Posts Tagged Ragnar Relay

Belated Ragnar Chicago Race Recap

Where's Waldo at the starting line (with half of Matt...this is the only pic we have!)

Where’s Waldo at the starting line (with half of Matt…this is the only pic we have!)

It’s been over a month now sinceย I completed my first Ragnar Relay with my team, Where’s Waldo, but I still wanted to write up this recap. Our team of 12ย ran nearly 200 miles in about 30 hours from Madison, WI to Chicago. It was one of the most challenging (mentally and physically), but fun races I’ve done. A few people asked me afterwards if we were running for charity only to be surprised (or shocked) to find out that we were doing the race for fun! Yes, there are charities that run Ragnar to raise money, but there are also a lot of crazy people who do it for a good time. So here’s a little recap of my race experience. I may do some other posts later on tips for captains or what I wish I’d known before I did Ragnar to help anyone (or myself) preparing to do one of these awesome races.

If you’re not familiar with Ragnar, it’s an overnight running relay with 12 runners (or less if you’re one of the ultra or more intense teams). Each team has 2 vans with 6 runners in each van. Runners 1-6 are in van 1 and runners 7-12 are in van 2. After you drop off each runner you drive to an exchange to meet them and switch to the next runner. The vans meet each other every 6 exchanges. So when your van’s not running, you have a little bit of a break.

I was the team captain for my team since I was the one who recruited the whole team and coordinated everything (which can be a big job in itself…that’s for another post). For the actual race, I was runner 12.

Our team got together at my house on Thursday night before the race for a team dinner and to decorate our vans. This was the first time our whole team (or at least most of the team since a couple people didn’t make it) got together before the race. It’s interesting because most people knew some of the people or were acquaintances (many were from my church). I knew

Finally got to decorate vans once the rain stopped

Finally got to decorate vans once the rain stopped

everyone at least a little bit except for 4 people (others recruited their friends, one was a youth group member I didn’t really know, and another was my husband’s coworker). So it may have been a little awkward at first, but after spending 30 hours together with the five other people in your van, you really get to know them pretty well and I thought we had a pretty good group (speaking for van 2, at least). Unfortunately van decorating didn’t happen that night because it was raining. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But afterwards, I got a few of the girls on the team to jam their nails with a Runner Girl accent. ๐Ÿ™‚

We drove up to Madison super early on Friday morning. Van 1 left earlier because they had to be at the starting line to check in and do the safety briefing one hour before our 7:30 am start time. Van 2 drove up about an hour later because we wanted to send our first runner, Rachel, off. Unfortunately for her it was raining a lot at the start. It was a little sad because all the vans weren’t decorated since the rain would’ve washed off any decorations people did with window markers. The energy was still great at the start as people were excited. After Rachel left, Van 1 had to head to the first exchange to meet her and those of us in Van 2 headed to the nearest Target to get some extra supplies we forgot and for some Starbucks. ๐Ÿ™‚ We hung out there for a while before driving over to Exchange 6, which was actually really nice. As we got updates from Van 1, we found out we were running ahead of schedule according to the race pace calculator Ragnar gave us (which was based off the 10k pace times each person submitted for themselves). Many people were running faster than what they said!

Ted & Kimberly passing off the bracelet!

Ted & Kimberly passing off the bracelet!

While we waited for Van 1 to show up at Exchange 6, we did our safety briefing, tried lots of free Nuun samples, and decorated our van. I still had a while to go before I’d have to run since I was the last runner to start on our team, but I felt a little nervous. I actually didn’t eat much that whole day before I ran aside from some oatmeal for breakfast before we left and some popcorn and a cereal bar. In retrospect, I probably should’ve eaten a little more since I didn’t actually start running until about 5pm that day. Normally I would’ve eaten at least a full meal for lunch if I ran after work like that.

Leg 12 – 6.8 miles: My first leg; 5pm on Friday
I started out planning on taking this run easy to save my energy because even though my second leg was going to be short, I knew I had a long run for the end. This entire race I was going pretty slow, actually–slower than I normally run in races. Usually the adrenaline kicks in and helps me push it more, but this race is different. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I didn’t always see people on my runs. Since you start when your team’s runner passes the slap bracelet off to you, the starts are staggered. I didn’t really run into groups of runners–just a few here and there. Sometimes I didn’t see anyone for a while on this first leg too since it was mainly just on a trail. I think when I’m running races with a lot of other people it’s more motivating to run faster and pass people when you can actually SEE more people on the course. The other thing that threw me off here was my volume was down on my RunKeeper app and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it (this happened on my first and second legs). I didn’t realize there weren’t mile markers along the Ragnar course except for the “One Mile to Go” sign. So I stopped a couple times just to see how far I went–had to take out my phone (I really need to get another Garmin watch).

Here are my splits for this leg:
Mile 1: 9:35 (fastest)
Mile 2: 10:05
Mile 3: 10:09
Mile 4: 9:56
Mile 5: 10:13
Mile 6: 10:06
Mile 7: 10:11

Total distance: 8.62 miles; 1:08:22; avg. pace 10:02

I was a little confused near the end of the leg because when I looked at the map I thought it had an in-and-out part before the finish, but it turned out it wasn’t like that. It was pretty exciting being a runner that goes into one of the major exchanges though because tons of people are there including your whole team (van 1 & van 2). My teammates got some great pictures of me coming in! ๐Ÿ™‚

Coming in strong at the end of my first leg

Coming in strong at the end of my first leg

After I finished, my van went out for a quick dinner. We actually got nervous because we were waiting for a table and found out van 1 was already on their 3rd runner! We sped through our meal and made it to the next exchange with time to spare. Good thing we were there too because Albert (Runner 6) had to run a 5k for his second leg and he beat his van to the exchange! He’s a beast–ran that in about 15 minutes AND he had blisters…

Speedy Albert coming in from his second leg

Speedy Albert coming in from his second leg

Leg 24 – 2.9 milesย (Ran at 2:15 AM on Saturday)
I was actually really excited about this run because it’s the first time I’ve run at night (generally not safe for a woman to do by herself). Ragnar makes you wear safety gear though. Unfortunately I don’t have picture. The weather was cooler (perfect, actually) and this was my shortest run. So I was planning on really pushing myself, which I did. The only problem was I got lost! When I started I was behind some guy and ended up following him when he took a wrong turn near the beginning of the run. To be fair, i actually thought I was supposed to go that way too because when we drove into the exchange, we saw runners going that way. Apparently a lot of people got lost on this run though. Since then I’ve learned that if you don’t see a sign telling you to turn and you’re at an intersection, GO STRAIGHT! Thankfully a couple girls were running toward us saying that we were going the wrong way. I got to a point on this run where I didn’t see anyone else either, which is a little unnerving since I’m running in the dark and don’t know where I’m supposed to go, but I just kept looking for the red blinking lights on Ragnar signs to direct me. I got to run by the lake in Racine, which was nice even though it was pitch black and I couldn’t see anything out there. There was also a hill near the end which was killing me. When I got to the exchange, Rachel wasn’t there in the exchange chute (she was on the beach but my teammates saw me coming and started yelling to her). So I had to wait a minute before she got there and then got to enjoy some s’mores on the beach before our van booked it out of there so we could spend a few hours in nice beds at Ted’s house. The warm shower & a decent few hours sleep was SO worth it! He lived only 20 minutes from our next exchange so if you’re able to crash at someone’s house in the middle of the race, I totally recommend it. We also got a nice breakfast in the morning.

My second leg splits:
Mile 1: 8:40 (yay)
Mile 2: 9:22 – realized I got lost, trying to get back on course
Mile 3: 9:48 – starting to lose some energy now

Total distance: 3.53 miles (added about half a mile to my run); 33:21; avg. pace 9:26 (finally under 10!)

*I also need to add in that this was my first night away from Jaylen ever. He did fine with Daddy (& grandparents who came to help out). I missed him, but I did okay too. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sammy checking off her final box after finishing her last leg!

Sammy checking off her final box after finishing her last leg!

Leg 36 – 7.5 miles Final leg – Run to the finish!ย (12:55 PM start on Saturday)
This was one of the hardest runs I’ve ever done–even harder than the half marathons I’ve done. A few factors contributed to this: I was hungry (didn’t get to really eat anything for lunch & didn’t feel like eating anyway beforehand), it was HOT (thankfully I brought my own water because the only 2 water stations were at the beginning and the END of the leg…I actually ran out of water and had to stop at a drinking fountain when I got to the lakeshore path), and I was tired (going on only about 3 hours of sleep in less than 30 hours). I know some people can run crazy fast even in those circumstances (many of those people passed me & a lot of those people are on my team), but it just made this run extra challenging for me. I was also feeling really sore. My shoulders were sore for some reason and my legs were aching a bit. I may have been getting a little dehydrated. I’ll admit it–I took more than a few walking breaks (also paused to check the map to make sure I was going the right way). Maybe I also purposely slowed down so I would get stopped by a traffic light. It was pretty awesome though to run by the lake (but also hard when i could see the finish line across the lake…so close, yet so far!). As I got closer, I felt like I was running at a snail’s pace, but other Ragnar runners who were walking back to their cars would cheer me on as I ran toward the finish. No way was I going to walk now! The best part was when I heard Albert cheering for me by name and then I saw the rest of my team near the finish line. Then they all joined me and we ran across the finish together. That was such a relief and such an accomplishment!

Right after the finish (apparently we don't have a full team pic with our medals?!)

Right after the finish (apparently we don’t have a full team pic with our medals?!)

My super slow splits:
Mile 1: 9:54 (last time I’d be under 10)
Mile 2: 10:29
Mile 3: 10:22
Mile 4: 10:33 (I was doing so well up until mile 5…)
Mile 5: 11:57
Mile 6: 11:41
Mile 7: 13:24 (can you tell I was walking a lot near the end?!?)

Total distance: 7.7 miles (so actually a little longer than planned); 1:26:13; avg. pace 11:12

I have never been so proud to put a race decal on my car. ๐Ÿ™‚ I would definitely do a Ragnar again. The major downside is the cost. It’s the most expensive race I’ve done when you add everything up, but it was a great, unique experience. It also gave me some added stress and took lots of extra time since I had to plan and prepare as the team captain. I think if I did it again I’d want a co-captain to help share the load (and to organize one of the vans). I also would offer to be a different runner…or I would need to have gotten in more training time. There were a few weeks when I didn’t get the training in that I was supposed to so I didn’t feel as prepared for this race. I loved my team though. I just wish I got to spend more time with van 1!

Jonathan & Matt at their final exchange

Jonathan & Matt at their final exchange

Ragnar complete!

Ragnar complete!

Cousins & awesome Van 2 teammates

Cousins & awesome Van 2 teammates

Me with my brother-in-law, Andy

Me with my brother-in-law, Andy

Daddy & baby came to see me at the finish

Daddy & baby came to see me at the finish

A few of our team mates are missing here

A few of our team mates are missing here

IMG_0796

Rachel, Drea, Jenn & me...wish I could've spent more time with these van 1 girls!

Rachel, Drea, Jenn & me…wish I could’ve spent more time with these van 1 girls!

Since I was the last runner, I got to keep our sweaty slap bracelet. Great momento though.

Since I was the last runner, I got to keep our sweaty slap bracelet. Great souvenir though.

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