Friday, April 19, 2019

#Ragnar4Rett Ultra Ragnar Relay Race Recap

Wowser, as I'm sure you can imagine, this past weekend was a whirlwind to say the least. I've had little time to sleep, let alone write my recaps of all the miles, smiles and memories, so thanks for your patience as I catch up on rest and races.

I know you've been waiting on pins and needles, so I'm happy to report I've got my #Ragnar4Rett recap ready for your reading pleasure! Grab your water, some Nerds Jelly Beans and cuddle up, because you've got some reading to do ;)

Let's get this Ragnar party started... 

Before I jump into the recap (I know, I know, I got you all raring to go and then immediately pulled the E brake, sorry about that), if you haven't heard me talk about or explain #Ragnar4Rett before, make sure to give my previous post a quick read. This relay race is more than just 6 girls racing from Huntington Beach to San Diego... we dedicate each of the 185 miles to a specific girl (or boy) with Rett Syndrome and do our best to raise as much money and awareness as possible.

Okay, now that we are all up-to-date on what the main focus behind the race is, it's go time!

Thursday afternoon I took the train from Oceanside to Orange so I could meet up with the #TeamSparkle ladies. I had to take the hubby to work in the morning so I could drive to the train station with all my gear (he got a ride back to the transit center from a coworker) - but it seemed to work out perfectly (and, yes, we are still a one-car family for the time being, but we're searching for our perfect AdventureMobile, so maybe we will have another vehicle in our arsenal soon).

Got in a little reading on the ride

#TeamSparkle normally has one of the most recognizable vans on the Ragnar course, which normally means we put a lot of time, energy and creative juices into the decorating process. The game plan was to meet at Carrie and Elise’s (how amazing is it that they live a few houses down from each other?!) by 4pm so we could all help out. Little did I know some of the girls had started earlier (and that we would be changing our design). There was still plenty to do when I arrived, and I’ve gotta say, I know I’m probably bias, but our van was straight AWESOMESAUCE!

We write all 185 names on the back of the van. This is more than "just a race", this is personal! 

After we finished the van, the team went to dinner at Lazy Dog because even though we revamped our van design, you didn’t think we’d change where we'd eat before the race, did you?! I had a Tofu Teriyaki Bowl and it was oh so yummy!

Surprisingly we finished the van earlier than we had in years past (probably because Carrie had been slaving away for a few hours before everyone else arrived), so we were back to “base camp” fairly early (Kristen and I were bunking at Elise’s, while Brenna was staying at Carrie’s and Bridget decided to get a hotel room so she could knock out a ton of homework she had to finish). I laid out my #FlatCarlee before climbing onto my blow-up mattress for the evening.

#FlatCarlee for #Ragnar4Rett is basically the same thing, just six times over (swapping out the bra and specific pin, plus adding some safety
gear for night runs), but you get the idea... Instead of everyone wearing the same color this year, two of us each wore the same color, having
three colors total. I was given turquoise - YAY! My uniform consisted of: a Turquoise Sparkle Athletic skirt, a Turquoise Sparkle Athletic
, a #Ragnar4Rett tank, a pair of PRO Compression x Sparkle Athletic Unicorn Strip socks, a yellow Handful sports bra, a pink and aqua
Momentum Jewelry motivational wrap
, a COROS APEX watch, PROBAR BOLT chews, white and pink QALO silicone wedding bands,
an elite ROADiD, a MudLOVE inspirational band, a Nathan handheld, and Brooks Levitate with reflective Shwings.

If you’ve followed our #Ragnar4Rett journey in the past, you probably remember we wear a “uniform” for most of our legs (hence why there is only ONE #FlatCarlee instead of six), but we do swap out our under layers (sports bras, spandex shorts, socks, etc). Sparkle Athletic is awesome enough to outfit most of our needs - providing the tank, visor, skirt, socks (they recently have teamed up with PRO Compression for their own spifferific compression socks), etc. Girl Power 2 Cure creates the buttons we wear for each of our legs - with a picture of the girl (or boy) the specific mile is dedicated to.

Seeing as we knew there would be little to no sleep had in the vans, we hit the hay at a respectable hour (I think at least Kristen and I were in bed by 9pm) so we could wake up to meet everyone by 8am the following morning.

Of course I was awake before my alarm went off, but I went out into the living room so I could tool around on social media a bit as to not wake up Kristen… She ended up waking up early too since her body was on Central time and used to getting up early with her son. Even still, we were both able to clock over 8 hours of sleep which is a total win!


Our official start time was 10am, so we planned to meet at the van around 8am (some of the ladies had to take their kiddos to school so we may not have hit that time exactly) so we could get packed and snap some pictures before leaving.


And because jumping photos are just too fun, I decided to share two of them ;)

The start line for Ragnar SoCal is located in Huntington Beach (right near the beach, boyee), so by about 8:45am we had piled our gear and ourselves into the van and were on our way. When you arrive you have to watch a super corny safety video before we can check in, receive our bib numbers, safety accouterments, and get ready to rock and RUN!

It's sort of fun that you can see our van in the background... It stands out from the rest, right?!

Team 6-0-8, reporting for duty!

And, of course, we had to get a few more pictures, right?! Once we start the race there'd always be one of us running so we wouldn’t be together as a complete team till we crossed the finish line. We had to take advantage of the time together.

I sort of love that we went with three different colors this year, it made for fun photos. 

Is it a bird? A plane? No, it's a unicorn! 

Allison was able to come to the start line with Ms. Emma so Carrie could push her for the first leg (Allison's flight to Boston was later in the evening, so although she couldn't run Ragnar with us, she did her best to be along for as much as the journey as possible), so we snapped a quick picture with our honorary captain as well.

Team Emma DEFINITELY rocks!

Before we knew it, it was time to get the show on the road. The first leg of the race is fairly short (I think it’s like 2-3 miles), so we actually left Carrie and Emma before they started and had to jump in the van and drive to the next exchange so I’d be there and ready for the hand off. (FYI - Carrie was Runner 1 {and 7}, I was Runner 2 {and 8}, Elise was Runner 3 {and 9}, Bridget was Runner 4 {and 10}, Kristen was Runner 5 {and 11} and Jody was Runner 6 {and 12}.)

Carrie did a "fake" start so we could at least snap a running picture of her since we would be long gone by the time they started running

And in just about 20 minutes it was time for me to get my first leg of the race started. I will be including some pretty specific stats for each of my runs (even where they started and finished in case the routes stay the same in the future and people want more info about the exact routes), but if you aren’t interested, feel free to skim those sections ;)

Run #1 {Leg 2}

Run Details | Distance: 3.4 miles (Ragnar), 2.96 miles {did forget to start my watch at an intersection and lost about a half mile... user error!} (COROS APEX), Elevation Gain: 164 feet (Ragnar), 89 feet (COROS APEX), Elevation Loss: -99 feet (Ragnar), -26 feet (COROS APEX), Approximate start time: 10:21am, Actual start time: 10:21am, Approximate finish time: 10:49am,  Actual finish time: 10:48am, Location start: Huntington Beach State Park, Location finish: Estancia High School

As I mentioned, we run each mile for a specific Rett fighter (most in honor of, but some in memory of). It really makes every mile more meaningful. My first three (plus) miles of the race were dedicated to Emma, Sophia and Samantha.

We try to take photos with our buttons every leg and share them on the Girl Power 2 Cure
Facebook page
so the families who are following along can see their loved one!

I forgot to restart my watch at an intersection, so lost about a half mile or so on my GPS (sometimes all the arm candy gets in the way of hitting the button ;)). I only had 4 roadkills {when you pass someone}, but one of the guys I passed while on the bike trail looked at me, said “Killed” and gave me a high-five. Early in the race there aren’t a ton of people to pass because they start everyone with similar paces together (slower teams start earlier in the day and faster teams start later on Friday so everyone finishes around the same time and the finish line doesn't have to be open forever).

The guy in the blue shirt was the one who graciously considered himself roadkill ;) 

In case you were wondering how I fuel during Ragnar, I take my PROBAR BOLT chews on my longer runs {any leg over 6 miles, I take 4-5 chews every 30-45 minutes} and then when I need “legit” food I turn to the Peanut Butter and Honey Uncrustables. I know they aren’t the best, but they're easy for me to digest and I've found them convenient to grab and go.

I carried a handheld on every leg. If it was longer, I'd throw my chews in the pouch. If it was shorter, I'd throw my phone in there.

I also fueled with donut holes ;)
[A team was handing them out at one a transitions and we all had to grab one!]

If you know any of the team IRL {in real life} or follow us on social media, you probably know we're a fun crowd (if I do say so myself), so you better believe we had our fair share of shenanigans. From spectating with animal masks to having dance parties, we know how to have a good time. Don't get me wrong, we're "in it to win it", but still enjoy ourselves!

Ladies of leisure ;) {and, yes, I am the poodle in the shadows, HAHA!}

When Brenna originally texted with the poodle mask, I was slightly frightened, but it turned out to be HILARIOUS!

There's that Carlee girl, always making goofy faces and ruining pictures ;)

PS In case you aren't familiar with Ragnar, let me give you a few of the details that might not be obvious. First, the course is not closed. This means you're running on streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, etc that are open to normal traffic (cars, bikes, pedestrians, etc). You must obey all rules and regulations (crossing at crosswalks, not running on a red light, being super careful about the crazy SoCal drivers, etc). The app does give you turn-by-turn directions, but there are also signs on the way to aid runners (as long as people haven't stolen, moved or vandalized them, which unfortunately does happen!). It is important to do the "touch-and-go" method, meaning - run to the sign, touch it and THEN do what it says, that way you are on the proper side of the street for the next sign. Also, since this is a relay race, the "baton" you use to hand off between runners is a slap bracelet. You would think a slap bracelet would be easy to use, but it is harder than you would think ;)

The signs are super helpful... until you rely on them and they aren't there...

Snapped a picture of the bracelet while waiting for a light to change

You'd think by my fourth Ragnar I'd be a pro at this 'slap', but I manage to screw up at least one every race...

Run #2 {Leg 8}

Run Details | Distance: 9.3 miles (Ragnar), 8.9 miles (COROS APEX), Elevation Gain: 272 feet (Ragnar), 118 feet (COROS APEX), Elevation Loss: -631 feet (Ragnar), -505 feet (COROS APEX), Approximate start time: 2:28pm, Actual start time: 2:17pm, Approximate finish time: 3:42pm, Actual finish time: 3:29pm, Location start: The Salvation Army Tustin, Location finish: Mike Ward Community Park

Three of the girls on this leg sent me pictures of themselves cheering me on! SO AMAZING!

My next nine (plus) miles of the race were dedicated to Emma, Amanda, Blakely, Lauren, Lilliana, Alexandria, Aubrey, Ashley and Madison. (I have had the opportunity to run for Madison on multiple occasions and have gotten to know her and her family. They are ROCKSTARS! I recorded a little video for her during her mile.)

For some reason I don't have the original of this picture on
my phone any more, so you unfortunately get the low-res version
I had to pull from Facebook... Bummer-ruski!

This run was pretty toasty, since it was in the middle of the day. Thankfully I was lucky enough to have some decent downhill (which was actually in the shade for the first couple miles) so could cruise right along (between all the traffic lights, of course). There were quite a few police out on the route, and at one point I actually asked one of the volunteers, “Real Talk, are the cops out here for the runners’ protection or to give out tickets for disobeying traffic laws?" {At one of the bike rides I have done, one of the cities is a stickler for rules and will actually have cops sitting at stop signs and if the bikers don’t unclip and put at least one foot on the ground for two complete seconds they will be sited.}” He assured me it was for the runners’ safety. Some of the intersections can be a little nervousing so having a police car on the corner causes the drivers to think twice before turning without looking both ways or blowing through a red light.

Sorry I doubted your motives, Irvine Police Department!

Jody took a video of me "comin' in hot" at the end of my second run. We don't have a ton of time to get out and cheer on our runners because we are normally heading to the next exchange quickly, so it was fun to have them out to cheer me in.

We were lucky enough to have a larger cheer squad come out to meet us at one of our exchanges. We didn't have a ton of time to hang out and chat, but even the few minutes with friends helped keep use charged and encouraged!

Jody was out running at this point, but we were able to have Emma and Maggie jump in the photo in her place

Since I haven’t done other Ragnars (other than a local trail one), I'm not sure if most have “virtual” handoffs or not, but this one does. Due to Camp Pendleton (the military base) being in the middle of the course and us not being allowed to run through it, there's a virtual exchange in Dana Point (at the north end) and Oceanside (at the south end). If you are a “regular team” (meaning you have 12 runners and 2 vans), once Runner 12 (the last runner in the second van) finishes in Dana Point, a Ragnar official radios down to the transition area in Oceanside so Runner 1 (the first runner in the first van) can start immediately. Since we are an “ultra team” (meaning we only have 6 runners and 1 van), we are given a timing sheet with the time we finished and once we start up again we give them that info and they subtract our travel time.

As you can see, there is a LARGE empty space on the map... that's where the
military base is and where we have to have a virtual transition.

We decided on the drive to stop and grab dinner (and, like in years past, it was Chipotle). Since I would be running shortly after we started up again I had to hold off on eating my burrito until after my next run (or risk a dangerous blow-out ;)).

Sunsets and rainbows

Run #3 {Leg 14}

Run Details | Distance: 3.2 miles (Ragnar), 3.13 miles (COROS APEX), Elevation Gain: 233 feet (Ragnar), 171 feet (COROS APEX), Elevation Loss: -390 feet (Ragnar), -358 feet (COROS APEX), Approximate start time: 9:16pm, Actual start time: 8:46pm, Approximate finish time: 9:40pm, Actual finish time: 9:13pm, Location start: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Oceanside, Location finish: Alex Road Skate Park

My next three (plus) miles of the race (my first official night run) were dedicated to Nadia, Josie and Allison.

Night pictures can be difficult (especially when people start
trying to sleep in the van so you don't want to turn on the lights),
but we still try to snap our button pictures before each leg.

I was actually pretty pumped about this run. First, the hubby and pup were going to come over to the start since it was near the house, wish me luck and then head to where I finished to watch me run in. Second, I run the majority of this route on a weekly basis (when I am doing a 6-mile run with some extra hills thrown in), so I felt like I sort of had home-court advantage. I knew when to push, when to pull back and when the hills would be coming. Well, let’s just say I must have been a little too excited because I ran it in my NON-RUNNING SHOES… Yup, I was so distracted by everything before I started that apparently I didn’t put my running shoes on and ended up running the leg in my old school Brooks Heritage shoes (they are probably 3 years old and never meant to be run in…) - OOPS! I realized it pretty quickly into my run when I felt like my steps sounded heavier than normal and I looked down to see I had made a major boo-boo. Apparently I need to do that more often, though, because I was able to average a speedy 7:11/mile pace with a decent amount of climbing.

Stoked that we ran near where we live and that my guys could come watch me for a bit!
And, yep, you can see I'm wearing my non-running shoes and no one told me...

Who doesn't love a wiener dog spectator?!

Oh my goodness, this was one of the sillier mistakes I have made while running...

And as a way to celebrate the speedy leg (while wearing shoes not made for running...), I GOT TO EAT MY BURRITO! (The ladies did stop during my second leg for lunch, but since I wasn’t sure where they’d end up, I thought it’d be easier not to try and guess on an order, so this was technically my first “real” meal since my PROBAR BASE bar for breakfast.}

Get in my belly!

Run #4 {Leg 20}

Run Details | Distance: 2.4 miles (Ragnar), 2.4 miles (COROS APEX), Elevation Gain: 345 feet (Ragnar), 233 feet (COROS APEX), Elevation Loss: -348 feet (Ragnar), -200 feet (COROS APEX), Approximate start time: 12:43am, Actual start time: 12:19am, Approximate finish time: 1:03am, Actual finish time: 12:37am, Location start: Madison Elementary School, Location finish: Rancho Buena Vista High School

Had to retake this picture so many times to avoid the flash covering one of the girls' faces on the button

My next two (plus) miles of the race were dedicated to Avery and Quincey (PS Isn’t Avery's picture so cute?! She has a bird on her shoulder and I told her it would help me fly to the finish {or at least that's what I was hoping for}!).

By this time I was starting to get tired, but when it was time to go, I knew I could turn it on. This would be my shortest leg, so I wanted to kill it (and I knew I wouldn’t forget to put on the proper shoes again, HA!). I wasn’t familiar with the area, but thankfully there was a guy who stuck with me and we fed off each other. We were playing leap frog a bit (I’d pass him on the uphills, he’d pass me on the downhills) and when we would run next to each other we’d say things like “We’ve got a half mile left, I think we can catch that guy… and the guy in front of him.” Not everyone on the course is “racing” (Ragnar can be a great event for people just looking to have a good time while getting in a few miles), so it's fun to have someone with a little competitive nature to push you along. (And, yes, in case you were curious, I did beat him in the end ;))

Run #5 {Leg 26}

Run Details | Distance: 8.3 miles (Ragnar), 8.17 miles (COROS APEX), Elevation Gain: 430 feet (Ragnar), 269 feet (COROS APEX), Elevation Loss: -948 feet (Ragnar), -778 feet (COROS APEX), Approximate start time: 4:35am, Actual start time: 4:13am, Approximate finish time: 5:51am, Actual finish time: 5:17am, Location start: Target Vista Business Parkway, Location finish: South Ponto Beach State Beach

Waited until the sun came up to snap my watch photo for this leg (but I ran it all in the dark)

My next eight (plus) miles of the race were dedicated to Ashanti, Ella, Renee, Skylar, Oakley, Francesca, Isenia and Karsyn. Skylar just passed away in February, so her mom had been in contact with me, sending me some private messages. I made sure to pray extra hard for her family and friends during her memorial mile.

Another shot in the van... I wish they all didn't look the same, but I promise these were taken at different times ;)

Skylar was 16 when she earned her heavenly wings. #SkylarStrong

Like my second run, this leg had some portions I was familiar with (most of my long runs are done in Carlsbad along the beach, and the end of this route ended right in that same area). I felt like I was cooking, but because this was my third night/ dark run, I wasn’t really looking at my watch. Apparently I must have been flying because when I finished the team wasn’t there… I was yelling out, “Elise… Team Sparkle… 6-0-8…” Crickets… I texted our group chat to see where they were and I received an “Um, you’re more than 12 minutes early, we are still on our way…”. I figured that when I started my leg they would have driven to the next exchange so they could sleep there, but what they did was stay at the previous exchange because the parking lot was larger and they were able to find a dark corner. Ah well, I think we only lost maybe 5 minutes or so, but it was still a bit of a bummer thinking that all of my hard work was ‘wasted’.


Thankfully shortly after this the sun decided to rise and started to re-energize us. (I don’t know about you, but having the sun out makes it harder for my body to think I “should be” sleeping, so even though I had been awake for over 24 hours at this point {and had run about 26.5 miles} my body got an extra jolt when the sun came up.)

We might have been delirious at this point... one will never know ;) 

Skylar snapped this photo of my wrist while we were waiting at Starbucks and I sort of liked it.

Run #6 {Leg 32}

Run Details | Distance: 8.7 miles (Ragnar), 8.72 miles {did forget to start my watch at an intersection and lost about a half mile, also ran off course for about a half mile... user error!} (COROS APEX), Elevation Gain: 935 feet (Ragnar), 597 feet (COROS APEX), Elevation Loss: -1004 feet (Ragnar), -653 feet (COROS APEX), Approximate start time: 9:36am, Actual start time: 8:44am, Approximate finish time: 11:00am, Actual finish time: 10:10am, Location start: University High School, Location finish: Muirlands Middle School

My final eight (plus) miles were dedicated to Taryn, Ashley, Brandy, Brynn, Megan, Harper, Kaylee, Julianna and Kacie.

These girls were going to have to supply the strength to run me to my finish line!

I knew this would be my hardest run. Not only was it my last leg (which meant all of the cumulative miles and exhaustion would be compounded), as well as long and warm (although it was only mid-morning, it was definitely heating up fast), but it was the leg with the most climbing (over 900 feet). I was actually pretty nervous about it, but because my previous runs had all been averaging sub 8 minute mile pace, I felt like I had done my best and told the team I didn’t think I would be able to “race” this leg. Low and behold, I was absolutely right. First, when I started running I could tell my left hamstring was angry with me. Second, my lack of clarity led me to not start my watch at an intersection and lost a quarter mile or so of my tracking. Next, a couple miles into the run I took a wrong turn and added an extra .5 mile to my run {a fellow van saw me off track and came down to tell me I should be back on the main road… they offered to drive me back, but because we were legit racing, I didn’t want to be seen getting out of a vehicle and thought that I was possibly cheating, so I just ran the extra distance}. Also, my leg actually had some single track trails (WITH STAIRS) on it and now that the sun was up and the beach goers were out, we were having to compete with the crowds. It was definitely not a pretty run (in fact, they were multiple moments where I had to take a deep breath, compose myself and give myself a pep talk, reminding myself I was not letting the team or the Rett fighters down because I needed to walk up hills), but surprisingly I was still able to finish with an average pace of sub 9 minute miles. At that point, I was just happy to be moving forward...

The views were gorgeous, but you definitely had to earn them!

There could not be a better sign to see at the end of your SIXTH leg...

Running it in. 35+ miles and I was DONEZO!

I’ve gotta say, if I have the choice, I much prefer to be an earlier runner because then you are done earlier. One year I was actually Runner 1 {and 7} and loved being the first runner finished. Seeing as it was heating up, it was nice to have a little extra down time to compose myself before heading to the finish line. (At the finish, we all join the final runner and jog it in… because at that point in the race there is no sprinting, #AmIRightOrAmIRight?!)

One runner in, one runner out... And around and around we go.

The hubby was meeting us at the finish line, so it was great to see him again. (I swear, although I had seen him like 12ish hours before, it seemed like DAYS ago… but I guess that’s what Ragnar does to you… it screws with your sense of time and reality ;)) He was able to snap some pictures of the squad {Skylar was kind enough to be our designated driver AND photographer for the weekend, but we wanted a picture or two with him and Brenna in with us too}.

These girls are AMAZEBALLS!



Thankfully the team had discussed post-race food options before the race (while our brains were functioning and we could make decisions without too much effort), so after we finished our photos we made our way to get some yummy Mexican food. (I had never been to Pokez before but Brenna recommended it and she said vegans and vegetarians go wild for it {there is plenty for carnivores to enjoy as well}. I had a tofu, potato and mushroom burrito and it was delicious (and I don’t even think it was only because we were ravenous, but I guess we will have to go another time to decide for sure).

The burrito was HUGE (thankfully the hubby came with us and he was able to finish the rest of it for me ;))

In total I got in over 35 miles in less than 24 hours (seeing as I have run a couple ultra marathons, this may not seem super impressive, but you try it once… don’t sleep, run 3-9 miles every 4ish hours with the time between runs stuck in a van, and see how ‘easy’ it is) and I was ready for a nap… but there’s no rest of the runner because, if you remember, I was taking a flight to Boston a few hours later so I could run THE BOSTON MARATHON! {Thankfully some friends of ours who live in San Diego let me use their shower so I wasn’t stinky for my redeye flight.}

Participant guide in hand and I was ready to FLY!

PS Because I am sure you are all on the edge of your seat waiting to find out the official results - we came in SECOND! There was one other all female ultra team who beat us (by about 40 minutes), but we beat all of the other female ultra teams, as well as all of the men ultra teams and mixed ultra teams! Our official time was 26:02:30. BOOM SHAKALAKA!

It was an absolute honor and privilege to be a part of the team! 

Although that may seem impressive, the REAL REASON we run is to raise money and awareness for Girl Power 2 Cure to fight Rett Syndrome. The official numbers are still rolling in, but hopefully I can share those stats soon! Currently we run FOR THEM, but we believe that with the money for research that soon we will be able to run WITH THEM!

The race medal is nice and all, but the real reason we run is for these buttons... for those battling Rett Syndrome on
a daily, hourly, every-moment basis. THEY ARE THE REAL WARRIORS!

If you feel as though this cause has your name on it, you can give a tax-deductible donation to Girl Power 2 Cure HERE.

Have you ever participated in a relay race before?