Tag Archives: ragnar great river

Race Recap: 2017 Ragnar Great River

My alarm went off at 1:45 a.m. and I was out the door by 2:30 a.m. We met at Volee teammate Kaitlin’s place and was on the road to Winona by 3 freaking a.m.

After a slight detour due to road construction and missing our 5:45 a.m. start time, we finally made it to the start line. Alicia headed out with the 6 a.m. crew and then my third Ragnar experience was officially underway!

Leg 1: 6.6 miles, 9:16 pace

Thank goodness this leg went well because I felt like it set a good tone for my Ragnar experience overall. I felt pretty strong (legs were fresh after a few unintentional rest days prior). I had 15 “road kills” — mostly on the hills, where I felt the strongest and was able to pass some walkers.

Splits were: 9:30, 9:28, 9:21, 9:21, 9:08, 9:03. I was, however, SO happy to see the “one mile to go” sign and even happier to see my teammate Jacenta waiting for me at the exchange.

After our van was done with our first legs, we stopped in Nelson, Wisconsin at the Nelson Creamery for sandwiches. I was pleasantly surprised they had gluten-free wraps! It was raining by this point and everyone was starting to feel the effects from our early start, so we pulled off at Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and Park to get in a quick nap. Half of the team snoozed in the van and Laura, Alicia and I found a pavilion to stretch out under. I slept a solid 40 minutes and felt like a brand new person when I woke up.

We got a text from van 2 that they were ahead of pace, so we drove a few miles down the road to the next exchange. Rachel, runner 12, came flying into the exchange and then Alicia was off! Van 1 was back on the clock.

Leg 2: 3.4 miles, 9:27 pace

Dressed in all black, ready for my night run

At 7:11 p.m. I headed out on my second leg. My body felt tired and the first mile (9:39 pace) was pretty rough. The hills were steeper than in my first leg and my legs just didn’t want to turn over. I managed to pick up the pace just slightly as the elevation evened out slightly, but it was tough (9:34 and 9:19).

Elevation map for my second leg

Our entire van was feeling pretty loopy from lack of sleep, so naturally we cranked up the music, ate PB&J sandwiches and then set out to find a place to crash for a couple hours.

Have glow sticks, will van rave

We decided to throw our sleeping bags down on the grass and sleep under the stars at Stillwater High School, the location of the next exchange.

Unfortunately the foot traffic near our sleeping location kept me from being able to sleep much more than 30 minutes or so and I woke up feeling worse than when I had gone to bed. But before we knew it, it was time to meet van 2 at the next exchange and run our third and final legs.

Leg 3: 2.7 miles, 8:41 pace
My final leg was at 5:38 a.m. and boy, was I ready to be done. So, following Alicia, Laura and Kaitlin’s examples, I gave this one all I had left. The lack of hills and cool weather made this run feel pretty effortless, even on tired legs.

Once Jacenta and Rachel rocked their final legs, van 2 headed out to bring it home!

van 1 – done!

The next priority was real food and for some of us…..a bloody mary.

Soon it was time to meet up with van 2 and cross the finish line together!

I think most of us were surprised when the final results were posted and we finished in less than 30 hours, and were the second place women’s team overall!

Final results:


2013 Ragnar Great River race recap

Overall thoughts:

  • 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!

But first we had to take a photo!

But first we had to take a photo!

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)

Roadkills: 5

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)

Roadkills: 6

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),

Roadkills: 5

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?

What I packed for Ragnar

If all went well, my alarm went off this morning at 3 a.m. and we packed up the van and were on the road by 4:30 a.m. aaaaand right about now I’m likely cheering on our first runner, Angela, who just got into town from Cleveland last night (and she drove!) But I wanted to show you what I packed last night for this little adventure:


The hubs got me a fancy new camera for my birthday! I used it to take these photos and as you can tell, I still need to learn how to use it properly.

Running Essentials

  • My three Oiselle-inspired outfits — I am wearing outfit #1 and have the other two outfits packed in separate gallon-sized Ziploc bags.
  1. Stride shorts and Flyte tank
  2. Distance shorts, 2009 ragnar shirt
  3. Stride shorts, Lesko sports bra and my Lumberjack Heroes team tank!


  • 2 sets of running shoes
  1. Saucony Guide 5s
  2. Mizuno Wave Inspire 9s


  • 2 pairs of compression socks – including my new fancy Ragnar ones
  • Spibelt
  • Handheld Polar water bottle
  • Nathan fuel belt
  • Vaseline and Body glide
  • Headphones – I probably won’t wear while running, but wanted them for in the van or for trying to sleep
  • Garmin
  • The Stick (thanks, Kori!)

Other essentials

  • Sleeping bag
  • Two towels — one for sitting on in the van and one for sleeping on in place of a pillow and for changing under
  • Toiletries (contact stuff, first aid stuff – we’ll also have an actual first aid kit, baby wipes)
  • My new Samsung Galaxy Tab (thank goodness for 4G LTE)
  • Sunscreen
  • Oiselle hoodie and comfy pants to lounge in between legs
  • Teva sandals for in between legs
  • Sleep mask/earplugs
  • Flashlight
  • Safety gear – reflective vests, headlamps and tail lights

Fun stuff and food

  • Car window “chalk”
  • I was in charge of the pretzels and fruit snacks but we’ll also have other snacks and of course I packed Picky Bars!

For other great tips about packing for overnight relays, check out this blog post from Oiselle!

If you want to follow along on our team’s Ragnar adventures, I’ll be tweeting with the hashtag #lumberjackheroes!

Ragnar: less than one month to go!

Ohhh boy, Ragnar Great River is less than a month away and I’m getting exciiiiiited! We have all of our volunteers, both vans secured, team shirts ordered and I just sent out an email to my team to find a time for our last meeting before the race.

I decided that it was probably a good time to actually take a look at my legs and start to prepare for what I’ll have to run. The only thing I’m having a hard time gauging is what time of day I’ll likely be running. We have an 8 a.m. start time. I’m pretty sure my first leg will be sometime around noon maybe? But beyond that, have no idea.

1st leg — Leg 4 | 6.6 miles | hard



What worries me about this one is that the elevation doesn’t look too bad but yet it’s considered “hard.” I’m not sure if that’s because of the mileage or if it’s because there is no van support allowed for this leg. Or is it something else?

2nd leg — Leg 16 | 3.5 miles | moderate



This one shouldn’t be too bad. There’s some serious elevation gain, but at least it’s only 3.5 miles total.

3rd leg –  Leg 28 | 5.1 Miles | Very Hard



This one is the one that worries me. There’s some serious elevation change and it’s my last leg. Just hoping for good weather for this one!

Other loose ends:

  • Finish making sure we have all of our required safety equipment
  • Start a list of what to pack
  • Buy noisemakers/van paint/other fun stuff
  • I’ll need to attend a captain’s meeting about a week before the race

The first day of the race will be my 28th birthday. I kind of forgot about this part — maybe I should make a shirt or something?!

Have you ever run a race on your birthday?

Weekly Wednesday Ragnar post: Meet Tim!

(Tim is on the left.)

(Tim is on the left.)

Name: Tim P.

Location/hometown: Currently Esko, MN, but I am from Big Bend, WI — went to high school in Waukesha, WI

How long have you been running? Since about year 2000— so for about 13 years

Why did you decide to run Ragnar? I was given the opportunity to run on a team last year- and was very excited to join on another team.  I have done many races and different types of races, and Ragnar was my favorite ever.

How many Ragnar Relays have you run? 1

If you’ve run Ragnar before, what’s your favorite Ragnar memory? Seeing all of the spirit with the runners.  So many people out there with very different ability levels with the purpose of doing your best but also having fun.

What are you most looking forward to about Ragnar 2013? I look forward to being on the same team with my wife Sara, her brother Jesse and wife Hyedi.  Last time I ran I ran with Sara and basically strangers, and had an absolute blast.  I am excited to run on the same team with some people I know.

Give me one fun random fact about yourself. I was the “reverend” that married Jessie and Hyedi Nelson

(Note from Hyedi: he was an awesome “reverend.” Proof below.)



Dollars for Distance 2013


Last night, Andrea and I attended the 2nd annual Dollars for Distance, a silent auction benefiting Girls on the Run Twin Cities. It was a fantastic turnout and a well-organized event!

Andrea is GOTR's biggest supporter!

Andrea is GOTR’s biggest supporter!

And, bonus — I got to catch up with my former board-mates that I miss dearly.

Love these ladies!

Love these ladies!

They had some great items to bid on — a Grandma’s half marathon bib, beginner cross fit package, signed sports memorabilia, running shoes/gait analysis, wine baskets, golf outings — and lots more. I bid on quite a few things but didn’t win anything. I also came close to winning a couple of the raffles — but no such luck. Andrea, on the other hand, was a big winner!

Two backstage passes to the Guthrie Theatre!

Two backstage passes to the Guthrie Theater!

Earlier this week, our fearless Ragnar Ambassador leader Leslie was in town and took all of us out to dinner! It was a gorgeous evening out and we snagged a table on the patio at Crave. Nice.

It’s was fun to talk about nothing but running/Ragnar/other related topics for the couple of hours we were there.


The hubby took today off of work to spend the day with me and it’s been fantastic and really relaxing. We had a yummy lunch at the new-ish sushi place, Sakana, that’s near us (the building it’s in used to be a KFC — so weird). We are heading to a whiskey tasting that his sister and family got him for a Christmas gift. Should be fun! I will do my best to limit my whiskey tasting since I’m racing in the morning.

Speaking of racing — have decided to sign up for the Twin Cities Marathon! Haven’t registered yet — still figuring out some logistics around running as a SoleMate, but hope to have an official confirmation soon!

Have you been to a whiskey tasting? Or something similar — other than a wine or beer tasting?


Weekly Wednesday Ragnar post: Meet Mandy!

mid-ragnar #1

Name: Mandy

Location/hometown: Minneapolis
How long have you been running? About 5 years
Why did you decide to run Ragnar? Wanted to run it one more time since although it was exhausting the first time it was a lot of fun!
How many Ragnar Relays have you run? 1
If you’ve run Ragnar before, what’s your favorite Ragnar memory? I have several. 1 –  the ridiculous things that happen in the van once everyone starts to get loopy; 2 – all the people who come out ot cheer along the course; 3 – the finish line!
What are you most looking forward to about Ragnar 2013? Having fun!
Give me one fun random fact about yourself. I have an obsession with all dogs that have wrinkles (puggles, pugs, bulldogs, etc.)