Friday, June 14, 2013

Ragnar Chicago 2013

First things first.  The winner of the Venus de Miles giveaway is Lindsay.  Congrats to her! The winner generator actually chose Katie the first two times, but she passed on the prize since she already won Erin's! She's a lucky one!

12 people. 2 vans. 2 days. 1 almost sleepless night. 200 miles. And another successful Ragnar is in the books.  My boss had so much fun at Ragnar last year that he decided to sign up another team this year much to the dismay of my coworkers.

Filling up the team was a little more difficult this year as compared to last year.  I think the heat scared away most people.  My boss even had to recruit his brother-in-law and nephew from Florida and he kindly suggested to the new employees that Ragnar was "a right of passage" at my company.  We did have a little snafu when one of my teammates stepped on a nail only a week before the race and we had to convince our North Carolina coworker to fly back to help us out!

Van 1 met at the office at the ungodly time of 2:45 am to head to Madison for a 6 am start time.  I couldn't be more glad that I was in van 2.  Seriously before 3 am? I would have considered sleeping under my desk.  Van 2 didn't need to meet till 7 am so I did what any normal mostly insane person training for a HIM would do, got up early to get in a swim before the race.  Which brought me to a grand total of 6 workouts in 72 hours--only slight overkill.  We headed over to another coworker's house to load up the van with plenty of snacks, water, and gatorade while loading ourselves up with bagels and cream cheese before piling into our minivan and heading off to Lake Mills, Wisconsin, to meet van 1.  Last year we had the big 12 person van and I was apprehensive about being crammed into a minivan, but in the end it was okay.  It was a little packed at the beginning, but we ate our way to more room. No really, the more snacks we polished off the more room we had in the van.

Exchange 5
Turns out van 1 had a lot of ringers in it.  Three of the guys in van 1 put down average paces of about 9-9:30 minutes per mile and then proceeded to run paces of about 8 minutes per mile.  Two of the guys hadn't run in a few years and so they just guessed at their pace, but they guessed way too high.  Good thing van 2 showed up with plenty of time to spare or we would have left runner 6 waiting at the exchange!
Runner 7 faced some challenges when a bridge was out and the leg was extended about 3.5 mile, but the runners weren't informed beforehand. It wasn't till a few hours later that we received a text message from Ragnar about the added length and that teams were allowed to split the leg between two runners.
All green except for orange socks.
I was runner 12 so I waited for what seemed like all day to start my run.  In fact I had to wait till 5 pm to get started.  And something that will surprise no one, not eating a real lunch and fueling up on beef jerky and nutter butters does not a great run make.  My stomach didn't feel terrible but it certainly never felt good during my 6.7 miles.  My legs felt pretty heavy which I am blaming on the combination of running a fairly hard effort 5k on Thursday night and sitting in a van for several hours on Friday.  I still managed an average pace of 9:31 and I was glad to finally be running! Since I was handing back off to runner 1 and he had no idea what I was wearing my teammates had told him I was wearing all green (I didn't match at all which is what I get for packing at 5 am that day) so he could easily spot me when I came into the exchange.  When I came running in, he didn't see me at all as was actually trying to move out of the exchange zone.  For some reason, he thought I was going to be wearing orange and was really confused when I was wearing all green.  Apparently green = orange now? We had a good laugh about that.

After wrapping up our first set of runs we headed to Outback Steakhouse to get some real food before starting up our second legs.  I had the steakhouse salad which was probably the only green thing I ate all day.  Then all 6 of us piled back into the van to head to exchange 18 to wait for van 1.  They had a lot of short runs so we didn't get a whole lot of downtime before starting up running again.  I was so disappointed that exchange 18 didn't have s'mores this year like they did last year.  Bring back the s'mores! 

The night legs are where the real shenanigans started to happen.  We dropped off runner 5 for his 5.3 miles and drove to the next exchange.  About 5-10 minutes before he was estimated to arrive, 4 of us piled out of the van to wait. And we waited and waited.  I would guess almost 20-30 minutes passed by and we were starting to get worried so my teammate texted runner 9 to ask if everything was okay.  He responded that he was fine just tired.  So we waited so more and he still didn't show up.  Then he sends in a text, "I can't leave till you guys get here." What?! Turns out he got off track and somehow missed a turn and was at the next exchange.  So we jumped back in the van to go to the next exchange.  

We had runners 10 and 11 split the next leg so runner 10 could still run a bit.  During his run, a drunk woman came up to him and no joke, pulled up her shirt and started running next to him while telling him she was going to run all the way to Chicago with him. I can't even! Dan (runner 10) said she didn't last very long and he was a little taken aback by her.  What a hoot!

The craziness didn't stop there.  Runner 11 Heather kept trying to tell me she was going to get attacked by wildlife like a bear.  I reassured her that there were no bears in southern Wisconsin and most animals are afraid of humans anyways.  Then she came up with the idea that she was going to get hit by a drunk driver and I also told her that was crazy and not going to happen.  I should just keep my mouth shut because a car actually did run her off the road.  She was following another runner and the car kind of swerved towards him and he had to dart out of the way and Heather ran down into the ditch.  That had to be incredibly scary! Thankfully both of them were okay, but I really wished they would have called the police then and there. 

Heather handed off to me at exchange 23 and I headed out for 4.7 miles in Racine.  I got to run past the start and finish area for my half-Ironman last year which was pretty cool.  And then as I was running to the bridge with two other runners a few people at a bar yelled and asked what the heck we were doing.  I guess running through Racine at 2:30-3 am isn't very normal.  I finished that run out with an average pace of 9:07.  After that run I am officially retiring my running skirt because it sucks.  


After handing off to van 1 at exchange 24 we headed back to my coworkers house since he lived close-ish to the next major exchange to shower and catch a few hours of sleep.  We were all exhausted, but the 2.5 hours of sleep felt so good at that point.  

Only one leg left! The legs were heavy and the temperature was rising but van 2 powered through.  And this time we didn't lose any runners or have any crazy adventures. 

I prepared for my final leg by getting in lots of rolling on my foam ball.  My legs were tight all over and that ball felt so good.  I'm so glad I brought it because it helped a lot.  My teammates also appreciated it.  I also wore my compression socks between legs and I think they helped too.
And I am now a tight short convert.  I'll admit to thinking it was stupid when girls wore tight, short, running shorts, but this pair I grabbed recently is awesome.  Loose running shorts always ride up on me and I can never leave home without plenty of BodyGlide, but these babies didn't ride up and are super comfortable.  I am a convert.
Heather handed off to me in Evanston and I headed off to the finish line at Montrose Harbor.  This leg was supposed to be about 8.2 miles long, but according to the Endomondo app on my phone it was only 7.4 miles.  Short? Fine by me.  Once I started running and my legs loosened up I felt really great. I managed a 9:14 pace for this last run, I'd say I did a pretty good job when I estimated my pace to be 9:15 when I signed up for Ragnar.  

When the finish line at Montrose Harbor came into view, I called my teammates so they could meet me at the finish line! I don't think he could hear anything but my labored breathing, but they all showed up. I was running to fast for my teammates trying to run in the sand in flip-flops with sore legs and they were yelling at me to slow down. In my defense Brandon was trying to race me.  He's in the green on the left side of the picture.  
We all crossed the finish line together though to complete another successful Ragnar.
We collected our medals and window decals.  Bonus: the medals also double as bottle openers! We finished in around 31 hours.

Then we collected our two free pizzas and our free beer.  Domino's pizza was a big upgrade from the cardboard pizza we had last year and I think about 5 or 6 of us finished off both pizzas.  The beer was only meh and most of us ended up tossing them into the trash before finishing them.  A real disappointment for this  beer fanatic. 

One of the biggest drawbacks of this relay is the cost.  Thankfully my company covers the cost of our entry fee and van rental (hey it's teambuilding) so it was pretty cheap for me.  And if you really, really need your sleep this probably isn't for you.  I was worried about being cranky and not having enough alone time, but I stayed in a pretty good mood the whole trip.  I did get a little slap happy around 1 am! 

Overall, I had a great time, even though I was dreading it before hand.  And I would highly recommend a Ragnar Relay if you are looking for something new and different to add to your race schedule.  My teammates are already tossing around the idea of doing Ragnar Tennessee in the future.  Another coworker is trying to convince a few of us to sign up for an Ultra (only 6 runners) next year.  Although I think that seems crazy, I've already volunteered to do it.  And I've already come up with our team name: Ultra Stupid

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