a LONG leg ahead of her.  It was 11.1 miles, but luckily it was now getting light outside and by mile 5 it was completely light and she passed off her headlamp.  I was completely selfish and was sleeping (AGAIN) during Erica's leg.  I think I probably slept for 4 hours between the 3 times I slept.  Of course none of it was sound sleep, but it was better than most the other girls and I was thankful I was even able to fall asleep.

When we met back up with Erica and handed off to Van 1, we headed straight for coffee and food at Starbucks.  Coffee never tasted so good, but my stomach was still so nauseous.  I got a muffin and some yogurt and forced myself to eat it.  I HAD to eat, but my stomach did NOT want it.  After we ate and got gas in the van, we headed to our exchange to wait it out.

We got to the exchange and really didn't have THAT much time until it was our time to run again.  The coffee had rejuvenated me and I felt at least alive again.  We suited up in our Wonder Woman gear and had some fun with pics while we waited.  

My wonder woman pose leaves a little to be desired

Most epic picture ever 

Soon enough Van 1 came in and it was about Diana's turn to go out on her last leg.  Diana had just 2 miles leaving us barley enough time to maneuver our way to the next exchange.  We made it, however, and Tracey was off and in the rain.

Tracey had 7.2 moderate miles.  Once again I was driving and as I saw her course I was crying inside for her.  NOT MODERATE.  It was hill after hill again and I felt so badly for her.   I would have cried, but one again she was an absolute trooper.  This time she said she did NOT want to see another hill, but she didn't complain.

Tracey handed off to Danielle for her 2.2 miles.  You know what that means right?  I was next.  I was really worried because my last leg was my hardest.  It was rated moderate and was 7.2 mies.  I just didn't know how my body would react to having to run that long on little sleep and not that much fuel.  Danielle had talked to me about the run/walk method and loaned me her galloway beeper.  She said it to beep at intervals of 1:30 and 30.  That means I would run for 1:30 minutes and walk for 30 seconds and repeat that for the duration.  I took the beeper "just in case."

When I started off on the run it was raining and it was kind of miserable.  My body hurt and didn't feel up to running.  I was at just about the mile mark I decided I would adopt the Galloway method and turned on the beeper.

It stopped raining and the run/walk method was really working for me.  I was cursing on my runs (running 9:15 to 9:45 pace depending on terrain) and walking my 30 seconds.  I was running toward those walk breaks.  It was almost as though I was thinking if I ran faster my walk break would get here sooner.

I got to see some beautiful sites along the way, I felt so spoiled by my leg.  Once again, I was on a paved pretty much flat trail and the other girls had suffered so much on their legs.

As the end of my run came nearer, I kept passing this one guy.  I'd pass him, then I'd walk and he'd pass me and so on and so forth.  It was aggravating for me and for him I'm sure.  I told him of my method and tried to encourage him to join me.  He said, "I wish I could just get a consistent pace and keep with it."  Well, that obviously wasn't working for him.  Eventually on one of my run intervals I really kicked it in and lost him.  He was finally behind me and we were no longer playing leap frog.  

I was so happy this whole leg.  Happy knowing I was going to survive.  Happy that I chose run/walk and it was getting me through without making me hate it.  I was actually enjoying myself.  Now don't get me wrong,  I was ready for it to be over, and soon it would be.  

As soon as I could see the finish line, I stopped the run/walk method and just ran.  I was extremely anxious to get there.  I kicked it in pretty much as hard as I could.  Who knows what that was at this point.  Just under 10:00 miles or so.  

As I'm coming in, what do you think happened?  You guess it.  That SOB I'd been leapfrogging was coming up on me.  I really did not want him to pass me. Once again, I was sprinting with some dumb dude by my side.  Ha! 

Despite my efforts, he came in right in front of me.  Oh well!

The good thing was, I was finished.  I had completed my legs and successfully run 16.6 miles!  

I was as happy as I look
With my legs complete, all the stress was over and I was just downright happy.  I was reveling in the experience and I was just overwhelmed by what I had accomplished.  

Charlene had 4.4 miles left and she knocked them out quickly with her friend (who also was our driver).  

Christyn (drive), Charlen, Danille, Diana, Susan, Tracey 
Erica was out on her last leg, 4.6 miles.  So we headed to the finish area where we would meet Van 1 and all run in together.  

It was such an invigorating feeling to run in together.  12 ladies, all busy as moms and/or their careers, but we ran 199 miles in 35 hours with little to no sleep.  To be honest, it's empowering.  I was truly inspired by each and every one of these wonderful ladies.  

Doing a Ragnar Relay isn't something you just put behind you.  At least I don't.  I feel like this race will stay with me forever.  I will feel forever bonded to these ladies, especially the ladies of Van 2.  Thank you to each an everyone of you: 

To Diana: You make me laugh!  Who doesn't want to laugh while going through something like this? You also ALWAYS have a smile on your face and have such a positive attitude. I love that about you. Thank you for brinfing both to our Van. 

To Tracey:  As ALWAYS you are my hero, my inspiration.  I stand in awe of you and everything you can accomplish and with such ease.  You are a warrior my friend and someone I look up to with such admiration.  

To Danielle:  You have such a positive attitude and are the constant listener and encourager.  You lift everyone up when they need it and help everyone to remember just how amazing they are.  Your attitude should be contagious.  

To Charlene:  The thing that comes to mind is "trooper."  You were dealt a bad hand and you pushed through.  I think you surprised even yourself with how strong you can be.  Never forget that night and how you sister (ALL YOU, ALL ALONE) pushed through and made it.  You, my friend, are a BAD ASS MOTHER RUNNER!  

To Erica:  Sweet, quiet Erica.  You are so easy going.  You never let out a negative comment, never complained, never even asked anyone to move over.  You're a quiet leader, but someone I learned so much from over the 2 days we spent together.  Thank you for being YOU!  

Wow Ragnar DC.  Ladies, we can say remember when.  Our FIRST, but not our last!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ragnar Relay DC Race Recap Part I

I realize it's taken me a long time to write this post and I'm sorry.  It's just that I wanted to do it justice, so I wanted to wait until I really had time.  So here goes... if it gets too long, I'll split it into two parts.  

Our team (#thehashtags) was made up of 12 people spit into 2 vans.  My van was van #2.  Van #1 started the race at 6 am on Friday morning.  We decided to drive to our first checkpoint Friday morning.  So we got up nice and early and were on the road by 6 am.   It was still dark when we all loaded into what would be our home for the next 36 plus hours.  


Tracey and Charlene 

Diana, Danielle and Me (We hadn't picked up Erica yet) 
 I worked on decorating our van as we made our way to Cumberland, MD and had it looking pretty spiffy by the time we arrived.  The #hashtags were officially ready to do this thing.

We got to the first exchange where Van 1 would hand off to us in plenty of time.  We went through the safety instructions and got our bibs and such.  It was becoming real.  We were about ready to start this adventure.

Erica, Tracey and I are all part of the "I Run 4" community.  Basically we all have "honorary runners" who can't be as mobile as we can and we dedicate our runs to them.

Erica for Maddie, Susan for Jenna and Tracey for Gregory

This race was a big deal and there were lots of miles dedicated to our sweet honorary runners.

We hung out for a little while before Van 1 arrived letting us know their last runner was on her way in.  Diana was the first runner in our van, and we sent her on her way to 7.9 VERY HARD miles.  It was so exciting to get started and we quickly headed out so we could grab a spot and support Diana on her route.  

Poor Diana, her first leg was very difficult with steep, steeps hills, but when we saw her on the route, she said, "This is f#$%ing awesome," so clearly she was having a great time.

What the hill?  

By this time I realized I was REALLY hungry and needed REAL food.  The only problem was we were in the middle of nowhere.  We decided to just go to the next exchange an then deal with eating after that.  We pulled up to a Citgo gas station and I was no hopeful about what I'd find to eat inside.  We waited for Diana and then sent Tracey on her 6.8 VERY HARD miles.

Do you see that mountain in the distance?  She's about to run UP it!  

So after Tracey was off I set out to have some food.  We walked into the gas station and I was pleasantly surprised that there was a mom and pop cafe all set up in there and they had delicious looking sandwiches and other food.  I decided right then I would EAT because I had no idea when I'd get real food again.  I opted for the cheesesteak (yes really) and some caffeine.

I do NOT regret ordering this.  
Tracey's leg didn't allow for van support so we ate lunch leisurely and then made our way on her course.  The whole time I was driving, I felt so badly.  Her leg was so extremely hilly.  People were walking, barely moving and even running up the hill backwards.  It was so defeating TO ME and I was driving it.  

We eventually passed Tracey on the downhill and she was all smiles.  If I had run what she just did, I wouldn't have smiled for days.  She's such a trooper and really didn't even complain.  She just did the work and she did it well.  I was so proud of her for tackling those mountains.  

Next up was Danielle.  She had 4.5 miles and things all the sudden got real.  I had about 50 minutes until I had to run and I got EXTREMELY nervous.  I don't know why really.  My first leg was just 5.9 "moderate" miles so there was nothing to be afraid of.  I was just nervous I'd get lost on the course.  

Danielle's leg went by very quickly (for me) and before I knew it, she was coming around the corner and into our exchange.   

And just like that, I was off.  

Right away I felt completely alone.  There wasn't another runner around me and I was already worried if I was on the right path.  I was running through a rural old town, on what I imagine was main street.  I kept having to stop for traffic lights and such and I was nervous the whole time.  

Quickly (less than a mile into it), I made it to the park and the trail I was supposed to run on.  I'm not going to lie.  I got passed by a LOT of runners on that trail, but I was giving it my best effort and it was so pretty that I didn't let it bother me.  

I felt pretty darn lucky because what you see in the picture above was pretty much my terrain for most of the race.  After Diana and Tracey climbed mountain, I was on a shaded trail.  

Old people should NOT do duck faces #wrinkles 

Before I knew it, I had just one mile to go and I can't believe how fast it went.  It felt like I had been running for 10 minutes, but 5 miles had gone by.  

I was literally 25 yards from the finish and some skinny guy come up on me.  I hear him coming and as he comes over my left shoulder, I turned to him and said, "please don't pass me."  I had been passed by probably 8 people on this leg and I was just sick of it.  He looked at me and laughed and I picked it up to stay with him.

I think he's letting me "win" 

He and I were sprinting coming down the homestretch and I was trying with all my might to not let him pass me.  Everyone was cheering so loudly and it was exhilarating.  As I rounded the corner to hand off the band, my water bottle fell out of my belt.  Whomp, whomp.  I stopped to pick it up and everyone was screaming at me, "just leave it."  I just thought, well it's not a race really (not for us anyway), but they were so into our sprint finish they were disappointed I stopped to pick it up.  Ha! 

Bottle about to hit the ground 

I handed off to Charlene and my first leg was officially over.  

I didn't have my Garmin because for some reason, despite it being on the charger, my Garmin was dead when I got ready to do my first leg.  I wore either Tracey's or Erica's the whole time and I don't have my splits.  I averaged right at a 10:00 mile for this leg.  I was happy.

Checking off that my first leg is complete

Charlene had 9.4 Very hard miles (I think mostly due to distance) and then she handed off to Erica for 7.4 hard miles.

Before we knew it, Erica was on her way back in just as it was turning dark.  It was actually a lot darker than it looks in this picture.

We were relieved that our first legs were over and looked forward to our 5 (or so) hour break and the hopes of getting some real food.  As you know I ate that cheesesteak at lunch time, but Tracey hadn't eaten lunch and she was particularly hungry.

We managed to find a Cracker Barrel and ate like kings before we headed of to the next exchange to hopefully sleep before our overnight legs.

To be continued.....