Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ragnar Cape Cod

This weekend, I took part in an epic adventure -- a 192 mile relay from Hull to Provincetown, Massachusetts! I was a member of the 12-person New England Spahtens co-ed Ragnar Relay Cape Cod team.

Ragnar is a multi-day relay event where teams cover approximately 200 miles. The mileage is separate out between the twelve teammates who each run three "legs" (runs). Each person runs in order so you are running every twelfth person. Each leg you run is a different distance and at a different time. For example, I was runner 1 and ran legs 1, 13, and 25. My legs were 5.1 miles, 5.1 miles, and 3.4 miles. They took place at approximately 5:00 a.m., 4:15 p.m., and 1:05 a.m. over Friday morning and afternoon and Saturday early morning.

The heart of the Ragnar experience is your team. The team of 12 is split into two vans of six people each. I had met my teammates online. While I was at the Superhero Scramble obstacle course race last year, Seth had noticed a huge team there, the NE Spahtens. I requested to join their group on Facebook and had been looking to connect with them and run with the team ever since. The Ragnar was the perfect opportunity. The Spahtens were coordinating three teams: one all-women, one all-men, and the co-ed team, which I joined. The group of people involved with the co-ed team seemed very cool online, but I had never met them and was anxious as the week of Ragnar rolled around. It turned out that my fears were unfounded as I have never met a more welcoming, organized, prepared, team-oriented, fun, and enthusiastic group of individuals as I did doing the Spahtens co-ed Ragnar team.

Our group was slated to start the relay at 5:00 a.m. on Friday morning. As I result, I opted to split a hotel room close to the starting line in Hull, Massachusetts with three other women who would be running on either the co-ed or all-women teams. I drove out to the Holiday Inn Express in Braintree on Thursday after work to meet up with the group. It was here that I met my first teammate and co-ed team van 1 running mate, Louise. I also got to briefly chat with my other teammates Sandy, Kelley, and Heather. I even more briefly spoke with a few of the ladies from the other Spahtens team. After meeting everyone I felt much less nervous. Everyone was so welcoming, giving hugs when they me, and sharing their enthusiasm that I was one of the team.

Louise and I decided to turn in early, around 9:00 p.m., since we had to be up at 3:00 a.m. to meet the van at around 3:15 a.m. and head over to the start in Hull. There are around 600 teams that do Ragnar; however, there are only around twenty teams that start at any given time. You do need to arrive at the starting line an hour early to check-in and hear the safety briefing.

I got very little sleep Thursday night because of nerves, sleeping in a strange place, and knowing that I'd be up early. I tried my best but probably only got around three hours tops. At 3:00 a.m., I got up and did a quick rinse in the shower before heading out with Louise to meet our other van members. The members of our team in van 2 didn't have to leave until around 7:30 a.m. since they'd be meeting up at exchange 6 to do their check-in and begin their running. Out at the van, I got to meet the four men that would be joining Louise and me in van 1: Aaron, Andrew, Marc, and Mike. They also were very friendly and welcoming -- I felt better about my nerves already. They were also a very prepared group. For example, they had car chargers for all cellphone types, GPS programed with all the exchange locations, a cooler, a lantern, and plenty of food. Pretty much everyone had brought food to share with the group, and can say without a doubt that we had definitely more snacks than we even needed, which was a good thing.

We quickly loaded up the van. I had brought a suitcase, sleeping bag, and pillow (totally not doing that again -- didn't use it at all). I put all these things in the back of the spacious 15 person van. I had brought a second "carry-on" bag with food, which I brought up in the front with me. It was easy to get stuff out of the trunk, but it was great to have a second bag in the front with me for storing my essential items such as phone and night running gear, as well as food. I would definitely do this again and recommend having a small bag to take with you to your seat to anyone running a relay.

I ate a quick Larabar knowing that I would be running first and we headed out to the starting line. Aaron was our van leader and coordinated our check-in, which went very smoothly. We received the Rag Mag, which detailed the race rules and had leg maps; tickets for our t-shirts at exchange 6; flags for crossing the road to bring supplies to your runner; van bib to identify your team; and a slap bracelet, which serves as our baton. (You "slapped" off to the next runner at each exchange point where you finished your leg and the next runner took over.)

It was very chilly over by the shore. For my first leg, I was wearing a long sleeved tech shirt and tights. I also kept on my fleece for much of the run. In addition, I was in all my safety gear. Between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., we were required to run with a headlamp, reflective vest, and blinking tail light. Also, any time you were out of the van for any reason, such as to cheer your runner at an exchange or on their leg, you had to be in your reflective vest.

We coordinated our supplies from check-in at the van, took a few team pictures, and then it was time for me to run. I was excited by very cold and was very much hoping that my muscles, especially my calf, would cooperate. My calf, which had been troubling me for a while had been feeling a bit better over the last two or so weeks, but cold weather and hills are the worst for it. I knew I was tackling 5.1 miles of rolling hill while feeling pretty chilly.

I lined up with around two dozen others underneath the orange Ragnar arch and, at just a minute after 5:00 a.m., we were off on the first leg of our multi-day adventure.

My first leg snaked away from the Hull coastline and into a lovely residential area. The streets I ran along with just beautiful, lined with affluent houses and lovely landscapes. Things were dark at the start of the run, but around ten minutes in the sun really seemed to come up and I finished the run without any need for my headlamp.
The run itself was a disaster. I had put myself down for 10:10 miles during sign-up, which asked for a 10K pace. I have certainly run faster than that for a 10K, since I've done a sub-1 hour 10K, but with my nagging calf, I wanted to put down a time I thought I could realistically do. On leg one, I didn't even make that time and ended up starting my team down by a few minutes.

I cramped up almost right away on the first leg, which is the reason for my terrible time. Because I was excited, I started out way to fast, doing the first mile at around 9:45 while being very cold. This led my calf to cramp up terribly when I hit the first rolling hill. I tried to take a small break and stretch a little, but the damage was already done. I was cold, cramping, and was having trouble with my mental focus. I ended up taking walk breaks all over the place and running very slowly. I felt ashamed that I was letting my teammates down, but I could not pull myself together. I was taking a walk break when my van met me around mile three. I downed some water and pushed on. I ended up setting my phone to 4:1 run walk breaks to get myself through and tried to pull myself up the rolling hills as much as I could.

I hit the exchange to tag off to Aaron after running from almost an hour and with my GPS watch saying I had covered 5.5 miles instead of the expected 5.1 miles. I felt terrible about my performance, but my team was very encouraging. I knew I had two more legs to go and promised myself that I would recover and run the next two legs perfectly! Because of me, my team was behind by almost five minutes -- I promised myself that I would make up this time.

In the van, as we drove to the next exchange, I began to implement a recovery plan. I took some time to roll my calf out with the massage stick Marc has brought. I spent a lot of time focusing on hitting some key trigger points and loosening up. I also had a post-run snack of whole grain break with peanut butter and a bottle of cherry juice with chia seeds. Additionally, I took the time to clean myself up a little. There weren't going to be any showers until we hit exchange 30 on Saturday morning. I was running three times until then, and wanted to stay as fresh as possible. I wiped myself down with an Action Wipe and changed into some yoga pants, a t-shirt, and fleece. I would be as clean as possible and comfortable until my next run.

The second leg was a brief 2.3 miles. We met up Aaron after his brief run and let out Marc, who would be doing 6.3 miles through a stretch that was not van supported. At each exchange, we all piled out of the van and cheered for our incoming runner and our outgoing runner. This also let those of us who had run stretch out our legs a little. It was easy to cramp when you went from running to sitting in the van. I make sure to stretch my calves when we got out at the exchanges.

We got to exchange three early, which turned out to be a very good thing. Marc has estimated his 10K time, having never run a 10K (just shorter and longer distances), and ended up being much faster on all his legs than anticipated. This leg helped make up all the time I had lost plus gained up some more time! He handed off to Andrew, who had a 6.2 mile leg with some hills to tackle. Andrew's leg, like most legs, allowed for van support, so we were able to drive to the middle of the leg where we cheered him on and gave him some water.

All of the areas where we had been running on our 192 mile journey from Hull to Provincetown were lovely! We were journeying through a lot of residential neighborhoods, and the areas were universally affluent. It was like a great episode of House Hunters.

The relay along this beginning part was also very well organized. There were signs provided by Ragnar to indicate any turns on the legs we were running. Though we mostly ran facing traffic, there were select spots when we were asked to run with traffic. I had a large number of street crossings on my first leg, which may have been what added to the mileage on my watch, and the signage really helped. I had studied my leg maps somewhat in advance, and had taken a picture on my cell phone just in case, but it's kind of hard to remember when you're out on the run.

The Ragnar organizers also offered plentiful porta-potties. Each exchange point had at least a dozen, and many of the larger exchanges had twice that number. Since we were running so much, we were having to drink a lot and stay hydrated, so this was a huge help. Because we were in the first van and had started the relay at the earliest possible time, we were often in the first dozen or so vans to make it to an exchange. This meant that we were always greeted with fresh portoa-potties, which was amazing! As a runner, I have been in many a portable restroom, and a clean one is just so much nicer.
We met up with Andrew again at the fourth exchange in the parking lot of a market where he tagged off to Louise who would be running 5.4 miles. Most of the exchanges took place either in a shopping center, at a church, or at a school or other public building.

As we drove along dropping off our runners, cheering them on, and picking them up, I was having a great time! Everyone was amazing -- we were joking, cheering on our teammates, and providing support. I have often heard about running being a social sport, but I have never had people to run with and do all my training runs alone. I have people I know who run that I like to talk about running with; however, this was my first time getting to really be on a team and see the support that people can offer each other and how that can enhance performance and help you just have a great time on the road.

We were able to catch Louise mid-way through her run and cheer her on and provide some water. She was running strong and looking great. Everyone was flying along putting up great times. We picked up Louise at exchange five and dropped off Mike for his 4.2 miler. Since Mike had a mid-length run, he told us we could go head and wait for him at exchange 6, Duxbury Beach. This was the first big exchange and where we'd be handing it off to the six members of van 2: Wes, Kelley, Heather, Eryn, Sandy, and Josh.

When we arrived at Duxbury Beach at around 9:30 a.m., the place was hopping. There were sponsor tents featuring Nuun, TomTom, Sierra Nevada, Muscle Monster, Peace Tea, Tiger Tail, Krave jerky, and more. We were able to pick up our New Balance tech t's, which are 100% the nicest race t-shirt I have ever gotten. They had them sized for both men and women and the tech fabric is super nice; not the cheep knock-off tech fabric that lots of race shirts come in.

It continued to be cold and overcast at Duxbury Beach. I was wearing a t-shirt, hoodie, and fleece with yoga pants. Even in two sweaters I was still cold. It was in the mid-fifties with a brisk wind on the coast. Nevertheless, like everyone else I wanted to look around. After cheering in the exchange between Mike and Wes, van 2 headed off and van 1 stayed at the beach. I got some free samples and sent some Sierra Nevada beer postcards.

Van 2 had a lot of long legs coming up. They were running, 9.8, 8.1, 3.6, 12.8, 4.5, and 4.8 before we were scheduled to take over. I doing the next van 1 leg and didn't have to run until almost 4:30 p.m. After hanging out at exchange 6 until almost 11:00 a.m., we decided we wanted to warm up with some lunch and hot beverages. We located a Panera Bread where I had a cup of chicken noodle with half an avocado chicken BLT sandwhich and a cup of Earl Grey tea. Since Panera had a clean restroom, I took advantage and changed into my running clothing for my next leg. I wouldn't have to run for another three and a half hours, but it would be way better to change at the restaurant than in the van or porta-potty.

After lunch, we made a quick trip to the Party City in the shopping plaza. One of the fun Ragnar traditions is to decorate the team's van. We had opted not to do any decorating because of our early start time, but thought that it was time to get festive. In addition to decorating the van, many teams also "tag" other team's vans by either putting a magnet on from their team or drawing something with window markers. It's fun to see all the tags you can get from other vans. We were enjoying collecting magnets from other groups and wanted to be able to use a window marker to tag other vans with the NES letters.

Another Ragnar tradition is to track "kills." A kill is whenever you pass someone while you're running your leg. Lots of teams track their number of kills on their van. Slow as I was, I had had a few kills on my first legs, and my teammates had had many more. We did not track our kills on the van, though we did keep track. We did write up all of our names on the back of the van doors and checked off each leg we completed.

Our van 2 teammate, Eryn, was schedule to do the long "half marathon" 12.8 mile leg through Plymouth. This was a huge run, one for which she'd be receiving a bonus medal upon completion, and we wanted to join van 2 in cheering her on. We drove and met up with van 2 and were able to cheer for Eryn in a couple of spots. We were also able to see her finish. It was nice getting to spend time with our van 2 teammates.

The last two legs for van 2 weren't super long, so we decided to head over to exchange 13 where van 2 would pass over the running to us. I had already been up for over 12 hours and was feeling a little bit tired. I took some time to stretch and decided to try some Energems, a small chocolate energy supplement with caffeine and B-vitamins that I received in my Kona Kase and had yet to try. I don't take in a lot of caffeine, so I knew that it would really help. In addition to providing energy, caffeine has proven benefits when exercising, such as helping manage discomfort. I took the energy supplement and began to mentally prepare myself for my second 5.1 mile leg. This run would take place in Sandwich along a rail trail that ran adjacent to a channel. This leg was completely flat and had to be run without earphones based on a Sandwich city ordnance. I do a lot of running along the rail trail near my house and knew that this run was taking pace at a good time of day for me -- one where I have often exercised before. I wanted to get out there and crush it. I would push hard, keep strong, and put up a good time for my team!

I hung out near the entrance to the trail with my teammates from van 1 and van 2 and waited for Josh to come in and hand off the slap bracelet to me. I got word that he was coming and then saw him coming up the trail. He did a masterful bracelet slap off and I was on my way.

I headed down to the rail trail with myself super focused. I started at a sub-10:00 pace and kept it. I was going to run as fast as I could for as long as I could. I had 5.1 miles to go, and I was going to work hard. The trail along the channel was without van support, so all I had to do was focus on my form and breathing. The scenery was lovely but kind of monotonous. I focused on running towards the massive bridge in the distance. I kept songs running through my head. I kept an eye on my watch. My pace was consistently between 9:45 and 9:20. I was running hard, very hard for me. This was the pace at which I would do a hard tempo workout. I felt tired, so I focused on the next point I had to run to. "Oh, there is a sign over there. Let's run to the sign. Keep good posture. Keep even breathing." This leg was quiet -- there were very few runners. I only saw one or two people overall and only one Ragnar runner ran by me. All I had to do was keep focusing on going.

Finally, I had about a half mile to go. I was beat. I had been running hard for over 45 minutes. I though about my teammates. They had run strong. I wanted to keep running strong. I was not going to stop. I had promised myself zero walk breaks on this run. Stopping was not an option. I was less than a quarter mile away from the exchange. I was breathing hard. Very hard. My body wanted to stop. "Come on. Just two minutes more. You've got this. You can do this." My legs felt heavy, but I was almost there. I couldn't stop now. I wanted to be someone tough; someone who made goals and hit them. I thought about how disappointed I was at my first leg performance. I wanted to be proud of myself. "Do this, and you'll be proud of yourself. You will have done something hard -- two runs in one day -- and have done it well." I kept upbeat song going through my head and pushed onto the exchange. With the bracelet outstretch, I slapped off to Aaron and, finally finally, was able to stop.
I was tired and slightly nauseous feeling from the exhaustion. My legs felt tight, but my calf was surprisingly okay. I walked around letting my breathing return to normal. I did some quick stretches because we had a quick turn-around before we needed to reach the next exchange. I sat in the van, ate a Kind bar with a cherry juice with chia, and used the massage stick and we drove to meet Aaron after his 5.2 mile run.

After Aaron came in, Marc headed out for a four miler we knew he'd crush. It was getting towards dinner time, and I knew we'd be running through the dinner hour. I had been up for a long time and was very tired and not feeling hungry. I had some whole grain bread with peanut butter. That with the Kind bar and cherry and chia juice should be okay. I was fairly cold again. I had been sweating after my second leg, but got cold when I changed and clean-up in a porta-potty at the exchange after mine.
I wanted to move around a little, so I got out to cheer on Marc as he came in and passed off the running to Andrew, who had 4 miles to go. The meet up with Andrew as going to be at a park very close to where another member of the Spahtens, who was not doing the Ragnar, lived. He and his daughter met us with a bowl of candy in the parking lot. What nice cheer! Louise got ready and next thing I knew, she was heading for for her 5.2 mile leg. After that, Mike would do 5.7 and then we'd be off from around 9:10 p.m. until I ran my third leg at 1:00 a.m. Saturday.

I was completely exhausted at this point. I had taken out the sleeping bag and was curled up on the seat. We headed in the van to Exchange 18 in Hyannis. There was a high school where we could sleep for a few short hours while van 2 was going and until we had to run again. Van 2 had n long legs at this point and was running 5.2, 5.6, 5.6, 3.7, 2.4, and 3.1 miles. I had been very cold for a long time -- basically all day -- and was so glad to be cozy in sweats and a hoodie and engulfed in the sleeping bag. As some of my teammates took light dinners of cold cuts, I slept on the bench seat in the van.

I believe that my other teammates joined me in sleeping in the van because next thing I knew it was midnight. I had slept for maybe two plus hours and the van was filled with other resting Spahtens. Aaron and Mike were in the front seats, Marc was on the floor, Louise was on the back bench, and Andrew was sleeping in the back on the gear. I couldn't fathom that it was midnight and I had to start getting ready to run again in an hour. My last leg was 3.4 miles. "This is all you have to do to succeed for the day. Let's do this last leg," I told myself. I quickly changed into running gear in the sleeping bag and rolled it up. The weather had not gotten much cooler overnight. It was in the mid-50s but the wind had kicked up a little as we got farther and farther out on the Cape. I would be picking up the running in South Chatham along a stretch of the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

As we drove to the next exchange where I would do my last run, I forced myself to eat something. I was not at all hungry at the middle of the night but knew I needed to eat. All I could manage was a piece of bread, but it worked. I had no real problems with my stomach during the relay and think that the fact that I ate simple foods that I was used to was key. I also ate another serving of the energy chocolates.

Almost too soon, I was in my reflective vest, blinking tail light, and headlamp awaiting my last run. I could barely see Josh in the dark as he came in and slapped the bracelet on my wrist. I headed out for the last 3.4 miles of my run. I ran along the dark streets. Ragnar had blinking lights along the signs that told me directions. I made my first left and took the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

Immediately I realized things were crazy. I was running in the middle of the night with no other runners in sight along a trail in the middle of the woods. I didn't think I could handle music during the night, so I had neglected to bring my cell phone. Here I was running alone in the dark woods. I don't mind the woods but running in the pitch darkness of 1:00 a.m. with no one in sight is a bit frightening. At times, I could see the one man that was about a half mile ahead of me. I followed his blinking light as much as possible.

I was tired but I wanted to be done and get out of those woods. I was ticking off what must have been 10:00 miles. I could see only what was in the light of my headlamp and only occasionally took my eyes off the ground in front of me to check my watch. The adrenaline helped me keep pushing forward along some light rolling hills but mostly flats.

At one point, about a mile in, another runner came up next to me. This woman said she was dead scared and raced off past me. She was frightened and wanted to be done!

I couldn't see the course in front of me, so it was hard to see any hills. I ran up a small hill and zoomed down the back. I just cared about finishing at this point. "This is all you have to do." I had been going straight on the trail for some time. I came to a sign announcing the one mile to go point. I had had a little bit of trouble with my watch at the start of the leg and couldn't get it going for a couple of minutes. The sign seemed early but I figured it was on track. It was the first sign I had seen on the trail and I was glad to know, after two miles, that I was going the right way.

I continued on. Soon, I had run almost 0.9 miles. I knew the last direction I had to was to make a turn but I forgot what the street was. I came to an intersection. It was unmarked. I supposedly only had one mile to go according to the sign, though my watch told me I probably had more like a third of a mile. I had my first moment of true fear. Should I keep going straight? Should I turn at this intersection? There was no sign to say which way to go and my mileage was not matching up. I had been running hard, but I actually paused briefly considering what to do.

After a short second I decided to just keep running. I could not see the blinker of any runner up ahead of me, and there was nothing to follow. I decided to dive back into the woods and continue on the trail. I was filled with dread as I considered how stupid it was to not have brought my phone.
Fortunately, my gamble paid off. After runner for another couple of minutes, I saw a blinking light ahead. I had never been so relieve in my entire life as I was when I saw the Ragnar sign indicating that I was to turn left towards the exchange. I knew I had less than a fifth of a mile to go. I was continuing to tick off 10:00 and sub-10:00 miles. Though I was not checking my watch much because it was hard to see in the dark. I pushed as much as I could on the last bit eager to reach my team and be finished. I finally saw the exchange up ahead and zoomed in to tag off to Aaron for his last leg. I had done it! I had finished all three legs and put up a good time on my last 3.4 miles. We were ahead by two minutes after this (and we had been ahead by almost five minutes after my second leg). I had made up the time I lost during my first run. I was happy and relieved to be finished for the night. I had never done anything as crazy as the 3.4 mile that I just completed. My responsibilities for the day were done. Since Aaron and Andrew were doing all the driving, all I had to worry about was resting and cheering for my team.

We drove to the next exchange where we'd collect Aaron after his 4.8 mile run and send off Marc for an intense 9.4 miles. At the exchange I took the time to change into casual clothing. I drank a cherry juice with chia seeds, snacked on some free breakfast biscuits I got at exchange 6, and settled in to rest. Our van followed Marc and met him up mid-way through his run where we checked in to see if he needed anything before headed to the next exchange. Marc was still running strong and did an amazing long run during the wee hours of the morning.

The next runner up was Andrew, who had a 5.6 mile leg. I napped through most of his run in my sleeping bag and unfortunately did not make it out to see him leave or come in. At that point, Louise picked up the running for her last 3.5 mile leg. Louise finished her leg at around 5:30-ish. The sun was just starting to come up. I was still resting in the van when she arrived back. Mike was now out on a 3.1 mile run, the last run our van was responsible for as van 2 would be doing the last miles to get us to Provincetown.

I was suddenly hungry and snacked on a Larabar as we headed to Nauset Regional High School in Eastham. Van 2 had been sleeping there and enjoying hot showers while we ran. It would now be time to make the swap.

Arriving at Exchange 30, we all got out of the van to cheer on Mike, our last runner! I was stiff but the weather was getting warmer, the sun was up, I had gotten a little rest, and I was done. I was feeling good and looking forward to the shower that was promised at the high school.
Once we had gotten Mike and were officially done we headed back to the van to sort out our shower supplies. I had run 13.6 miles over three runs in the last 24 hours without a single shower. Almost just as importantly, I had been without running water since Friday morning. It was now Saturday morning, and I was dying to give my teeth a good brushing.

The showers at the high school were probably the grossest showering experience that I have ever had and did not leave me feeling as clean as one would hope after such a long time without. The showers were located in an airless basement locker room. The walls, floor, and every surface were completely soaked. The floor was filthy and the showers disgusting. Drains were backed up and there was refuse on the floor. In the adjacent bathroom two of the four sinks were backed up and one of the toilets was broken. The showers spit tepid water at a harsh force. It was horrible! I showered and brushed as quickly as possible and got out of there. I was completely grossed out.

We met up again at the van. It had been over 12 hours since our last real meal, that noontime lunch at Panera. Everyone was wanting a hot beverage. We had around five hours until we were schedule to meet our team in Provincetown where we'd cross the finish line together. Van 2 had legs of 6.3, 2.3, 7.3, 3.6, 4.5, and 9.6 left to go. Driving directly we were around a fifteen minute drive away from the end.

It was around 8:00 a.m., so we made a stop off at a Dunkin' Donuts where I got the best bagel with egg and cheese and chia tea I felt I had ever had. I had not really eaten dinner being too tired the night before to even want food and now I was starving.

When we arrived at Provincetown, we still had a few hours to spare. We headed up to the finish area where, because of heavy winds, things were just getting set up.

The Ragnar staff had actually held the lead teams in order to give the sponsors set up time because of the unpleasant weather. It was windy with a light rain. The weather throughout the two-day relay was universally unfortunate in this way. Our team checked out the Ragnar merchandise tent. Otherwise, the sponsors were more or less the same as the ones we had seen at exchange 6.

I headed back to the van to rest in the warm and chat with teammates until closer to when Josh was scheduled to finish his leg and van 2 would arrive. Some of the team stayed up at the finish line to socialize and others spent time in the warm van.

The final leg ended up being a brutal one with a long distance to have to cover in wind on very little sleep and tired legs. However, we finally got word that our team was coming in. We gathered together as a team of twelve and ran the last few yards of the race together all passing through the finishing arch.

It was fantastic! Some great team photos were taken, we were given medals, and it was time to celebrate.

Honestly, we were all too tired to do much. I snagged my free burrito bowl and was pretty much ready to go right away. It took a little while to coordinate, but soon we were on our way back to the hotel to get our cars and continue back home to our normal lives. Ragnar was finished. We had covered 192 miles in just over thirty hours.

For anyone considering doing a Ragnar Relay, I have just one comment: Do it! I had a fantastic team and really loved the camaraderie of this team event. I met great people and really pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I did some of the best running I have done -- I think I am more pleased with my performance on leg 2 of Ragnar than any running I have ever done. I know our team did a lot of work to prepare for Ragnar, and the teammates that did all the driving, van rentals, and supply coordination had my deepest thanks and respect.

The NE Spahtens are a wonderful group of people. I hope that I am able to do many more races with them. If there is a team for Ragnar 2015, count me in!

(Note: Lots of these photos were not taken by me but by teammates. I borrowed them from Facebook, but give them full credit. Thanks!)


Deborah Brooks said...

I just read your blog-we are doing this year's race and I am runner 1. You had to run through the woods? It wasn't marked? WE did DC last year and everything was marked so well.

Nicole Sibley said...

It was marked, sort of. I would definitely check the map before this leg. You go along the rail trail, so you won't get lost in the woods. But the turn-off was a bit unclear and slightly off the mileage where I thought it should have been. I'm doing this race again this year and am runner six. Maybe see you on the Cape?