I know I’ve been slacking on my posts lately, but in my defense, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks filled with traveling chaos and challenging schedule changes. There’s a loooonng story behind all that, but I won’t bother with it now. Let me just get straight to the Napa Ragnar Recap.
Our morning began extremely early Friday morning. How early? How does 3:00 am sound for a wake up call? Yeah, I didn’t much care for that either. Thankfully, my body was still on East Coast time, so it was pretty similar to a regular race morning for me. That’s not to say that I got 8 hours of sleep the night before, but it was more than I got the night before my extremely sleepless Key West Ragnar.
We loaded up Van 1 with our runners and headed to the start line near Golden Gate Park. The first wave of runners was set to begin at 5:00 am and continue every 15 minutes until early afternoon. Our wave was at 5:15. Typically, the slower teams are slotted in the early waves, since they will take the longest time to travel the 200 mile distance. We were definitely not the slowest team (actually a little better than the average) but we choose the early start time so that we could enjoy more of the day Saturday upon completion of our race – which we did. We had to gather a few items from four different stations at the starting point before beginning our journey: our race bibs, the Rag Mag, safety flags and our t-shirts and goodies. We also had a 10 minute safety briefing before we were allowed to start the race.
Once we were set to take off, we braced for the whirlwind for which Ragnar is very well known.
Our first runner took off right out of the gate at 5:15 am. The rest of van 1 rushed back to our vehicle and set off towards the first exchange. Leg 1 was only 2.8 miles, so we knew we only had a short while to post up and get to the first exchange. Soon enough, we spotted runner 1 as he came in towards the handoff at Golden Gate Bridge Overlook.
Once the first exchange was underway, we were all back in the van headed towards the bridge to offer van support to our girl, who would be just completing the third of her 5.5 miles. We brought along a little prop to assist our runners in locating our support crew in the dark. Thanks to my husband, we seemed to always have enough support and enthusiasm to ramp up our runners. This light up wig definitely helped the runners spot the crew in the dark.
While we were waiting for Marci (runner 2) to approach us, another team’s runner 2 spotted us and flagged us down. This was someone we knew very well…… Chelsea (wife of my Ultra runner friend Geddy) was a part of our team for Key West Ragnar, so we cheered and offered her water before she took off towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Soon after, Marci spotted us. We hollered and cheered for her, and gave her the necessary hydration. We told her that Chelsea was just a little ways ahead of her, and I’m pretty sure that fueled her just a bit more through the remainder of her leg. When she came through at the second exchange minutes ahead of Chelsea, we all cheered for her inevitable “kill.” (A kill is when a runner passes another runner)
Our third runner was Nick and he was off just as quick as could be; he had 2.7 miles through the quaint town of Sausalito. We had been instructed not to be too loud through this cute little community. It was still very early in the morning, so we kept the majority of our screaming and horn honking to a minimum. We weren’t permitted to offer van support through Nick’s first leg, so we traveled straight to the exchange at the Mill Valley Community Center and waited for him there. Austin was up next, so he suited up while we used the port-a-pottys and did a little photo shoot.
Once the baton (in the shape of a slap bracelet) was passed to Austin, we piled into the van again and drove down the road to offer van support. The time on the clock read a little after 7am and someone mentioned that Austin left the exchange not wearing his reflective vest – Ragnar requires all team members to wear these posh neon yellow reflective vests between the hours of 6:30 pm and 7:30am. Our runner was clearly NOT wearing his, so we had to drive up to meet him and hand off the vest for him to suit up. (ooopsie) The remainder of his leg was completed well within the rules of the Ragnar road. Matt was our next runner, so we got him set up for his first leg and waited for Austin to come through the exchange point.
Leg 5 was a partially unassisted leg and Matt would have one of the most directionally difficult legs of the entire race. We set up along the course waiting to offer van support, but discovered he had gotten lost somewhere during the trail portion of his leg. Looking back on his “Leg Legend” I am shocked at the level of attention needed to NOT get lost. We estimated that he wondered for almost a mile before getting back on track. So instead of his original 6.5 miles, he did closer to 8. We did manage to link up with Geddy while we were waiting for Matt. I’m pretty sure he was happy to see some familiar faces by that point. We offered shot blocks and water to our friend and then continued waiting on Matt. Finally, we spotted him off in the distance and let out a loud cheer for our teammate. He made his way past our support stop and back onto his course.
Soon enough, I’d be on my first leg, so I needed to get geared up. By this time, I started to get my pre-race butterflies. My first leg was up next and so I double checked all my race necessities. I was only slotted for 4.3 miles, but my post foot sprain recovery wan’t more than a few days, so I definitely felt a little anxiety about my performance ability. The good part was that being runner 6 was definitely a fun spot to be in. I was going to have the entire team waiting for me at the next exchange, and that was something that kept the anticipation building up inside of me. Once I heard my team number called by the volunteers, I posted up in the exchange chute and queued up my iPod and Garmin. Matt came around the corner fairly soon and he passed off the slap bracelet to me to take off.
My first few steps were a little shaky. I probably should have warmed up with at least a brisk walk beforehand after being cooped up in the van. As I turned the corner out of the chute, my ankle gave and I teetered slightly to my right side. I don’t think anyone noticed it, so I kept on going. I said a little prayer and brushed it off as I took off down the road.
The beginning portion of my leg was a bit confusing. Twice I took off in what I thought was the right direction, only to reference my iPhone – which had the map and correct directions – and have to back-track over my previous path. That was a real bummer for me, because I’d made a few kills in the first mile. Most of my kills had seen my mistake and either caught up to me or correctly followed the directional signs and passed me by. I tried to play catch up, but decided that wasn’t best for my still fragile recovering body. Eventually, I just let it be and focused on the straight-a-ways ahead. By the time my Garmin beeped at 4 miles, I had zoned out and was just enjoying the pavement on my own. I only had a little ways to go at this point. I could see the orange Ragnar tents in the distance ahead. More directional signs pointing me towards the proper route kept me focused and driving forward. I rounded a corner and saw Rhett waiting for me inside the chute. I removed the bracelet and smacked it on his wrist as he reached out to give me a hug. I halfway reciprocated and then tiredly searched for my other teammates and hydration. My hubby was waiting for me off to the side with water and a big ol’ grin. We celebrated very briefly with the team and then before I could catch my breath, Van 2 and my husband took off on their first legs and van 1 was settling in towards our break.
We hit up the vendors tents at the major exchange and rested up for a bit. I did my usual yoga stretches out on the grass near the merchandise tents. ProCompression had a tent setup, so I took advantage of their 40% mark downs and bought two pairs of compression socks. I now own a grand total of 3 compression socks from ProCompression and I highly recommend them. Nuun also had a tent represented at the exchange. I hit them up while I was there. They had water coolers filled for tasting and sampling. I filled up my water bottle with my favorite flavor, Cherry Limeade and purchased an additional supply for the road. I can’t get too far without stocking up on this yummy stuff.
Myself and the rest of Van 1 left the exchange shortly after and headed to the next major exchange where we grabbed some Subway sandwiches and laid out on the lawn and attempted to get some shuteye. I put on my sleep mask and my ear plugs and laid out on the grass under a tree with a sleeping bag where we remained for the next few hours resting our legs and eyes.
Legs 2 & 3 to follow shortly.