Happy (and proud) to say I survived Ragnar! And I can still walk. 🙂 Actually not as sore as I thought I’d be after running 16.1 miles in 36 hours. We lucked out with great weather. It was a lot of fun and a completely new running experience.
Our team was the Lumberjack Heroes. We had 12 people split up into 2 vans for the relay race. I was in van 2. Van 1 had to take off early in the morning to get to Winona, WI to start the race at 8 a.m. Van 2 met at 10 a.m. to load up the van and head to Modena, WI (exchange 6) where our first runner started around 2:45 p.m.
Leg 1 – 4.5 miles
At 6 p.m. it was my turn to run my first leg. Felt so good to finally start running! I had been anxious and excited all day watching the other runners in my van take off for their first leg. The ‘baton’ for the Ragnar Relay is a bright orange slap bracelet (yes, an old-school slap bracelet!). They announced that our runner was coming, so I made my way to the exchange point and waited for the hand off. I got the bracelet and was on my way. I found my stride and was feeling pretty good. Near the end of the leg, the road became a gravel road. This slowed me down a little because I was worried about my footing since the gravel was a little loose. Definitely not a fan of running on gravel, and the fact that there was a mean hill didn’t make it a lot better.
Overall, I felt good about this first leg. I ran the 4.5 miles in 46:30. A lot of teams keep track of how many runners they pass while doing their legs and they’re called ‘road kill.’ We called our road kill ‘stumps’ to keep with our lumberjack theme. I had 4 stumps on this first leg and was pretty pumped!
About 9 p.m. our van rolled into Ellsworth, WI where we had some downtime before our second legs. We took to the opportunity to try and get some sleep. We were at a school and had the option to go inside and sleep in the gym, but it was such a nice night that we decided to grab our sleeping bags and sprawl out on the football field. It was pretty cool to be lying under the stars. I had been sleeping for about an hour when a volunteer came up to the field and told us the school didn’t want people on the field, so we had to move. Totally could’ve used another half hour of shut eye, but I did feel energize for the next round of running.
Leg 2 – 4.9 miles
Our second legs were during the overnight hours, so we had to wear safety gear: a reflective vest, a tail light, and a head lamp.
I got geared up and was ready to start my second leg at exchange 22 in Hudson, WI around 4:20 a.m. I was kind of excited to run at night, but a little nervous too. I took off and after a few steps my tail light fell off. I grabbed it and reattached it to my vest. After a few more steps, it fell off again. I picked it up and tried to turn the light back on but it was not working. You have to wear all the safety gear on the night legs, so I had to text my team and ask them to bring me our other tail light. They caught up with me after a few minutes, I put on the other light, and was finally off.
The whole light debacle kind of rattled me. I was so paranoid that the light was going to fall off again that I never really felt like I hit a comfortable stride. This leg was actually kind of tough for me. Remember the road kill (stumps) I talked about? Well, if getting passed actually made you road kill I would’ve been that gross, unrecognizable animal on the highway after this leg. I was getting passed a lot. I had to keep reminding myself that I needed to run at my own pace and not worry about what other runners were doing. Along with that my legs were already tired and this route was almost all uphill. It was truly a mental game to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I was relieved to get to the next exchange, pass off the bracelet, and put that leg behind me. Because of the setbacks at the start of this leg my RunKeeper was a little off, so I’m not exactly sure what my final time was.
After our van’s last runner was done with her second leg, we had some more downtime and attempted to get some sleep. We were at another school and went into the gym. The floor was hard, so it was tough to get comfortable, but I managed to get a couple hours of sleep.
Leg 3 – 6.7 miles
Yes, my last leg was also my longest. One good thing about this leg is it actually followed part of my regular running route in St. Paul, so I knew the terrain. This leg started about 2:15 p.m. and the temp had reached the mid-80s with lots of sun and a light breeze. After a less-than-stellar second leg and the warm weather, I was fairly nervous waiting at the exchange. I took off planning to start out a little slow so I could get warmed up. I was happy when RunKeeper said my average pace was 10:30 after a half mile. I was feeling good so I picked up my pace a little and was averaging about a 10:05/mile pace the rest of the route. This was faster than I was expecting! I even had 5 stumps on this leg!
I carried a small water bottle with me, but because of the heat I also had my team meet me halfway through the leg to give me more water if I needed it. I was glad I did this. I drank the small bottle on the first half and it was great to have more water for the second half. I felt strong along the second half of the leg and was excited to spot the “One mile left” sign. I reached the exchange and was so relieved to be done! I ran the 6.7 miles in 1:08:56.
Our last runner took off and the rest of us hopped into the van to head to the finish line. Van 1 met up with us at the finish. As our last runner approached, our whole team joined her to run across the finish line. So nice to finish the relay as a team!
At the after party we collected our medals, grabbed our free pizza and beer and sat down to enjoy our victory. I think we were all pretty tired, so we didn’t hang out too long. The rest of my night included a shower (the best shower ever!), laundry, and I treated myself to some (more) pizza. Felt so good to sleep in my own bed that night too! 🙂
It was a long and crazy couple of days, but so much fun. I’m so glad I did it, but I’m also glad it’s over so I can focus on my half marathon training. Will take it easy for a couple days to recover from the weekend, but then training will be in full swing again!
Have you ever done a race like Ragnar Relay? Would you ever? 😉