Ragnover is real. I’m living it now. But since this is my 6th, I’ll be OK.
Last weekend I completed the Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain with the Another Kilty Pleasures team.
I went out on Thursday afternoon to our site to drop off my stuff so I wouldn’t have to deal with on Friday. The race had sold out and the Ragnar staff had made some changes to the way teams were to park and drop off equipment – and it sounded like a giant mess. We had 3 teams in our campsite this year (so 1 less than we usually have) and,
therefore, slightly less space. I grabbed an available spot in one of the tents and set up my stuff for the next day. After hanging out a bit for pizza and beer, we walked down to the Ragnar Village and I was able to take care of the mandatory safety briefing as well. Usually you have to do that as a complete team but they just stamped your hand to indicate that you were done. It gets dark in a hurry in the desert so I didn’t stick around too much longer after that. I wanted to catch the shuttle back to my car and then hit the road, to return by 9 am the next morning.
It was pretty awesome to just throw together a couple of things Friday morning and head back out to Ragnar-land. Having already gone through the procedure the night before, I was able to to just park and catch a shuttle to the main campsite. My teammates were still trickling in and we didn’t have much to do until the start. I was Runner #6 of 8 so I was in no hurry to be anywhere or to prepare to run. Eventually we walked down to the start line to see our first runner off at 10:30 am. Our first runner was actually our 8th runner too, she was doing double-duty, since our Runner #1 ended up sick and had to stay home in CA.
So, after we got our team off and headed back to the campsite, I had a little “excitement” that was super awkward but worked out OK. I haven’t written about this because I’m not sure what will become of it, and I don’t think I did a very good job… but a couple of weeks ago I was asked to do some video taping for my doc’s weight loss center, a patient testimonial. I was a little reluctant because I hate my voice and do not think quickly on the spot…but I agreed and figured if it sucked they could leave me on the editing floor. I had to go to the office of the company doing the video one morning and do a “pre-interview”, which was pretty relaxed and fun. The director then took that information and text and had me re-do and add to it with the full make-up, lights, camera, etc. That part I don’t think I did too well on, but we’ll (maybe) see. I thought it was all behind me but then they contacted me last week to see if they could get some more footage. This is when I told them that I would be at Ragnar all weekend if they wanted to film me out there – I mean, stuff like that was what I was trying to convey in my video so it seemed like a good thing to capture. Apparently they thought it was worth the huge hassle that it is to park and find me there. I met the camera man at the drop-off location and we got started. He had me wear a mic and then asked me questions while we walked around. Fortunately there is so much going on, as well as other cameras filming who-knows-what, so it wasn’t all that unusual. I knew that the trails were open to anyone to run, and relay runners could have pacers out there any time, so I suggested we go to the trail a few yards past the start and he could film me running out there. I also though it might be possible to catch me running a few yards with one of my kilted team members (which worked out to be one of my favs, Darcy). We were out there quite a while and he filmed me running back and forth in the desert – the scenery was pretty for sure. He caught still photos of me tying my shoes, putting my kilt on, etc. I took him back to our campsite so he could see the set-up…it is quite the experience for someone that has not seen it before. So, all in all, I felt pretty good about that. Who knows if any of it will make the video.
My first run was around 3pm and it was the longest of the trails, the dreaded red loop.
The loop starts out with about 2-3 miles of a climb up a mountain and then, allegedly, was all downhill the way back to the base camp. What it felt like was 6 miles straight up and about 1/2 mile of messed up rocks on the way down. Ha. I would have liked more down-hill. But, I was pretty proud of my effort. I learned long ago it is faster for me to walk uphill rather than try to run – with my long legs I can cover the distance with less effort that way. I tried to take advantage of gravity and run all of the downhill, even if it was a very short stretch. I watched my footing very carefully and in most areas the rocks stayed put and I didn’t have to worry (on this trail anyway). It was a really rough run and I was glad to have it first and out of the way.
After returning back I got dinner at the meal tent with some of my teammates and just hung out at the campsite. I put on my pajama pants and stayed comfortable. I did not plan on sleeping until after my 2nd run (scheduled around midnight) and looked forward to a long stretch of sleeping after that. My second loop came around quickly thanks to the speedy runners ahead of me so, before I knew it, I was heading back out – this time on the yellow loop. The yellow loop was known to be the most technically challenging – which made me nervous since I was running in the dark. I planned to go very slowly since I have a long history of overnight Ragnar wipeouts. The night was gorgeous though and not cold at all. The moon was big and it was just a very peaceful run. I enjoyed most of it, except that it seemed to go on and on – I would run what felt like at least 1/2 mile only to look at my watch and see that it was just 1/10th of a mile. The trail was a lot of up and down – and the downs had some scary turns and rocks that shifted around. I did have one small fall but I pretty much just sat down when I fell – I didn’t fly forward like I usually do. It scared me a bit though! I also learned from 2 different people that they had seen snakes on the yellow trail just before I headed out and just after I finished – I am SO thankful I didn’t run across one! Yikes! I honestly thought (and so did everyone else) that they would steer clear of the trails with 3000 people running them that weekend!
With the completion of the yellow loop, I finally crawled into my tent to sleep for 6 glorious hours – a Ragnar first. It was definitely the best sleep I’ve had during a Ragnar. It was not as cold at night as it usually is, which always made me miserable. I woke up about 1 1/2 hours before my final run. I was super sore, all over… and took this not-so-lovely photo to capture my exhaustion. After grabbing some breakfast, I was ready to knock off my final loop – the green loop. Everyone said the green loop was the easiest, and I would agree…but it was still 4.1 miles on very sore legs. I started around 9am and it was another beautiful morning. We still had some cloud cover so it wasn’t hot at all. Pretty much perfect conditions. The green loop was quite flat, just some rolling hills and the trails were pretty level. It was a great way to finish. All that was left was to catch my breath, pack up my crap, and wait for our teammates to finish up. I
was just so impressed with our runner that did double-duty…I can’t imagine running those trails more than once and I think she ran the whole thing twice – and at a pace I can
only dream of. Amazing. She finished up the red loop and we all ran in together. It was a little less organized as it usually is since it was just our smaller team of 8 finishing instead our large 4-team group. We took pictures afterward and waited for the other teams to get done. Ours was the first to finish, thanks to our speedy runners (not me!)
The picture above is about 2/3 of our teams that we captured at the very end of the day. One of our teams was an AZ Track & Trail team and did not wear kilts – some of the other guys had ditched their kilts earlier.
I finally was able to head home around 4pm. Exhausted, dirty, but happy. I love the sense of accomplishment from these races and the chance to do something way out of my comfort zone. It’s a good thing.