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:

teamshot

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 =)

10653290_10204749216191954_7917682876538732402_n

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.

10703724_10152321359771437_9164923087888455438_n

Cabbie #1 ready to kick of the relay.

10424350_10204749216791969_7119277517894717718_n

WEEEEEE!!!!!!!

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!

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.

10407507_10204749218152003_5803250331930045809_n

Happy Cabbie’s posing for a picture at exchange 3 (Sausalito)

10666037_10204729351975361_5069092809071260208_n

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

Approaching exchange 7

Exchange 7

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

1234756_10204749221392084_5312267545224116457_n

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!

10629876_10204749223032125_9209188645910894406_n

I wonder what these animals were thinking as runners kept running by them?

10665977_10204749222392109_2249519395446028803_n

TIP 4: Kick your feet up when you can. Your feet will thank you.

10675734_10204749225072176_8113968662734765609_n

reinforcing TIP 4!

exchange13

Approaching Exchange 13.

firstleg-lisa

Happy sisters at an exchange somewhere on day 1

secondleglisa

Happy sisters again

Cindy was struggling up the hill but i think once the shirtless dude passed her she got a second wind ;)

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!

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!

Hi folks

Hope you had a great weekend. Mine was perfect.

I ran twice on Friday wrapping up the bulk of my Ragnar training.

photo 1

My early run was S-L-O-W but in the evening I got a little pep in my step. =)

I spent Saturday indoors almost all day thanks to the rain but I watched the movie The Notebook. It came out 10 years ago and I hadn’t ever seen it before until Saturday. Cray Cray! I didn’t run though because the cumulative running in the days prior left me sore and I needed a rest day. But I did do some push ups (over the dog for added skill) Combined with an all day rainy day it was perfect.

photo 2

Yesterday I went for a hike that lasted a couple of hours. It was great cross-training.

photo 4

1505044_10204696490553846_2596881159611468469_n

I also had a root beer float! So good!

10394812_10204696490833853_4936025398427603309_n

And these characters got to go to Petco!

10671437_10204696184666199_3882539898702353587_n

Did you say Petco???

And I am almost finished packing for my trip. Even though the relay isn’t until Friday I’m headed out west a few days early to visit with my Arizona first cousins!

photo

The weather here has become just a bit cooler giving us a great Fall preview. I’ll be in Napa on the first day of Fall but fly home right after and can’t wait to be returning home just as my favorite season begins. I just swapped out my summery hand soap for this one.

photo 3Have a great week!

What’s your favorite season? Do you live somewhere where the seasons change? Do you swap out scented things like candles, bedding etc for the seasons?

 

I thought I’d share some tips compiled by myself as well as some of my teammates that will help you to have the best overnight running relay experience ever! First, if you’re not familiar with these type of events, you can go here for a little background info specifically about Ragnar Relay.

Without further ado I present to you my 10 tips for the best overnight relay race experience

PRACTICAL…

1. Pack your running outfits in plastic zip close bags (I use freezer bag versions because they are stronger and have an area to write on) for each individual leg you are running. Then write on each bag which leg that outfit is for. For instance, you might be running the first leg early in the morning when it’s cooler but not so sunny so you might want a warmer top and not need a visor. But perhaps your second leg will be mid-day with hot sun. You wouldn’t want to pull the wrong bag and end up with your morning outfit for leg 2 now would ya?

packing for Ragnar Relay

2. Pack non-perishable meals and plenty of water. You can’t count on having the time or the resources to locate restaurants or grocery stores on the way. And trust me, there’s nothing worse than getting ready to run your 2nd or 3rd leg of the journey at the crack of dawn and be so hungry people start to resemble chicken drumsticks like the cartoons. Hard boiled eggs and turkey sandwiches kept in a cooler or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are some good options. Maybe a few pieces of fruit, some chips, trail mix and candy! You gotta have candy! I usually bring a small backpack/hydration pack so I always have access to my food and water but we usually also have a huge cooler in the back that we stock with water and gatorade the night before the event.

3. Bring double the amount of sun screen, bug spray and baby wipes and TP you think you’ll want. At night the skeeters can really bite you up and during the day you’ll be running with long stretches of sun on your face. Don’t risk getting burned because that’ll make you really uncomfortable. Oh, and Trust me on the baby wipe thing. You might step in mud or even worse, dog poo on top of just wanting to wipe sweat off your brow. And that leads me to #3.

you'll be using these for a long time....don't expect there to be TP, take your own!

you’ll be using these for a long time….don’t expect there to be TP, take your own!

4. Pack a backup pair of sneakers. If it rains, one pair might get really wet or perhaps you didn’t have enough baby wipes AND you stepped in dog poo. (this happened to me my second relay and i tossed the poo’d pair.)

5. Pack a beach towel and a hand towel. This will be great if you need to sit in the van sweaty. Also, it allows for some “modesty” if you opt to change out of ALL your sweaty clothes.

6. Pin your race # to your bottoms or use a running belt with those clips that hold race #s. This one is mainly if you think you might want to change your shirt after each leg but keep the same bottoms. It’s one less thing to think about. You have to have your number on at all times and wouldn’t want to rip off a sweaty shirt after your leg only to realize the number is still attached.

546087_3978405340237_779646548_n

FUN…

7. Team spirit is everything! Christi, who was our team captain for one of the relays had this to share: It’s all about who is in the van and their attitude towards the whole endeavor. It will only be fun if everyone in the van gets into it and supports each other, especially cheering along the course as you wait for your teammate to come into the check point.

props!

props! are fun when you’re getting into the team spirit.

528602_3964573314445_130088382_n

relay teammates that enjoy sunrises with Dunkin Donuts coffee together finish happy!

8. Decorate your van inside and out! Christi also suggests powering up a couple of strings of Christmas lights inside the van. It makes the van easily recognizable to the runner and makes the van feel cozy in the wee hours of the morning. (you can plug into the power adapter in the van. Many have them in the back of the vehicle) And using soap crayons to decorate the outside is a must! We’ve even created a little chart to fill in as each runner finishes their leg they can write in their finish time and cross that leg off as DONE!

Dusk was the perfect time to decorate the van with lights.

Dusk was the perfect time to decorate the van with lights.

582249_3981619060578_1488326591_n

soap crayons and markers are SO much fun!

246609_2101847827472_6321456_n

9. Magic fun bag! OK, so Christi is also a grade school teacher so you see why fun is such a big emphasis from her contributions to this post. But really, if you’re not having fun then it’s not a successful relay. Coordinate with your teammates to make a magic fun bag that has items everyone will need or use — baby wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, noisemakers, snacks, sidewalk chalk to write messages on the path for the runners, bandaids

10. Film everything so you can make a video and remember what a good time it was years later. Here’s the video Roger made of our team when we did Ragnar New England.

And some bonus tips…

Jorge says: If you are doing the “ultra” category, respect the distance… Big difference— 200 miles is quite different between 12 runners and 6 runners… You can be quite festive with 12… With 6, it’s exercise AND discipline- you are either running, sleeping, driving, navigating, preparing to run or eating

Lisa adds: interact with the other teams, review the plan repeatedly but be flexible as it will probably change. She also says #RunningistheEasyPart

Roger adds: Don’t take yourself so seriously because it’s not really a race, but an event with friends and/or strangers. If something goes wrong, like you lose an MP3 player, don’t freak out but just laugh it off… Wear a horsehead mask or something else stupid to keep everyone (or at least yourself) laughing.

photo courtesy Roger (horsehead) Wright

photo courtesy Roger (horsehead) Wright

Oh yeah, the most important part of the relay is to know how to easily pass off the “baton” which is really a slap bracelet. I have to say I had a hard time with that. =)

579279_3981610500364_1273541196_n

successful transition at exchange 31

Any other tips? Share in the comments! =)