Friday, September 28, 2012

Ragnar DC: Part 3

Other pre-Ragnar entries: Ragnar DC: Packing List | Ragnar DC: It's Here!
Ragnar Race Re-Cap: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Yesterday's map ends at the wrong place, but it's close enough for reference. Our next adventure? Van 2's "graveyard shift" nighttime runs. Eeeeeek!

I said all along, from the minute I committed to this adventure, that the (estimated) 2 am run is what made me most nervous, and the part I was most anxious about. No sleep, no shower, confined to a van? Whatever. Running at 2 am down a back country road? Holy crap. I never run at night, mostly in fear of hitting a bad patch of sidewalk or road and jacking up my knee... but of course for safety reasons. And sanity -- I have an over-active imagination, you might say, and that definitely can get the best of me! So with all that, the thought of running in the middle of the night scared the you-know-what out of me (thankfully, it didn't). By the time it was my turn to run, I had lost sight of the fear and antsy... for a hot second.
What a 2 am run at Ragnar looks like.
As soon as I left the exchange, I got killed. Seriously... maybe 25 feet out, some girl blurs by me. And at first I'm like "Awesome, this is how that run is going to go? Not cool." But then I realize this girl's a really great potential running buddy during this pitch-black streak -- come to find out after a quick convo, this girl's trying to run an 8:30" pace on this 6.7 mile run. Yeah, not happening for this girl right here. Girl catches up with the male runner ahead of me already, and they stick together... the entire run. I figure to still use this to my advantage, and I figure as long as I can see their two blinking red taillights, I'll know someone's near me if I get hurt or if someone/thing comes running out of the cornfields to come get me. Brilliant. I struggled the first mile or so with my headlamp, as I couldn't get it to stay taut on my forehead and it was bouncing up and down and all over the place; struggled so much, as soon as my van caught up with me the first time, I yelled for a new one that they tossed me as I ran alongside them for a bit. After that was settled, I was finally able to get my head in the game. My run was country -- cornfields, houses maybe every 1/2 mile or so, trees. It has to be a gorgeous road during the daytime, but at night... yeah, imagine every scary movie scene that involves a cornfield and even though I've never seen such movies, they were running through my head. One particular moment comes when I passed a farmhouse, passed their cornfield, and passed the plowed road in the corn. On the other side of the "road," I could see some kind of... shape... out of the corner of my eye. I was terrified to look, but it was one of those things you just have to know, right? So I turned my headlamp to the side, just enough to see... a wooden cut-out of a cow. Seriously? Frightening.

My van stopped for my Gatorade supply around mile 4 -- at which point I had decided this was the most exhilarating and terrifying experience ever. I said it out loud to them, loud enough for 2 or 3 other parked vans to hear and chuckle at my seemingly desperateness. After they left me, I turned the bend in the road to find nobody -- no vans pulled over, no vans driving by, no red taillights. Me, my headlamp ... and nothing but stars. Beautiful and scary as all get out! My van came up on me again, during my brief moment of panic, and asked them to leapfrog me every half mile or so. A few minutes later, I saw my two taillight pacers ahead of me, and calmed down enough (even though this is when the wooden cow appeared) to text my van to meet me at exchange, and I'd be okay. The best part is that apparently these pacers slowed down enough that I was able to book it past them during the last two miles or so! Best moment ever ... and then finished my run 30 seconds under estimated time (6.67 miles at 1:05:26). Also awesome is if this were a legit 10K, it would have been an awesome PR).  After my heart stopped racing, I grabbed a donut, changed, and passed out for nearly 2 hours until our next major exchange, and the end of nighttime hours! I woke up in time to walk out with my vanmates to see the sun start to rise and cheer Cathryn in to her finish. A gorgeous morning in Maryland, beautiful weather and hot chocolate made life a whole lot better at this point! We went straight on to Exchange 30 after seeing Devin off -- ah, 30: the beginning of the end! We got to 30, at GEICO Headquarters - really early; so early, there were not even a dozen vans in the parking lot when we got there. I secretly hoped there'd be a mascot lizard dancing around... but no (given the number of dressed up cows, Ragbears, and other animal-esque characters, I figured there was a chance). We all passed out again for about an hour, only to wake up and see that the parking lot had exploded and was now nearly full. What a buzz! We got ready to go and waited for Shannon to finish his final leg.
Chillin' at 30 - at GEICO!

The tricky part for legs 31-36 was that we were now in metro DC, but all the legs were short so for the most part, we would hardly see the exchange happen, pick up the finished runner, and hightail it to the next exchange! We didn't even see Keeley leave 30, and had just made it when she arrived (because she beasted that run). By the time my run came around, I was a super ball of nerves -- last run, only 2.7 miles, wanted to make it count, especially for how well I did on my first two! Serves me right -- most of my run was a rolling downhill through a residential area in Virginia somewhere and on to a recreational trail. Easy peasy, right? At 0.8 miles (kid you not), I got one of the worst stitches in my side that I've ever gotten in my life. Serious. I started to walk, but wasn't up for the feeling of being defeated on my LAST RUN, so I ran holding my side and chugging along with one arm. Woof. Terrible. I only finished 2 minutes later than anticipated, which also worked in our favor since one of the major boulevards given in the Ragnar driving directions had been closed and our van didn't make it to me until 2 minutes after I arrived, and dropped Heather off to get started. Heather's final exchange was awesome (for us), as it was at a city plaza full of fountains and ponds, perfect for feet therapy. Happy feet!

Heather pressed on, finished, and we sent Rose on her way. Rose finished about a minute before we even pulled into her exchange parking lot, and we sent Cathryn into the grand finish! We made our way to National Harbor, find our Van 1 friends and waited for her to come in. She said she was taking it easy (it got uber hot out) and wouldn't be surprised if she walked/ran most of it, so we anticipated her in another 15 minutes or so. No sooner than we had found Van 1, that Cathryn came around the corner! She wanted us all to cross the finish line together hand-in-hand (I'm in full support of such things), so we plowed through as a team all together (mostly?) and got our sweet Ragnar hardware.

Teams got coupons for free beer at the end on race bibs, and those swag bags from the beginning contained coupons for one whole free pizza from Little Caesar's per van (uh, thankkk youuuu Little Caesar's!). Heavenly. After spending too much money at the Ragnar store (it was necessary!), we were off to our hotel for showers and naps. We had original plans to go out for dinner and celebrate, and conceded to ordering pizza in and running to the store for beers. The entire team piled into our room and we spent a few hours crashing on couches, inhaling pizza, watching football and reliving the weekend. So fantastic.
We did it! Team Four Score & 7 Miles Ago : RAGNARIANS!
I spent Sunday adventuring around DC with Keeley and her friend from high school, who gave us probably the sweetest free 2-hour tour ever, and flew home Sunday evening, totally and utterly exhausted. As it should be. That's for another post. Looking for it soon, promise! Maybe this weekend. I'm kind of blogged out. All in all, an amazing adventure. I'm so grateful to Heather for letting me in on her initial invite, to Shannon and Cathryn for coordinating all this craziness and for an amazing bunch of vanmates and teammates to share this with! What a great time. Ragnar... 2013?

Suggestions, tips, things to do/not to do on your Ragnar:
- Pack each leg outfit in gallon bags. Life-saving. Re-pack in said bags after they're gross and sweaty.
- Have enough drivers so runners don't also drive. You know, it didn't kill us, but I imagine it'd have been nice to really just chill.
- Team coordinate food. Cathryn did this amazingly and I think even though there was a ton leftover, it all worked to our advantage.
-  Make sure your camera has its memory card (points to self). Thank God for iPhones.
- I'm out. More to come as  I think of them, or share your own!

PS. I haven't even plugged in my Garmin all week, literally. Map/pace/elevation charts to come, because I know you're dying of curiosity. Really.

PSS. You can read Shannon's recounts of the adventure here. Love his version of Van 1's trip!


  1. man I hope little caesars is there for vegas!! the bling is awesome:) the night running is terrifying me as well. no scary cornfields here, but the open desert makes me very nervous! can't wait for the next ragnar adventure:)

    1. Yeah, pretty sure Little Caesar's was my lifesaver at that point. While they're my fave pizza anyway, I couldn't have loved them more at that point in time.

      You know, truthfully... the night run wasn't AS bad as I had anticipated, or made it up to be in my head. You can do it! You got this. :)