…or how I ran my first Ragnar Relay…
Ok, so I’m not that dense, I knew it wasn’t a 5k, I was very much aware it was a 196-plus-some-change mile race between Chattanooga and Nashville. But that was our very cleverly coined team name. As I have been slowly attempting to tick off items off of my Athletic Bucket List. One more that has been dogging me for a while is a major relay race. After applying for Hood To Coast, I knew I really wanted to be on a team for Ragnar this year. So, I set my sights on stalking the Facebook page. Fortunately after only one post, Cayla snatched me right up. Boom, I was in!
As we got closer to race day, I was finalizing all my plans, packing and reducing and packing and reducing again, stalking the weather in several cities at bizarre hours of the day like a fiend, and overeating like it was my job.
Packing and prepping day.
I took the day off work to get all my crap together.*
Really glad I did this. I was able to pack, prepare 6 peanut butter sandwiches, and just relax and make sure everything was taken care of.
All the rest of my team had already gone down to meet in Chattanooga, but another teammate (whom I recruited) and I went to a concert in Nashville and decided to get up early on Friday and drive down then. It was too bad we didn’t get our team bonding in early, but when you’re about to spend 30 hours in a van together, there’s plenty of time for
smelling each other’s sweaty runner funk bonding.
5am Wake up call in time to throw on my my first running outfit with a sweatshirt and yoga pants to cover up. Eat some breakfast and hop in the car with a mug full of coffee, pointing south to Chattanooga.
8:45am We arrived at the hotel and met up with Cayla, our more than fearless leader. We pack our stuff into the van and head to the start line.
10:30am Our start time and our first 2 runners in our van are off.
12:05pm – LEG 1. This leg is a 5.1 mile leg all downhill on Suck Creek Mountain. I averaged a pace in the 7’s range, but I still got passed by 4 people, 3 guys and 1 gal. That gal chicked all other guys so it was worth it. No kills unfortunately. I didn’t want to blow it up and go too fast on the first leg and have nothing left for the other 2 longer legs, but I also knew that the downhill leg would burn out my quads if I tried to brake myself too much. It was a delicate balance of watching my speed and trying not to trip and causing a snowball effect down the mountain.
4pm – Van 1 is done with all the runners. We stop at a Cracker Barrel to get some food and head to the next major exchange to rest and wait for Van 2 to come in. By “rest” I mean everyone trying to nap in the van during the daylight.
Once Van 2 catches up with us, it’s starting to get dark and we’re all about to head out on our night runs, donning lots of lights and reflective material.
9:44pm – Leg 2. This is my longest run, 6.8 miles, fairly flat going over Tims Ford Lake area. This run felt great and averaged 8:49 pace. Not bad for night time in the middle of nowhere Redneck Outback. 6 kills on this leg, I was taking them out left and right. I got lots of compliments on my LiteBelt.
5:53am – Leg 3. This was my hardest run. I had gotten sick overnight and my quads were searing from the downhill leg the day before. But I took some anti-nausea medicine and drank some Coke to settle my stomach. The last thing I wanted to do was run, but I got through 6.1 miles at a very slow 10:13 pace. At one point my team had stopped to check on me. They asked if I was OK, I shook my head a pathetic “no” and just kept going. I knew if I stopped I would never get going again. I managed 2 kills on this run, it looked like everyone was hurting on this one. I wish I had felt better on this run, because I started this run in the dark and the sun came up and it was fully light by the time I finished the run. A total of 18 miles and 8 kills in about 19 hours.
Finish – After handing off to Van 2, we headed to my house for much needed showers and rest since I live in between the final major exchange and the finish line. After crossing the finish line with the entire team, I went home and promptly slept for a full 12 hours (5pm-5am) straight. I woke up when I tried to roll over and my quads started screaming at me.
And the MVP award goes to our Captain, Cayla who stepped up when one of our teammates got sick after her first leg and ran the extra 2 legs. That’s right, she ran 5 legs in 24 hours totaling 22.6 miles.
I had a really fun time and I’d totally do it again. We had great weather and this is a very well executed race. Don’t get me wrong, it was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done, but I really enjoyed it. I had excellent teammates, even with being the rag tag bunch that we were. I still remain in very close contact (usually on a daily basis) with my teammates and we’re planning to do other relay runs again.
Side Note: If you decide that you need to massage your piriformis after you run, make sure none of your teammates are standing by with a camera to document it.
*What I packed for the race:
1 pr running shoes (based on weather decided to go with just 1 pr instead of 2)
3 prs running shorts
1 pr running tights
3 prs running socks
3 sports bras
2 short sleeve running shirts
1 long sleeve running shirt
safety gear (reflective vest, head lamp with rear lamp, LiteBelt)
1 light weight running jacket (with removable sleeves, i.e., doubles as vest)
Clothes for in between runs (yoga pants, sports bra, underwear, socks, slip on shoes, long sleeve shirt, hoodie, rain jacket just in case)
running hat (with reflective strips)
iPod + charger (doubles with phone charger)
Garmin + charger
Handheld water bottle for running, plus large water bottle for drinking in van
Nutrition: several Gu/Cliff Shots, Cliff Bars/Picky Bars, Nuun for my water, Sport Beans, Honey Stinger chews.
baby wipes and facial wipes (whore’s bath all the way)
toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, brush, chapstick, etc.)
Meds (Excedrin, ibuprofen, anti-nausea Rx, Immodium, etc.)
Extra freezer bags and grocery bags
small roll of toilet paper
swiss army knife
Travel blanket that folds up small and can be used as pillow
pretzels (I subsisted on these almost entirely)
small Cokes (second half of what I subsisted on besides Nuun water)
fruit snacks (didn’t touch these)
Gummi bears (well the coke version)
Large reusable bottle of water
Various protein bars