At the beginning of the year, I took a look at the Ragnar calendar and realized I only had one race that really fit my calendar and budget: Ragnar Minnesota. Everything else was going to be difficult to squeeze in or involved expensive flights. So, I started reaching out to old teammates, close friends, and a few bloggers to try to create an Ultra team, like we had in Pennsylvania.
Long story short – FAIL. One teammate got injured and needed surgery, another had a vacation schedule change, another had other commitments, blah blah blah. After a while, I gave up and decided I’d just run the Madison Mini again. But then I happened to see a post on the MRTT Ragnar group that a team was looking for runners. I spent 10 minutes reaching out to my parents (who would have my kids) and my husband ($$$) and jumped on the team. When the captain let me know we were a team of 10, I immediately offered to run an extra leg. And BAM! I was jumping in a van with a bunch of strangers I met on the Internet.
My team picked me up at a McDonald’s off the highway on Thursday and we headed up to Minneapolis-St. Paul to check in. We were the last team to register, so we ended up with hand written bibs LOL.
I was in Van#2, so after dinner and a beer, I crashed in our hotel room and slept in until 6am. Woot! That was the last sleep I got until 2am Sunday morning when I got home.
Run#1 was in the middle of the day on the side of a country road. It was hot and hilly, but I was feeling pretty good. Until I wasn’t. My digestive system was unhappy for most of the 6.6 miles. I’ve never come so close to finding a field for a pit stop, but that’s against the rules, so I managed to finish my run. I slapped the bracelet on my teammate and headed straight to the portapotties. Surprisingly (despite system enforced walk breaks), I managed an average pace of 10:55.
After lunch at an awesome pizza place (Linwood Pizza in Wyoming, MN) and some downtime, van #2 went active again around 9pm.
I was still having tummy issues and had not really eaten since lunch, but there was a fundraiser at the major exchange and I scored some rice krispy treats. I was the lucky runner who was going to get two night time runs, so I knew I needed some fuel.
Run#2 started around 12:30am and was an 8.5 mile run, most of it on a small paved path through the woods. I was more than a little bit freaked out by this leg. I had actually purchased pepper spray for it. (As a city girl, I’m fine running down a road in the dark, the path just freaked me out.) Thankfully, I had another Ragnar runner catch up to me just as we hit the path and I decided I was going to keep with him as long as I could. By mile 4, we were getting passed by all the fast runners whose teams had started behind us and we started chatting about being the slow kids on the block. We ended up running the entire leg together, which was awesome! I ran into the exchange, handed the next runner the slap bracelet and the pepper spray, and headed back to the van. I finished with an average pace of 11:05.
I only had an hour between run#2 and run#3, so I grabbed my soda and a sweatshirt. I was dripping sweat from the humidity, but I decided it was too much trouble to change clothes. I ate a rice krispy treat, hit a real bathroom in a gas station, and refilled my water bottle. And, boom, it was time to run again.
As I headed out on run#3 at 3:30am, I realized that I had cooled down completely and my legs were super tight. I was also a touch cranky due to being hungry and tired. I got passed by quite a few people right away and may have had some uncharitable thoughts – after all, they had all run a 3.7 mile leg prior to this and I had already run 15 miles. After the first mile, I felt pretty good, but my body locked in at a 12 minute pace. I could not go faster, but I felt great and had no need to go slower. I just settled in and ran. (Every single mile clocked in between 11:55 and 12:10. At least I’m consistent…)
After our last runner finished, our van headed to the next major exchange. In theory, there were showers and food available. The shower line was ridiculous and they only had 3 showers (no “mass” shower available.) I gave up and did my usual wipe down and changed in the parking lot. (I have this down to a science.) I forced down some food and a bottle of Gatorade and tried to nap for a bit.
Run#4 started around 1pm. It was suprisingly hot – the feels like was near 90* – and super sunny. I was tired, hot, and underfueled. But, as per usual, as soon as I headed out on my last run, my body cooperated. I ended up running the first 3 miles at sub 10:30. Yes, I’d already run 21 miles and I was cranking out tempo pace miles. I slowed down a bit in mile 4, as the shade started to decrease. As I hit the start of mile 5, suddenly we running in full sun. That.was.awful. I switched to run walk and just got it done. I still managed to finish close to 10 minutes faster than the pace calculator!
Our last runner was running both leg 35 and 36, so we headed to the finish line and spent some time cleaning up ourselves and the van in the parking lot. Then it was time to meet and celebrate another successful Ragnar!
After a long drive home, I was dropped at my parents’ house around 1:30am on Sunday morning. I managed to change into pajamas and went straight to bed despite not having showered since Thursday morning. Sometimes sleep trumps cleanliness…
Next up: Ragnar Washington DC Sunset! And then I need to start planning for 2020 as I really want to do an Ultra Ragnar again. Team Shenanigans in the Van Again needs to make it happen!