Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Ragnar Relays

So a few of you may have heard me talk about training for the Ragnar Relays... (The link explains more). Basically it is a 200 mile race that requires 6-12 people to run from Huntington Beach to San Diego as a team. One person runs at a time and after a certain distance hands off the running to the next team mate. Regular size teams are made of 12 people that follow the runner in 2 separate vans and while not running you are replenishing liquids and food and maybe sleeping (if you are not driving). Ultra Teams are made of 6 people and they complete twice as much running as the 12 man team (because there are less people). The training, and planning for a race like this is unlike anything I've ever done. The race is somewhat expensive after the entry fee, van rental, food, required gear (head lamp, tail light, safety vest etc). Not to mention, gas, supplements and yeah, more food. Oh, and maybe some ice packs or stretching equipment for the car- and I'm probably forgetting something. Over the course of 3 months I trained running over 400 miles to prep for this race. Some times I ran 3 short runs in one day, and one day I ran 18 miles all at once.
Packing for the race is an event in and of itself... I was thankful to find a friend post a blog about how to pack and what to pack. Below is a photo.

Due to the fact that I had to run 6 times over the course of 36 hours, I was not planning on staying in the same sweaty outfit the entire time. Not so hygienic and well, ewe gross. I can deal with sweaty hair, but there is just too much that could go wrong with wearing the same underwear the entire time. ANY WAY- I set the first outfit (left bottom of photo) off to the side and then packed 5 additional outfits in plastic bags. That way, when I changed (in the van, under my towel) I just put the sweaty clothes into the bag... which saved a little bit of smell from infesting on my not worn clothes yet and prevented the van from smelling worse. Some of my runs were during the day, while others were at night... so I needed shorts and long sleeve, gloves and tank tops! Yep, and extra toilet paper... who knows if the porta pottie at exchange 34 will have any left? I also packed my water belt... I forced myself to sip water or my Hammer Nutrition- HEED to stay supplemented when I wasn't able to eat.

After packing and prepping Thursday night, I attempted to sleep. I think I got a little. At 4:45am, I woke up, got ready and we headed out the door to meet my team. Yeah, I had only met one of the 5 men I would be running with before we actually headed to the race. I met Jeff- the man who invited me on to the team- his daughter used to run XC at MVHS and his friend Dave at Lakeside at 5:50am. After loading my gear into Dave's van- and a jug of ice for any sore muscles we all would probably encounter along the way, we headed to Long Beach to pick up the 12 passenger van. The van rental was kind enough to remove the back seats so we had more room to store our stuff. I packed all my bags (clothes, food & equipment) into a corner in the van and we headed to the start line to meet the team.

We arrived at Hunting Beach State Park a little after the time we were supposed to get there, but we got checked in, got all our goodies and took some photos. Then we listened to the required safety lecture and then to the start line to send Jeff (runner #1) off. This was the running order- complete with some of the things I've learned about my new friends:

Runner #1- Jeff Freemer- the only man I knew before the race... courtesy of MVHS XC. He was battling some minor leg injuries but sucked it up and started us off. He had quite a few intense runs... lots of heat and hills. Took it like a man.

Runner #2- Todd Veloni- probably one of the funniest people I've met. Between all the guys the van was full of laughs... including his random quotes, and long terms for stuff like Advil. Every time he was on a run and we would drive part of his course, we kept thinking- oh, sorry Todd. He had some pretty intense hills on his legs too! We bonded because we both had the "five year plan," with our spouses when it came to kids. :-) Congrats to you and your wife on the pregnancy!

Runner #3- Dave Asbury- kind of random, but his wife is a Chemistry teacher at EHS- my sister in law knows who she is (EHS grad). We randomly saw each other on a long run- but had no idea who the other was! He reminds me of my husband's Uncle Kenny- even keel, kind and a heck of a runner! He's completed 3 Iron Men competitions, and he ran over 40 miles during our race weekend.

Runner #4- that was me... pretty sure I had the easiest runs- some were flat, and fast. They enjoyed my burps, and movie quotes.

Runner #5- Scott Hammond- he is a firefighter... never figured out how he was friends with the rest of the guys, but he can park a van in a complex like no one's business! He also video taped some of the race. He had a SUPER intense down hill run that destroyed his poor knees. He was a trooper- and pretty thankful for the ice packs. I also learned that he is a Ducks fan- while Jeff is a Kings fan. Hockey... sorry, I might just fall asleep.

Runner #6- Dom... I don't know his last name. He drove, navigated and slept. OK- so he hung out too, but some how he was able to sleep in the van more than anyone else! (We were a little jealous) He had a crazy run from Corona to Lakeside High School that was crazy hot, and Dom, well- he dominated. :-) Also married- I saw a picture of his cute little kids. I think Dom was the youngest- we joked that Dom and I were the same size and if I left anything in the van he might keep it!

My first run took me past Angels stadium around noon, it was 4.7 miles long. My ipod froze, my garmin was full and I got stuck at a stop light. Needless to say I was a little frustrated. I deleted all the previous runs from my Garmin while I was running (and 2 people passed me- ugh!) but then I was able to focus- and pass the two people and a few others. After that I was pretty stoked about how good I felt.

Run #2 was at about 4pm, it was 5.7 miles long. I ran in Corona- yep, it was hot. I passed down El Cerrito, Cajalco and finished on Temescal Canyon Road. Felt really good! Especially after I passed a skinny 20 something girl who couldn't handle some baby hills.

Run #3 was at 10:48pm, it was 6.7 miles long. It started at the highway 79 exit on the freeway, took me under the freeway to Red Hawk golf course, (and sprinklers that got me good, including fog and puddles). I had to wear a head light, tail light, and reflective vest over my running clothes. Once I made it through the sprinklers I hit a trail road with some intense hills, and it spit me out on Rainbow Canyon Road next to the 15 freeway. I was feeling great! I booked it. Up to this point, I had people that took off at the same time as me that went out WAY too fast, and I passed each of them when they burned out after about a mile.

Run #4 was at 3am in South Carlsbad. It was 2.2 mile long. I ran it in 15 minutes. It would have been faster had I not been stuck at stop lights! Yeah, you have to follow all the rules of stop lights, even at 3am. It was cold, and dark, but I ran a little quicker than my team anticipated and Scott was not there for the hand off when I finished. After that, they made sure to take the shortest route to each exchange to make sure they made it in time.

Run #5 run was at 8 am the next morning, it was right outside Solano Beach and 6.6 miles long. I ran up this huge hill on Ranch Santa Fe. I thought I was going stay at a 9:30 pace and not be able to recover. However, there was a girl behind me that was pounding on the pavement like she was thumper- after getting stuck at several stop lights I was finally able to get rid of her! The down hills were as long as the up so I made up quite a bit of time... at some point my max speed was 5:25 (that sort of became the joke- because it was probably just for a few seconds).

Run #6- my final run- was at 1pm, it was 4.1 miles long. It started at Clairmont High School and finished just next to the 5 freeway- very close to Sea World. It was down hill and flat so I took off! I was ready to be done. Got stuck at a few stop lights again, and almost got run over when it was my turn to go across the street, but made it safely to the next exchange.

After our final exchange we had a heck of a time finding a place to park to meet Dom at the finish line. We missed him. We all agreed that having a driver would have been really helpful. After a few photos, no beer- because I didn't have my ID- and a few souvenirs later- yeah- they gave our entire team a whole pizza. And our medal was a bottle opener (see pic).

We headed back to the van and parted ways with our families. This was the most fun I have ever had at a race! Not only did I make some new friends, but we has some good times... I had 5 big brothers for 36 hours and we laughed and were exhausted by the end of it! I will definitively do this again.  My only regret is that I didn't take more pictures! Hoping a few will show up soon on the race website.

SO- if you want to try something TOTALLY crazy, fun and different I recommend Ragnar!

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