Ragnar Austin: the Ragnover is Real

img_8500This weekend I was able to check another item off my bucket list: Ragnar Relay.  This is something that I have wanted to do for quite some time.  Luckily it worked out that I was able to run it in one of my favorite places in the world: the Texas Hill Country.

Last summer, before I had joined Renegade Endurance, my running friend, Erica, got us a spot on the Brew Crew for this race.  Later, RE formed a Ragnar team and while it was extremely hard not racing with them, I had loads of fun anyway!

It all started in Fredericksburg

The race started in Fredericksburg on Friday morning.  Teams were given start times based on their projected finish times.  Our team was given a start time of 7:30 AM.  We learned late Friday that one of our teammates would likely not be coming, as she had not responded to ANY messages.  Christine had brought her onto the team and was beyond upset that this happened.  We were trying to figure out how to best cover her legs, as she was in our van: van 1.  A couple of guys from van 2 were meeting us at the start, so we asked if one of them could cover her first leg then join van 2 from one of our exchange points.  Thank goodness TJ was willing to take on the challenge – he had been disappointed with this mileage anyway, so he was happy to do it.  Courtney, one of the runners in our van, volunteered to take the second leg.  I agreed to run the MIA runner’s last leg, which was right before my last leg and meant that I would be running back-to-back (which, honestly, I think would be easier than running, being off one leg, then having to run again).

Van 1

Van 1

I was runner 4, so I had to wait a bit in order to start my run.  My first run was my by far the easiest terrain – gently rolling hills – and it was my shortest at just under 3 miles.  I.  FELT.  SO.  GOOD.  I was concerned and a little nervous beforehand – if you have been following lately you will know that I have been nursing a cranky psoas (I refuse to call it an injury at this point).  It was the first run since tweaking that muscle that my legs moved without a lot of effort and concentration.  SO.  AWESOME.  But before I knew it, my leg was over <sad face>.  After the run, I didn’t have any issues with stiffness or soreness related to the psoas, so I felt like I was totally winning!!img_8325

Second Leg – not quite as easy

My second leg started off disastrously.  OK…..that may be a bit dramatic, but I started in a rush.  “The Gibbler” (as we started calling “she who shall not be named” aka our MIA runner) was runner 3 and I was runner 4.  Courtney (runner 5) took the middle leg for The Gibbler which was a short 3 miles (and Courtney was a fairly quick runner).  We drove to the exchange point and I went immediately to use the restroom.  When I came out, Erica was running toward me with my safety vest and headlamp because Courtney had alerted us that she was at the “one mile to go” mark.  I barely had time to get my gear on before Courtney was coming down the street and then I remembered  – MY WATCH WASN’T ON!!!  I quickly turned it on just as she slapped the bracelet on my wrist and I was off.  I thought I started my watch, but when I got the alert that it was about to power down (at .5 into the run), I nearly PANICKED.  I felt pretty good during this run, but the terrain was hillier and more difficult than my first leg.  I handled the hills just fine, though, but the downhills seemed to irritate my psoas a bit.

As I was nearing the exchange point, the RE van passed and honked at me 🙂 – it was a great motivator to end the leg, and I even got to talk to them a bit when I finished!  I absolutely love this team and I really did miss getting to run this race with them, even though I had LOADS of fun with my Brew Crew!!

On my last leg….literally

As I mentioned, the downhills in my second leg really put some stress on my psoas/hip.  Honestly, I would think that it would be the opposite and irritated by uphills but NO.  We had to rush to the next exchange after my second leg (because speedy Courtney was running another short leg), which left no time for stretching AT ALL.  Then we went to eat and to get some rest before our final legs started.  The only problem was that I was crammed into the front drivers seat in my car and my hip bothered me the entire time.  I was REALLY worried about running not just my leg, but The Gibbler’s leg as well because I couldn’t walk without a limp after being in the car for 2 hours.

When the time actually came to start The Gibbler’s leg, it was a S L O W start, for sure.  Then every time that I got into a rhythm, I had to wait for the LONGEST STOPLIGHTS EVER to cross the street.  I did finally find a rhythm, however, and my hip didn’t really bother me after I the blood started flowing.  This leg was easy terrain and the last half was mostly a slow downhill, so I couldn’t complain.

At the exchange point for my actual leg, I started a new run on my watch, took an AccelGel and started on my way.  At that time, another runner ran through the exchange point, saying that she was running the next leg as well.  We got to talking – she was running the ultra – and ended up running the entire leg together.  I am so thankful that I *ran* into her – it helped me so much mentally because the conversation took my mind off the never-ending hills!  I know she was glad to have company for those last 4 miles as well, because she told me about every quarter-mile! LOLimg_8348

I actually REALLY enjoyed these last two legs, even though I was COMPLETELY exhausted by this point.  I was just so ready to be DONE.  Naturally when it was over, I got a wee bit sad.

I was SO HAPPY to see this ONE LAST TIME.

I was SO HAPPY to see this ONE LAST TIME.

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Finally finished!

Our van was finished some time before our team’s actual finish, so we did what any van of women would do that close to San Marcos (after our cold $3 shower, of course)…..we went to the Lulu outlet.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones with that idea, because we parked right next to another Ragnar van!!img_8382

We arrived at the finish line in plenty of time and the entire team ran through the finish together with our last runner.  It was great fun!  I’m so proud to have been a part of this team – our team captain carried the flag on every run, including our run through the finish.  Honestly, running behind him with our colors flying, I got a bit teary-eyed.

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LOTS of down time

The thing you don’t realize going into a relay race of this sort is that you have A LOT of down time.  There is the rushing around from exchange to exchange, but it’s pretty much “hurry up and wait”.  Then when the other van takes over, you want to try to get some rest but it is virtually impossible.  I was lucky to get *maybe* 2 hours of sleep the entire race.  After our van finished our first legs, we went to the next exchange to wait on van 2 and had some time to lay out on the grass and take a nap!  I was fortunate to actually sleep for about 20 minutes.

My view during mid-day nap time

My view during mid-day nap time

My nap mat :)

My nap mat 🙂

After our second legs were finished, we found a restaurant so we could eat something besides a granola bar.  We waltzed in at 9:45 PM and I went immediately to change/wipe off the grime in the restroom.  I was so tired at this point, I didn’t really care if I ate or not and had to fight falling asleep at the table.  We then went on to the next exchange to meet van 2.  We figured that we had about 3 hours before our the guys would be at this exchange so we all crammed ourselves into a seat in my car and attempted to sleep.  I got a few moments of sleep, but I felt even more exhausted when we had to wake up and get ready for the guys to come in.  I think I would have been better off without any sleep at all.  It was at this point that I started questioning my sanity and wondered WHY I ever signed up in the first place!  I was not happy and actually quite grouchy at this point.

Lots of fun happened between runs, though.  Some of the most fun was decorating the van, tagging other vans and finding out your van had been tagged.  It’s also a *thing* to count how many people you pass on your run and count them as *kills*.  I know I had at least 15, but I didn’t know about counting kills until after the 2nd leg, so those are the ones that I can remember….there may have been more! LOL

Van 2 apparently held themselves a 31 hour party, because every time we crossed paths, they were EXTREMELY happy and kept talking about being out of beer.  LOL!!  After the finish, they said they remembered buying 4 cases of beer, although I suspect it may have been more.  All I was concerned about was them leaving me a Shiner for the finish….and they did!!img_8444

One thing is for sure – I WILL do another Ragnar.  It was so much fun and the camaraderie is just amazing!img_8450

Next post: The fun that I had outside of Ragnar!

Happy Tuesday!

Jen

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