This past weekend I participated in a relay race series called Ragnar Relay. For those unfamiliar, a team of 12 people split into 2 vans and take turns running legs. The race started early Friday morning in Wickenburg and finished mid-afternoon in Mesa, AZ (right around 200 miles).
We started off in Tonopah, AZ and quickly our first runner took off. The first few legs seemed to pass quickly and before long it was time for my first leg.
Part of the rules state that runners must be equipped with both a headlamp and reflective safety vest. This makes sense, as two of my legs took place in complete darkness. My first started at sunset, and was a straight shot along the side of a road (total of 6.9 miles).
While the last runner in our van finished her leg, a few of us ate at the exchange and prepared to head off to rest for a couple hours. The high school hosting the exchange was serving pasta, veggies and chicken (I skipped the chicken and Alfredo sauce to make it plant based).
The next exchange was about 30 minutes away. When we got there, no other vans were around and it almost seemed we were at the wrong place. Then we (jokingly) decided it was because we were winning, and we were one of the first teams to arrive. And, the hashtag #wearewinning was born.
Sleeping options included the high school gym floor or outdside on the field. To me, a fluffy green field sounded much more appealing. Unfortunately, it was more like rock hard ground with thinning, half dead grass. We had about an hour and a half to try to sleep, and I managed to get roughly ten minutes before it was time to start the next round of running.
My second leg was scheduled to start around 3am, which meant pleasant temperatures and complete darkness.
My second leg started on a neat paved park trail somewhere near Surpise, AZ (I think). Once we hit the main road, the route went from rolling hills to steady incline. At mile 4, the incline increased even more. At this point, my calf decided to seize up on me, which made the last few miles much more challenging (total of 5.84 miles).
By now, we were all exhausted, sweaty and smelly. Luckily, our first Van had a beautiful room at a nearby resort, so we had a place to shower and try to nap. For some reason, I couldn’t fall asleep even though I was insanely exhausted. I was able to get another ten minutes or so, but the shower was amazing.
Then it was time to start our final round of running. We headed send off our first runner and caught up with a great group of runners “Fro Motion”. We had been running the same pace as them all day/night so we made sure to thank them for the entertainment, music, and love for the race.
In my sleep fatigued state, I forgot to take a pre-run selfie for the last leg, which was the most difficult of all. The elevation map said it should be a light downhill for my entire leg. It wasn’t. My leg started just before 1pm at 86 degrees.
By now, we were in north Scottsdale, just miles away from the finish line. My leg went through a park, which started with rolling hills, and then moved to lots of uphills with quick, steep drops and zero shade. I ran past a lady who lived off the course, and she was smoking a cigarette. This was too much for me, and I started to vomit.
The rest of my miserable leg was made up of short bursts of running, puking, water, walking it off and repeating the cycle again and again and again until I was able to pass the baton to our last runner (total of 5.75 miles).
We headed to the finish line to wait for our last runner, who had the longest run of the day. We walked around and checked out the different vendors and waited. We got the text saying she was at the last mile marker and started out to meet up, so we could all run in together. This however meant I was running on exhausted legs, after being violently sick, in flip flops. Thankfully it wasn’t more than a tenth of a mile or so.
Over the 32 hours of the race I learned that:
1. I can do anything I put my mind to (except sleep in a field).
2. I never want to captain a Ragnar team (no way).
3. It’s possible to stick with a plant based diet, even when away from home (even when there is free pizza at the finish line).
4. I do not enjoy street races like I enjoy trail races (can’t wait for the next Ragnar trail race).
5. I am OCD about running gear and need things just right before running (sorry to my teammates that had to listen to the complaining).
6. Teamwork is so important and I was lucky to have some great team members
7. I need to find running shorts I like because it’s too hot to run in long pants and capris some days…especially with the AZ summer coming fast!
I am still processing the whole experience, and writing this from my bed (still in need of more sleep). I feel like I just completed a journey. We went on an adventure and #wewon.