RAGNAR RELAY WASATCH BACK 2009: What an experience! I'm so glad I was able to be a part of it all. Here's the rundown of how it all went.
VAN-MATES: Neil, Taylor, Jamie, Kami, Sara, Sly, Ali, MaryAnn, & Sue (taking the pic). We were the all-stars of our team, and it was great making new friends. We definitely had a great time cheering each other on and making each other laugh. Kami was runner 7, Jamie runner 8, Sara runner 9, Taylor runner 10 (he had the "Ragnar"), I was runner 11, and Neil was runner 12. Ali was bike support, MaryAnne was driver, and Sue was all-round support.
THE WORST OF RAGNAR: Not being able to compete 100%. I injured my upper back pretty seriously 4 days prior to the race. That meant I had limited trunk rotation, so I couldn't get a full arm swing in, but what was worse was I could only use about 1/3 of my lung capacity as it KILLED to breath deeply. That totally messed with my stride, pace, pretty much everything, not to mention the shoulder and trap pain I had due to guarding. I had to drug up on schedule in order to endure the run and the car ride. On top of all that, it's allergy season which meant I would have bouts of sneezing fits, which was also painful.
THE BEST OF RAGNAR: I've listed my top 5 best memories of the race below.
#1 - The "one mile to go" marker. It was the best feeling to see that marker, although I think either that was the longest mile EVER, or they lied to us and there was actually 2 miles to go. Either way, it meant there was a light at the end of the tunnel and that was comforting.
#2 - Meeting up with Tony. Unfortunately, my brother was on a different team "The Slowskys", but we kept in good contact via text messaging, and were able to see each other at a few of the exchanges. His encouragement definitely kept me in it. Especially the text he sent me to "suck it up" when I asked how to treat a blister. What great advice. Ha ha.
#3 - The cheering. It was such a comfort and a nice break when I saw our van and everyone cheering me on as I ran. It wasn't just limited to our van either. Everyone cheered everyone on. It was such a great atmosphere. Along with the cheering, came our little +/- game. We would get a point for every person we passed, and lose a point for every person that passed us. It kept things competitive for us, and made us work harder.
#4 - Ending my first run and realizing that I CAN do this, injured and all. One of the funniest moments was when I slapped the bracelet on Neil, and he just stood there instead of taking off. I was wondering if he was wanting a good luck hug or something. I just slapped him on the back, and said... "Let's go Neil."
#5 - Spending time with my friends Kami & Neil. There's no better bonding experience than something as challenging as this.
MY FIRST LEG: 3.8 miles - Very Hard. So my first leg was basically 3 or so miles straight uphill, then straight downhill the rest of the way. I was able to go a good 7 minutes before I had to walk. I guess not too bad for doing absolutely nothing but recovering for the 4 days prior. I then worked out a good system of running the length of 2 cones, and walking 1 during the rest of the uphill stretch. I began my leg Friday at 3:30 p.m. and finished in :38. One girl thought she had me as she passed me during my "walk" portion, but in my head I was saying... "Just wait til I reach that cone... then you're mine!" And... she was. I owned her immediately. I finished with a +6.
MY MIDNIGHT LEG: 7.3 miles - Hard. This was one of my favorite legs of the race. It had slight up hills, slight downhills, but was relatively flat. I had never run with a head lamp, or reflective vest, but it was fun, and I was glad I was prepared with a headband, because apparently the head lamp kept slipping off everyone's head, but I had no trouble. My ran began at 1:49 a.m. Saturday morning, and it was a 7.3 miler. I was nervous about the distance, but at about mile 3, I finally figured out a pace I could deal with and get enough oxygen for the longer distance. The weather was perfect, and the run was peaceful. Unfortunately by changing my running stride, I started to develop a blister under the arch of my right foot at around mile 5.5, and I was starting to die. I kept on and dealt with it and finished in 1:05. I finished at a -2 for this leg. One of those was because I had to re-tie my freakin' shoe twice. I was SO annoyed!
THE FINAL LEG: 7.3 miles - Very Hard. My last leg was 7.3 miles, mostly downhill with bits of uphill. That was a challenge as the bounce didn't feel too good on the back or the knee, and it rained for most of my leg. I was worried about my blister I acquired the night before, but good thing I have good instincts as I drained it and put vaseline on it before I ran, and followed Tony's advice of "sucking it up", and it didn't bother me at all during my run. I started my leg around 10:55 a.m. Saturday morning, and it took me 1:11 to finish. I finished at a -10 for this leg, which put me at -4 overall. I guess considering, that wasn't a bad score. I was still proud that I finished strong, and boy did it feel good to be done. 18.4 total miles in less than 24 hours!
THE FINISH LINE: Not exactly what we had pictured. Normally, the entire team runs together for a short distance across the finish line. Well... Neil had the last leg, and took off like a bandit. Unfortunately, the race bible didn't have directions to the finish line for the van people, so we were lost for 40 minutes and Neil crossed without us. We eventually met up with him and van 1 for a final "Team On 3" pic with our medals. We finished 122 overall and 84th in our division with a final time of 28:55:38. If only I was 100% I'm sure I could have shaved 30-45 minutes off of our time. It was a great first experience, and can't wait to do it again next year. There's even talk of doing the Ragnar Relay Las Vegas October 9-10th.
THE RETURN: It was nice to be home and take a nice hot shower and be clean again, but the best surprise of all was the awesome sign and balloons that greeted me on my front porch, left by Melissa and the kids. It made all my "van-mates" jealous. It's nice to feel loved. :)
I now have 2 weeks to heal and prepare for the Freedom Run 15K. This is Tony and my 4th of July new tradition. This will be our third year competing. I'm hoping for another PR. Wish us luck!