Where has the time gone!
I feel like I haven’t written anything in like a month….oh wait.
The balance of balance of husband, parent, athlete, and blogger were stretched to their limits over the past 3 weeks with blogger losing.
So I will just dive back in with race recap of Ragnar Del Sol that I race in this past weekend. For those whom are not familiar with what The Ragnar series is, it’s a 202 mile relay which most teams consist of 12 runners between 2 vans and starts Friday morning and ends sometime Saturday afternoon. This is the second year I’ve participated both years with the same team and the key to a successful Ragnar is to like your team mates and have fun because 30+ hours in a van with tired stinky people can go south in a hurry. I’m lucky I have an awesome team that doesn’t take themselves too seriously and is there to have fun not set course records.
My prep started the day before at the grocery store where I loaded up on dates, dried bananas (not fried banana chips), gin-gin ginger candy chews, and water. These are my “supplements” since I knew we would be eating in restaurants where I could eat full meals so I didn’t need to buy pounds and pounds of fruit. Sarah was with the older boys are their variety show, the variety show that has my blog slacking due to the shuttling of 2 little boys to rehearsals on top of their already heavy social schedules. It was just me and the baby badger for the night and we ate snacks and watched dumb things on TV instead of packing for the race, but eventually he went to bed and I was able to knock out what I needed too. After everyone got home and settled in for the night I went to bed at about 11…
Race morning started at 2:15 AM when my alarm sounded and it was a little rough getting going. I had everything laid out so getting dressed and out the door was a fairly quick process and I was off to pick up my sister and rendezvous with the rest of my van 1 team mates. Before you know it we arrive in Wickenburg, and after a safety/rules briefing our first runner was off and the 2014 Ragnar was under way. As the 3 leg runner I had about 2 hours to get ready for my turn and before I knew it I was up. My first leg was 7.1 miles all on road so I went with my new Altra Torins. I was also required to wear a head lamp and reflective vest “night” hours are from 5p to 9a and it was just after 8. I was off the weather was a perfect 55 and sunny with minimal traffic expect for the support vans. I kept the pace comfortable and ended up handing off the baton in 50 minutes and change. This is where the Ragnar experience gets fun, because now I was done running for 12 to 14 hours. First thing I ate almost all of my dates and the stuff I packed because I hadn’t eaten breakfast and was starving at this point. After the quick recovery it’s vital to not only be a great teammate but also a great participant. Our van is stocked with 20+ signs ready for any occasion along with noise makers and other devices of silliness to pick up runners spirits this becomes even more important farther into the race you get. Runners 4 and 5 rock their legs and once the baton is handed off to runner 6 the final runner of the first segment we drive ahead to the next exchange where we will hand off to van 2′s first runner. This exchange point obviously had a lot more going on than our 5 previous due to both vans being there and it being van 2 starting point, we meet up and wait at the exchange corral and before you know it the exchange happens and we are free for 7 or so hours.
We decide the best option is to find a place to eat near the next exchange point and we head there and find a Chipotle and enjoy a real meal. The decision was then made to just crash at the high school where the exchange was located next to the school was a retention basin/park that became a “refugee” camp and people everywhere sleeping. I hung out in the van due to grass and me not getting along in the past I had just passed out when the love of my life calls and that’s all she wrote on sleep for time being. The weather that had been perfect for me and my van had become an above average temps reaching nearly 90 degrees, this in turn slowed down not only our teammates out on course but a most everyone else as well. We ended up hanging out for almost 9 hours between exchanges, but the time was closing in so a quick Starbucks run to get everyone ready for the late night to come. This segment of the race is urban compared to the highway running we had done earlier that day, which meant stop lights and lots more traffic Friday night traffic at that. But this crew had been through it all before and the course had pretty much stayed the same so we were good to go. The exchange happens and we are off, this is the point in the race where people can start to get grumpy be it from being tired and dehydrated to not comfortable running at night or bad van mates. These would be other peoples problem not ours, spirits were still high and I was about to run my second leg. The distance was the same as the first at 7.1 miles but the terrain was very different this time it’s nearly all uphill except for a half mile in the begin that goes through the desert and a dried river bottom and it is dark dark out there. This time I went with my Altra Lone Peaks 1.5′s, these may be my favorite shoe of all time and I think I need to do a post/video about it as a side note. The paranoid chatter from the other runners waiting in the handoff area was pretty comical, exhaustion and the dark can make people very raw to say the least. With a few minutes I was off into the darkness up a slight incline wait for the light to change then a hard right into the abyss that is the desert at night. The river bottom is one of those places that if it was the middle of the day you would tell yourself that you wouldn’t run through this shit, with 12 inch river rock everywhere with bands of 6 inch deep sand for a half mile. In the distance there was a tiny blinking red light that you run towards and then you out on to a paved trail that’s is up hill for the next few miles. I felt really solid the whole run and ended up finishing in 56 minutes which I was pretty happy with due to the terrain and incline of the course. As we returned to the van to get back on the road I was stopped by another runner wanting to know how I like running in Altras, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t prepared for the ensuing praise and information I poured on in this middle school parking lot. Of course the rest of my team gave me heapings of shit when I got back in the van and the rest of the leg was fairly uneventful everyone just grinded out their part and before you knew it was midnight and we were at the next big transition with the other van. The transition was at the Anthem community center and half the team were able to grab showers (not this guy) and freshen up a bit before our last runner made the hand off. Once the handoff is complete we knew we weren’t going to have the super-sized break we had after the first leg. With it being 2 in the morning we decided to hit Dennys for some food…
Now if you’ve ever been to any restraint around the time the bars shut down you know things can get “interesting” and this night would be no different. We had just walked in the door and drunkard was already giving me the “you think you’re better than me?” look. When we were seated first he let me know of his displeasure and of course I responded with a shrug and a wink as we were taken to our table. Obviously Denny’s is not known for their high quality plant based cuisine, I settled with some hash browns and a plain english muffin to get carbed up. While we waited for the food my new drunk best friend made his way through the dining room and made a stop at a table to express his displeasure about something before making his way to the restroom and continued his rant on his return to his seat. The guys at the table had also been drinking so lots of words were exchanged and of course the drunken girlfriend factor that always helps in these types of situations, at this point the manager stepped in and kicked out the drunken dude and things quieted down. I took the opportunity to go change and take a baby wipe bath and wash up a bit, upon my return the food at been brought to the table and we dug in. I was pretty certain the hash browns had been cooked in butter but at this point I worked through it and wasn’t going to sweat it. We finished up and headed out to the next transition to try and catch nap while we waited for van 2 to come in.
The time arrived and we were not prepared for the speed of runner 12 and they called us to us she was waiting at the corral, so we hide tailed down there and made the handoff. It was now somewhere around 5 in the morning and this is the point where I just wanted to run and get my last leg done which made the time creep by. But slowly but surely our first runner finished her leg and now I was on deck just waiting my for my trying to loosen up a bit and stay warm in the fading darkness. I went with the Lone Peaks 1.5′s again since they did so awesome the stage before, and I would be running on loose pack on the shoulder of the road that the 9.1 mile course ran along. They call out our team number letting me know it’s about that time to get to it. I tried to get as loose as I could but between sitting in a van and dehydration plus the temperature I was still pretty tight and my first couple miles were up hill so I was prepared for the slow. I was off and it was tough to get my rhythm going and of course once I found it I got stuck at a red light. Once I got up the hill it was smooth sailing flat and no stop lights for the next 7 miles only thing I had to deal with was the sun rise and highway traffic. At 1 hour and 11 minutes I was finished with the 23 miles that I was responsible for and there is nothing better than finishing on a high and feeling great. Slowly but surely everyone knocked out their legs and we were finished!
The only thing left to do was to cross the finish line as a team, but that was still 5 hours away. So first thing first we went to lunch, however where we went I knew didn’t serve anything that I would eat so I ran to the grocery store next door and had some veggie rolls made and brought them back. Last year this wasn’t an issue this year I guess it was as the manager with zero customer service training fed me a line of B.S. about bringing in outside food is a health code violation. I laughed out loud and asked what he had for vegan low fat options and he replied “yeah we have that stuff” I again laughed and went out to a bench to consume my oh so delicious veggie rolls. I returned to my teammates upon finishing them and sat without any other issues, the waitress was decided it was appropriate to bring to our attention her displeasure with the gentleman that asked me to leave. We were all pretty sure she is the one that originally complained and now moments before we got the check she wanted us to know who the real bad guy was #classy. Once we settled our tab and headed it out we got word that there had been an accident on course not involving Ragnar but had backed up the racers and required a detoured course. With nothing else to do but wait we headed to the finish line and spread out blankets and relaxed, the boys and Sarah showed up and we all got to hang out once the rest of the team in van 2 showed we knew our final runner would be soon to follow. Sure enough not to much longer after that we saw her and met her a few hundred feet from the finish line and we all completed another Ragnar Del Sol together crossing as a team 30 some hours and 203 miles covered.