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Friday, April 26, 2013

Ragnar Relay, My Team

My favorite part of Ragnar?

Our team.

Abby, Katie, Melissa and I have known eachother since High School. We've shared our running and weight loss journies for a while now but this was the first race we've all done together. It was the perfect opportunity for a reunion.

Jamie I knew from work and Ramon I knew from mutual friends.

Ron, Jill, Heather, Chris, Catie, Ahman were all new friends.

The dynamic of this team couldn't have been more perfect. I cannot put into words how much fun it was to experience Ragnar with these people. We took care of each other during every leg of the race, cheered for every runner, made jokes and goofed off.

You'd think after so many hours together, little to no sleep and tight quarters; someone would get snippy. No one did. Not even once.

Every time Van 2 caught up with Van 1 at an exchange it felt like a family reunion. It was usually only a few hours between major exchanges but we were always so excited to meet up.

Running into the finish line with them was incredible. Over a course of 48 hours, they became more than friends. They are now family. It has been a week and I miss them. I am ready to pile into a van and run along side them again.

SDC-FEST... thank you for making this one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Thank you for taking care of me on the course and encouraging me when I wasn't happy with my performance. You hold a very special place in my heart.

Ragnar Relay, Run #2 & #3

I forgot to mention during the first leg of my race (5.4 miles in the heat) I was having technical difficulties withmy iPhone and the music I had planned for that leg of the race. It played the same song over and over. For 5.4 miles. Not annoying at all.

Second leg of the race was at night. Approx 230AM or so. It was a beautiful night. I had a short race of 3.8 miles. My teammates didn't have to stop. They could've gone straight to the next exchange. Much to my surprise, they pulled over just in front of me. ALL of them cheering for me as I powered up a hill. These people are amazing.

I killed that leg of the race. My fastest pace and fastest 5K time ever.

When we were done we headed to Torrey Pines to get some rest. We sprawled out in various parts of the van and "slept". Abby and I couldn't sleep so we were texting back and forth, planning the next portion of the day.

My stomach was not happy for the entire morning on Friday. I was extremely nervous about my final run of the day. It would be the longest and most difficult. 7.4 miles in the middle of the afternoon. It included a lot of turns, a steep hill and my team wouldn't be able to stop for me. Not to mention only having about 30 minutes of sleep in 36 hours. It was all part of the Ragnar fun though.

About 3 miles into the race I passed an adorable black and white puppy. I HAD to stop and pet her. I actually wanted to take her with me but I have a feeling her owner would've said no. I texted Abby when I was half way and I was right on pace. Then I got to Newport Ave.

I didn't see a sign to turn so I started up the hill. I could see another runner in front of me so I thought I was good. Until I got to the top. Here came that other runner. "This isn't right way" she said. Great. Anyone who knows me knows I am slightly directionally challenged. Long story short, I found the right hill. I ended up doing 8.6 miles instead of 7.4 miles. At the start of the second hill (the correct one) I met a woman named Linda. She wasn't sure she could make it so I told her we would do it together. We made it to the top and took a picture together. I remember thinking "this is what racing is about". Her teammate handed me a gatorade then I was off to finish the rest of the race. Later I handed another runner the rest of that gatorade when his legs started to cramp. I stayed by him and his teammate for the remaining mile and a half.

After I handed off to Abby, we headed for the finish line. The entire team met up so we could run into the finish line together. We wore Boston FD t-shirts to honor the first responders in Boston and pay tribute to everyone effected by the bombings. The finish line was emotional. I know Abby got choked up. I did as well. I am sure others did. We accomplished so much more than running a race. We pushed ourselves physically and emotionally. We stood for Boston and against terrorism. We survived Ragnar.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ragnar Relay 2013, Run #1

I haven't blogged in nearly 3 months. Life has been good. Busy, mostly.

I am sure friends on Facebook got really sick of my posts about Ragnar. Oh well! Most people were probably thinking "What is Ragnar". So here you go:

Over a course of 2 days and 1 night, a team of runners run close to 200 miles between Huntington Beach, Ca to San Diego, Ca. The teams are either 12 person "Regular" teams or 6 person "Ultra" teams. The race is broken up by "legs" aka portions of the race. Each runner does 3 legs of the race.
For example, my team was a 12 person regular team. I was Runner 11. I ran legs 11, 23 and 35. Clear as mud? Good.

We, The San Diego County Firefighters Endurance Sports Team (SDCFEST), had 2 teams. A 12 person Regular team and an Ultra Team.

Our Team:
Runer #1 Ron
Runner #2: Jamie
Runner #3: Heather
Runner #4: Jill
Runner #5: Catie
Runner #6: Ahman
Runer #7: Chris
Runner #8: Melissa
Runner #9: Ramon
Runner #10: Katie
Runner #11: Me
Rummer #12: Abby (Team Capatin)

Thursday we picked up our vans and headed to J's house to decorate them. He was the captain of the Ultra team.

Our team was broken up into 2 vans. Van #1 had runners 1-6 and Van #2 (my van) had runners 7-12.
Poor Van #1 had to leave San Diego at 2am to be at the start line by 4:15. Van #2  left San Diego about 5:30am and got to our starting point about 8am.

I didn't start my first leg/ run until about 2pm. I was running along Temescal Canyon Road in Riverside. It was about 88-90 degrees outside. There was very little shade along my 5.4 mile route. It was very hot and dry. The course itself was mostly uphill. I was struggling. I've done 5 mile runs more times than I can count but this one was so different. Even running hills on a regular basis, this one was different. Our team vans were able to stop along some of the route so they could support their runner. My team stopped a couple of times but I was still doing ok. When I first started  running I had a guy behind me and I was determined to stay ahead of him. When you pass another runner and they stay behind you it is called " road kill". He was my one and only kill for that leg. He'd get close and I'd pick up my pace. I finally told him " I'm not letting you pass me". He laughed and told me it was ok because I was pacing him (helping him keep a steady pace). We talked a little, joked around. We finally hit a small shady spot under a freeway. I walked that portion to savor the cooler temp. Thanks to my job I am aware of symptoms for heat stroke, heat exhaustion etc. I got a quick chill just before the shady spot so I capitalized on the other teams' offer for water or gatorade. It helped and I continued on. I had water and energy gels with me but I knew my body needed sodium.  The last 1/2 mile or so was the hardest. I was really hot and the hills zapped my energy. I could see my stopping point at the top of the hill. I took a deep breath and dug deep. About the time I wanted to quit, a lady came up behind me, wrapped her arm around my shoulder and said "Let's kill this bitch. We've got this". I laughed. We powered up that hill and I handed off to our team Captain, Abby.

I was disappointed with my run. My mile pace has been in the mid 10's and sometimes dropping below 10 min/mile. For this leg I had an average of 12:40/mile. I cried once I got back in the van.
1) I completed a very difficult run that I never thought I could do.
2) I was really doing the Ragnar race
3) I felt like I let my entire team down because my pace was SO much slower than it should've been. I wanted to do better.

My amazing friend, Michelle, sent me many encouraging texts right after that leg of the race. I cried harder but my heart wasn't as heavy. Sometimes I need to remember that I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to have the fastest pace of my life. I simply need to give my all and leave it on the pavement. I absolutely did that on Friday afternoon.

Once Abby was done, van #1 was back on the course and we were off for a few hours. We grabbed dinner at IHOP, changed and headed to our next meet up spot. Lawrence Welk Resort was packed full of people waiting for their runners and/or their other van.

Friday was so much fun! We screamed, cheered, shook a cow bell and honked the horn for as many runners as we could. One guy was powering up a hill so we were cheering for him. Another team had a miser and sort of put mist on him. A second later he looked at all of us like we were absolutely crazy. Soon there after we realized he wasn't wearing a race bib. He was just some guy out running. haha oops!

 We blasted music and joked about anything and everything. We supported each other. We asked each person "what do you need when you get to the exchange" and we had those items waiting for our runner when they arrived.

I talked to random people at the exchanges. Weather, courses, life, running... we talked about everything then went on our merry way to the next portion of the race, never to see eachother again.

Friday night we arrived at Lawrence Welk Resort to wait for Van #1 to finish. We attempted to get some sleep but it was just too loud. Sleepy conversations and a giggle fest broke out in the van. Everything and nothing was funny. I was so tired, I don't even remember what we talked about. Soon we were off on our second portion of the race.