Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod

Starting Line
6 Mothers, 12 legs, 18 kids eating Dad's food all weekend!
What can I say.....12 women, 2 vans, running 176 miles from Plymouth to Provincetown in 27 hours....I have never laughed so much in my life!

Ragnar Cape Cod was chaotic, exhausting, challenging, hilarious and strange....I wouldn't change a minute of it! I am SO glad I did it!

Van 2 at the starting line...taken by a very unruffled ironman who didn't think anything of our request for him to lie down on the ground & let 6 women lean over him for a picture!
Runner 7 ready to rock the Cape!
Leaving on my 1st leg
Along my 1st leg
We left upstate NY on Thursday morning for the 7+ hour trip to Cape Cod.  The chaos started early with some frantic last minute packing and repacking.  I managed to get out of the house with 1 duffel bag and a food bag.  Not bad.  Our van did not pack the night before like the other vans as logistics prevented a lot of that.  Between kids sporting events and some of us working late it was not worth that kind of hassle.  It turned out not to be a big deal to transfer stuff to the van as we left.  Not sure if I mentioned it, but we only filled the last 2 slots on our team last week! We had a heck of a time filling our team...we had 3 people back out on us late in the game and up until last week we had a 10 runner plan in place.  We were THRILLED when 2 wonderful women jumped on our crazy train at the last minute! However, as we were within a half mile of picking up our last runner, we got a call that her baby was sick & she would not be able to join us. We reverted back to our contingency plan in minutes. We were sad she could not come, but we understood.  2 hours into our trip we got a call back from Runner 11 that baby was in a good mood & feeling better, Dad on the way home & she was going to drive up herself to meet us! We were stunned, a little concerned that she was going to drive on her own, but happy! The mother's out there can appreciate the statement "7 hours alone with a book on tape & 5 kids not asking me anything....sounds like heaven to me".  We stopped for dinner somewhere in Massachusetts & met up with our sister team & another team of runners....that's right....36 Ragnar Mama's in one restaurant! Turned out that Runner 11 only got to the hotel about 45 minutes after us! A quick team meeting and we were off to bed.  The alarm went off in the morning to find that Runner 11 came down with baby's GI illness through the night, but she was one tough cookie & dressed and got in the van.  It's a good thing we were not van 1 because we got lost trying to find the starting line and missed van 1's 7am start.....took us over an hour to find it and it turns out it was only 6 miles from our hotel.  We did make some friends at the local Walgreen's though! Runner 11 needed to rest so we took her back to the hotel, told her to lie down and told her we'd come back for her once the van got me off and running at the first major exchange.

Me & Trail Buddy @ exchange 12
I was runner 7 and had a little over 24 miles to run in 3 legs: 9/9/6.3.....we went through our safety briefing and I got ready to run! We finally met up with van 1 and waiting for runner 6 to arrive.  Finally, I was off!!!! I started in Myles Standish state park and wound my way out of it and along the roads outside Plymouth for 9 miles.  What a different kind of race Ragnar is both lonely and exhilarating.  Lonely because you can run long stretches by yourself and fun and exhilarating because every van that passes you is hilarious and the runners inside it are screaming at you and cheering you on! Ragnar is like one big boisterous dysfunctional fun-loving family.  I was a little worried about how my legs would feel with only 4 days rest between my marathon & Ragnar, but I felt great! Legs were good and I was flying through that first 9 miles with a pace of 10:19.  I wore my Nathan hydration pack, which was a smart move because water is sketchy on the course and I had a No-Van-Support leg.  Some of the exchanges were hard to find but we ended up making it there in time to meet our runners.  Cape Cod is beautiful...the houses are so pretty (anyone know why they are only painted on the front?), the forests serene and the beaches amazing! Our runner 11 finished the last half mile on the beach running through sand.  Many hated this because it was slow and hard, but I thought it was great. Quite frankly, if we hadn't had any beach running I would have been disappointed.  Exchange 11 & 12 were right beside each other so we got to spend some extra time with our other van and we met up with our sister van so I got to see trail buddy! Yay!  It was windy and cold along the beach but oh so beautiful! Our Runner 12 was smokin' fast and we finished up the first 12 legs of our run almost an hour ahead of our projected schedule! Wow!

Van 2 @ the port-o-potty background? We have several of these ;s
Lit for the night
Ready for my night run!
The beach at night
Now it was time to hand off to Van 1 again and go find our midway hotel.  Because of the twisty-turny nature of the route we were able to get a midway hotel which we were able to go back to during our off time.  It was great! During our first break, we grabbed a shower, some food & a nap.  Our nap was cut short when we got a call that the other van was way ahead of schedule and we had to hit the road in a hurry.  So 30 minutes for me.  As the first runner in our van I hit panic stations trying to make sure I had all my requisite nighttime gear.  In the process of dressing I made a bad decision.  I decided to change my shoes to my ascics cumulus that I run in occasionally thinking that the wider toe box would be nice. OMG, my right heel was killing me within 2 miles.  It was a hard run for me.  I have never run in the dark...and it was a little spooky.  I had to put my headphones away because every time someone passed me I'd freak out. It wasn't much more comforting to hear the heavy breathing bearing down on you though.  Plus the sidewalks were uneven so I had to be really careful with my footing. So I was slow.  Like 11:24 pace slow.  I passed a beach along the way and then wound through some residential neighbourhoods.  My awesome van stopped at a turn they thought might be hard for me to find and made sure I was ok.  It was so good to see them and they pumped me up for the rest of the run! It is weird running with a running in a tunnel!  I had a lot of miles to cover in this second leg, but 2 of my van-mates had to do that was spooky for them!  Lots of people didn't like the trails and were surprised they were there.  We were surprised too, but I guess if you actually READ the Ragmag, you'd have seen they were clearly marked.  None of us got lost, for which I was very thankful! But I will say that the road markers could have been closer together, especially on the trail sections.  It was all very Blair Witch Project-like.

WooHoo!!!! I did it! 24+ miles done!

As we handed off to Van 1 for their last legs we headed back to the hotel. I had no other mission in mind except to sleep.  Unfortunatley, due to the low miles that the other van had to cover and a mid-race shortening of one leg (no idea what happened...only that a 4 mile leg got cut to 2 with no notice)...we got a frantic text that we needed to get moving and moving now because the last runner was on the course! I frantically threw on a new skirt and grabbed my stuff.....holy moly, I was going to be on the road before the official night hours were up so I still needed my vest, butt light and headlamp.  Mad scramble to find all this stuff!!!! My foot felt better. I had iced and took a couple ibuprofen after my last leg and I made sure to put my Pureflows back on!  These are definitely the shoes my feet like!  After a middle of the night dance party outside of Dunkin Donuts we were on the road, and a little calmed down because we misunderstood the name of who they told us was on the road and it was not their last runner...thank goodness!!!  I went from zombie slug, warm and cozy in the back of the van to quick port-o-potty break to frantic sprint as I heard "Runner 6 is here!!!!!!"  Yikes! Mad dash through the parking lot looking for Runner 6 & the slap bracelet. Started my Garmin on the run out of the exchange at 5:40am!  This 3rd leg was the best for me. Not only did I nail a 9:50 pace, but it was along a stunning section of the DCR rail trail at sunrise then wound its way to the beach along some rolling hills.  Cape Cod is much hillier than we all expected!  I was done! I did it...a marathon & 24.3 miles of Ragnar within 5 days of each other!!!! It was spectacular!!!
Runner 10 takes beautiful!

Like my Tattoo?
We enjoyed the location for a few minutes, then hit the road to meet our next runner.  This leg was so cool because it was a little celebration everytime one of us finished.  A little panic attack as the last 2 exchanges had no idea what happened but we got our runners to local gas stations/restaurants in time. Phew!  Through all of this Runner 11 had moments of not feeling very good, but I have to say that she was awesome and never once let any of us take her legs.  She is a rockstar!  We headed to the finish line and had to pay to park, which everybody there thought sucked. Yeah Ragnar, that really sucked! But that feeling didn't last long as we excitedly awaiting our final runner.  We Tebowed her as she went by us and we all followed her across the finish line!  Gaffer Girls Too were done!!!! 27 hours 8 minutes of crazy fun! I feel like I got an ab workout from all the laughing!!!! I didn't know the ladies in my van very well, if at all, before we started.  But we are Ragnarians now & thus bonded for life!

Gaffer Girls Too at the Finish Line!!!
Ragnar (n.) In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits and favored by the gods.

That's right ladies.... WE ARE RAGNAR!!!!!!

Van 2 the next morning at Plymouth Rock....and another very patient man who was fine with our asking him to cross the street and climb a hill to take our photo!  We didn't get to run by this so had to go back and look.
My final leg socks....a gift from my boys (just as long as you don't wear them during a race WE are at!) I think they helped me run fast ;-D


Kutya said...

The socks are simply amazing :-)))

Jamie said...

You all did a great job!! I'm glad you had an amazing time!

You were all lucky that you were able to go back to the hotel to get some rest, I don't think we'll be able to do that during our Reach the Beach relay.

abbi said...

The socks are cute. Paying to park definitely would have sucked. Congrats on the Ragnar so soon after the marathon!

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

LOVED this! Do you have the bug now?

John Hulsey said...

Great recap! Loved it. Can't wait to run my next Ragnar (Napa)!

Mike said...

Great race report! That sounds like a blast and I love the socks!

Kovas Palubinskas said...

Those Ragnar Relays look like such a blast!

TriMOEngr said...

Fantastic relay report! Constantly inspired by all these fit moms out there!

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Suz and Allan said...

This looks like a really fun experience!