Thursday, October 29, 2015

"I'm never doing this again"..."When can I sign up for the next one?"

I have always considered myself a seasoned runner, but was still missing a certain medal in my showcase...The Ragnar. So when I saw a friend on FB post that they needed 2 more runners for their Napa Valley Ragnar team my mom and I joined in! Unfortunately my mom and another team member got injured the weeks before but we flew in Becca from Utah and divvied up the other 3 legs between our van.

We found out the week of the race that our start time was 5 am on Friday morning in Golden Gate Park...which meant we had to be there at 4:15...which meant we had to be awake at 3:15...and then run 200 miles the next 36 hours. It was crazy.

Too early for good pictures
 Luckily the adrenaline kicked in when we got to the start and experienced "the magic" of the race. I was runner 2 so our runner 1 started and ran 3 miles through GGP down to the water. I met her at the first exchange, took the bracelet and was off. My run was 5.5 miles down along the coast all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge. 

I was completely by myself in the woods in the pitch black and it was freaky. I couldn't tell if I was breathing hard because I was running or because I was totally spooked. At one point a rat ran right in front of me and I was about ready to call my team and have them come pick me up.

My view of the Golden Gate. That bridge gives me chills. 

The last little bit of my run was actually running across the Golden Gate Bridge.  #lifegoals 

When I got to the exchange I handed the bracelet off to Becca and jumped in the van. I finished around 6:15 and my next run wasn't until the afternoon so I tried to rest up as much as I could before then. I ate about 4 snickers so I was happy. 

Our van finished around 10:30am and sent our other van off for their legs. 

We were pretty exhausted from getting up early and running so we headed to the next main exchange and ate/slept until van #2 was done. I was able to sleep for about an hour which really helped a lot for the my next legs. Since our runner 1 was injured I was going to be running 2 legs back to back and even though I knew I could do it I wanted it to actually be an enjoyable run. I also took some pre-workout before which totally helped...

Van 2 finished at 3 and off I went! I ran with another runner named James from San Diego the whole 4.9 miles which helped a lot. He had a pacing watch (I forgot mine at home!) so we kept a good 7:45 pace together. There is something about fellow running people...everyone is so friendly and easy to talk to. Maybe because we are all a tad bit of crazy....

The exchange was a little anti-climatic because I just ran right through, gave my team high fives, and started the next leg. I was pretty tired after those 4.9 miles but there was a guy in front of me that I really wanted to pass so I set a good pace and stayed patient Luckily, about 3 miles in, we hit a pretty big hill and I whipped right past him. I was happy because it actually ended up being my new friend James' teammate. Something else about runners; we're a little competitive. 

Instead of looking back and seeing how much space I had between us (bad runners etiquette) I took a selfie. I'm a genius. You can see that black dot WAY behind me. Booya. 

My team was able to support me the whole leg which was nice when I ran out of water and was SUPER thirsty. I don't usually run with water but for some reason I had to drink a lot on every single leg so I am glad I had my water pack. 

A very sweaty post-run pic. At least I am still happy!
Our van finished our legs around 9pm and we were all STARVING. None of us had eaten a full meal that day. We were also EXHAUSTED, but food came first. I don't know about you but cheeseburgers and french fries are exactly what I wanted in my belly before my final leg. Seriously. It was delicious. I didn't take a lot of pictures during the race, but I wasn't gonna forget this meal...

Next came some necessary sleep. We drove to the next main exchange, got our sleeping bags, found a big plot of grass, and passed out for 3 hours. I was super uncomfortable, wet, cold, and stinky but I slept like a baby for those 3 hours. A baby who actually sleeps.

When our team captain came to wake us up at 2:30 am I almost had a panic attack. My first words: "anybody who does this more than once is completely insane." But those are totally normal thoughts for every single long distance race I've done so I shut myself up and jumped in the van. 

Two hot messes at 3am

My fourth and final leg was a killer 8.3 mile run through the hills of Napa in the middle of the night. I was super anxious to finish and was worried how my body would hold up. I was tired, sore, and scared to run by myself again at night, but about a mile in I got into a groove and stayed there the whole time. Running does something completely magical to the mind and body and I hit that sort of Nirvana during this run. There is just something about being by yourself, listening to your body, and running by moonlight that is good for the soul. I saw 4 shooting stars stream across the sky and it was almost like the heavens were telling me to just the enjoy the moment. and soak it all in. I hear people say all the time that there is no way someone can actually "like" running but those people have no idea what they are missing out on. This type of run is what keeps all runners running. I never wanted it to end...I wanted to just keep that feeling and run for forever.

 I told you cheeseburgers and fries are good for the body:)

Unfortunately it did end and the second I got in the van I was ready to sleep again. I ate some food, changed into clean clothes and slept for the next couple hours while I waited for the rest of my team to finish.

We handed off the bracelet to van 2 at 7:30am Saturday morning. The original plan was to go to the finish line and sleep until they were scheduled to finish at 2pm but we all were stinky and tired and wanted to get home so we bagged the finish and drove home. Kind of lame but it was the best decision we made those 24 hours. The fact that I was clean and in my bed by 9 am made me one happy camper.

Our "finish" line picture. 
This race was a totally new experience for me, but I LOVED every second of it. I loved being with my team and getting to know these ladies better as well as catching up with the Perrys (a long time family friend). I loved spending time with my best friend. I love love love love love love love running. 

So now that I am clean, rested, and not sore anymore who wants to do the SoCal Ragnar in April?

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