Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ragnar, A Race Recap

In the weeks leading up to Ragnar I had a hundred and one different reactions to the upcoming race. Excitement, fear, regret, apprehension, and so on. Seriously, what I had I gotten myself into? I was on team of all ladies, none of whom had ever met in person before. AND with every passing the day the team rooster was changing. What if I hated the girls? What if they hated me? What if I like them and they couldn't stand me? What if I let them down?

There, I said. My biggest fear was letting this team of perfect strangers down.

Just in case they turned out to be a bunch of serial killers, I recruited Ryan and W to come along. They were going to volunteer in the morning and then follow us along the route. Cheering us on, hanging out, pacing if needed, and just generally being my awesomest supporters. But in the days before the race W decided he didn't want to come along. Sure, he'd still meet us in Chicago and charter me home but he wasn't interested in being part of the process. Jerkface.

Did I mention that the week of Ragnar was my first week in my new job? And that there were like fifty jillion things that had to be dealt with ASAP. I found myself working 10+ hour days trying to get everything done. I wasn't getting in my runs because I was so stressed about being off of work. As I put up my out of office Thursday at almost 7pm I left almost in tears in the midst of a panic attack. There was no way I should be taking Friday off...

Too late now. That same day we found out that one of our runners was out with strep throat (ew) and another had a badly sprained ankle and would be able to run of her legs at best. We were already down to 10 1/2 runners...there was no way I was going to bail. So instead I stayed up until the wee hours packing, unpacking, and repacking, all the while texting Kritta looking for reassurance that these ladies (well, the ones she knew anyways) were cool and that I could do this. I big pink puffy HEART Kritta!!

Friday morning rolls around and soon enough there is 15 passenger van pulling up in front of my house. For there being ONLY 4 ladies in the entire 15 passenger was overflowing with stuff. Like out of control. The lady behind the wheel, our almighty captain Jenn, was make-up'd out and looking fabulous despite apparently being out way too late and feeling a little hung over. Renee was running somewhat of a mobile command station with our race binder, her phone all a buzz with Twitter and text updates (PS-it was like 8am). Maureen was cool, calm and confident, generally quiet at this hour of the day but that didn't last long. And Laura. Poor Laura looked like a deer in headlights! So quiet and I'd say overwhelmed...

So there we were, van 2 of Online Relationship: Renee, Laura, Jenn, Maureen and I.
Talk about an awkward picture of me...

It didn't take very long at all for me to decide that these 4 women were amazing and we were going to have a wicked good time.

Since we were van #2 we had plenty of time for a McDonald's stop before making our way to the 6th exchange in Lake Mills. We got there, checked in, and eventually, albeit briefly, saw our other van. Before I knew it it was my turn to run...
My Ragnar race was CycleOps Powered!!

I felt spoiled as I started my first leg of the race. Just 2 or 3 short blocks and I was lucky enough to find myself on the packed gravel goodness of the Glacial Drumlin trail. For the better part of my first leg I found myself on the flat cushy gravel path. I was running just slightly faster than my projected 10:30pace and I felt good. Going into Ragnar I decided to a Galloway approach to my legs: run mile, walk a minute. Right around the 4th mile I turned off the path and onto the shoulder of a county road. Not only had I left the forgiving path but I was headed up hill...not steep but looooong. Ugh. 4.78 miles and 51 minutes later I wrapped up my first leg. I handed off to Maureen who took off like a nat outta hell!!

Being short runners meant swapping runners around a bit, so Kelsey joined van 2 for a leg or two. Maureen flew through her first leg and handed off to Kelsey who kept things moving right along...or was it got kind of confusing keep track of the extra kegs and who was running what.
While we were waiting at the next exchange to send Jenn off on her first leg I ran into Kritta!

Someone handed off to Jenn...who handed off to Renee who rounded out of first runs. From there we stopped by Noodles for some pasta-y goodness before settling into the comforts of the Martin Luther HS parking lot. We had roughly 3 hours to nap and get ourselves ready for our night legs.

I was the first of our van to run that night. There was a lot of hub-bub about running at night. Granted I was running at midnight and not 3 or 4 in the morning, but I was stoked about my night leg. I started out down 76th St by the Southridge mall made a right and a left and found myself on the desolate, dark blacktop of the nearby Root River Parkway. With the exception of the beam my headlamp, and the occasionally blinding reflection off of a runners vest, it was dark and quiet and I LOVED it. My night leg was only 3.7 miles long, so just under 40 minutes later I found myself handing off to Maureen again.

Maureen cruised through her miles like a hot knife through butter and handed off to Laura who handed off to Renee for Renee's first of two night legs. Renee handed off to Jenn, and had just enough time to inhale some food and water and get ready to run her 2nd leg...One more swap from Jenn to Renee, who dug DEEP to make that last leg happen. We cheered Renee in and sent van 1 on its way.

From there it was time to snag a few hours sleep, eat some breakfast and get our last legs over with.

I kicked it off with my last 4.8 mile leg. At this point we were in Waukegan, and once again I was the lucky duck that got to run almost all of my miles on a packed gravel path. Score. I was struggling come this leg. I was sore, my ankle was puffy and stiff. I was ready to be done. I wasn't able to hang onto my 10:30 pace of my last 2 legs and found myself walking more and running slower. I wrapped up my final 4.9 mile leg in 57 minutes. The first words out of my mouth were something along the line of "the only way this would be better is if I could shower," and wouldn't you know that my leg ended at a YMCA that was letting us shower. Thank you Jeebus!!

Maureen was off on her first leg...which was LONG (which meant I actually had time to shower). She came in and handed off to the ever consistent Laura who cruised through her 6 or so miles in an hour and handed back off to Maureen for her second leg. Yes, second. After running something like 10 miles in her last leg Maureen still had it in her to run another 4+ mile leg. Maureen ran it in and handed off to Jenn, who hung in there for her 8+ mile leg and handed off to Renee to bring it home!

Re-enacting crossing the finish live.

36 or so hours later we were done. DONE. DONE!!!! Not only did I run farther than I had in 2yrs, but I did it with a team of ladies I didn't know. AND I kept my cool, despite being surrounded by an overwhelming amount of estrogen and running on little to no sleep.

To say I'm proud of my accomplishment is an understatement

Van 2: Renee, Laura, Maureen, Jenn and I

I don't know that I could have done this race with anyone else. We gave it all we could for one another, and even when we were pooped we dug deep and gave some more. We cheered one another on. We gossiped. We laughed. We were AWESOME!

Thank you Renee, Jenn, Maureen and Laura!! I cannot wait to race with you ladies again.

Next on the agenda is what I learned at Ragnar, wedding woes, and my running roadblock...stay tuned!

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