Ragnar SoCal Report (Part 3 – Running and Finishing)

IMG_7232So, let’s see … I wrote about our Ragnar prep here and the first running legs here.  Continuing on ….

We ran through the night.  I think my hand-off was sometime around 3AM.  Tay had told us that she was expecting to take at least an hour for her leg, so we took our sweet time in the parking lot staying warm in the van before heading over to the exchange.  I decided I needed to go to the bathroom before my run so I had just gotten into the line for the porta potty when my team started yelling – “Martha, Tay’s already coming in!”.  I was so proud of her for getting to the chute way ahead of schedule, and I didn’t want to make her wait to hand-off, so I never got to the bathroom before taking off on my leg.

IMG_7076The temperature had really dropped so I decided to run in my ‘Strangers to SoleMates’ hooded sweatshirt – which was on top of a sports bra and another thin jacket.  On top of all of this was my required Ragnar reflective vest and blinking lights.  Well, as I should have known, less than 1/2 mile into my run I was starting to overheat.  I knew I would never make it another 3 miles with so many layers on so I stopped to peel off my hoodie – which probably took 3-4 minutes to strip off the hoodie and then get re-situated with my vest, lights, and fuel belt back on…and tie my hoodie around my waist.  Anyway, I got going again and felt much better.

This was yet another downhill run but in the dark it was a bit scary.  I had a good headlamp on so I could see but I really had to pay attention to my footing because I was going pretty fast and the sidewalks weren’t very even.  The area we were running in was really deserted – I think it could best be classified as a business park, but not a very nice one.  I tried to stay near other runners but they were almost all female and there just weren’t too many of them.  Again, we still got stopped at quite a few lights.  Sometimes we would go ahead and cross on the red, but a few times there was still too much traffic to do that.  About halfway through the leg, I was about 5-10 feet behind another runner who entered a crosswalk with a WALK signal and came SO close to getting hit by a car.  I actually screamed a little for her.  She had to jump a few feet out of the way – it was a black car full of what looked like teenagers out doing who knows what at 3AM on a Friday night.  I’m sure they weren’t expecting anyone in the intersection at that hour either, but still.  So, that definitely jumpstarted my heart and made me even more wary at the traffic lights!

Oh, and it started raining too.  I guess in nearby areas (even where our van was) it was pouring for a brief period of time but I just had a steady misting during my run.  It wasn’t bad and since I was heating up, it felt pretty good.  I don’t think getting soaking wet would have been very fun since I would have another couple of hours to ride around in the van in wet clothes.

Bonnie had been SO sick and she was still on the fence about running her next leg.  Fortunately, it was just a short 2 miles.  I had told her that if she didn’t feel up to it, I would just keep going in her place.  She was so determined to run though – she said she didn’t fly 2300 miles across the country to not run.  I didn’t blame her, I knew she wanted to see it through…but sometimes your body just won’t cooperate.  When I got to the hand-off she said she was going to try it.  I was proud of her, but I knew it was going to be miserable.

Colleen and I were getting a little slap-happy at this point.  The hours without sleep were

Colleen sporting a sleep mask with her reflective vest.  There was no sleep to be had in the van though, unfortunately.

Colleen sporting a sleep mask with her reflective vest. There was no sleep to be had in the van though, unfortunately.

taking a toll.  As difficult as it was, I enjoyed cramming my long body into the back of the minivan over and over again because it was fun to hide out in the back of the van with her and laugh about nothing.

After Cat and Colleen ran (we actually got to the exchange on time to get Colleen this time!) we headed back to the hotel in Oceanside for our last rest time.  We cleaned the hotel completely out of towels (doesn’t everyone take 12 showers in their hotel room in a 8 hour period?) – the mountain of towels in the bathroom was pretty impressive.  Van #1 had been there to sleep and shower and since we were not eating this time, we had a solid 2 hours to sleep.  I fell asleep immediately with the plan of waking before everyone and taking my shower then.  I didn’t want to sit around awake for 30-45 minutes while 4 other people showered before me.  That worked out pretty well because the shower woke me up to get ready for our final leg!

Paige handing off to Dean to start our final legs - 30-36.

Paige handing off to Dean to start our final legs – 30-36.

Our final major exchange (where Van 1 hands off to Van 2) was in the Torrey Pines area north of San Diego.  Again, we had some navigational challenges to get there because it seemed like every street was named “Torrey Pines __________”.  We finally parked in a dirt field and got over to the exchange point.  Paige had run yet another tough leg and she was thrilled to be finished – she was also thrilled that

Dean running through the Van 1 "tunnel"

Dean running through the Van 1 “tunnel”

somebody had called her a “beast” since she had powered up a really tough hill and they weren’t able to catch up to her.  Van #1 was happy to be finished with their portion of the race.  We had checked out of the crash pad hotel but now we were close enough to San Diego and John’s so they headed over there to take showers and check into their new hotel rooms….but not before stopping every quarter mile to cheer Dean on along his route.  Meanwhile, our van headed out to support Dean and then to get Tay dropped off.

Tay looking strong!

Tay looking strong!

As Tay was running, we went to my final exchange point which was in an area of San Diego I was more familiar with – just a few blocks north of Pacific Beach.  I was looking forward to completing this final leg of Ragnar which followed right along the beach area I knew so well from my childhood.  Tay had powered through her final miles like a champ again.  I took my handoff and headed for the ocean.  At about 1 mile, I arrived at the boardwalk.  I took a moment to take a selfie of myself in front of the two hotels I will always associate with family vacations with my mom and dad.  I got a little choked up at that moment – thinking about them, how much my dad loved to sit on the balcony at those hotels, missing them both.  I also was proud of myself for what I was doing though – proud that I had come that far (on foot!)

It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was surprised by how few Ragnar runners were out


“One Mile to Go” sign on Mission Beach

there with me – I was just like any other jogger out on the boardwalk except that I had a Ragnar number on the front of me.  A few people called out to me from their beach houses asking what kind of race I was doing … a triathalon?  No, just a 200 mile relay race from Huntington Beach….  At the Ragnar “one mile to go” sign I stopped again and asked a family to take my photo.  That took forever… but I’m glad I got a picture with the ocean instead of a selfie.  I continued down Mission Beach and just before hitting Belmont Park (a small amusement park on the beach), I was directed inland toward the bay and

Photo by Ragnar photographer

Photo by Ragnar photographer

park for the exchange.  At this point I had to wait for about 3 lights and they each took forever.   There were a bunch of runners all stuck there together – probably the most runners I had been with during the whole race at one time.  I entered the chute to hand off to Bonnie for her run around Mission Bay.  I was happy to see my sister-in-law there as well – she lives in an apartment in Mission Beach right down the street and rode her bike over to see me.  We got to chat for a few minutes but then left to support Bonnie and get to the next exchange.




Bonnie was feeling much better after a little bit of sleep and a whole lot of Immodium.  She

Final hand off to Bonnie

Final hand off to Bonnie

got through her final legs and finished strong.  We sent Cat off on her final tough hill and since she had requested wine instead of beer at the finish line, we went to find that.  I think she could have used water/van support more but we had a hard time navigating to find runners and we knew it would be our last chance to get her the wine.  I had started receiving calls from Van #1 – they were already at the finish line party downtown and they said parking was a nightmare.  They thought that Colleen might have to walk her final 5 miles just to give us time to park and get there to meet her.  Colleen was one of our fastest runners so that seemed crazy but by the time we got down there, we could see what they were talking about.  All of the Ragnar vans were trying to get into a parking structure so it was a huge bottleneck.  We finally parked and then text’d Colleen and told her she could start running now.  We all gathered around near the finish line so we could run in with her as a team.

IMG_7126 IMG_7131

The team running in together!

The team running in together!


Someone from Ragnar handed John a big handful of medals and we stood near the finish line and placed them around each other’s necks. It was really cool. Katie and John (our co-captains) put the medals on each other.

IMG_7143 IMG_7166

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We took a great team picture with our medals on in front of the Ragnar banner – unfortunately we didn’t realize that Colleen was not in it!  Since she had actually just RUN 5 miles, she had gone to find some water.  Actually, I was almost not in it either but realized they were taking it and ran over at the last second.  I love the photo though!

IMG_7185It was about 5pm at this time, we had been running since 5AM the previous morning.  It was gorgeous outside and a bit chilly.  We sat in the beer garden and drank free beer for a little while.  We had a bit of time to do some shopping for Ragnar merchandise too – I got a lightweight hoodie and a shirt for Brennan.  Meanwhile, back at John’s house, his huband, Ric, had been preparing a huge party for our team and another Ragnar team so we needed to head over there.  We were absolutely blown away by how nice the backyard looked.  It was amazing!  There were tents with lights, tables set up with china and place settings.  It looked like a wedding.  We learned that he had been up all night after the rainstorm apparently hit down in San Diego as well and he had to start over on much of the preparations.

IMG_7186 Ragnar SoCal 020 (2)



We had a very nice pasta and salad dinner with lots of drinks.  It was fun to meet some of the teammates from the other Ragnar team as well.  Unfortunately, I had a made a huge mistake in not locking down accommodations for myself for that night.  I had planned on getting a room at the hotel that several other teammates were staying at but didn’t realize that we would be so busy in the vans and never got a chance to make a phone call.  I then found out that there was a wedding there and they were all booked up.  No big deal…I would just get a room in nearby Hotel Circle, where there are dozens of large hotels.  Then I started finding out that they were all booked up too.  Ugh!  I had a few other back-up options but I really just wanted a hotel room and a bed.  Paige called her hotel who connected us with the San Diego concierge – they found me a room near Paige’s (she had a car).  We had a big laugh with John who misunderstood where I was going to be staying and saying horrible things about what goes on there … he got me pretty scared.  But Paige was sure she had stayed there with her daughter’s school years ago and that the hotel mascot “Sir Wafflelot” would be there to protect me…John did not believe her so, sure enough, when I checked in, Paige and I got photographic evidence of THE “Sir Wafflelot” himself.  I’m pretty sure the hotel staff thought we were hammered…well, maybe I was but I had just had a few beers on top running for 30 hours….  Well, needless to say, my hotel room with a King size bed and hot shower were just what I needed.  It felt soooo good to sleep all night long!


Me with Sir Wafflelot and his little butter pat nose…





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3 Responses to Ragnar SoCal Report (Part 3 – Running and Finishing)

  1. Thomas says:

    Great recap Martha! Love hearing the Van Two stories!


    • Thanks Thomas! Likewise. I loved the Van 1 stories. You had some veterans who knew what they were doing so you got a lot more “support” and “cheering” done than we did. We (me) were navigationally inept despite having countless iphones, maps, ipads, etc.


  2. Sir Waffelot is awesome and only a little creepy! I love that you all ran to the finish as a team and I loved your pictures in front of those two hotels that you remember from your childhood. A lovely reminder that your mom and dad were with you during that race and cheering you on! The post-race dinner looks stunning; what an awesome way to celebrate the race!


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