Friday, July 29, 2011

Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay - The Runner's Version Part 2

I always find it rather odd to be in some neighborhood in some little town and so focused on what we are doing in a relay.  We run by people who are in their beds asleep and will wake up to a normal saturday.  How to explain what we are doing and why it is so fun?  Well, I can't.  But everyone who I've talked to who has done one of these relays finds it a real accomplishment and walk about with a feeling of pride and fairly glow about the experience.

But after you've just run your second leg in a 24 hour period, you are not glowing.  You are tired and it's easy to question your sanity and ask yourself, "what the hell am I doing here."  THat is the time to eat and have some liquids with electrolytes and cheer for the other runs in your van and out on the course.  And that is what I did.  Honestly though, I was pretty up from such an awesome run for quite a while.  EVentually our last runner of the van was out and running towards Deception Pass and we would be done soon.

Deception Pass Park is where the next major exchange is and I was disappointed to see that they seemed to have fewer items available for runners here than in years past.  Actually I felt that was true overall.  yes there were things available to buy but all I wanted sometimes was a cup of hot water so I could add some starbucks via.  Fortunately I had come prepared and was much better stocked for food than I have been.  That made the complete difference in how well I ran.  I had foods which appealed to me and I could eat easily even when I didn't always feel like it.

What did I bring?  buttermilk pancakes (made without the butter) with peanut or almond butter taste really good and are much easier for me to eat than the typical pbj made on bread.  I even had pancakes with a chocolate mint gu at one point.  I had a made a very big vat of a chicken pasta cold salad with feta, olives (love the SALT!), peppers and cucumbers with just a bit of chopped red onion.  I dislike a lot of the commercial dressings people tend to use for this type of salad, so just used balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Tasty and filling with a nice mix of carbs, protein and fat.  I brought my usual chocolate milk.  I had bananas and water laced with nuun.  I was never too hungry and never had any gi problems when running.

After handing off to the next van, we made it to Coupeville High School for the next major exchange.  All we could think about was lying down.  The high school was packed and sleeping on the hard gym floor was not an option.  My back and hips will not take that.  We found a field behind the school and tucked ourselves into a corner.  The grass was really wet but at least the ground was soft and there was a cherry tree over us.  I think I did actually sleep a bit even though my throat got sore and ears plugged up again.  Then the fog rolled in and the cherry tree started dripping.  Argh!  yes, lightest sleeper ever.  That drip kept me awake.  Oh well, again, just lying down flat made a big difference.  And eventually we could hear some sort of alarm going off in the high school.  Yeah, that would be annoying.

Ragnar races have local teams provide volunteers for each team who will work on course.  Our teams' three volunteers were at this major exchange and it was a great boost to see them.  The manned the team number calling and recording.  In fact, they seemed like a nice bit of normal in the midst of all the race craziness.  With this leg, Van 1 was done! They were off to the finish and to wait for us to arrive.

And we were off.  Fog had come up and runners were required to wear reflective vests again.  Our first runner (who had been educated on the term "roadkill" and then did his best to get as much of this as he could) was running on the most spectacular section.  With no warning, we'd dropped down onto a beach road and found wind tortured trees looming in the fog.  It was amazing.  Runner 1 was too busy counting roadkill to notice.  Ha.

Leg 3: The main goal for this 4.8 hilly leg which climbed for 2.5 miles and then went down 2.5 miles was to stay steady and strong on the uphill without blowing up and then use the downhill wisely.  I wanted 8;30 pace overall but wasn't sure if that was possible.  And?  I nailed it perfectly.   it was warm and sunny with a breeze.  I carried water and just kept at it and soon I was in.  I did get passed by Van 1 here and it was a nice pick me up.  they said I looked good and I wasn't even wearing a tutu on this leg.  garmin tract

Now normally, I'd be estactic and jumping around here.  I'd be done.  Not this time.  A runner in our van was just returning to running after a stress fracture.  She'd run her first two legs and we'd always planned for me to run her last leg.  She just didn't have the miles, it had some steep downhill and it just wasn't going to be a good idea.  She really struggled with this but eventually saw the wisdom of it and only packed two sets of running clothing.  so instead of eating like I was done, i just had more water and a gel and pancake and tried to get out of the van and walk around whenever I could.  I had an hour in between legs to stay loose.

Soon enough, the runner I'd handed off to was back at the exchange and I took off.  No  warm up other than just walking around and I felt pretty good considering.  Right away the course started uphill and i just kept at it.  I'd still pass people here and there and I made sure to say the usual "good job" but by this point it seemed like most were wearing their music and not much into responding.   Oh well.  I had my tutu and my water and I was good.  The worst part of this course was seeing a huge looking hill a couple miles ahead on a perfectly straight road.  I could see vans on the other side of the road and knew I'd be climbing it.  Well that was not for now, so just keep running and I did.  4th leg garmin connect

And eventually I hit that hill and it was great to see all the vans cheering everyone.  I continually passed people here and got lots of cheers.  Someone even had  spray bottle which felt great.  it was getting warm.   As I passed people another van shouted out "tutu good" and that made me really laugh and look back at that van in delight.  Yes, i love relays. 

I did get passed by one guy but he really didn't pull too much farther ahead.  EVentually we hit a second uphill section right before the start and then a great downhill.  I blasted down this and I could hear my teammates cheering for me (orange clothing and a tutu REALLY stands out) and I was done! woohoo!  Only a couple more runners and we were into the finish for a reunion with the other van.  Oh everyone was happy and up and I was so happy that everyone had enjoyed themselves. 

And even better, everyone is thinking of next year.  Yep.  it was good. 

As a team we averaged a 9:00 pace.  Fantastic and just what I'd hoped for. 

I ran 4 legs, 19.5 miles total at an 8:31 pace overall.  I am delighted!  And I did this while I was getting a cold.  Yeah, that's what the sore throat and plugged ears meant every time I lay down.  after having done this event this year as captain, I feel much better about it for next year.  No stress, right!  

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