Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat.

Ragnar was a blast! Exhausting, chaotic and fun. The adventure started on Thursday night. We all met at one of our teammate's house and drove up to the hotel. There were 11 people on our team. Since our race time was at 7:30am on Friday, we decided to get two hotel rooms to share in Ventura close to the race start. I probably went to bed around midnight, but since it was before a race, I didn't sleep very well.

The race is made up of 36 different legs. Most teams have 12 runners so each person runs 3 legs. Your team has two vans. Van 1 runners run the first part of the race. During that time Van 2 hangs out and supports the other runners (or drinks beer). I was in Van 1 so I was excited to run the 4th leg of the race. The race officials give you a "slap" bracelet. All you 80's and 90's kids remember those. That is your baton. When your runner crosses the exchange, you slap on your bracelet and start running.

My first leg was beautiful. I ran through strawberry country with farms on both sides. I was worried about my leg, but ended up running 7.7 miles in under an hour. I have to tell you, speed work really helps. It was about 11am, so it was just starting to get warm, but not hot yet.

My first leg.

Once you take off running, your van picks up the runner that just finished, then proceeds to the next exchange. Unfortunately, the directions they gave were horrible, so there was a lot of wrong turns.

Some of my team (minus 1). This picture was at a van exchange on day two. After getting 90min of sleep, total. We all look surprisingly perky for having just ran all night.

After our van finished our first legs, we had time to kill while the other van was running. We ended up driving to the next exchange point to acclimate ourselves with where we needed to be, and then stopped for dinner. We went to Marie Callendars. I so wanted pie, but was afraid that my tummy would act up if I ate it before running. Let me tell you, we looked like quite the motley crew in the restaurant. The smell was probably lovely.

We started our next legs about 9pm. Unfortunately, these run were in some unsavory parts of Los Angeles. The race was supposed to have police every 1/2 mile during these legs, but they were not there. I ended up running the leg below with my friend so she didn't run alone. It was really dark and there were not many runners to be seen along the course. We ran this leg about 1am.

My van!

I had a short break after running her leg with her. My next leg I ran by myself. It was about 2am and I ran down Sunset Blvd. I found a group to stick with and did not feel unsafe at all. It was so fun because all the bars were getting out so the drunks were cheering us on. I kicked but at speed. I looked at my garmin at one point and was doing a 7:11. My new motto is "The faster you run, the sooner you're done".

Ragnar is very big on safety. When runners ran at night (from 6pm-6am) we were required to wear reflective vests, a flashlight, and blinking back lights. We also were required to stop for the signals and run against traffic at all time. This is what the streets looked like with the runners in their gear.

After our van finished we met our group at the Santa Monica Pier and got the hotel keys from the next van. We all took quick showers and crawled into bed at 3:30am. We were hoping to be able to sleep until 6am, but we got a call from Van 2 at 5 saying it was time to meet again. I have never hit the pillow and fallen asleep so quickly.

My last leg was amazing. I ran through Long Beach and actually ran on part of my 1/2 marathon course. I got to run on the boardwalk and the weather was perfect.

Once our van was finished with our last legs, we met Van 2 in Huntington Beach to exchange some gear. We were done after that until we had to meet later to cross the finish line as a group. We went home and I made Jeff take me to Marie Callendars again so I could get pie. I have never been so hungry. I think the lack of sleep mixed with the running did a number on my appetite. I seriously ate all my food, my kids food and three deserts. I came home, took a shower and crashed for a few hours.

Hungtington Beach, our van was finished!

We got a call from Van 2 letting us know what time to meet them at the finish line in Dana Point. We all crossed together and got our medals. You can tell those in van 1 because we had all showered and changed out of our running clothes.

This is our team minus 1. One of our van mates had to head out as soon as she was done running. The little boy in red accepted her medal for her (he's a son of one of the guys).

I ended up sleeping most of Sunday. I woke up pretty early, went grocery shopping, then went back to bed.

I feel great now. I think I got a mild case of shin splints and my ankles are slightly sore, but that is it. I think the hardest part of the race was being in a van for such a long time. You didn't have time to stretch after you ran because you had to get to the next exchange in time. We all were a little stiff.

I will definitely be doing this race again. It was tons of fun and all the participants were great. People decorated their vans, wore costumes, and partied the entire time. I still have not gotten all of my pictures back, but when I do, I will post the rest. It was a great weekend.


  1. YAY! Thanks for the update. I was dying to read about your experience. I'm doing something really similar in August. I can't wait now!

  2. you will have the best time. Seriously a blast!