Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ragnar Relay Southern California 2010

This is my long overdue Ragnar race report!

What a crazy adventure it was! But one which I will cherish forever because I got to meet some great people who I am now privileged to call my friends :)

Where do I even begin?!

On Thursday before the race I took the night off of work so that I could get some sleep since I had to meet up with my team at 5am in Burbank. Things didn't go as planned however since I had to wait 'til 10:30pm to drop off my dog at my brother's. And then I didn't get into bed 'til around midnight and then was awakened by some drunk text at 2:30am. Yeah, can you see where I'm going with this? At the most, I slept about 2.5 hours Thursday night which if I've learned anything from this experience...GET A FULL NIGHT'S SLEEP before going out to do this relay race!

Woke up at 4:15 to my alarm going off while I was having some crazy stress dreams about being late! Haha...so there was no hitting the snooze button!

I made it to Jen's house (our team captain) at around 5:10am. We were still waiting for a couple more people to show up for our Van 1 group.

About half an hour later, there was a text message from one of our teammates saying she had been in a car accident and wasn't going to make it to the race. We were all worried about her and the girls tried to get in contact with her. Luckily, Augi who was supposed to be in Van 2 was coming along with us to the start of the race to take pictures with his fancy camera. So we recruited him right there! Augi, you are now part of Van 1!

With one runner short, some of the team members would have to take on some extra legs and we thought we'd figure it out later in the day.

So off we went to the start line in Ventura! Got there. Went through our safety meeting. Bought some stuff. Then it was time for Jen to start off the race! We all cheered for her as she took off for her first leg!
Then all jumped in the van to go to our first exchange point! She was all smiles after her first leg! Awesome! Handed off to Jenny and we all jumped in the van to go meet her at the next hand off. But soon after Jenny texted letting us know she had a bad asthma attack! Poor thing! So we turned the van around and went to pick her up. Jen, being the awesome leader that she is, quickly stepped up and took over the rest of the leg...passing so many people!

So we knew we couldn't let Jenny run anymore because we did not want her to risk her health! She was a trooper though and stayed with us throughout the whole trip and the experience would've not been the same without her!

So now we were 2 runners short. Van 1 had 5 abled runners and Van 2 also had 5. So I decided I would take on one extra leg. Previous to this I was going to run 21 miles, and with the extra leg I was now going to have to run 26 miles! I'm not gonna lie, I was scared! I didn't know if my legs would hold up since the longest run I had done since LA marathon was only 12 MILES! And I can't even really count LA as a long run because I hit the wall so early on!

FIRST LEG (Leg 6):
9.9 miles from Camarillo to Moorpark @ 1pm

I got pretty nervous before this leg because it was pretty hot out and I knew I had to run 10 miles with the last 4 miles being an incline of about 900ft! And I'm so not good at hills because I never train in them! So off I went, making sure I took it easy the first couple of miles while my legs warmed up. I pushed the pace a little bit after that...I was feeling good but the heat was getting to me. This leg only had 2 water stations. I can usually run 10 miles without water but not in that kind of heat! I was lucky that my teammates were so awesome and they stopped to cheer for me at around mile 4. I told them I needed water so they handed me a little water bottle for me to carry. This made a world of difference! I continued running and began to climb the uphill. It wasn't so bad because it was a gradual incline. I was still running a good pace and passing people. And I LOVED all the vans that would honk and cheer for us as they passed. I knew there was a big hill at around mile 8 and once I turned the corner and saw it I decided I would walk it because I wanted to save my legs for the 18 miles I still had left to run! But I quickly spotted my team parked at the top of the hill and I had to start running. I felt great once I got to the top...and took off down the other side of the hill, running 7:30 pace at one point! I then ran the last mile with a guy from Utah who was really nice. We chatted 'til right before the exchange point. I handed off the bracelet to JT and van 2 was off!

Afterwards, we went to get lunch at Cheesecake Factory and Jen was kind enough to let us shower at her house! Felt good to shower after that first leg. But I was so tired from the lack of sleep already! And to make things worse, I was feeling car sick the entire time I was in the van :(

4.7 miles through Van Nuys @ 9pm

This was the extra leg that I took and the first of two night runs for me. I had to wear a safety vest with LED lights on the back and carried a flashlight. This leg started at Balboa Lake Park in Encino and ran down Burbank Blvd towards the park on Hazeltine and Riverside where I train. I felt comfortable running this leg alone because I knew the route since it's right where I used to live and run. It was kind of scary because it was really dark and runners were so spread out that you barely saw anyone in front of you or behind you! So you were basically alone! I passed several runners throughout this leg and felt good but didn't push the pace...again because I wanted to not cripple myself during this relay since I had a marathon the next weekend! Made it to the exchange point in one piece and handed off to Augi.

THIRD LEG (Leg 18)
4.3 miles from Westwood to Santa Monica Pier @ 1am

My second night run. I had talked to my friend Will earlier in the week and he had offered to come pace me during my night leg through Santa Monica on his bike. At first I felt bad that instead of spending his time doing something more fun he'd be riding his bike next to me at what I'm sure is not an exciting speed on a bike. But I was so thankful that he was there! It was so scary running through Santa Monica at that hour! I had a bad side stitch for the first mile and half. I tried everything and it would not go away! So frustrating because my legs felt fine but I had to stop a couple of times to try to make it go away and it slowed me down. Eventually it did subside and I was on my way to the pier. My garmin had died after the previous leg so I didn't get any pace data for this leg. I made it to the pier and handed off to JT again. 19 miles done for me and we now had a break before the next major exchange. Dan was so nice to offer us his home to let us nap in for a couple of hours! I crashed on his comfty couch and was able to catch some Zzzzs for the first time! And I got to play with his doggy, Carson, who is a total cutie and calmed my doggy separation anxiety for a little bit.

2 hours later we were up and heading to the next exchange. At this point, I was delirious and feeling COMPLETELY MISERABLE! My body was just hating all of it. I felt like puking the entire time. I was hungry but couldn't eat. I was so tired. I even cried a little while my teammates were out of the van cheering for Jen to finish her last leg. I felt bad that I was not out there to see her finish but I was feeling so sick at that time. I didn't know if running another 7 mile leg was even possible!

4TH LEG (Leg 30)
6.9 miles through Hungtington Beach

This leg was undoubtedly the most scenic and the one leg I had wanted from the beginning because I wanted to run along the beach. But I felt terrible before starting and not much changed during it. I felt weak and tired and demoralized. I asked my teammates to meet me at the halfway point in case I needed a pep talk. I hoped I would feel better once I got moving but I was hitting the wall pretty much after the first mile. After that I did everything I could to run/walk the rest of it. My awesome teammates were at the halfway point and gave me more water and cheered me on. I felt much better after seeing them and I was so close to the finish for me that needed to get my act together. The last mile I ran pretty well and I was so happy to hand off the bracelet to JT for one last time!

I was DONE! And I had nothing in me anymore. I was so happy to be done. Those last 7 miles felt like the last 7 miles of a marathon! And did not make me excited at all about having to run one the next weekend!!!

After I was done we went to get some Del Taco to satisfy my gross fatty food cravings. Afterwards we drove to the finish line area to wait for the rest of our team to finish so that we could all cross the finish line together! We laid on the grass for a while and cheered on runners as they came down towards the finish line. It was so much fun cheering! We were so tired but cheering definitely re-energized us! Finally, Ali was coming in towards the finish and we all ran with her on the sand carrying cans of beer and boxes of pizza across the finish line!

Overall, I had a great time with my new friends. Even though my body felt like total crap the ENTIRE time, I was proud of myself for managing to finish all those miles. I would definitely do it again. I had a wonderful experience and I have to thank every single one of my friends for making this possible. And especially our team captains, Jen and JT who did a terrific job planning this and being total rock stars throughout all of it!

I love Ragnar and can't wait to do it again. Hopefully minus the car sickness part.

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