Monday, August 24, 2009

Ragnar Relay

So after my experience last year (put in link) of running the NW Passage Ragnar Series relay, I thought it’d be a good time running the one near home. Over the past year I’ve been talking to people, mentioning it and trying to get a team together. I know enough people now that it wasn’t as unfeasible to round them up as I might have otherwise thought. I had a few people from the Runner’s World Forums join up, a friend from college at the U of MN, a friend from college at Mankato and then each of them had friends and rounded it out with a friend that I met at a race and is part of yet another running club…so 12 of us officially registered and waivers signed by mid-July and while there were a few injury scares, everyone came to the start line pretty much injury free. Aches and pains along the way, but things were good for the most part. We even had an extra volunteer after having trouble lining people up!! As we punched in times for people, we realized we had a strong chance at being a contender for placing too…who knew? Our start time was set for 3 pm, the later you start the faster you are, and Van 1, consisting of me and 5 guys (yes, it was a weird set up with that, but that happens to be how it played out with the way the legs were laid out and keeping people together that kind of knew each other and having stronger runners on harder legs etc). We met up at the guys house who had the van and drove down to the start in Winona. We headed out on time and stopped for lunch at Subway on the way down. Got to the start plenty early, got our shirts, were checked in and killed time before the start. Watching the start was fun, I hadn’t done that last time, and then we were off to cheer and catch and swap runners. For those unfamiliar with the relay concept, this is a 194.4 mile race. You have 12 runners (or the ultras will have 6) and 2 vans. The first 6 run the first 6 legs, then you swap vans and eat or sleep in the ‘down time’ while the other van runs. This happens 3 times for a total of 36 legs and each runner doing 3. I was runner 4 and my leg was a harder one since it was almost 8 miles, it was during the day and had a pretty long climb up part of it, thankfully it wasn’t steep. I went out expecting to hopefully run around an 8:30 pace, that’s what I projected for myself and managed to run a 7:45…with others all running hard by the time we met Van 2 at the exchange 6 area we were about 17 minutes ahead of our projected time. My parents had come to see me at my first exchange and cheered me at a couple of spots along the way, which was fun…the dogs were there barking for me too. They were at the finish as well. Funny thing is mom had said I should run it in an hour, I came in just over a minute over that hour so guess she was predicting right. After we passed off to Van 2, we drove to an area to get a bite and watch some of the Vikings game, then headed on to exchange 12 so we could take a little nap before. We had Van 2 call us to let us know when they were getting close and being a little off we were not able to get much of a nap (except one of the guys, he was sawing logs pretty quickly and loudly, and we were outside!!). It was nice weather though, cool, but not so bad we were freezing and it was a very clear night, lots of stars.

Well, I was off on when Van 2 should find us, so we were up sooner than we planned and are now 30 minutes ahead of schedule. They come in, and we get back to work doing our runs, passing off our runners. This leg was my night run. I hadn’t worn a headlamp before, but definitely preferred it for the 6 miles I was running vs carrying a flashlight. It being dark I could only really see Garmin during the splits it fed back to me…and I was off a mile…it was sad when I saw mile 4 come up when I thought I was at mile 5. This also had us off on a side road for about 3 miles, so not on the highway, but it was darker, no shoulder and kind of freaky…I had to remind myself that Michael Meyers and Jason were not real and pray that some freak wasn’t out there watching for lone girls running in the dark…I was doing a pretty good clip here. I had myself down to run a 7:38 pace, and finished the 6 miles Garmin told me I ran (5.9 according to Ragnar) in about 46 minutes…so a 7:41 which was just over my goal. I was tired but happy at the end and winded enough to not quite figure out where Don, who I was passing off to, was standing. Our next two runners finished and we passed off to the other van and headed to Stillwater which was our next big exchange and were we hoped to see our 2 volunteers and take a nap. We did get there in time to see the volunteers and laid down by the river and slept as the sun came up. I was out for an hour, had a false alarm that Van 2 might be close but then slept another 45 minutes and came out feeling refreshed enough to be ready to run again. Our van came in, runner came in and we were off again. Our first runner had a short leg, only 3.1 miles and he had a new PR for that distance on his leg. Our second runner had a decent one and number 3 also kicked out much faster than anticipated and it was my turn again. This time for 4.3 miles. It was on a trail, mostly flat, with a climb at the end. I didn’t really fully realize the climb till I got to it. Oh my God I was ready to cry as it kept going and going and going…over a half mile and a climb of about 300 feet which just for translation ideas I think that’s about a 6 on the treadmill slope…I thought I was going to throw up at one point (this was after really wanting to make my projected 7:30, what I was thinking when I set that one I don’t know) after doing a 7:17 on the first mile…I got to the top, had a slight downhill and then more uphill to pass off my final time. Gatorade was brought to me…and then a nice cold beer…so what if it was only 9:30…anyway, Don’s leg was tough, Tom’s last leg, our fastest runner, was somewhat short so he kicked it out fast and we left Van 2 to finish it up while we had a few beers hanging out at the exchange. Headed to the finish finally, had a bit and bought some beer along the way and then hung out till our van got there and we headed to the finish to cross as a team. Team picture, waited around to find out results and unfortunately we were pushed down and finished 5th in our division. It was too bad as we thought we might place, as of the last I knew we were also 16th overall, which isn’t bad considering they had 233 teams registered. Our final time, again not official, was 24:03 or something like that…not bad being able to run 194.4 miles in just over 24 hours…there is talk of an ultra team next year…and we might try to get a competitive girls team if the guys do that…we’ll see. It was definitely another fun time though and anyone that hasn’t done a relay, I highly recommend it.


L said...

Ah, relays are the best! An ultra team, however, freaks me the heck OUT.

Annette said...

Nice job! You kicked some butt out there. And what a great team place. So glad you did well and had lots of fun. :)