Wednesday, April 15, 2015

#Ragnar4Rett - Friday

Where did we leave off? Oh yeah, laying out my Flat Carlee before hitting the hay Thursday night. [Feel free to read my #Ragnar4Rett - Thursday post if you haven't already done so.]

Flat Carlee includes my New Balance Fresh Foam shoes (which have Momentum Jewelry FootNotesReflective Lock Laces, and Sparkle Shwings), Purple Pro Compression Marathon SocksBlack Handful Sports BraMagenta Sparkle Athletic Skirt, and Gunmetal Sparkle Athletic Visor (with GP2C Flower attached).

Just like any other night before a race (whether it is the night before a full marathon or "just" a fun color run), I didn't get spectacular sleep. My mind is constantly going and I have a hard time being able to relax enough to fall asleep. Oh well, at least I am used to it. 

Once I rolled out of bed, I put on my race gear and played monkey in the middle with Carrie's three youngest kids ;) Thankfully we didn't break anything! It also helped to take my mind off of what was to come... Running 37 miles in a 24 hour span with NO sleep - sounds like a breeze, right?!

The ladies all made their way over to Carrie's by about 8:30am so we could pack up the van, pin on our capes, and hit the road. This was also when I met our drivers for the first time. Um, can you say HILARIOUS?! When two guys are willing to wear bright pink capes and gunmetal skirts all weekend, play chaperon to 6 women they have never met before and make everyone laugh the entire 27+ hours you know you've found the PERFECT drivers for your Ragnar van! 

AJ (showing off his cape) has a daughter (Magnolia) with
Rett Syndrome, and somehow he talked his crazy pal Nick into
joining our crew as well!

After we double checked to make sure we had everything we needed, we jumped in the van and made our way over to Huntington Beach. We got to the starting area with plenty of time for our 10:30am start (they had teams starting in 15 minute increments depending on estimated finishing time - I believe start times were ranging from 5am until 11:30am). Elise was able to check us in without any issues. We stood and watched a silly safety video (think of it as the corny airline videos, but you are outside in the bright sun and can't actually see what they are showing on the screen). Once we finished the movie, showed our reflective gear, and got our bibs we were ready to go.

Obviously we had to take a TON of pictures. 

We actually had some random biker take a picture of us while jumping
(AND Instagram it with #TeamSparkle!)

The seawall in Huntington 

We may not have super powers, but the girls we are running for sure are SUPER!

We chuckled because every time we took a picture in front of the van
we would cover the art, so we finally got down on our knees so you
could see all of the hard work and decorations! 

The first leg was a little over 2 miles. Due to the short distance between me starting and when the van needed to be at the next transition, we decided they would head over to the first hand off before I started. It was a little nerve-racking, seeing as I was the only one on the team that had never done a Ragnar before and they had me going first and starting alone... I guess they had more faith in me than I had in myself...

The two girls this first run would be dedicated to!

Before we knew it they were calling all of the team names and we were lining up ready to take off on the Ragnar adventure. 

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!

Leg 1 (Run #1) 2.34 Miles - The first mile or so was along the beach. It was beautiful and not too hot. We were running along a bike path so we didn't have to worry about too much pedestrian traffic or having to dodge cars. I remember looking at my watch once it beeped for the first mile and saw a 7:36 pace. I reminded myself that I still have 36 more miles to run and NOT to burn out on my very first run of the day.

The next half mile or so we had to cross a couple streets. Since the course isn't closed you have to stop at street lights and obey all of the traffic signals. There were plenty of folks who wouldn't wait for the walk sign or would just jay-walk in the middle of the street when they saw a break in traffic, but I knew we were actually trying to win this thing so I didn't want to put us in jeopardy. Also, I wasn't sure how we were keeping time, so I didn't stop my watch at any of the lights (I found out after my first hand off that it was okay to pause my watch so I knew my "running" time). Due to the lights my second mile was a 8:35 pace, but still faster than I was expecting since I was waiting at the lights.

Shortly after my watch beep for the second mile I started seeing volunteers directing us towards the first transition area. There was someone asking for our bib/ team number so they could walkie-talkie to the transition area to give our teammates the heads up to be ready. Soon I was taking off the slap bracelet (the "baton" they use for Ragnar relays), straightening it out, and getting ready to slap it on Carrie's wrist.  

Phew. Leg 1 was complete and I survived. I have to say, I went in knowing very little about what I was supposed to do (other than run) and what I should expect, so although it was a little stressful to go first, it was nice to have the first run of the race done and sort of have an idea of how the rest of the day was going to go. 

The next few girls went out on their legs. I could tell it was going to be a "hurry up and wait" sort of thang. You rush to get to the next transition, but then once you are there you just have to wait for your runner to show up. Thankfully we had a spreadsheet with estimates of how long each of the legs would take us (based on our 10K proof of times we submitted) and would record what time the previous runner finished to give us a pretty accurate time of when we needed to be ready. On the way to one of the transition spots we stopped at Jimmy John's to pick up subs for us to eat for lunch. 

It was like they made this sign just for me! 

(I think it was extremely helpful that we were eating "real" food throughout the entirety of the race - instead of just bars, pretzels, and fuel. We also tried to stay on normal eating times {but obviously we needed to adjust slightly based on when we were running. For example, I grabbed a sub from Jimmy John's, but only had a couple bites of it and saved the rest for after my second run.}.)

Before heading out, with my button for the 12 
girls I was running on behalf of!

Leg 7 (Run #2) 12.2 Miles - This was the leg I was most worried about. It was the longest of the entire race (again, not sure why they gave the newbie the longest leg ever, but I was going to do my best for my team AND the girls I was running for) and in the heat of the day. Before I started though, a couple girls with Rett Syndrome who we would be running for, along with their families, came to the exchange. CAN YOU SAY ENERGY BOOST (and tears... lots of tears...)?! The families were so thankful to have us running for their daughters specifically and for Girl Power 2 Cure in general. 

How can you NOT start strong with THIS cheer squad screaming for you?!

When I was looking for Elise to come in for the handoff I heard a familiar voice - it was the sweet Liberty calling my name! We didn't get much time to chat since I had to head out to run, but she did grab a couple pictures of our exchange. 


For some reason I was assuming our handoffs looked smoother than this ;)

Oh yeah, and Elise had a baby 10 weeks ago... SUPER MAMA!

And she's off ;) 

Obviously you gotta make sure your Garmin is going, right?!

There were a couple hills on this leg, but nothing too crazy. The first bit was on the streets through Irvine, but eventually we made it to a bike trail which was nice. I prefer the trails to the sidewalks mostly because there are no traffic lights you have to start and stop at. Even though it was a long run and I was expecting to be able to pass a few people, it was pretty lonely out there. I was able to chat with a couple of the guys I was running near for a while. It seemed as though most teams gave the long leg to a guy (I think I only passed two girls while I was on this portion of the course), but with us being a women's ultra team we didn't have a guy with a long stride to give it to :)

Trying to hold back tears after seeing my cheering section... 

I was trying to keep my miles consistent (and as fast as possible), but by mile 9 I was pretty beat. I continued to remind myself WHY I was running and that although my legs were getting tired at least I had the ability to be out there in the first place! Those girls gave me more strength than they will ever know!

Free race pictures?! YES PLEASE!

It's a bummer I only have 3 from the entire race...

But I will take what I can get! 

I finished my second run of the day with an average pace of 8:03 minutes/ mile. It wasn't as fast as I would have hoped, but I needed to remind myself that I still had another 4 runs I needed to finish (and finish STRONG) so I couldn't kill my legs on any one particular run. 

When I got to the transition area, no one was there... I mean, other teams, plenty of volunteers, etc, were around but not MY team... I was freaking out... I didn't really know what to do... I walked around in circles a bit and tried calling out for Carrie, but knew I didn't see her anywhere so figured that wouldn't help the situation. After about two minutes she ran up... She apologized, said she didn't have her water bottle or phone with her, and took off. I jogged over towards where the vans were all parks and I found ours... but no one was inside... I saw a bunch of people walking around the campus (we were at some sort of school), so I just started following them (assuming maybe there were tents or a "hang out" area for teams to wait at). Finally I came across the other girls... They had found real bathrooms (let me tell you, they are a real treat after port o potties for so long) and thought they still had more time before they were expecting me to finish (I guess they had the time 4:45pm stuck in their minds instead of the correct finish time of 4:25pm). Oh well, it's all good.

I also got a special trucker hat for running the longest leg of the race ;) Because who can't use another hat?!

Longest Leg Trucker Hat!

And just like with Jimmy John's for lunch, we stopped at Chipotle for dinner while one of the girls were out on their run. I was able to grab this AMAZING sunset shot (and then tell two couples about Rett Syndrome since they were confused about my outfit... If you are out of the van between 6:30pm and 6:30am you need to wear reflective gear, so I am sure I looked rather cray-cray!). I waited until after my third leg to eat my cheese quesadilla, but again it was nice to have "real" food while running.

The sky was on FIRE!

Banging colors, right?! 

Last year there was an issue running through Camp Pendleton. I guess they originally said YES and then like the day before the military base said NO, so they had to do some last minute finagling to get the course reworked. This year they decided to just cut out Camp Pendleton all together. They had a "virtual" exchange between Doheny State Beach and Oceanside. That means for "regular" teams with 12 runners and two vans, Van #1 would be down at Oceanside, so when the last runner in Van #2 finished at Doheny they were able to walkie-talkie down and tell them so the next runner could start. Since we only had 1 van, they actually had to give us a time stamp for when Elise finished her leg and then I had to turn in the ticket once we drove down to Oceanside to start up again (they are supposed to be removing this travel time, but as of right now the official time has not deducted this travel time yet).

We crashed a campfire for a #OnlyAtRagnar picture before
hoping in the van to drive down to Oceanside (next time
we HAVE to bring some s'more fixings!)

Leg 13 (Run #3) 3.67 Miles - The crazy part of this leg is that I run a portion of it WEEKLY! I run the bike trail to the Harbor and down the Strand for my long runs and I also bike it during my cross-training workouts. A friend of mine asked me "So, who's running the bike trail path on your team?" I looked at the legs and IT WAS ME - how coincidental?! That friend, Alicia, actually offered to run with me! WHAT?! She is a Speedy McSpeederson and it is a pretty dark portion of the bike trail, so to have a friend with me was AMAZING!

Remind me at the next expo I NEED one of the reflective Sparkly Soul headbands, k?!

This leg was supposed to be over 4 miles (in the original breakdown), but for some reason it turned out to be just over three and a half miles. We were able to chat it up the whole time and still keep a pretty fast pace. Like I said, Alicia is a speed demon, so she helped to keep our average at 7:23 minutes/ mile. (She actually ran with Liberty who grabbed pictures of me starting Leg 7 about an hour prior for the same leg!)

I have to say, being familiar with the path DEFINITELY had its advantages. I knew where the dips were coming, which direction I needed to veer, and where to expect people to be hanging out (there are some homeless camps back along the trail and some of the runners were saying they thought drug deals were going down, but hey, Ryan and I like Oceanside for the "grit" of it all).

Although Friday was coming to a close, my running was not. At this point I was half done with my legs and about half done with the distance I was going to cover as well. I wish I could say I was able to catch a little shut eye, but that was NOT the case. I have a hard enough time sleeping in my own bed, so throw in the adrenaline of coming off of a run, having to be ready for my buddy's run, and then being in a moving van, you can imagine I didn't get a single minute of sleep.

Have you ever run a 24-hour race before? 


Unknown said...

I did the 12 mile leg too and also noticed it was all guys! None of the guys on my team wanted to take though. I loved getting the hat though!
I was wondering how that virtual exchange worked for the ultra teams!

Unknown said...

I can definitely see knowing that San Luis Rey trail being a huge advantage! Some of our runners were definitely a little worried about it.

I have to say being runner 1 & 7, you got some tough legs! Leg 7 was no joke and you rocked it! Rock that trucker hat with pride now!

The Silent Assassin said...

So good! so awesome... I'm glad I get to see your progression! You are getting speedy!!!!!