I finally got my chance to join the Ragnar family by joining a group of complete strangers in a place I had never been. Exciting? You betcha! One of my lovely Daily Mile friends, whom I had never met in person, asked me to join their team to run the Northwest Passage Ragnar relay race. For those of you who don't know what the Ragnar is, it's a 200 mile relay race, staged in various states across the nation. You have a team of 12 people (an ultra team has 6), 2 vans, and 2 days to finish. So I joined the team Imaginary Friends, so named because most of the team members only knew one or two other people in the group. So I bought my plane ticket and headed to the lovely, green state of Washington for an epic adventure.
We started out at 7:15 am. I was runner 2, so I had a nice morning run after runner one finished. Except for the part where it rained on my through my entire run, it was lovely! A stretch of the run was right along the coast and I could watch herons fishing in the shallow water as I ran past. It was pretty level, which was nice but running in humidity like that was new to me. It got to the point where it felt like a large person was sitting on my chest while I was trying to run. I got used to it by my second run of the day, just before the sun went down. Our van completed our first 6 legs (sections of the race assigned to each runner) right on schedule and headed to the Olive Garden to carb load for the next stretch. We enjoyed the chance to use a real restroom instead of a porta-potty. You take your simple pleasures where you can on these relays.
After lunch, we headed to the next exchange where we would me up with the other half of our team who were finishing up their legs. The exchange was at a school and they let the runners use the gym to lay out sleeping bags and try to get some rest. Guess what? I can actually sleep on a hard gym floor. I didn't think I'd be able to, but you take your sleep where you can on these relays.
When we started up again, the sky was getting darker, but it was only around 7 o'clock. I was worried it was going to rain on me again, but it held off. I started my second leg just after 8 pm and was feeling a little fatigued. I haven't ever really done two runs in one day like that before, but once I got warmed up, I settled into a nice rhythm and managed my fastest time for my three legs. I had to dodge slugs for a good three miles of the 5.7 mile run. Those things are everywhere up in Washington! And they are BIG! You don't want to step on one, you'll slip and fall right on your tushy. Not only does that hurt, but you're also covered in slug goo. I managed to dodge all of those slimy booby traps.
Our van finished our second set right around midnight and headed to the next exchange, where again, we did our best to sleep on the gym floor of yet another high school. This school had showers that people were using. I was just happy to brush my teeth and close my eyes for a bit. We were up and out of there by 3:30 am to head to the next exchange and hit the Starbucks as soon as it opened. Unfortunately this was the one day the manager of the coffee shop slept in and we stood around outside for 45 minutes before my restless team members could get their coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I wanted a muffin. Real bad.
Muffin in my belly, my team caffinated, it was time to start our third and final set of runs. It was foggy and misty but it kept things nice and cool. I started my last leg, what I thought was going to be a breezy little jaunt, after all, it was only 3.1 miles, when it turned into a hill-fest. Ugh. Every time I turned a corner, there was yet another hill to go up. And it wasn't like they were little rolling hills either. They were beasts! I had to walk so much, I was really concerned about keeping on schedule. But I finally hit a downhill section and was able to make up my lost time. Until the final stretch. Guess what! It was another hill! A long hill, not to steep, but looonnngggg. And I ran that whole damn thing. A girl tried to pass me but petered out and I just chugged along like the little engine that could. I wasn't fast, but I was steady. It leveled out enough for me to sprint to the end and hand off to runner three. And then I was done. My contribution to the 200 miles being just under 16 total miles. Our team finished in 32:54 and we were all quite pleased with that. Now please, enjoy the photos from this amazing race.
I'll have another race report after the Timpanogos Half Marathon this Saturday! Happy running everyone :)