My whole body hurts. It was totally and completely worth it. Ragnar Relay Del Sol was one of the best weekends of my life and has affirmed my love of running in a way I never thought possible. I had planned to run just over 20 miles, but I ended up running almost 24 miles.
I spent the week before Ragnar sick as a dog at home in Los Angeles with my mom. While it may not have been so much fun for her, it was great for me to be away from the New England cold and away from work where I could be taken care of, rest, and get healthy for the race. By the time I flew to Phoenix on Wednesday night, I was beginning to feel human again. Thursday we ran errands to prepare for the race and my lower back pain started to inch back in, so I ended up purchasing a back brace that is my new best friend. I wore it whenever I wasn’t running, and my back feels great.
Van 1 began running at 5am. My van (Van 2) got to Exchange 6 at around noon to take over the running. As runner 9, my first leg didn’t start until around 3:30pm. Here’s a breakdown of my legs.
LEG 1: 13.5 MILES
My first leg helped me understand that training in extreme cold does not translate for other forms of extreme weather, like extreme heat. By the time I started running, it was in the low 80s. The route traveled north on Sun Valley Parkway, starting in Buckeye, AZ. The straight incline wasn’t as rough as I had imagined and I felt ok with the steadiness of it. However, the heat was killer. Since I was still trying to get better from being sick and my back wasn’t in ideal shape, I let myself walk whenever I wanted, which was about every mile. At the first water stop, they filled my water bottle, gave me cups of cold water, and even poured some down my back to help me cool down. Best volunteers ever. At the second water stop, I found out that I had run just over 7 miles, when my Nike+ claimed I was just under 7 miles. Definitely the preferred way for my Nike+ to be wrong.
Thanks to Eric and Sarah for texting me from the East Coast and to Karissa and Courtney for being great teammates who texted me throughout too! Overall, I made 8 kills (kill = passing someone) and I ran with one guy for a little bit before I ‘killed’ him. All the runners were incredibly friendly and many waved or said encouraging words before they ‘killed’ me too.
The last mile was downhill and I really raced myself to get as close to 2:30 as possible. I ended up finishing in 2:31, which I am totally happy about. And I got a pretty sweet medal!
LEG 2: 4.7 MILES
After our Van finished running our first set of legs, we went back to Tara’s house to sleep for a few hours (Tara = best captain and hostess ever) until we had to start our middle of the night runs. We were one of the slower groups, so we (mistakenly) decided to double up/”leap frog” for two of our night runs.
Runners 7 and 8 ran together starting a little after 3:30 am and I began my second run at around 4:30 am. Considering it was the middle of the night, it was pretty much pitch black outside. The only thing I could see were the flashing red lights of the runners in front of you and the stars. It was a quiet area of Phoenix, and I’m pretty sure I ran by a few farms – I could even see some horses in the dark! Rather than wear headphones, I turned on Pandora on my phone and listened to it out loud. I was able to run the whole time without stopping to walk, which I considered a victory. Once again, runners would say hi or wave as they ran by. I managed to finish the run with an average pace of 9:57 – yaaaaa sub-10 minute miles!
LEG 3: 5.6 MILES
Even though I was slated to run 3.1 miles for my last leg, I decided to switch legs with Karissa and take on her last leg of 5.6 miles – the last leg of the relay. By the time I started running just before 5:00 pm, it had begun to cool down and, because I was running after 5, I had the privilege of running with my reflective vest, headlamp, and blinkie light for the third time. My right leg, specifically the inside and back of my right knee, had been really hurting me and after a full day of stretching, foam rolling, icing, and pain relieving, I couldn’t figure out how to make it better. So, of course, I ran on it. And it actually felt pretty much fine while I was running. I ran along the Green Belt Trail in Tempe, AZ, finishing up on the pedestrian bridge leading to Tempe Arts Park. As I was running in the park, there was (in my opinion) not enough signage and I got to a fork in the road and didn’t know which way to go. Luckily, some kids were playing in the park and they recognized that I was another crazy runner and pointed me in the direction that the others had gone. Thank goodness for them!
I crossed the bridge, turned left, and the rest of the team was there waiting and chanting my name (silly teammates). I thought I was done, but they yelled at me (through my headphones) that we needed to keep going. So I did, and a few steps later we all ran under the finish line arch and got our finisher medals.
In total, I ran 23.8 miles in 36 hours. During those 36 hours, I got about 3 hours of sleep. It was an amazing weekend, and we’re already beginning to plan our next Ragnar. One day, we’ll be just as hardcore as the 2 man ultra team who ran the 203 miles on their own in 37 hours (yes, that is more than 100 miles each – they’re basically my new heroes).
#12months12halfs continues. February half marathon is complete. March half marathon (Tobacco Road Half Marathon) is in 3 weeks.