Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ragnar

The short of it:

Up at 6:15 am Friday, July 25th , 2008. Traveled team 185 miles to the finish by 12:30ish pm on Saturday, July 26th, 2008. Had a few minutes nap before 2nd run, and 3 hours or so of interrupted sleep, on the ground, in an open field (had a sleeping bag) before getting up to ride and run one more leg…total of 14.6 miles, averaged 7:37 pace (according to the somewhat official time we kept over the course, about right according to Garmin too), tiny nap on the way to Gig Harbor, WA where we spent Saturday night, and didn’t go to bed till about 11 pm that night…there is a reason the shirts had the logo “Drive. Run. Sleeep? Repeat.” On them…I love the shirt! Oh, and our team was 63rd overall of 142 finishers and 10th in our division of mixed submasters (all members over 30).

Race, long report:
Where to begin…
This all kind of came about with a blog I began reading a year and a half ago or so. I was enjoying reading about her training for Hood to Coast, a group of running friends out there all tend to run it and some of them have been running it almost since it first started. They also have other relays some of the team have done together. Last year they had two people back out of Hood to Coast a day or two before the race and I stated then that if I only lived closer I so would’ve done it. Well, Annette told me she would keep me in mind for next year (meaning 2008). Last February she told me she was still keeping me in mind, but it was a pretty set team, however, there was a new relay they were going to do, it was a Ragnar series race, (we were told they plan to have 16 of them in the next year) in the Northwest Passage of Washington. I thought it sounded fun and it fit better into my training (end of July vs end of August) anyway so I signed on. The group didn’t, however, know that I was someone Annette knew from online. It didn’t phase me doing it since I’ve met numerous other running friends online and met up with them at races and it’s all been fine so just one more and not a big deal.

We were maybe going to need to go to the start on Thursday night, so I flew in on Wednesday before the race. No problems getting in and was picked up by Annette, Karen and Debbie, who were all on the team. Although Annette had a bad incident on Tuesday before the race, twisting her ankle which put her out of the race…Debbie’s husband stepped in though so no one had to pick up extra legs. I stayed with Annette and her husband Brian on Wednesday night and Thursday (I was in Van 2 and it was decided we would meet the team on Friday at the first big exchange zone). We had lunch on Thursday, Annette, myself, Karen and Kristina (another of the team, and also in the van that I was in) and I saw the town of Canby where they all live, just south of Portland. The plan was to meet up at Jack’s (captain) at 7:15, although not everyone got the message, Kristina picked me up and we were there, as was Jason, the replacement for Annette and Debbie’s (she was in van 1) husband. Karen (Debbie’s sister) and Derek, that last of the crew, arrived and we got things loaded and got ready to leave. Jason had to work on Sunday morning, so he was driving to the ferry landing and we were picking him up to head to exchange 6, Karen rode with him and the rest of us went and loaded up the van, got ice for the cooler and got some coffees to wake us up. Finally we were off…probably about 8:45.
Drive was fun, getting to know everyone (Kristina hadn’t met Jack or Derek before either and she commented to me how we were riding up with them and she didn’t know them, but she knew me, so it was good, and I kind of thought yeah, I know the feeling since I had flown out to see a bunch of people I didn’t know really either!! But hey, it’s all good…just weird how things happen) and it seemed to go by quickly…we met up with Jason and Karen (after freaking them out when Derek told them we had stopped at REI because I wanted to see it) and were on to Bellingham for a quick lunch and then meeting up with Van 1 at exchange 6, where our group took over. They had been told we were running behind so we had them a little freaked (it included telling them I had fallen off the rock climbing wall at REI and hurt my ankle) but all was good. They had eventually figured we were BSing them. Except for the person running at the time, she saw me when she passed off to our runner and asked how my foot was, I told her it had been a joke, she slapped my arm for it!! Exchange went well, Derek was first, and he had a short run, but it turned out to have a tough climb for him, so we had a little time before he got in (turned out the elevation maps for each leg were really spot on, I’ve never seen that for a race before). It was very cool as we passed him and yelled encouragement on the route to him and other runners, and then cheered people in at the exchange. For those that haven’t done a relay before, they use slap bracelets between runners so you don’t have to carry a baton or something, and you drop the one runner off, pick up the next, mark on a clipboard your times at each exchange and calculate running times off that. Each exchange had port-a-potties which was nice and depending on the runner’s leg, you could drive out and give them water at a point if they felt they would need it. Plus it gave you a chance to cheer your runner through tough spots. It went from Derek to Jason, Jason to Karen and then Karen to Jack, only we screwed up and didn’t see Karen come in and were just heading down to watch for her and she had been there for a bit…oops…but from then on it was good. Kristina was after Jack and then it was me…My first leg was leg 12, a 6.6 mile run (although Garmin had it at 6.7). First four miles were FLAT and kind of boring, I was hitting consistent 7:30 miles and enjoying passing people and hearing cheers from other teams and my own as they passed and then checked on me…I didn’t need water and they went on to the next exchange. Finally hit a few light rolling hills, which I welcomed (flat is very boring and kind of tough mentally when you’re used to a little hill challenge) and it ran along Puget Sound so nice views between the trees…Got into the exchange and was happy to have finally had a run. We relaxed a little bit, I stretched, then it was off to find something to eat before getting to the next exchange…real food vs the junk of oh, double stuff oreos (that my team informed me they had gotten into while I was running!) and milk duds, some bananas, peanut butter and bagels were in there too…Dinner was good, but kind of wish we hadn’t eaten to a degree, as I think I would’ve maybe liked a bit of sleep more, but then I was on an adrenaline rush so probably wouldn’t have slept anyway. It was then off to exchange 18 where we tried to nap a bit, but the team was almost there so we had to get stuff settled on the van and get going…

The exchange went, Derek looked good when we passed him and he didn’t want water, just sent us on to the exchange, same for Jason, Karen had an unfortunate incident where she got lost, turns out some of the signs were being messed with by kids, something uncontrollable unfortunately, so she got a little lost and came in much later than we expected. At this time it was pitch black and we were wearing vests and carrying flashlights too, so even scarier for her I’m sure. Jack’s was fine, but after we took off I really felt for Kristina, she had the worst run that set by far…very steep climbs. She was still not ready to talk about it on Sunday. My leg was only 3.6 miles but started on a steep downhill which was doing a number on my heel, then a climb and another drop and finally a run across a bridge to Whidby Island where the finish happened. It would’ve been a beautiful run, too bad it was dark…the cross to the island looked quite cool. I passed off the bracelet just thinking, now I can sleep for a bit…and that was our next move. We headed right to the exchange zone and took sleeping bags over to a field behind a school where I laid down and was out…others said they hadn’t slept much cause of the noise…I heard nothing!! Even with the hard ground I was just out.

So last legs came up starting around 7 am…everyone was trying to get someone else to run their last leg and talking about how they couldn’t wait to be done, but it was all in jest. Derek finished, was hurting, but he then asked who else wanted to give up their leg. Apparently he is notorious for taking others legs…anyway, no one took him up on it and we drove on, more cheering etc…My last leg was the last leg. I took the bracelet for what was set to be my hardest too. It was only 4.4 miles but had a decent climb a mile in, and then a climb to the finish. And it was at the end of all this so sleep deprived it wasn’t real easy. I had some good music…and partway up the hill my team stopped to cheer me on (well, actually it was at the top of the hill) and there was another team yelling really loudly for me too. That helped…I got to the top of the climb though and thought my arms were going to fall off. Actually I wanted to cut them off as I felt it would be easier. It was luckily a nice decent and getting toward the bottom I saw the Welcome to Langley sign, that was the town we were finishing in and knew I was only about a mile from the finish. The other team that had been on the hill was there again and yelled for me, even doing the wave…that was cool. I did my final climb and came around the corner to where the finish was, had a picture taken by Karen and then we all run down a chute to finish together (except for Debbie and Jason who had had to leave so he could get home and get some sleep for work on Sunday). The rest of the group included Doug, Del, Kathy, Cathy, Debbie and Bettie. Had some pictures taken at the finish and then over to the beer tent. I saw the other team that had been cheering and thanked them…one of the girls commented on my skirt (I was wearing one of my running skirts for the last leg) as she had one of the same brand. And they had known me as “pink skirt”…Beer was good, we then grabbed coffee and hit the ferry to head to Gig Harbor where we were spending the night. We had dinner then got some beer and hung out on the deck before crashing around 11. The next morning we did a kayak trip around the harbor for about an hour, I finally got to see a harbor seal, he (or she) was out fishing and it was quite cool to see from the kayak…I was wondering if I was the only one seeing it when I noticed Bettie nearby, and then Derek and Jack came up and I told them and then it popped up again and they saw it. Very cool. The rest of the group asked me if I had seen it and they were quite happy I had since I had talked about them. Then on the trip back to Portland it was decided to take me to some waterfalls outside Portland…talk about a gorgeous view!! (and a steep 1.3 mile climb up and then back down, OK, the run apparently wasn’t difficult enough, Kristina was having a bit of a tough time though and had headed back as she has been doing a boot camp with Annette that is killing them, and part of how Annette hurt herself!!) Then it was off to head home. The red eye was tough. Although my first leg was pleasant as I had a nice (and fairly attractive) guy I was sitting next to talking to on the flight. We exchanged facebook info…I got home and opted to sleep for a couple of hours before going to work. Was awake around 10:30 though and went in, even though I was a zombie…

Overall a really great experience though. I’m definitely game for doing one again. I hope to maybe go out and run with this team again next year, either for this relay or maybe their Hood to Coast team. I wouldn’t mind getting a team together for the local one here too. One thing about it, even though it’s a lot of running, it doesn’t tear you up as much as it might seem. I definitely am up for my 18 miler that’s on the plan for this weekend. Only reason I didn’t run yesterday was because I was so tired…Oh, I also tried some good microbrews out there as well. Next time I will plan on staying longer too. I was told all these great things they would’ve taken me out and done had I been there longer…I just hadn’t wanted to impose on people I didn’t know real well and wasn’t sure about people’s work schedules, etc…next time I’ll know!

6 comments:

Full Metal Lunchbox said...

What a great adventure!  Congratulations on your and your team's success!

Annette said...

Great report. I almost felt like I was there. . . almost! :) Glad you enjoyed it!

Molly said...

WOW!
That is a really cool trip and experience.
Thanks for sharing with us!
Take Care

mg said...

Very cool - sounds like a lot of fun. I remember you talking about wanting to do a relay years ago, so yay for getting to do one, especially out in the Pacific NW (I'm originally from there and it's such a neat area).

From your newer post about the tempo run, it does sound like maybe it take more of a toll than you though. Hopefully with some better rest, things will pick up for you.

JustRun said...

Woo hoo! Awesome!
I can't help but love relays, as much as they kill me.

Jean said...

What an excellent report, Danielle! Sounds like it was a great time, and I am glad to hear it was such a positive and fun experience.

Three cheers for running...and for good microbrews as well! :)