RACE RECAP #66: Ragnar Wasatch Back

66-Ragnar

RAGNAAAAAAAAAAAR!!!!!

I’m sorry, but I just always feel this need to yell the name Ragnar. It just sounds better that way. But, you have to make sure that you scream like you are William Wallace giving his infamous FREEDOM pep talk and not like Brick yelling “LOUD NOISES.” You just gotta go with the flow of your emotions with it.

IMG_2192Odds are you probably yelling it right now, huh?

Well, let’s do this together … 1, 2, 3 … RAGNAAAAAAAAAAAR!!!!!

Okay, so back on track (well, actually I never really was on track), this was my second year doing Ragnar. I did the relay last year as runner #11 in the second van. I loved it and had a great time, but didn’t know if I was going to do it again this year. I had this attitude mainly because I didn’t want to be the team captain again. So, I wanted to wait it out and see what my running friends did. Because I knew I could find a team fairly easy if I wanted to, someone is always looking.

IMG_2194Anyways, in September I ended up deciding to do the Spartan Super (6-7 mile length) that was that same weekend in Midway, Utah. I kind of always wanted to do an obstacle course run and I felt that the Super would be a good challenge and reason to get into Vin Diesel shape. So that was my goal and focus.

But, then a few months ago the Spartan changed the race from a Super to a Beast (half marathon length). When I found this out, I immediately wanted to back out. I wasn’t THAT ready for six mile obstacle course, but I sure as heck wasn’t ready for a half marathon length obstacle course. There was no way I was going to do it. Plus, I feared I would get injured in the process, especially considering how many other races I have planned this summer. I gotta run smart in that regard. Gotta stay injury free.IMG_2175So, I contacted the race and they actually refunded me my money which I was much grateful for. I didn’t want to have to find someone to sell my entry to, because I feared no one would want buy it with a few month notice? Around this time my friend Christy had to bow out of Ragnar because of an injury and I quickly snagged it. Especially considering that a number of my running friends were in my van.

I wasn’t able to run my first leg because I had to work since we were shorthanded. Luckily, my team was okay with that. So Becky (who ran the leg before me) just ran through the exchange and did my 2.9 mile leg. After our van exchanged the slap bracelet to the other van they drove down to Ogden for dinner where they met me at Jimmy John’s.

IMG_2201Since my requirement for counting races towards my 180 is that I have to run a minimum of 13.1 miles per race I traded legs with Becky. Instead of running of running Leg 8 (11.4 miles for two legs), I ended up running Leg 9 (16 miles for two legs) which included a 11.6 mile run and then a 4.4 mile run UP Ragnar Hill that included about a 2,000 foot climb (you should be impressed right now). Neither leg was easy, but as much as I was there for the running, I was there for the fun between the legs. Ragnar is such a party.

IMG_2228There are many stories, inside jokes, side conversations, laughs and experiences I wish I could share here. It’s not that they are dirty in nature or that, it’s just hard to share without the context of being there. If you haven’t experienced a Ragnar, you really should. Not only do you get that bonding time with other runners, but you get the experience of doing it over two days with hardly any sleep and living to tell about it. How can you NOT love that?

Anyways, I decided to break down my experience into my two legs. Because both were two completely different experiences. They really were almost like two different races —

Leg 21 | 11.6 miles | Hard

Ragnar - 21
CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Going into the relay I had no idea what time this leg was going to take place. All I knew was that it was a night run. Last year my 5 mile run was from 4 to 5am so I imagined it was going to be around that time again. Once I got with my team though, I found out my leg started around 2:30am. Yep, SMACK in the middle of the night. Plus, it probably was going to take me about 2-2:30 hours to run it considering I wouldn’t be running it at a 10K pace … in the dark. I just kind of of consigned myself to no sleep during the relay.

I actually really like night runs, especially during Ragnar. They’re peaceful, they’re quiet, relatively isolated and you can be left to your own thoughts. I decided not to bring a long my headphones for my run, because I just wanted to BE THERE. Plus, I wanted to get lost in thought and run a few things out and I knew I couldn’t do that with headphones blaring while trying to also concentrate on not tripping/dying on the course.

So, I just ran.

The scenery was actually quite beautiful. The dark of the night was lit up by the moon and stars overhead. It was hard not to catch yourself gazing up at their brilliance. I’ve always loved stars and what they resemble. How often do we take them for granted when they are right there! Their celestial brilliance is often missed because we simply don’t look up. What a shame!

Since I was running this leg at 2:30am I was able to not just enjoy the brilliance of the stars, but the dawning of a sunrise as well. We’ve all experienced sunsets before, but very few are able to experience a sunrise. They’re just brilliant. Pure brilliance. And, the one on my run was straight from heaven. The way the rays hit the clouds made them look like they were burning. It was awe inspiring. It really was divine and felt like a gift from God.

The run itself wasn’t too horrible. Most of my struggles came because of the visibility. The course was pretty flat and followed a mixture of road, paved trail and dirt trail. I had issues with my glasses around mile four because they kept fogging up and I couldn’t see with them and without them. I had to take them for my last five miles because there was no point wearing something I couldn’t see out of.

Plus, around six miles or so the course grew to be rather bumpy and I did not want to get injured. At all. I found out though that there were a couple runners that did injure themselves on this leg. One tore muscles and then another runner broke their ankle a couple hours before I ran the course. I ended up slowing down my pace a tad on the trail and just focused on my surroundings as best as I could.

I am glad that I was extra vigilant though, because I almost ran into a skunk that wandered into my path. It’s butt was even turned to me and I just did a quick side step and turbo boost of speed to get out of there. I could have only imagined what I would have done if I got sprayed. What would I have done? The leg was unsupported by my team. I only had three aid stations of volunteers who probably wouldn’t know what to do. So, yeah, I probably would have had to just run the rest of the day.

Oh, I could only imagine. I’m just glad it didn’t happen.

My favorite part of the leg was actually the trail. I really need/want to run more trail. It’s much more enjoyable then just pavement and I could feel the difference on my legs and joints. It just makes a big difference. The leg did a lot of switchback between trail, road and paved trail which I didn’t like a couple reasons. One, it was dark and there were some spots I really was worried I was going to biff it … so I walked. And, two, there was a spot of paved trail that was actually under construction and there was NO way you could run it effectively without a twisted/broken ankle.

In fact I walked a lot of the construction areas and I had a runner come up from behind and tell me to “suck it up and run!” I wanted to smack him. He probably meant well, but don’t tell me to suck it up. I’m not you. Plus, you don’t know why I am walking. It’s not because I couldn’t run. I know this sounds kind of petty, but I get a “TAD” annoyed by comments like that. Just give me a high five, a good job or keep it up and call it good.

Rant over.

But, once I finished my leg I quickly changed out of my clothes since I was FREEZING within minutes of my finish and then tried to get some sleep … which didn’t happen. Well, I think I MIGHT have gotten 10 minutes of sleep at one point. But, yeah … I didn’t sleep.

The leg overall was good. It was inspiring. It was beautiful. And, it was worth it, even if I gave up my night’s sleep for it.

Leg 33 | 4.4 miles | Very Hard

Ragnar - 33
CLICK TO ENLARGE.

This leg and leg 34 are pretty much the essence of Ragnar. These two legs are what give this relay it’s distinctive name. The best way to describe Ragnar is that it’s a straight up climb. It’s brutal, it’s nasty, but it’s a challenge worth taking. Even if half of the runners going up the hill are WALKING, you still have to give them major props for undertaking it, because normal people would NEVER do something awesome like this.

As you can see from the elevation chart to the left the course is EXTREMELY difficult after just one mile into it. Knowing this I decided that I needed to dig in and make sure that I tackled the course with a good attitude and determination. After starting up the hill I knew I would be walking a lot of the course so I just told myself that was okay as long as I didn’t walk defeated. I had to put effort into it regardless of my speed.

That mantra kind of pushed me through during the first couple of miles of the run. I also made it a point to talk to the others that passed me or that I passed. Whether it was a small side conversation or a quick “good job” or “they better have ice cream at the end of this” I tried to at least acknowledge their feat.

One of my favorite moments of the race though happened during this leg. Everyone in the van would get out over half mile or so and hold out some kind of support item in their hands. The first one was hardboiled eggs (yes, I brought HBs with me … I’m a horrible packer), the second one was Easy Cheese on crackers, then there was diaper wipes followed by Swedish Fish, salad (yes, I brought salad with me) and Cheetos. Everytime I saw them I couldn’t wait to see what they had next, but more than anything it meant the WORLD to me to have such awesome friends like that. It really put a smile on my face.

Another aspect that I loved about the leg was that the other vans supporting their runners were just as supportive to me. They were all encouraging me a long the course and just yards from the exchange point a group of runners started cheering for me by name. It helped give me a kick to my step and kept me going even though my legs were DEAD. For being such a horrible hill, it was such an awesome experience.

My favorite surprise of the race though was at the exchange where Shelley greeted me wearing a cat shirt of her own … WITH MY FACE ON IT! Oh, that brought a huge smile to my face, not to mention an uncontrollable laugh. See what I mean when I say that I have some AWESOME friends?

The leg overall was everything that I kind of expected. It was very much a mental run that I felt prepared for. I really just focused on giving my best even if my best was walking at a faster clip. I won’t lie I might have tapped into my inner-soccer mom and rode the elliptical up that mountain. It was tough. But, so worth it.

The relay overall was amazing. It was everything I thought it was going to be. I had a blast with everyone. We all got a long great and we laughed nearly non-stop. Again, I really wish I could share EVERYTHING that happened during the two days. From the moment I met up with the team in Ogden to the finish line at Park City High School  it was such a great experience.

I am very much planning on being there again next year. I won’t Captain the team (too much work), but I am willing to help assemble a team. Also I am toying with the idea of doing the Las Vegas Ragnar in November so that I can get the Saints and Sinners medal. So, so, so tempting to do. Especially if I can get an awesome group of friends assembled! That shouldn’t be too hard though!

So much to look forward to with Ragnar in Vegas and next year! RAGNAAAAAAAAAR!!!!

MORE PICTURES FROM MY RAGNAAAAAAAAR ADVENTURE!


Total Mileage Breakdown for 2014

2014 Training Miles – 422.3 miles
2014 Walking Miles – 38.45 miles
2014 Race Miles – 185.7 miles
2014 Total Miles – 649.35 miles
 
Monthly Total Miles for 2014
January – 100.0 miles
February – 100.0 miles
March – 130.0 miles
April – 140.5 miles
May – 108.65 miles
June – 83.3 miles

NEXT RACE: UTAH MIDNIGHT HALF MARATHON; JULY 11TH


Comments:

5 comments

  1. Becca says:

    I love the back of the Wasatch Front. And I love calling it that. Obviously. I think it’s hilarious. I’m still tired….

    Thanks for the laughs and talks and food. Grood times!

  2. Andrea says:

    Love the part about the skunk…not sure what I would do. Probably squeeze my eyes shut tight, say a prayer and sprint!

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