Ragnar Relay

Well I'm finally done racing for a bit. I just finished up with the Ragnar Relay this past weekend and it has become one of my favorite races. Last year, it really was a life changing race for me. I re-discovered my love for running and haven't looked back since. The race is from Huntington Beach to Coronado (200+ miles) and consists of 12 teammates, 2 vans and each runner runs three different legs over a 24hr+ period. You just drop off your runner, play leap frog (cheering them on) then once their leg is done, they hand off the baton to the next runner at an exchange zone. Repeat 36 times and you finish! You get maybe 1-2 hrs of sleep if your lucky - but the energy of the team, the race and the atmosphere helps you get through it. The legs this year were set up like this:

Runner1st Leg2nd Leg3rd LegTotal
14.9 miles |5.3 miles | 5.5 miles | 15.7 miles
25.0 miles | 9.2 miles | 7.4 miles | 21.6 miles
35.3 miles | 2.7 miles | 5.7 miles | 13.7 miles
44.3 miles | 5.6 miles | 6.1 miles | 16 miles
52.5 miles | 6.6 miles | 3.0 miles | 12.1 miles
62.7 miles | 5.4 miles | 4.3 miles | 12.4 miles
77.3 miles | 8.2 miles | 9.7 miles | 25.2 miles
85.4 miles | 6.5 miles | 5.9 miles | 17.8 miles
96.1 miles | 2.4 miles | 8.3 miles | 16.8 miles
105.4 miles | 3.8 miles | 6.4 miles | 15.6 miles
116.0 miles | 2.1 miles | 5.2 miles | 13.3 miles
128.0 miles | 5.9 miles | 6.1 miles | 20 miles

I was runner 7 unfortunately and to make things worse, Ragnar's miles were off. Every one's Garmins were off quite a bit, including mine. Mine actually rung up at exactly 26 miles. Add on top of that record high temperatures throughout San Diego and Riverside, and it was a pretty challenging few days!

Amy and I were Sid and Nancy
Our team name was Hair Force---influenced by your 80's hair bands: metal/punk/pop...you get the idea. A big part of the race was not just the running part; but dressing up, decorating your vans and showing energy out on the course which gets you in the running for different awards. It was a lot of fun seeing people anywhere from 16 yrs to 60 yrs old dressing up and having fun. It went down like this: 
Van #1: (From left to right): Heather (Lita Ford), Bryan (Nicki Sixx), Cheree (Madonna), Irving (Slash), John (Dusty Hill) and Sabrina (Joan Jett)

Van #2 (from left to right): Melissa (Wendy O.Williams), Eric (Dimebag Darrell), Kim (Cyndi Lauper), Kev (Bruce Dickenson), and finally Me (Sid Vicious) and Amy (Nancy) being disgusting

The Start:

Although it doesn't look like many teams, it's because we were the last (fastest group) to start at 2pm. Teams had been going in groups on the hour since 6am that morning. The goal is to try and get all the teams to finish around the same time the next day between 12-3pm. There were actually close to 500 teams and over 5500 people in the race, not to mention volunteers, spectators - it was crazy - easily doubled from last year.

After the first van was done, they handed off to me and I was set to run 7.3 miles (my shortest leg). I started my run in Corona and a volunteer had said it was 95 degrees about an hour ago. Holy crap it was hot. I'm so used to running at either 5am or 6pm, this heat was new to me. The run was basically a sidewalk with a few rolling hills and NO shade! I wore my heart rate monitor for this one and I knew within the first few miles that it was going to be a rough one. I was in the 180's for the majority of the run and was only averaging 6:18's. To give you an idea of how the heat can effect you, I was averaging 173 for my heart rate in my 1/2 marathon in January and my average pace was 5:55...crazy. I felt it, at one point I started even getting a little dizzy and almost stopped to gather myself. I passed quite a few people, got lost for about 300 meters with another guy and was very happy to finally see the exchange zone where I passed to Kevin. This was by far my toughest leg of the weekend. At this point I knew our times were going to be a little slow because of the nasty heat. It didn't seem to cool off until later that night.

Once I was finished, I handed off to Kev, then he gave it to Melissa who handed off to Kim, then Amy, then Eric. One of our bigger mistakes of the year was not bringing enough food. I'm not sure if it was because we were in Van #2 this year, but it seemed like all of us were hungry all the time. We had to eat during weird times of the day---lesson learned for next year. Poor Amy got lost on a poorly marked turn off and she ended up running 9 miles instead of 6! She is a newer runner and 6 had been her longest run to date, so 9 kinda pushed her over the edge and the true Nancy came out! I was so proud of her though, she rocked! We ended up catching all the same teams pretty quickly so it didn't really effect our overall time. By the time our van was done it was close to midnight, we got a bite to eat in Lake Elsinore and headed down to Fallbrook for the next major exchange zone to try and get some zzz's. The exchange zone ended up being terrible, they didn't let us sleep outside our vans and had the choice to either sleep in the weeds, on top of our vans or inside our vans...We choose the latter and after sleeping for on and off for about 2 hours I woke up to a nasty van filled with heavy breathing, condensation on the windows and smelly run stank. It was about 3 in the morning and it was time to try and get pumped for my 2nd leg which ended up being just short of 9 miles along hwy 395.

It was nice and cold, my kind of running---I headed out in the very dark quiet night and headed up the 395 towards Lilac (that monster of a climb). I usually ride my bike up this hill and it's no big deal. I'm used to a lot of traffic and noise from the freeway, but with it being in the middle of the night all I could hear were my footsteps and a bunch of blinking lights ahead of me of other Ragnar runners making their way up to the top. It was awesome. But after about 2 miles of running on a very slanted road I felt a sharp pain in on the outside of my left foot. I've never had foot issues before in running and thought maybe it was just an irritated nerve or something. I ran towards the middle of the road the pain subsided a bit, but it scared me because it felt like something was not right. I powered my way up the climb and managed to average about 6:50 on the 2 mile climb. Once I reached the top, I hit up a water station and started charging the downhill. I think at this point my foot was numb so I picked up the pace and passed like 15 people hitting a few 5:25 miles - I was having fun. We finished near a coffee shop and although I felt good, my foot was burning.

Our van continued to make it's way to Escondido all the way to Carlsbad before handing it off once more to the other van. We ate bfast and made our way to the next major exchange zone down in Del Mar. It was only about 7am and it was already getting hot. This made it impossible to get any sleep this time. The beach and the vans were hot, so we just had to wait it out for the other team to arrive. With all the down time, I decided I should probably go get my foot wrapped (I still had no idea what I did). As the medic did some tests on my foot, he said that I most likely broke it (slight fracture). I guess the outside of your foot is one of the most common breaks amongst runners because of how tiny the bone is-never knew that...So he made me sign a waiver and told me I shouldn't run my next leg which was a 10 miler of course. I told him to just wrap it up and get me some drugs. At this point I was really wondering whether or not I should run. I've trained so hard in the off season and now that tri season is here, I can't wait to race. A broken foot would definitely put a damper on the season. I told Eric and Kev that I was 67% sure I could finish my leg. If I had to step off, they would have to be my substitute. Let me tell you, they were thrilled...I ended up starting to feel pretty good as the drugs kicked in (and the Rockstar) so I headed out for a hot, hilly 10 miler.

Besides the downhill, my foot felt OK --good enough to finish it. The heat started getting to me towards the end. With about 4 miles to go I caught up to this guy that was probably going about 3 seconds/mile slower than I was so I slowly reeled him in. The last mile was straight up hill so I caught up to him at a light and we battled for about a 1/2 mile then I crushed him the 2nd half. Once I finished , I look back and this guy was as dramatic as it gets. He collapses onto the ground yelling for water all intense, scaring all the women and children around. Pissed himself...People got all worked up...ridiculous. I told him he should have been working out at Rehab United - maybe he could have hung in there....jk. I was glad to be done. I covered 26 miles, almost 2000 feet of climbing and averaged 6:15 pace. If you put my 3 runs together it gives me a 2:41:32 marathon time. I imagine on a flat course, with a few long runs in my bank I could hit that time, maybe faster if the weather was right. So I was pretty happy about my splits overall. Now it's time to get some xrays and hope for the best!

Amy in her last leg still smiling!
Our van brought it home, Kevin, Melissa, Kim, and Amy looked super strong even on their 3rd legs. Then it was time for Eric to bring it into the finish. He had a 6 mile leg and we knew we'd be cutting it close because of the traffic we had fought all day long. Eric was flying at mile 4 when we passed him and when we get to the finish line parking lot there's a 1/2 mile long traffic jam just to get in. We were bummed but still having fun. By this time of the race everyone is just delirious and everything seemed funny. Our van had a few good laughs as we waited to get into the parking lot. Once we finally got to the finish, van 1 was waiting for us and told us how Eric out kicked some guy coming in. Last year the finish line was the best part, so I was pretty pissed we missed it this year. However, it was Ragnar's first year doing it on this course so you have to figure there would be some hiccups. This was just a major one. Hopefully they get it right for next year.

One thing Ragnar did do right this year was the beer garden. I was expecting Bud Light as we crossed the finish line, but they had Stone and Lost Abbey! Our team all had some beers, reminisced on the the past few days and just took it all in. We are not sure yet what place we got, most likely top 10, maybe top 5 in the co-ed division, we'll see. You really do find yourself on your 3rd and last leg in Ragnar. Your body is beat, everything in you tells you to quit - but you press on for yourself and your teammates. You can't do that in much of anything. Testing yourself physically and mentally, cheering your team on, staying positive and then getting buzzed after only one beer at the end...good times. That night we stayed at the El Cordova hotel which was a really cool Hotel that was in the middle of a Spanish looking village.The next day Amy and I hit up some breakfast and ended what was a great weekend with friends.

Time to get over this Ragnar hangover and get back into triathlon mode. I've been really sore and tired all week. If I did break my foot, at least it will force me to focus more on my swim!

Thanks for reading, and thank you Hair Force for such an amazing weekend!

Some more pics:

Van 1!

The team minus Melissa (she's running!)

Sixx getting ready to roll

Hair Force!

Ladies enjoying the finish

Getting our hard earned metal

Dinner at the El Cordova


Kori said...

Yup, you were at the same race I was! That's a great description. I was runner 11 like Amy was. You definitely had the hardest leg, with the heat and all. I had a blast as well, and my first thought after it was over was, "who should I do it with next year? I need to start planning."

Highly recommended race!

Here's my pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/koritruesdale/Ragnar2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCPz9oIeFs6OXbA&feat=directlink

James Adams said...

Yea, the race was a blast!

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