- Amazing weather — we lucked out
- Eating real food makes a huge difference
- A minivan is plenty of room if you pack smart
- I love, love, love night running
My alarm went off the earliest it’s ever gone off for a race — at 3 a.m. I showered, drank some coffee (and crossed my fingers that it’d carry me through the next 30 hours), at two pieces of Ezekiel toast with almond butter, packed up the car and was at my friends’ Mandy and Tony’s house by 4:15 a.m. We loaded all of our stuff in Tony’s mom’s minivan and were on the road by 4:30.
The start line for the Great River race is at Levee Park in Winona, MN — about 131 miles away. Our team got to work decorating our van (all of the credit for the artistic stuff goes to Mandy), then we picked up our team T-shirts and our van’s race bibs, safety flags and went through our safety briefing. Before we knew it, they were calling all 8 a.m. start time teams to the start line!
Angela (she’s the one in the middle in the photo above) was runner #1 for our van, so she took her place among the other runners and then they were off!
Ang did awesome, of course, and before I knew it, Tony finished his leg and Mandy was almost done with hers, which meant I was almost up!
Leg 1 – Distance: 6.6 miles, difficulty (hard), 1:02:41 (9:24 pace)
My first leg started out around 11 a.m. and it was quite warm in the sun but wasn’t too hot with the nice breeze. There was no van support on this leg and no water stops, so I ran with my water bottle. To my surprise, I passed a total of five people and wasn’t passed once on this leg!
Unfortunately, just a couple of hours later, one of our runners had a tough run and ended up having to drop out after her first leg because of the heat and dehydration.
Leg 2 – Distance: 3.5 miles, difficulty (hard), 30:41 (8:46 pace)
This was my favorite Ragnar run to-date. Everything about this run was amazing. I started out around 10:30 p.m. and decided on a tank top under my
sexy safety vest, even though I was shivering just slightly while waiting for Mandy to hand off to me. Since this run was during nighttime hours (7:15 p.m. until 6:45 a.m.) I also had to wear a headlamp and flashing LED taillight, in addition to the safety vest.
As soon as Mandy handed off to me, I took off, passing two people right away. I think I knew right from the start that I wasn’t going to have any issues maintaining my pace — everything just clicked. There were a couple of hills on this leg, but nothing too terrible. The gravel roads for part of the leg were also challenging, but again — manageable. I passed one final person right before the finish and handed the slap bracelet off to the next runner, Nick.
After Mandy ran another leg (she was covering it for our injured runner), our van was done for a few hours. We chatted briefly with the other van and then got ready to get some sleep. I brushed my teeth (which was awesome) and changed into some comfy clothes. Half of our team decided just to throw our sleeping bags down on the grass to sleep and the other half slept in the van. I fell asleep right away and exactly two hours later, my alarm went off at 4 a.m. and we were off to the next exchange.
Leg 3 – Distance: 5.1 miles, difficulty (very hard),
It was sometime just after 10 a.m. and this run took place on all kinds of terrain, regular pavement, gravel roads and then 2.5 miles on horse/walking trails. It was very uneven and you had to watch your footing, but it was a gorgeous view:
However, it was kind of hard to appreciate the view, considering I had a bunch of MF-ing hills to contend with, including two of the steepest hills I’ve ever run — one after the other, and right at the very end. See?
Let’s just say that I was pretty crabby after this leg. But I calmed down and we headed out to support our last runner, Nick, who was running his leg and also our injured runner’s leg. Once Nick made it to the exchange, we said goodbye to van #2 and headed back to Minneapolis to grab our cars, go home and shower and then make it back to the finish line in time to see Katie cross.
We made it just in time and all ran across the finish line as a team.
The aftermath: well, unlike last time I did Ragnar…you know, where I swore I’d never do another? Well this time, I actually can’t wait to do it again!
Other than my legs feeling fatigued and some soreness in my quads, I feel pretty good. I could use some more sleep but I don’t think that’s going to be happening until next week sometime! I’m off to ATL!
Tell me about your running plans this week! Did I convince you to try a relay race?