Monday, July 27, 2009

Ragnar Relay Race Report

Thursday after work I headed down to Bellingham to meet up with 12 women and 1 guy I’d never met before in order to run 189 miles from Blaine to Langley in Washington State for the Ragnar Relay’s Northwest Passage. The race/run is set up for 12 runners, each with 3 legs, however at the last minute, we had 2 of our runners drop out. Thanks to a facebook update saying we needed 2 more runners, and a runner with a lot of frequent flier miles, we have a runner fly in from North Carolina with only a couple hours notice. This left us one short, but that’s a lot better than 2 short!

After a nice dinner at Chukanut Brew Pub in Bellingham Thursday evening, where we got introduced to everyone, we had an early night for the 5:30 wake up call on Friday. Our team was scheduled to depart at 8am from Blaine and we needed to get checked in before that.

I was runner 3 and my legs went like this.

Leg 3 – 8.2mi very hard

After Shannon’s first leg, she passed the slap bracelet to me. This leg started with a long hill running directly into the sun. And it was hot out. I tried to tell myself to stay light on my feet and did my best to ignore the sun beating down on the blacktop. I had a new pain in the back of my right knee (my popliteal tendon I think) but it wasn’t getting worse so I kept on moving. I had hoped the run would take me about 75 mins not really knowing what the hill was going to be like. I was pretty much right on and was happy with that. I finished strong, slapped the bracelet onto Elly and got into the van, pouring with sweat.

Leg 7 – 4.4 mi hard

As we were down a runner, I volunteered to take on an extra leg. It would end up that all extra legs would be run by Van 1, meaning we were out on the course a lot longer then Van 2. But we were having fun, if not exhausted.

I had finished my first leg around 11:30 and then started leg 7 just before 1:00. The first half mile was through the streets of Bellingham and I lost at least 5 minutes waiting at stoplights. Once I was through the city portion, the hill started. And it didn’t stop. 3.9 miles of unshaded uphill on an unseasonably hot Washington day. My van mates pulled over part way though and threw water on me. I think I would have overheated without that little shower. I was thrilled when I got to the exchange and was able to pass on the bracelet to Becky. Of course that also meant climbing into the van again, even sweatier than the first time. I didn’t stop my watch at the lights, so averaged about 11 min miles including all the stopping.

After leg 7, we had a break while Van 2 ran. We ate at a cute restaurant in Bellingham before making our way down to the major exchange at exchange 12. We lay around in the shade for a couple hours waiting for the second van to arrive. By this time it was starting to get darker and so the reflective vests and flashing lights had to be brought out.

Leg 15 – 3.5mi easy

The sun had set when I started running. I twisted my way through Ferndale, going as fast as I could. It was still hot and humid, but now the sweat wasn’t evaporating. Not only that, but a lightning storm had started. Nothing like running towards lightning in the dark! It was far enough away that we were safe, but it was still an interesting experience. I passed a fish cannery which made me feel extremely nauseous but tried to not think about it and instead focused on catching the runners in front of me who’s flashing lights I could see. I ended up passing 4 runners on this segment. I also have to say thank you to a very nice Skagit County policeman who stopped traffic for me when I hit a red light. I could have used some of that in Bellingham! Overall time was just about 29 mins for this leg, Getting faster as I go along!

After this leg I napped a little in the van. After our legs, and picking up the vacant leg 7, our van headed to a hotel in Oak Harbor. We managed to get about 2 hours sleep before the wake up call came at 5:15am. Of course it turned out there was a miscommunication and we arrived at the exchange an hour earlier then we needed to be there. Our driver (Shannon’s husband – who was awesome) was in need of coffee as much, if not more than, the rest of us and we detoured out of the way to the closest Starbucks we could find. That iced latte was really good!

Leg 27 - 2.8 mi easy

As this was my last leg, I decided to go as hard as I could. My legs were a bit tired unsurprisingly, as was the rest of me. The downhill start was nice and I passed 2 girls on this stretch. As I passed the first, she said nice running. I told her I didn’t know if I could keep it up, but once I passed her, I knew I couldn’t let her catch me. At the start of the hill, I thought I might fall over. I wanted to lay down in the ditch in some shade, or at least walk. But I didn’t. I pushed through though the second mile was almost a minute slower than the first. Total time was just under 22 mins for a pace of about 7:45. I have never run that fast for that distance before, and after having run over 16 miles in the previous 24 hours plus having little sleep, I was more than pleased.

That was the end of my race. More piling into the van and when our van finished its legs (plus of course the unassigned leg which Marian ran less than an hour after running her own leg!) we headed on to the finish line. After a shower (which felt awesome), we grabbed lunch at a diner and then headed back to the finish line to wait for our teammates. It was blazing hot and the beer I drank (stealthily hiding it from the police officer) was really good. Over the course of the weekend I had 6 new beers (I had a sampler at the brew pub which made up most of them).

Graeme drove down to Langley to meet me and then we were heading to Seattle for the night. The ferry line up was long, so we turned around and went back to Langley for dinner at a cute restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever been so underdressed for a restaurant, but at least there were other people there who had obviously been running that day too!

Saturday was some shopping in Seattle before heading home.

Overall I had a fantastic time and I would definitely do another relay. My legs are a bit tired, but fine. I had some quad soreness on Sunday, but it’s gone already. And now I need a new goal!

1 comment:

Julie said...


WOW!! What a way to crank out that last leg -- after running through heat and humidity like that. I laughed when you said how you wanted to lie down in the ditch -- hahahah!! Now THAT is a stinking hot day! :) :)

Loved how you were such a sly girl drinking your beer in front of the po-po! Hee-hee!!

I need to go have a nap after reading what you did! 'night! :)