I am so far behind in my blogging. I’ve done quite a few races lately that I wanted to share. Since the events from this past weekend are still very fresh in my mind, I’ll start there and then (hopefully) share a few posts about the other events.
Last Monday I received a call from the “chiefs” of the Kilty Pleasures clan, John and Kat. They had an opening on one of their Ragnar Del Sol teams – Runner 12, in their Van#2. They had asked me several times to join the team but I could never really commit since Del Sol always falls on the weekend of my oldest daughter’s birthday (last year it was her sweet 16 so I really didn’t want to be gone for that). The logistics of me being able to join the team at the first exchange were pretty complicated but things fell into place very quickly and easily – so I decided it was meant to happen. For instance, as we were getting off the elevator at the airport baggage claim while picking my daughter up from her choir tour, I ran into a mom that lives down the street – she is a runner. I half-jokingly asked her if she was running Ragnar that weekend (I’ve run into her at the Ragnar Trail the last 2 times) and she said she was – with a bunch of other moms and teachers from our elementary school. AND, she happened to be part of Van 2 AND they had almost the same start time as our team. The biggest challenge for me was trying to figure out how I was going to meet up with our team because they would be heading about 1.5 hours southwest of my house with the van from the other end of the city. I couldn’t just drive out there because there was no place to leave my car – and really no easy way to get back to my car. Anyway, these moms and teachers had room for me to hitch a ride with them to Exchange 6 …problem solved! My husband was also really helpful and was able to take the kids where they needed to be while I was gone.
I think it was good that I didn’t have too much time to think/worry about doing Ragnar. I knew everyone that was going to be in my van since I had run Ragnar Trail with all of them. I was excited to get to spend time with them. The open spot was for Runner 12, which can be a somewhat challenging slot since you spend a lot of time waiting around to run – but it’s also a fun slot because you get to finish the entire race for the team.
Friday morning after getting the kids off to school, I was picked up by my neighbor and met up with the van full of moms/teachers/friends heading to the Exchange 6. Like our team, their team’s van 1 had spent the night in Wickenburg, AZ and was up at 5am to start the first portion of the relay up there. Rather than all drive to the start (like we did with our SoCal team) we just met them at the first exchange – giving our team a chance to sleep in a bit longer and not requiring a 2nd hotel room. Exchange 6 is a big one because they do the safety briefing there as well as sell Ragnar merchandise, etc. We were nervous about getting me there on time but it worked out just fine – we had nothing to worry about. It was great to see my Kilty Pleasures teammates and get started.
My van was:
Runner 7: Kate – the daughter and sister of a family that I had run Trail with, this was her first Ragnar event and she killed it.
Runner 8: Kat – co-leader of the Kilty Pleasures, she has a magical power that gets met to agree to run races with her that I had no plans of doing
Runner 10: Michaela – also a spunky mom of 3 and strong runner. We shared a tent with her at Ragnar Trail so I knew her a bit more. Fun and fun loving.
Runner 11: Matt – husband to Runner 9, Elizabeth and also a super funny and fun guy. I really enjoy just hanging out with him/them. Encouraging, helpful, etc.
Runner 12: That would be me.
I should add that our Van 2 driver was John, husband of Kat, and co-leader of the Kilty Pleasures. John keeps us all organized and is so awesome about helping everyone feel included and welcome in the ‘clan’. John has some knee injuries that are taking him out of running, unfortunately, but he was happy to still fully participate and being an almost full-time driver was a HUGE help.
I think, overall, I enjoyed being the last runner. It gave me time to just relax in the van and enjoy it a bit more. I guess being the first runner (or, in this case, runner 7) would be ideal because you could get the run behind you … but this was nice too because I wasn’t a hot, sweaty mess for the entire van ride. The weather in Phoenix has been unseasonably warm – by about 10 to 20 degrees. Our expected afternoon temperatures were around 80-85 degrees. Our first legs went off without any issues. Elizabeth had a tough run on dirt and lots of semi’s kicked up dust in her face. She said many runners had to stop and cover their faces it was so bad. Some had breathing problems. When she came into the exchange she was covered in a layer of dust. Michaela had a freaking half marathon (+) for her first leg – it was like 13.5 miles long. There were also some hills in that. She had asked for that leg – it comes with a special “longest Ragnar leg” medal that is handed out at the exchange when they finish it. We made our way to the exchange where I would take over. The sun was starting to set and it was a beautiful night. I was going to have to run my first leg with the safety gear (reflective vest, blinking light on back, head lamp) per Ragnar regulations on since it was between 5PM – 7AM.
Matt came into the exchange and I took off. It was pretty much dark at that point. I headed south for about a mile, the same way Matt had just come up to the exchange, and then turned east along the Sun Valley Parkway. The White Tank mountains were behind me and the town of Surprise, AZ was my final destination. I have probably mentioned that I love running at night, especially right at sunset. My runner’s high was in full gear. I didn’t really love running on what was essentially a highway – against traffic with cars and trucks speeding at me at about 60mph, but the shoulder was wide enough that I felt pretty safe. The runners were spaced out pretty well, I got passed up a lot but probably every 10-15 minutes or so. My goal for the first leg was to try to run the whole thing. John had entered me at a 12:30/mi pace which is a bit slow for me, but gave me some cushion. After running for a while, I realized I could probably keep up a sub 12:00 overall, so that became my new goal.
Since I was the last runner in our van, we were able to take off from Exchange 12 and head for dinner and our halfway point hotel. It was Friday night and it seemed like many of the restaurants had long waits, so we just headed to Cracker Barrel to eat knowing that there would not be any crowds and they had a large menu. We were all pretty tired at this point and some of the team was having stomach issues (seems to happen in every Ragnar to at least 1-2 people). After eating, we went to the hotel to shower and sleep for a few minutes. I showered last and never really fell asleep because we had to be back on the road pretty soon after that. It seemed like the shortest stay.
We met up at the next exchange and, once again, Kate took off on her leg 2. Because it was dark, cold, and the middle of the night, we all agreed that the whole team should sleep if they could and not feel obligated to get out of the van to cheer the runners at the exchanges. I had not slept yet so I decided to go ahead and try at that point – and I think I got a couple of hours of very interrupted sleep, but it helped. Everyone in our van had 2nd legs that were much shorter – like 3-4 miles each. It seemed like we moved through them fairly quickly and, before I knew it, it was already time to run again. At this point, we were already in north Phoenix – almost straight north of my house.
Leg 2 was supposed to be about 3.5 miles. There was a more noticeable incline this time, which I didn’t enjoy. I was sleepy and cold and just wanted to be done. It was about 3AM so there wasn’t much traffic and there were enough runners around that I felt safe (not to mention, we were in a pretty nice part of town). The only negative part of the run was that the last mile was really well over 1.25 miles. 1/4 mile doesn’t seem like much but when you are really tired and think you are supposed to be done, it sucked. And that last 1/4- 1/2 mile was along a pretty tight road and I had to pull over a few times to not get hit by the Ragnar vans that were exiting. They were moving slowly and looking out for runners, but in the dark it was still a bit unnerving. Anyway, here are my Garmin results for that leg. Much much slower because I walked a bit, but it got done.
So, at this point, we were at Exchange 24 and Van 1 took over to finish up their last legs. We decided that it would be too far to head back to our hotel so we started driving towards our last major exchange, which was in Fountain Hills. Matt was driving for John at this point and he was traveling down Scottsdale Road. Since this was now really in my neighborhood, I asked the team if they wanted to go crash at my house for a couple of hours rather than sit in a dark parking lot at the exchange. It was only 2 exits on the freeway out of the way. It was early (6am) but I knew that my daughter was already up toget ready for a regional choir show she had to be at. We got to our house just as she was leaving so I got to see her – I felt badly because I was going to miss her choir show later that afternoon because of this Ragnar, but she was OK with that. My dog was not so happy to see me bring in 6 houseguests and he started freaking out – which then woke up my husband. I felt really bad about that because he had just gotten back to sleep after all the commotion my daughter made getting ready. The dog was super agitated and I had to spend most of our time at our house with him. Most of the team crashed on the couches and bean bag chair in our playroom. Before I could even ask them if they wanted more blankets or anything, they were all asleep. I did manage to get, according to my Garmin, 18 minutes of “deep sleep” – I was grateful for that. Nothing like being at home…
I’ll wrap up Leg 3 and the finish in the next post….