Ragnar Relay Great River
I had to take a few days to process how epic this race was, before I could even begin to contemplate writing about it. Even now, as I begin to type, I feel as though words will not do this experience justice. But I’m going to give it my best effort, and try not to turn it into a novel.
On Thursday morning, Enterprise Rental called to tell us that they had sold the vans that we were to pick-up that evening. Yep, sold them!!! But they had 2 lovely mini-vans that they could offer us. After my husband had a mild explosion, they provided us with 2 Suburbans instead. We weren’t thrilled about the cramped quarters, but we saved almost $500.
I was runner number 2 in Van 1. At 10pm Thursday night, one of our team members quit. Van 1 was leaving at 4:30am the next morning, so that didn’t give me much time to react. Luckily, the driver of Van 2 is a marathoner and triathlete so she volunteered to step in. Crisis averted! Being captain is awesome sometimes ;)
We arrived in Winona, MN with time to spare. Received our packet and attended our safety briefing. Before I knew it Jordan was crossing the starting line and we were navigating our way to the first exchange.
My first leg was 6.1 miles long. I started by running on the sidewalk of a small Wisconsin town. Soon that turned into running on the shoulder of a 2-lane highway. The shoulder was very wide so I felt pretty safe. I did manage to get pelted by rocks from passing semis a few times. There was no shade, so I was glad that I carried my own water. I was running into the wind so I had cotton mouth the entire leg. It was over so quickly. I snapped the bracelet on Megan and off she went.
My second leg would be overnight. I put on my headlamp, reflective vest, flashing LED tail light, and glow stick necklace. It was cold. Around 50 degrees. Jordan passed me the bracelet and I ran off into the darkness. My breath creating a cloud in the light from my headlamp. I’m not gonna lie, running along a very small shoulder of a highway in the middle of the night, with no one else in sight was a little creepy. I tried to focus entirely on the world encased in the oval of light created by my headlamp. I almost put my right foot down on some road kill, but managed to avoid it at the last minute. I was making really good time for the first 2 miles. I just wanted to get it over with. Then the hill started. A 1,099 foot climb with no break. I knew it was coming. I saw it on the map. I was not prepared for what it would do to me. This hill almost broke me. At one point I started moaning out loud just to distract myself. My legs hurt so bad after 2 miles of climbing that I was shuffling more than running. I probably could have walked faster. But I kept going. I couldn’t let me team down. Anger fueled me that last mile. It was all I could do to not collapse at the exchange. I think my legs hurt as bad at that moment as they did at the end of my marathon. No joke!
After we finished our exchanges and met up with Van 2, we tried to get some sleep. We got about 2.5 hours on a gym floor. It wasn’t enough, but it was better than nothing. We ate breakfast at Perkins and met up with Van 2 for our final exchange with them.
My legs were completely shredded from the night before, so I really, really didn’t want to run another leg. But that’s what Ragnar’s all about. So I took off for my final leg only to discover that I had another 700 foot climb awaiting me in mile 2. mentally I felt strong, but physically my body fought me the entire leg. I had to walk a little in mile 4 because my calves were starting cramp. I was so happy to see my team and my dad waiting for me at the exchange point. I screamed “DONE” as I slapped the bracelet on Megan’s wrist for the final time.
The final leg proved to be the toughest mentally and physically for all 12 members of the team. We were so happy to cross the finish line at east River Flats in Minneapolis. Team Running Amuck ran 198.5 miles in 32:00:02. Average pace 9:42. I personally ran 17.01 of those miles in 3:08:00. Average pace 11:03. I wish I could have been faster, but knowing that I can sustain that kind of pace while carrying a passenger still feels pretty good.
We had a lot of laughs, made new friends, smelled really bad, and didn’t sleep. But you can’t trade this kind of experience. It was really hard. Harder than I expected, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am so happy to have shared this experience with my husband, close friends and tumblrs. Ragnar 2013 anyone?