Who willingly tries to get 12 people to sign up to participate in 2 day relay race of 200-ish miles? But wait.. There’s more! This race will also start at 5am; run through the middle of the night and take place in a van with sweaty, smelly, sleep deprived runners. Those who sign up for this activity are crazy. Those who decide to be a captain of a team and convince others to join are just plain insane!
Well, I am one of those insane people. Not only did I sign up for my first Ragnar race in So Cal, for some reason I thought being a team captain for my first relay would be a great idea. Most often I have these so-called brilliant plans then a few days, weeks or months later I find myself asking “Who’s crazy idea was this?” Oh yes that crazy idea was mine.
It has been a week since Ragnar So Cal has come and gone. I didn’t want to recap the race right after I ran it because I would have told everyone run for the hills (just make sure they are downhill because running uphill is brutal). Unfortunately, during the race I experienced my first case of dehydration which prevented me from doing my last leg. However, here we are, a week after the race and I have been asked would I do it again? The answer was “Sure, add me to your Ragnar Napa Valley team.” The majority of our Ragnar So Cal team has decided to form a Ragnar Napa Valley team for October. That alone should show that all of the first timers from our team would do it again.
What is it that makes people want to do it all over again? I think the experience is just too unique to pass up! I believe Ragnar promotes a strong camaraderie among all types of runners despite age, athletic ability and sex. The team aspect allows newbie runners to race with more experienced athletes. Competing as a team allows you to be a part of a race where you get constant support from start to finish. Runners feed off the energy of cheering on their own team. With each leg you know that you are running to a team member to pass off that slap bracelet for them to keep the relay going.
A little more details before I jump in my first leg recap: 12 team members, 2 vans, 184.2 miles to be exact starting in Huntington Beach, finishing in San Diego. Each team member runs 3 times in a consecutive order. Each leg they have ranges in distance from 3-12 miles at varying difficulties. Races start on Friday between 5am to 11am depending on the average team pace. Racers will finish anytime on Saturday between 10am and 8pm.
My first leg was #6 for 6.7 miles starting in Tustin listed as a hard rating. The first mile in, my legs were feeling fresh as I started to feel a slight incline kick in. By mile 2 that incline fully kicked and steadily climbed through each and every mile. The first 2 miles were a mix of trail and residential running. Past 2 miles, the elevation gain made my legs feel heavier with each step. I felt a push to keep going every time we hit a stop light and a group of runners would gather, jumping around, waiting for the light to turn green. The last mile was brutal. My legs started to feel heavy and I thought about walking when vans started driving by on the street, honking and cheering out the window. That meant the finish was close and I was almost there! I think the worst part of leg 1 was the difference in Ragnar’s distance from my Garmin. When my Garmin read 6.2 miles I told myself you can push it another .5 miles. Then as I turned the corner I saw Ragnar’s sign stating I only had one more mile!! Talk about crushing when I saw that last portion was another hill to conquer. But this was the worst of my legs and I had already done almost 6 miles. What was one more mile at this point?
After I handed off the slap bracelet to runner #7 I sat back, caught my breath, thankful that I just finished my hardest leg. Now was the time to eat lunch and enjoy the break Van #1 had before our second round.
Stayed tuned for Ragnar So Cal Recap Part 2…