#Undecided2 – Part 4 (Ragnar Vegas)

And then we bullet point recap the rest of the Ragnar Vegas tale…

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  • Some dickhead put a flight of stairs at the end of leg 29…

  • I make this sweet Running SR gif of all the sweet pics from Em’s fancy camera…

  • Finally get warmed up for my last run by doing some “stretches” that look like the pee dance (DID remember to porta this time), but is really just an effort to show off my Bum Wrap

  • Team tries to immitate my “signature pose” while I’m gone. I discover the photo 4 hours later…

  • The run goes well for the first hour. My legs felt surprisingly fresh and fast (on the flats/downhills), but the continued climbing eventually cashes me in…

  • The first leg is a mile longer than listed – I freak out because OMG NO WAY I CAN’T RUN ANY MORE THAN I’M SUPPOSED TO! PLEASE GOD TELL ME THE NEXT LEG IS SHORT!

  • And then…

(I wanted a Z bar. Duh, Brian OBVIOUSLY)

  • So the next few miles sucked. There was walking. There was a tib scare. There was a lot of feeling bad I was letting my team down. There was a lot of mentally committing to swearing off hills/vowing to run more hills. But eventually, I finished (only slightly longer than projected) ((thank god))…

  • Shockingly the world doesn’t end because I walked during my final relay leg. My team doesn’t even try to murder me or hide my dry change of clothes as punishment, either.

  • I make more awesome gifs bc I discovered makeagif.com and am obsessed

Anchor LB-C’s so excited to run!

  • And in a hilarious (not) snafu on Ragnar’s end, the final leg was nearly 2 miles short. So as we piled out of the van in the finish area parking lot, ready to head down and wait for our big run through the finish, Lauren comes STORMING down the hill right in front of us. 15 minutes earlier than expected…

  • Like the good competitor she is, LB crossed the line to get our official time stopped while we hobbled our busted legs down the hill for our staged team “finish”

And it was worth the awkward, anticlimactic finish.

Not only did we make our goal of finishing 1st women’s ultra, but also 1st ultra OVERALL (inc mixed and men’s teams), 1st women’s OVERALL (inc 12-woman teams), and BROKE THE TOP 10 of ALL teams, regardless of classification.

Yes, we were the 10th fastest team in the entire race.

Badass.

We hung out in the finish area with our free pizzas and beers reliving the last 25 hours until the cold and sleeplessness sent us running stumbling to the hotel for a proper night of sleep.

Such a great weekend. Despite my crappy runs – physically, mentally, self-inflicted, dramatized, whatever – it was all worth it in the end.

(as it always is)

And spending time with Sarah, Margot, Em, Kristina, and Lauren, flanked by All Star Drive Team BriLee, was incredible. I freaking love the crap out of them.

Finally, one last HUGE THANK YOU to our sponsors Compex and Pro Compression, who literally kept us running all weekend. Life muscle savers

Thus concludes the Ragnar Las Vegas trilogy. Or whatever something with four parts is.

Sarah OUaL

#Undecided2 – Part 3 (Ragnar Vegas)

I feel like these Ragnar recaps need taken out back and put out of their drawn-out, long-past-due misery.

Uhhh but yeah one more after this. Heh…

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After my self-inflicted mental crapshoot 10.9 miler, K and LB flew through their speedy legs to close out Round One for Team Undecided2.

By the time I started feeling back to normal – the wind and cold left me chilled and cough’y for a couple hours – it was almost time to gear up to run again. Not before a quick nap with the bagel chips and Garmin, though…

cred SR

I knew I had another tough leg coming up – 12.3 miles with the first 8 steady & gradual climbing – but our team decision to throw pace and times out the window helped keep me from freaking the fuck out mentally stable beforehand.

SR had a long 16miler before it was my turn, and we planned to meet at her pass-through with water. Having a “job” helped keep my mind off dreading the freezing cold nighttime uphill march I had ahead of me.

But, in the first (and one of the very few) hiccups of the weekend, we sat there at ex17 and waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually Lee calculated that she’d have to be running 10 min/miles to have not come through yet…

Shit.

SR doesn’t run 10 min/miles.

We sped to the next exchange, luckily arriving before she did, and I took the bracelet from her yelling apologies over my shoulder and  feeling like the worst friend/relay teammate in the world.

Unfortunately being so pre-occupied with relay guilt led me to forget another important running chore that became painfully obvious about .4mi in…

(Thanks to whoever “Vote for ____” was and that sign you put out in front of the M Resort. It was a great wind/bare butt blocker)

After my quick pit stop it was time to zone out and lock in for the climb. After the mental stress the turns in my first run caused, I was grateful for a mindless straight shot this leg. Even if that meant running uphill INTO 20+mph winds the entire time.

+

JUST KIDDING. Fucking wind got real old REAL fast.

But I reminded myself EVERYONE else was dealing with the wind and the climb, and probably some of them said they were going to run 8-flat on the weekend, too.

“No way anyone’s running as fast as they said they would on this leg. Every single van at that exchange is all, ‘where the fuck is so-and-so?!’ and they’ll come in like ‘man that blew! what a shitty run!’ But it’s relay and you love it, so suck it up and keep your head down! Pass this guy!”

Focusing on “kills” instead of pace helped keep me sane. I told myself that each step/mile was getting us closer to the finish and each “kill” closer to a win, and that positive thinking no doubt got me up that hill in one piece.

At mile 5 I broke into the gummy bears I brought for fuel, but in the cold I was barely able to get any in my mouth let alone chew them. I swallowed a few whole out of desperation, but the risk of choking seemed worse than depleted glycogen levels so I pitched them.

(bad move.)

FINALLY, completely frozen but surprisingly still feeling ok, we leveled off and the exchange came into sight. A 4.4 mile FLAT leg was all that stood between me and warmth/food/sleep!

Leg 20 from the Ragmag

But, what the heck? Is that Brian? OMG what is he doing in shorts and a sleeveless shirt?!!!

Me : “NO. No! Get back in the fucking van! You’re not coming with me! It’s too damn cold!”

B : “Shut up, I’m running.”

So he did. And after 4 or 5 “Huh?“s when I’d try to mumble a one-word answer through my frozen face to his good-pacer conversation attempts he finally gave up and laid into a silent and really-freaking-freezing 40 minute run a few steps behind me.

#SaintBrian strikes again.

(thanks again, really. it was great having company and worrying about you getting pneumonia the whole time. and I’m extra glad you ended up not.)

Garmin died so I played the “it’s gotta be just up there!” game instead of asking him how much further we had to go, and eventually that 1 MILE TO GO sign DID show up. We flew through at what felt like 7’s (but was really 8:40 something) and finally handed of to K to close out run #2.

99% sure this is from her first run. If not, those Delaware roots left some thick skin and cold-weather tolerance in those legs…

Immediately after exiting the chute I grabbed on to B and laid down in the rocky parking lot – dizzy, lightheaded, and on the verge of passing out. I’m not sure if it was fuel, weather, effort, or that I’m just a pansy, but it was a bad feeling and I could tell by the look on B’s face I was making a hot mess scene and needed to pull my shit together if I didn’t want to get shipped off to the med tent.

After regaining some composure and actually being able to stand upright on my own, I got to chat with Shannon a bit and finally made it back over to the van to continue our trek towards daylight.

3:30am and 87 more miles to go…

Sarah OUaL

#Undecided2 – Part 2 (Ragnar Vegas)

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.

(Thank you.)

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

(cred EH & LB)

  • SarahSR put in a normal day at the office kicking 11.8 and the sunset

(cred LB)

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.

Eric is not impressed

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.

f-bomb stoplights

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.

  • Anchor Lauren doing a happy/cold dance as K comes in for the handoff (cred EH)

(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…

Sarah OUaL