I survived the 2011 Southern California Ragnar race. Our team of 12 successfully ran 202 miles from Huntington Beach to Coronado Island in San Diego.
We flew out all together Thursday afternoon and got settled in in our hotel in Newport Beach. The six of us from our ward left behind our adoring husbands and 24 kids. It was strange to be without all the kiddos so we celebrated our short-lived independence by jumping on the beds a little:
We also had to get our vans ready-each team has 12 people (except for those "ultra" teams that do it with just 6-crazy!), so you divide into two groups of 6 and each group has an 15-seater van that they basically live in for the duration of the race. The ladies in my van were all from my ward and all great gals. Here's the side of our van:
Our team name was "Sea Level is for Sissies", borrowed from the Bolder Boulder (a local 10K) a few years back. The sea level dwellers didn't really care for our name (I can't imagine why) and the few who passed us (did I mention how awesome we were?) made a point of asking us, "So how's sea level feeling now?" Oh well. It was really hot which obviously outweighed any oxygen benefits we may have had.
The night before the race began all 12 of us ate like pigs at the Spaghetti Factory (love that mizithra cheese and the spumoni). Guapo's sister, who lives in the "OC", was kind enough to join us and to listen to all of our pre-race fears and dreams. She's expecting her first baby in 6 weeks or so-the first girl in 10 grand kids!
We got settled in for the night and tried not to think about all the running we would do during the next 24 hours.
In the morning we filled up on breakfast at the hotel and headed out to register. We were the second van, so the other 6 started the race around 7 that morning. Here we are before my first leg (I was runner #7, so I was the first runner of our van)
Because the other van started in Huntington and ran inland, by the time we stared running we were nowhere near the ocean, or more importantly, the nice ocean breeze, and it was HOT. Like 90 degrees hot-not quite what we had trained in. My first run was 7.3 miles and I started getting goose bumps when I hit mile 3-not good. But, I finished it in decent time and re-hydrated while I rested and cheered on the other 5 in our van (so happy that I got to go first and have it over with).
I felt great after the first leg and we started making plans for next year's race. A veteran of Ragnar races on our team told us to wait and see how we felt after the second leg...
We all soon realized how important these little babies were:
It seemed that we all knew who had gone, who needed to go right now, who would need to go soon, and who couldn't go (a very sad state to be in). I hate porta potties (Pedro calls them "torta potties") but I learned to appreciate them (kind of) during the 30 hours of the race.
Our van finished our first leg and handed off to the second van near Lake Elsinore. We had about 5 hours to kill, so we went out to dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. Did you know in California they are required to put how many calories things have on the menus? Wow-that's a drag-probably smart, but dang, you could easily put away 2,000 calories with an appetizer, drink, and main dish-without even thinking about a desert.
After dinner we wanted to go see a chick flick, but there was nothing good at the theaters so we went to Trader Joe's instead and loaded up on a bunch of their fun treats. The Sea Level Sissies (ie the locals) didn't particularly care for our outfits mocking their lack of elevation. Oh well.
Then we headed to our next exchange to wait for the arrival of the van 1 runner who would hand off to me. We all got out our sleeping bags and tried to sleep but I just couldn't-the second run of my leg was horrible-a huge hill, 8.2 miles (that we found out later was actually just over 9 miles), and at night in the dark-spooky.
Not that you care, but so that I remember it, here's the profile of my second leg-icky!
So, thinking about that huge hill-I couldn't really sleep. I did visit the porta potties a couple of times and listened as other runners came in and were talking about how creepy it was to run in the dark with very few people around- so very helpful.
Finally, it was time for me to run. Here I am with some of my peeps (I'm the one with the headlight)
That leg was a beast. The hill was so long and so steep and so dark. And near the top, when I felt like dying, there was a guy standing off the road in the shadows-no car in sight, no flashlight or anything-just standing there. That really freaked me out. I mean, how easy would it be for some sick-o to look up the course maps and know just where to be-by the later legs it's so spread out-a lot of the time there was no one else around me that I could see.
So, I made it up that beast of a hill-I did walk a teeny-tiny bit while I rearranged my clothing (my long sleeve shirt got way too hot)-but it wasn't much. The downhill was FAST. I had been so concentrated on that first hill when I was studying the course map I didn't even notice the second 1.5 mile hill-much smaller, but very painful completing the first one.
I felt like crap (if I could use a stronger word I would) after the second leg and wondered why I had ever thought this would be fun...
I was in and out of the van for a while trying to decide if I was going to throw up or not. My stomach finally calmed down and I curled up in my sleeping bag in the van and slept through a couple of the other runner's legs-bad teammate.
We handed off to the other van around 3:00 am and had a little more than 5 hours before we had to start running again (yuck!). We got a hotel near our next exchange-everyone had to decide if they were going to shower and then sleep or sleep and then shower. Since I was near comatose when we arrived at the hotel, I chose the latter option. We slept from 3:30 to 7:30-a whopping 4 hours-but it felt so nice. I even got my own bed.
When I woke up the last thing I wanted to that day was run again. I was exhausted.
Before we started the race, we decided as a team to even things out since my leg was 25.2 miles and the next closest runner from our van had 20.0. So I traded off my last leg which would have been almost 10 miles for a 6 mile leg. I was very grateful that morning that we had traded. I kind of felt like a wuss but I still ran just over 22 miles, and I felt so bad that morning, I just didn't care that much-at least not enough to trade back.
Here I am taking off at the start of my last leg-I looked a lot happier than I was feeling:
The great thing about it was that it was through La Jolla and went right along the beach for 3 of the 6 miles-it was gorgeous. But I was so tired and it was hot out again. It was pretty painful. And whereas my other legs were pretty much straight on the same road or path, this one had lots of turns and not a lot of signage-so I was scared for a lot of the run that I was going the wrong way and was tacking on extra mileage-not what I needed. But, I ended in the right place and was DONE.
What a great feeling.
Everyone else finished their legs up; here is our team at the finish line on the beach in Coronado:
By Monday, amazingly, I was hardly sore.
I've woken up almost every night wondering when my next leg starts and if I'm in the right place.
We're planning our next race and are thinking of inviting our husbands to join us...