Well, it might have taken me almost 2 weeks, but I’m so excited about this post because I love to reflect back on all the fun stuff! As a matter of fact I just might not even mention a thing about my injuries in this post because we all know they were a far cry from a highlight =)
We sure had one very cold and very snowy winter and it was great to have a half marathon to run in the new year while everyone else was home in their PJs watching TV and staying warm. It was 17 degrees that day. I always feel like running in inclement or extreme weather gives you honorary rock star status.
Enjoying some frozen Gatorade
My friend Carey was the only other brave peep with me that day and we ran together from start to finish. She’s such a consistently paced runner and I enjoyed letting her keep us nice and steady.
Carey and me braving the cold for 13.1 miles in Central Park
So last we left off I was just wrapping up with Day 1. You can read that recap here.
Now for Day 2 and when the lack of sleep caused irritability and um….for me….stupidity.
It was now past midnight and we still had a good 100 miles to go. I was really disappointed in the exchange parking situation. It seemed that most exchanges were so crowded that parking was a bit of an issue. We ended up parking outside of the exchange wherever possible and walking a block or across the street to get there. I think perhaps the field of 500 teams was a bit too high. That really was my biggest issue with the event.
At one point in the middle of the night I waited in a long line for the Honey Bucket and just when it was my turn i realized my headlamp was not working. I didn’t want to lose my spot and have to wait on the line again so I went in to a pitch dark stall and guess what? I COULDN’T SEE SHIT! Literally. #TMILineCrosser
Right after that I went to get Valerie after her 9 mile leg. It had been raining and she had lots of malfunctioning gear.
TIP 5: Make sure you have fresh batteries in your night gear before setting out on your night leg, especially if it’s a long one. And try and remember a flashlight or headlamp when using a Honey Bucket in the dark. =)
As the sun rose and we were finally in Napa the views became so breathtaking.
during my 5th leg the team handed me this delicious slurpee! #winning
Okie Dokie my friends. I’ve decided to recap this relay in two parts. So without further ado here’s how Day 1 went down and a few tips sprinkled throughout just in case you ever decide to run one of these (or run again if you’ve already done one).
First here are the Call me a CABernet runners in order of appearance:
Friday morning we woke up 2:30am (not a typo!), packed up the van and headed to the start. #yawn
We arrived at Golden Gate Park about 4am and made our way to the check-in and mandatory
safety briefing #yawn
Ragnar takes safety very seriously and requires all runners to wear a reflective safety vest from 6:30pm to 7am and the runner on the course must wear a headlamp and blinking butt light as well. Makes for great fashion statements =)
headed to check in and safety meeting
We had a start time of 5:15am. With 500 teams participating they assigned us all start times based on our average pace so that there wouldn’t be bottlenecks at each exchange or the finish (more on this later as bottlenecking was one of the negatives I felt about the race).
Elvia started us off with leg 1. We were finally feeling awake and ready to cheer her on along with some other teams who also had the 5:15am start.
Cabbie #1 ready to kick of the relay.
The first six legs were fairly uneventful. We all just wanted to get ourselves into a groove and a process.
Uneventful? How about my leg had stairs, hills and running on sand! That ish was hard!
We rotated responsibilities….When Elvia was running, Mike was getting prepared to run. Lisa was driving and one of us was navigating, the others were there to ensure Elvia got back to the van safely and Mike got going with his leg ok. TIP 1: If you choose to do a Ragnar Relay as an ultra team make sure you plan out rotation of all responsibilities. For instance, first determine how many runners are willing and able to drive (19 foot vans are no joke!) Then ensure no runner has to drive the leg before or after their leg. They will want to either change into dry clothes or fuel etc.) We were a little too lax about appointing a “copilot/navigator” and a “runner fetcher” so as the hours passed and people became sleepy and hungry and cranky no one was loving the idea of having a responsibility assignment and were less likely to volunteer ourselves.
During the first chunk of legs, while everyone was still happy and awake and the novelty hadn’t worn off we took pictures at the exchanges and just enjoyed the experience.
Happy Cabbie’s posing for a picture at exchange 3 (Sausalito)
More happy Cabbie’s posing for a pic at exchange 3 in Sausalito
TIP 2: Work just as hard to keep the team spirit up as you do the running. We started out strong but sort of crumbled with that spirit as we got sleep deprived.
Right away I remembered something else as we began legs 7-12.
Approaching exchange 7
Since I was runner #6 I passed off the slap bracelet to Elvia at Exchange 7 and instantly realized that it was a much larger exchange. I had forgotten about this in past relays. Because traditional relay teams are 2 vans, van 1 ends and van 2 begins at exchange 7 (and again at 13, 19, 25, and 31) and there tends to be double the crowds and double the amount of parked vans. So since Elvia had a fairly short leg for leg 7 my time was limited and the line for the Honey Buckets (otherwise known as porta-potties) was long and I was really worried I wouldn’t have time to go before we had to bust out of that exchange and head to the next.
TIP 3: When planning, be prepared to need a few extra minutes at the bigger exchanges and make sure the runner knows ahead of time that they might just have to wait an extra 30 minutes before having the opportunity to pee or change or what have you. Seriously, the running is the easy part with these kind of relays. It’s all the logistics that get complicated.
We had a cooler in the van with food that we all bought the night before and plenty of water. After my second leg I pulled out a half sandwich to munch on. Ah, we were still in the honeymoon period! By the time 24 hours had passed I was sick to my stomach and just eating trail mix hoping it would stay down. #notpretty
just a hill, halfway up from a hill that I had to conquer during my 2nd leg through Petaluma. Breathtaking views but man that hill was hard!
I wonder what these animals were thinking as runners kept running by them?
TIP 4: Kick your feet up when you can. Your feet will thank you.
reinforcing TIP 4!
Approaching Exchange 13.
Happy sisters at an exchange somewhere on day 1
Happy sisters again
Cindy was struggling up the hill but i think once the shirtless dude passed her she got a second wind ;)
Night was upon us as we approached leg 14 or 15 and we slacked on picture taking a bit. Both Lisa and Valerie had 9 mile legs during this time (both were unsupported or partially unsupported legs making it more challenging for them) We did have the opportunity to stop once for lisa to replace her headlamp that died. I ran my first night leg at about 11pm and finished just before midnight.
finished my night leg just before midnight!
18 legs down, about 100 miles covered and 16 hours had passed as we said goodbye to Friday and officially started Day 2…
Stay tuned for for pooping in the dark, more night gear failures, a few meltdowns and more in Part 2!
OK so I have been trying to work on a recap of Ragnar Napa but I just can’t seem to get there. It just hit me that 38 hours is a LONG TIME! I’m not just telling you about a marathon that’s 5 hours. Heck, my mileage alone was just about 30 miles. So I ask that you be patient with moi. I really want to make it a valuable recap with as much insight as I can offer.
In the meantime I wanted to share something so funny and cool
Our team came in FIRST PLACE in our category (Mixed Masters). Of course there were only 2 teams in that category and the other team DNF’d. =) But hey! We’ll take it =)
The overall winning team finished in 23:45:55 (an average pace of 6:57 per mile!), a whole 14 hours before us! But I bet we had less sleep more fun.
Team Call Me a CABernet: Mixed Masters Winning team =) (photo: L. McGarry)
If you want to step out of your comfort zone, do a Ragnar Relay. If you really want to step outside your comfort zone, do it as an Ultra Team! Holy shizzle it was no joke.
I’m pleased to report I had no ankle issues. I do have a slightly tight and maybe mildly strained hamstring but it’ll be fine in another few days. I didn’t take my own advice and didn’t stretch or foam roll during the race. #fail
I’ll get back on the running bandwagon this weekend as I have a half marathon in 2 weeks.
So what have I been missing in your life? Tell me what’s new.
What questions do you have about Ragnar Relays that I can answer for ya?