Ohio is great, blogging sucks, taper is making me crazy. There’s your weekly update!
Before I start talking about the ACTUAL running of Ragnar (I have a real talent for extending these recaps out as long as possible without ever really saying anything substantial) I need to preface everything with a disclaimer :
I am so grateful and in awe of my teammates. Obviously I wouldn’t have agreed to run with them if they weren’t awesome, but the van atmosphere was amazing and everyone’s efforts inspiring. Combined with the care of BriLee and the support of our sponsors, I felt like the luckiest and most undeserving runner in the world inside that van. We relayed like running royalty and I’m still trying to figure out how to say thank you enough.
Ok, on to the running.
The first few hours of relaying are super exciting – adrenaline and sleep levels are high, and months of planning have finally come to fruition. To add to the rush, our big-talking goal of “IN IT TO WIN IT” was about to be put to the test – did we have what it would take to bring home another Ultra title?
Energized by the task at hand and the brisk biting air we sped off from exchange to exchange cheering our girls through.
- Emily crushes 11.8mi down Mt Charleston at a pace almost equivalent to my mile PR
(photo cred SR)
- Margot adds to the cushion with a speedy 11.2 of her own
- SarahSR put in a normal day at the office kicking 11.8 and the sunset
After SR breezed through the run-through exchange (we all agree the best part of ultra’ing is how badass you feel yelling “running through!” to the volunteers calling out approaching team #s) we sped over to exchange 6 to meet up with Eric from Pro and get ready for my handoff.
When we got there the Ragnar trailer was being packed up. We’d started catching up to teams and it was only 5pm, so we were confused why they were packing up the “major exchange” early?
Apparently the ENTIRE merch tent – not like a tented table, but a GIANT blow up circus tent – had completely blown over and was causing an overpriced-race gear lost sale nightmare all over the parking lot. The wind was only getting stronger so I guess they took their hoodies and tshirts and headed for safer ground.
The wind continued gaining speed and the temps continued to fall, but SR came through right on time and I took off into the dark for my first leg.
This run went all wrong, but I’ll admit most was self-inflicted. I won’t complain about the hills, wind, untied shoe, unsafe busy road, 3 red stoplights, or the woman who almost ran me over (but will obvs bring them up bc oh woe is me) because that’s the nature of the sport – EVERYONE had adverse conditions to deal with. I could’ve pulled a 34 mile triple on the treadmill if I wanted easy.
But the self-inflicted parts I WILL talk about.
I had looked at my leg assignments beforehand (unlike TypeZ), but either denial or an incompetence for “elevation gain” comprehension kept me from fully realizing what a chore I had in front of me. So as I stood at the exchange, frantically trying to memorize turn-by-turns, calculate wind direction, and try to predict what 479ft gain over 5mi was going to do to my claimed 8:00/pace, I had a minor freakout.
Although Ragnar does a fine job of marking the course with blinkie signs telling you when to turn or cross the street, there’s nothing between them reassuring you you’re going the right way. If you’re going straight you could run MILES before seeing another marker, and if you’re away from the pack it could be even longer before you see another runner. I ripped out and took the directions with me per a SoCal Lesson Learned, but still spent every 10 seconds wondering if I was off-course or had missed a turn.
Leg7 directions per the RagMag
I knew the first leg was uphill, and tried not to Garmin-hawk too badly, but everytime I caught sight of something over 8:00, I freaked out. Not your standard “OMG I’m not hitting my pace” freak out, but “OMG they’re going to be waiting forever at the exchange for me and I’m setting us behind and Emily, Margot, and Sarah all worked so hard to put us ahead and now I’m just undoing it and K & Lauren are going to have to work extra hard to make up for me and we’re never going to win and it’ll be all my fault”
Team sports downfall?
My pass-through exchange finally came into sight and I put on my proud peacock/smug grin while I ran through. I knew it was mostly flat or downhill from there, and was ready for the fast second half to make up some of the time I lost on the climbs.
It felt great to stretch out my stride but tight-roping the white line on the shoulder-less road with cars flying by at 55mph made every step tight and calculated. I jumped down into the soft sand/dust/gravel a few times for dickheads unwilling to “SHARE THE ROAD” and spent the next few miles playing head-on chicken with traffic and watching my life flash before my eyes.
(Ragnar had us running against traffic – is that normal?)
* reenactment *
(this is the part where I DON’T talk about the 3 stop lights, totally killing my momentum, or the headwind that made it feel like I was driving with the parking brake not fully turned off also fun-sucking my only downhill miles of the weekend)
10.5ish miles later the exchange signs came into sight and I could hear the yells of my team. I weaved through a park and slap-braceleted K, sending her off on her very first relay run.
feel free to be distracted from my pained face by the rippling leg action (cred EH)
I sat on the curb for a second, trying to catch my breath and get feeling back in my fingers (dropped my gloves somewhere between van–porta–exchange) when I tasted blood. I looked down where I’d been wiping my mouth on my sleeves all run and sure enough, that cold headwind had chapped my lips so badly I was bleeding.
Oiselle’s Rundelicious isn’t too pretty for a little blood – new selling point? (came out with just water, btw)
Once the vampire mouth opened up the window to complain about the wind, I rattled off my laundry list of excuses and apologies for coming in slower than planned. I felt like I let the team down and was nervous knowing runs 2 & 3 likely wouldn’t be any easier.
I’ve never received such sudden and venomous feedback. For as competitive and serious everyone was about winning, it was apparent we would need to make some expectation alterations if we were going to get through this thing alive. We had grossly underestimated the difficulty of the course and the conditions were unfortunate, but the other teams were dealing with the same things.
We just had to deal better than them.
(ps I have a special something from the non-blogger coming up, get excited)
We decided all pace predictions were going out the window. Any time-based goals were no more, and our focus was solely on running HARD and doing what we could.
Slight mission amendment : IN IT TO WIN IT – but forget about the fucking pace chart.
On to Round 2…