Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ragnar Relay - Round 3

Haven't read round 2 yet? Go back!
Dan had only a short 2 mile run, so we went directly to the next exchange.  Ingrid was running Dan S' next leg and so we got to see Van #2 after missing them at the previous major exchange (thanks, exchange 18) but then had enough time to run to a coffee house before heading out to cheer on Ingrid and get Dan C ready for his 4th and final leg.  I still didn't eat anything since I knew my run was coming up and I still wasn't sure how my body was going to survive another 3+ miles.

Leg 28 - 3.3 Miles - Easy

Yeah, this probably would've been easy had it not started pouring rain again not too long after Dan C started out.  This was another short run for him so I knew it wouldn't be long until I was out on the course.  There's really just not much to say about this run.  Very wet, and up a slight incline but overall not so bad (well, except for that pouring rain part).  I stopped to take a picture of myself at the "one more mile" marker and couldn't believe I was almost done one of the hardest events I've done in my life.

You might not be able to tell but it is literally pouring rain!
Of course that last mile was the worst hill I had yet encountered, up and over a bridge... but then it was down that same incline, around a corner and up one last hill before I handed off the bracelet one last time.  I was D-U-N-Done!
Last few meters!!
Holy crap, I was done.  I decided against changing this time... I was wet, but not too sweaty... so I just wrapped my blanket around me and scarfed down the 2 PB&J sandwiches that Joann made for me -- I was starving by now, how come I didn't eat anything since before my 8 miler the night before?!  Just two exchanges to go as we cheered on Heidi's finish and then Misha who really cranked it out on her last leg.  Before we knew it, van #1 was done.  We said hello to van #2 at the exchange and then headed to our hotel for a quick shower (and beverage) before heading to the finish line.  I couldn't believe it, we were going to finish this thing!
Fastest leg yet, still 2:2 run to walk!
That stupid finish line... we were looking forward to wine tastings and relaxing except the only area with tables was in a 21 and over restricted area... and Paula had the baby, and they counted that... WHA????  Well, we weren't going to leave her alone so we settled for a spot outside the restricted area and had to sneak our drinks.  Knowing Rachael would be coming along also, we squashed our plans of hanging out at the finish line area and started making dinner plans.  Before we knew it, time to go cheer for Rachael and run across the finish line as a team.
Misha, Rachael, Dan C, Heidi, Deb, Cindy, Ingrid, Cori, Jen, Tommy, Nina, Dan S & Joann (not in pic)
11 runners (Heidi, Dan C, Jen, Misha, Cindy, Ingrid, Cori, Nina, Tommy, Rachael), 2 injured runners (Joann and Dan S were super sports for coming along for the ride anyway), and the support of our friends and family (Paula, Jon, Marcello, Vlad)... 197 miles.  Completed.

And don't worry.... we did get our wine tastings :-)


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ragnar Relay - Round 2

Haven't read round 1 yet? Go back!
We found a nice spot for lunch - I didn't give into the temptation to join Joann and Dan S in having a beverage - grabbed some ice for the coolers and headed up to exchange 12.  After a failed attempt to nap and a trip across the street to Burger King to change (and for a milkshake), it was time for our van to start thinking about getting ready... off to wait for Rachael (still feeling sick, but she did it!).  Nobody from our van was actually running yet - Nina had agreed to do an extra leg for our van and was going to be running next.  We cheered and then headed off to the next exchange to get Cindy ready for her leg.  We had a shortage of nighttime equipment, so we scrambled to get her set since we were approaching nighttime hours (6:30 PM), but were able to get everything set in time to greet Nina (hard leg for her) and send Cindy off.  Van #1 was officially at it again...
Misha, Cindy, Jen, Dan S, Joann, Dan C, Heidi (hiding)
Leg 16 - 7.9 Miles - Very Hard

It was starting to get dark as we greeted Cindy and Dan C set off.  I was next... the dreaded 8 miler... how in the world was I going to do this?!  I really had no idea.  Port-o-Potty in the dark, now *that* was fun (thank goodness for the headlamp), and then we only had to wait a few minutes for Dan who finished faster than expected.  Holy crap, it's my turn!  I ran across the street to grab the bracelet from Dan, which was a particular shade of nasty at this point from all the sweat, and I was off.
Can you tell how nervous I was?
This leg had one turn at the beginning and then was just about 8 miles of a straight shot down the road.  Up a long hill, which I would've complained about, but was nowhere near as steep as what Heidi and Cori encountered... down a hill, up a hill, wash, rinse repeat... I was in complete darkness and freaked out every time I heard something in the woods or the one time I almost stepped on a huge raccoon... I think it was dead?  Then it started raining.  Just a drizzle, so not so bad, but it steadily increased as I went on.  I saw my van crew twice again... it really helped break up the run.

OK, so now it's dark.. and raining.. and getting cold.. what had I gotten myself - and 12 of my friends - into?!  There were long stretches of road where I didn't see anyone, except the occasional oncoming car that I hoped wouldn't slip and veer into the shoulder of the road I was running on, given the slick conditions.  From time to time, a runner would pass me, and was always so encouraging.. but then they'd disappear into the darkness ahead.  Holy shit balls, was this ever going to end?  At one point, I was running through a town with random drunks walking around on the street, and I realized these were areas that I wouldn't feel comfortable walking alone in during the daytime hours!  Finally, the "one more mile" sign and I knew I'd be able to continue the intervals (which for me is a big deal.. the idea of walking the whole thing occurred to me more than once).  It was really pouring at this point so there weren't many people in the exchange.  Even though she was only one of 3 people, I didn't even see Heidi until she announced herself... I handed off the bracelet and watched her head out into the night.  I did it, the dreaded leg was over... so freaking relieved.
Managed to keep up with 2:2 run to walk ratio :-)
As I hobbled back to the van I noticed all kinds of things on my body were hurting.  I climbed into the back seat of the van (the requirement for the runner who just finished) and just sat there for awhile, cold and wet but happy that was over.  I changed en route as we stopped to cheer for Heidi, and I could barely climb out of the van when we arrived at the next exchange.  There was a pizza shop there that Joann and Dan S stopped in for a snack, but I just was not hungry at all and couldn't find an appetite.  We stood in the rain as Heidi ran in and sent Misha off... this was the last leg before a much-needed nap.  We were all exhausted.

It did clear up for a bit of Misha's leg, but was pouring again as we got to the next major exchange, so we didn't really see much of Van #2, and only got a quick glimpse of Ingrid as she ran out to meet Misha for the exchange.  We went looking for bathrooms which were closed for cleaning.  How convenient, no matter, we will just go to the next exchange for bathrooms and naps.  This brings us to Exchange 18.

Not much positive to say about exchange 18.  No bathrooms.  No insides.  Still raining.  Joann, Misha and I opted for a group of trees for our pee break versus walking a quarter mile down the path to hopefully find some port-o-potties.  Time to get some shut-eye... except it's real stuffy in the van and we can't keep the door open without keeping the light on.  Then the smell starts permeating the van.  We had a rule that as you finish a run, you change and put your sweaty, dirty clothes into a Ziploc bag to contain the smell, only someone (ahem.. Cindy - love you!) failed to adhere to this rule.  Neither Joann nor I got one wink of sleep (ok, maybe ONE wink), tried walking around a bit... my knee hurt pretty bad at this point (I think I was running odd b/c of my injured foot) and I wasn't sure how I was even going to do 3.3 miles the next morning?  Ugh, time could not pass quick enough to get away from exchange 18.  Finally it was daybreak (and it stopped raining) and time for Dan C to head to the exchange point (about half mile away!) and for me to start looking for Rachael (she looked much better this leg).  Van #1 was off for our final legs of the relay!
Rachael, Tommy, Deb, Cori, Cindy, Jen, Nina

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ragnar Relay - Round 1

[This is a long race report, divided into 3 sections... be sure not to miss the next 2 pages!]

What is a ragnar relay?  Well, it's when you get 12 people together to form a team and then you each take turns running legs of varying lengths for ~30 hours straight, right through the night, to end up at your destination.  You get 2 vans, one with runners 1-6 and the other with runners 7-12.  As each runner in your van goes, you provide support and cheer.  After you run, you hop in the van, change your clothes as you're supporting the next runner.  After the last runner in your van goes, you hand off to the next van and you have about 5-6 hours to rest before you start all over again.  Ideally, each person runs 3 times.

I say "ideally" because our team had some injuries and we had to shuffle some things around a bit.  On our team, 5 people had to run 4 legs and then Cindy jumped in to help out on the final stretch that was missing.  This means that 6 people were running over 20 miles (a couple had 20+ mile portions with only the 3 legs).  With my injured foot, I was not able to pitch in any extra, and my portion totaled 17.1 miles.  This was a bucket list race that required a ridiculous amount of planning and organizing, and I wasn't entirely sure we were going to pull it off.... but we did.
And this is just the stuff for the runs and the van...
Heidi and Dan C had been out west on vacation for a couple weeks prior and picked up van #1 and went grocery shopping for the team.  Paula and Tommy both made it out to San Francisco by Thursday afternoon and were able to pick up van #2.  Without these vans, it would've made the race impossible.  Most of us cut it really close, not arriving in SFO until after 9:00 PM the night before the race.  Collect baggage, taxi to hotel, distribute running items in proper bags, and try to sleep for a few hours before van #1's 3:30 AM wake up call.  We arrived at the start at 4:45 for check-in and it was dark, chilly and a little misty (great, our running shoes were already getting wet and we hadn't even started yet!).  Gear checks, safety briefing, flags, t-shirts, bathroom break... and with a few photos, Heidi was off for leg one for team Mamma's Fools!
Dan S, Joann, Dan C, Cindy, Heidi, Misha, Deb, Jen
Leg Four - 5.9 Miles - Moderate

Wait... it was all fun and games cheering for Heidi who was the 3rd finisher for that first leg, and Deb going up a super long hill and over the Golden Gate bridge, but you're telling me I actually have to run also?  I quickly get ready as Dan C runs.  We park van #1 and I walk over to the exchange with all my night gear on (7:30 is the cut off and we expected Dan around 7:28.. ugh).  Here goes nothing... about 25 yards into the leg, I tossed my night gear to Joann since the clock hit 7:30 and I set into my 2:2 intervals.  My van knew that I'd be awhile so they went off to find coffee while I meandered through neighborhoods and trails.  The 3 runners before me had very scenic routes... mine was OK, nothing to sing about, though there were some areas that were quite pretty when the trail veered away from the road. 

Finishing up leg #4!
My cheer squad stopped for me twice, gave me water and applesauce.  Seeing them was a much appreciated break.  There were some hills, but nothing too horrific.  On my way down the last mile, I noticed a stray dog that started following me.  Uh oh... I was not going to leave this dog here in danger.  My van would certainly understand :-)  Luckily though, after a couple minutes, the dog turned back and ran into a yard.  Phew.  Less than a mile to the next exchange... handed the slap bracelet to Heidi and I was done.  That wasn't so bad.. and even better, there were inside bathrooms to change in, and Joann had grabbed me a scone at their coffee stop.  Awesome.  Off to the next exchange!
Maintained 2:2 run to walk ratio the whole way.
We weren't technically supposed to see Van #2 until exchange 6, but since we had Deb (who filled in for Dan S's first leg thanks to his stress fracture), they had to pick her up and get to their check-in.  Poor Rachael is sick and feeling awful... will she be able to run?  We said our hellos, and I walked Misha up to the exchange point while the rest of the crew decorated the van.  Where is Heidi?  Dan C got a text from her that she was struggling... turns out the hills were far more than we anticipated.  Heidi finally made it in (her 2nd leg of the day since she did the first for Joann) and Misha was off.  We made our way to the next exchange, and after a brief visit to the medical tent after Cindy hit her head on the bleachers (please, no more injuries!!!), we collected Misha and saw Van #2 off for their first set of legs.... time for lunch!!