2012 Ragnar Relay So Cal

HairForce in full effect before the start
Wow, what another amazing weekend with friends. This is the third year in a row "HairForce" has represented at The Ragnar Relay in SoCal. We have a lot of fun and we suffer a lot. For those of you that have no idea what Ragnar is, it's a 12 person, 200+ mile running relay race. For this particular race it's from Huntington Beach to Coronado, CA. There's two vans for each team where Runners 1-6 run - then pass off to Runners 7-12 in the next van. Repeat this 3 times and you finish together as a team at the finish line with beer awaiting you and plenty of war stories to tell. I was Runner #1 this year in Van 1 and I ended up covering just over 20 miles in total. I had my wife, some of my best friends and racing on tap - what is better than that??

Katy Perry & Bret Michaels...quiet the couple
Unfortunately the decision to race the week before at The Big Rock Triathlon was probably not a good idea as my sickness turned for the worse. I had already been sick the week after Oceanside 70.3 and just as I was getting better, I raced hard and paid for it the next day. I woke up with a sinus infection, my sore throat worsened and I was coughing up a lot of junk for the remainder of the week. To make matters worse I started running a fever the day before the race and hadn't exercised for 3 days straight. I fought through work that day, went over to one of my teammates - Kevin's place and went for an easy run to try and get a little life back into my legs. I struggled to keep 9 minute pace, but by the time we finished I started feeling slightly better. That night I woke up in the middle of the night in a puddle of sweat and broke my fever. By the time I woke up, I was feeling a lot better just in time to race later that day!!! sheesh.

Part of being on HairForce means dressing the part. Think hair bands both past and present. Ragnar has awards for many different categories and "best dressed" is part of that. We go all out every year and it's pretty funny seeing grown-ass men and women dressed up. I ended up going as Bret Michaels and Amy went as Katy Perry. Quite the couple... Others included James Hetfield, Ronnie James Dio, Michael Jackson, Richard Simmons, Carlos Santana, Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani, Siouxsie Sioux (from The Banchees), Tina Turner and Lady Gaga. We looked good...

Bret Michaels, James Hetfield and Ronnie James Dio!
Friday morning we picked up our vans and teammates and headed over for our 2pm start. In Ragnar, they send you off in waves depending on your pacing. Waves had started early that morning and we were one of the last waves to go off. There were already close to 600 teams and over 7000 people already racing before we even toed the line. A lot of people to pass!! We all kept it loose. The start is one of my favorite parts of this race because everyone is dressed and pretty much act in character. There was a ton of laughs and before I knew it - it was time to disrobe my sweet Bret Michaels giddy-up and get myself in race mode. I got in a quick warm up before I started the LOOONG day. I was sizing up my competitors at the start and I knew right away who would be my competition for this first leg. First it was time for intros...

Bringing it in...tough to lose that guy!
 Leg #1: 5.1 miles - 27:13 (5:26 pace)

As much energy as I was showcasing, I was feeling like crap on the warm-up...No biggie, time to have some fun. The gun went off and I settled in with the guy I knew would be fast and also a guy from the team "Post-Fontaine" who ended up being one of the co-ed teams that beat us. I looked over at the shirt-less dude and said, "can't get any better weather then this eh?" just trying to keep it loose and fun. Guy just stared me down and didn't say anything. wth? So I just left him. My legs felt pretty amazing after the first mile where I came through in 5:39. It was flat and right on the coast and after mile 2 in 5:42 we headed inland and the marine layer started wearing off and the heat started creeping in. I couldn't believe how easy the pace felt and I cranked out another 5:30 and went through 5k at 17:22. At this point I heard the shirtless guy creep up on me and he was struggling/laboring. It caught me off guard because I had thought that I left him. I turned around, waved my hand for him to come up with me and as soon as he came next to me I threw down a 5:18, he was still in contact so I put in a 5:04 last mile (best pace 4:23) and left him. After the race I thought my last mile was 5:18, but that ended up being my 4th mile split and I ended up almost going sub 5 to my surprise. Fitness is there. My garmin actually read 5 miles so it was about .1 short. It was definitely harder than I had wanted to start a long race with, but there was no way in hell I was going to bring in the baton in 2nd place! Plus, I wanted that guy to pay for being an a-hole! haha. I was happy with my fitness and my ability to change gears at the end of the race and finish strong. Especially with lack of training as of late!

Exchange zone 1...team awaiting...
Our team is made up of x-college All Americans, high school stars, moms, a musician, a crossfit stud and a soccer player - so we have a very diverse group and a fun one. Everyone took the race seriously but at the same time didn't and had a lot of fun. I felt like we had a good balance of that this year. There is one negative about having a faster team though. Less rest. By the time our van handed it to van #2, we only had to time to grab a quick bite/beer and next thing we know it's 10pm and I'm lining up to race my next leg! Something hadn't settled to well, so my stomach was not ready to run again - but regardless it was time and this leg would be my hardest of the day and through the worst area of the whole race! Lake Elsinore.

No pics of this leg since it was @night...
However, I was made fun of for looking like
an emo-Jared Leto here...
Leg #2: 10 miles - 1:08:37 (6:53 pace)

My second leg was a mostly-offroad leg at night through some really sketchy areas in Lake Elsinore. Sketchy as in passing local drug houses with strung out guys yelling at us and also as in running against traffic with a 1 foot shoulder, during drunk hour and cars screaming by you at 70 mph. Top if off with my mp3 player dying before the start, then my headlamp dimming the first mile and then eventually dying - so I couldn't even see! My paces were all over the place. At some points I was going 9 minute pace trying to secure footing down on river beds where it was pitch black and then there were other times where I was on the pavement rocking out sub 6 miles. My legs felt pretty good until about the last 2 miles. I had turned my ankle a few times, I was hungry and just over running at this point. I was happy to be done and be spectator/cheering squad for the next several hours.

One of my favorite parts of this race is doing it with my wife (not actually "doing it" but participating..). Since I'm no longer a "runner" now we tend to race separately throughout the year. She'll cheer me on at my triathlons and I'll do the same when she races local 5k and 10k's. Unfortunately she was sick too. Except she was like 5 days behind me when the sickness was at its worst. She barely got through her first leg and we were a bit worried about her and her coughing attacks if she'd be able to continue. However, before the second leg, her spirits were up and she ended up having a great run and I was a proud hubby. She rocked!

Heading out for my final leg...
Leg #3: 5.5 miles - 36:17 (6:34 pace)

The third leg is always the hardest...funny, I know (that was actually a team name) but it really is. You learn a lot about yourself on that final leg. It's when you are tested. You can't fake your fitness on the 3rd leg. Everything is exposed. No matter if you did 12 miles or 22 miles total, that last leg is when your legs are burning, your eyes are burning from no sleep and your stomach is a disaster. Being the first runner I found out is kind of nerve racking because we were all asleep for what seemed like 10 minutes when the phone went off with van 2 giving us the news that their last runner has departed. You wake up with a rush and slight panic as you gather all of your things, hit the bathroom and then your back in the pain cave before you know it. My last leg was hillier than I thought it was going to be. Just full of a bunch of rollers. My first 5k was sub 18, but then I started getting really bad sharp pains in my right knee. All of the pounding on the pavement had taken its toll. My legs were starting to give, so I backed waay off. I'm just starting my triathlon season and I had zero interest in making this overuse pain into an injury. I cruised it in and called it a day and to be honest I'm not sure how much faster I could have been if I would have stayed on it. I was spent.  I can't believe how much that last leg hurts...every single year, no matter how good of shape you are in you leave limping and just completely spent.

Van 1 passing if off for the last time to Irving (MJ)
It was hard to tell how we were doing at this point of the race. I felt like we were behind from last years results, but this years course was also a bit longer and waay hillier. I couldn't believe some of the hills that everyone in our van had to do. With the exception of my wife and I (I promise I didn't plan it that way!) everyone had these ridiculous 700+ft elevation climbs. Brutal! I could tell everyone's pep in their step was off on that last leg, even got a few middle fingers instead of fist pumps as we cheered our team mates on during the last part of the race. By the time we passed off for the last time to van #2 in La Jolla - we were ready to get some beers, eat, shower up at the hotel and get ready to meet up our other team mates for the finish line.

After meeting up with van 2 at the finish line and waiting on our last runner (Bryan) we figured out that it would be a very close finish to last years time. Next thing we know, he comes around the corner, we gather as a team and finish with him on our shoulders and then somehow he was sent flying through the air like we were pissed at him. Epic finish. We ended up finishing in 3rd place in the open co-ed division and 11th overall (out of 553 teams) with a time of 24hrs 18 mins (7:45 pace). We bettered our time by 14 minutes from last year and even moved up 2 spots - so overall I was very happy with our team and the effort. We took it all in at the finish line, hit the beer garden for some tasty Stone Brew and told our stories for the remainder of the day. Lots of fun and as much as I hated that race during certain parts, you always want to go back for more...Can't wait to do it all again next year!

A ton more photos:

The Start!

Passing it off to Hetfield
Van 2 recovering in between legs
Michael Jackson waving to a fan, face paint and all!
Decorating the vans
On our way into the finish
Final hand off
Michaels and Michael (sans face paint)
Cool shot of Kim amongst the chaos
Sabrina charging a rare downhill for her...She's a machine!
Bryan bringing it in!
And...my favorite pic of the whole weekend. We somehow
snapped a pic of Michael Jackson as a young child!


Ryan said...

Sounds bad ass, man. Your splits make me sick. I want in next year so throw me on the waiting list. Great report.

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