Running Ragnar DC (part 1)

Mighty Morphin Running Rangers
Mighty Morphin Running Rangers

This past weekend (Oct 4 and 5), 11 of my running buddies and I set out to conquer Ragnar DC; a 199 mile run from Cumberland MD to Washington DC (National Harbor). It was amazing and so awesome but we are already planning a second team for the Appalachian Trails Ragnar in June 2014! Allow me to recap…

Some background: in case you don’t know what ragnar is, it is a 12 person running relay. 15 friends (12 runners, 3 volunteers), 2 vans, 200 miles and a whole helluva a lot of fun. 

On Tuesday, half of the federal government got furloughed; I was one of the people who got furloughed. On Wednesday, I went to the airport to pick up my friend Andrew. He was flying in from California to run Ragnar DC with me and 10 other awesome people! I picked Andrew up from Reagan National and we went back to my condo for a bit. I got in touch with a few buddies, Aaron and Sheena, and we went to Cafe Banh Mi to have pho and relax before the chaos began. 

On Thursday, my husband got up and went to work. Andrew and I woke up and regrouped. Got our heads on as I made egg omelette like creation for breakfast. I called Aaron, who volunteered to take us down to pick up the vans for ragnar! We went to Woodbridge, picked up the vans and headed out. On our way back up 95/495, I was apparently getting phone calls. When we pulled into the Hess gas station, I checked my phone and received a phone call. Upon answering the phone, the manager of the car rental company said that he had given us 15 passenger vans when we ordered 12 passenger vans. I paused and then asked how this was my fault. The manager of the company said it was not my fault, but that I needed to exchange the 15 passenger vans for the 12 passenger ones and could I return to Woodbridge. I said no, but he could come to us. So they drove the two 12 passenger vans up to us in Alexandria and we exchanged vans. From the gas station, we went back and dropped off the vans and got my tiny honda fit. We then proceeded to lunch! (free fed lunch in del ray at Pork Barrel BBQ. (Some of the local restaurants have been serving free food to furloughed feds)

After a most delicious lunch, we proceeded to costco, where we stocked up on all of the delicious goodness that we were going to be carrying in our vans w us during ragnar.

Andrew and I leaving costco with goodies

After collecting costco goodies, we continued to hit up various places (Giant, Party Store, etc) to get decorations for the vans and condiments. We returned to my condo to pack up and get ready! By the time we were ready to walk out, I had packed:

3 running shirts
4 pairs of underwear
3 pairs of socks
3 pairs of shorts/capris
3 sports bras (all separated into separate ziploc bags)
1 pair long pants 
1 sweatshirt
1 blanket
1 pillow
the stick
foam roller (yes, i packed both)
garmin 310xt
Camelbak Mini MULE (yes i use a kids camelbak)
fuel
running hat
sunscreen
advil
Unbreakable warrior bracelet
headlamps
kindle (never used)

I am pretty sure I packed other things but these were the core of things that were used. Some of the things weren’t used but were nice to have “in case”. 

Allison arrived shortly after we were all packed. We loaded up the vans with our stuff and waited for my brother to show up. He arrived and we loaded into the vans to head to my folks’ place where everyone else was gathering together in prep to leave. On our way, we swung by and picked up Leah!

At my parents’ house, everyone loaded into the vans and we headed up to Jenn’s house in Frederick. We all crashed in Frederick after decorating the vans.

Van 1 had to get up at 230am (I was runner 1) because we had to drive 84 miles to the starting line. Van 2 got to sleep in a little. We had a start time at 545am and I was runner 1. We got to Rocky Gap State Park at 5:15am. I checked us in, got all of our info and by that time it was 5:40. I ran off to pee in a bush and pray that no one saw my pasty ass. I then proceeded to head to the start line and joke awkwardly with everyone around me.

Side note: At the start of every leg, I proceeded to have a panic attack. Hyperventilating, the whole 9, stomach flipping shit, etc. Prolly had something to do with my being afraid that my foot wasn’t going to hold up during the race and letting my team down. By the third leg, I knew my foot was gonna hold up, and this was no longer a problem 🙂

So for the first mile of the race, I was literally trying to breathe appropriately. yknow, like a runner should. It was pitch black and after mile 1, you enter the forest. Run on trails and pray you don’t get lost. A few MAGICAL things happened in that forest… i fell completely head over heels in love with trail running. LOVED the challenge of avoiding roots and rocks and staying upright! LOVED IT!!! I also… got lost. So what was a 4.9 mile trail run turned into a 5.86 mile trail run! WOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! When I came out of the woods and over the bridge, I was my brother waiting for me and telling me where Kyle was. I made the hand off, and our first leg was done.

Kyle proceeded through his first run with great ease. We met him on the other end of his 6 miles and he handed off to Ben. A few notes about this exchange…. Kyle’s first leg was a no support leg. So we were unable to stop and cheer him on during his leg. He ran on an access road parallel to 68. He conquered a large hill and made up some time that I lost when I got lost — I think he managed a 8:30/mi pace?. Also at this exchange, I was able to experience my very first time changing in a port-a-potty. NEVER AGAIN. Kyle handed off to Ben, my brother and Ben proceeded on to the most difficult leg of the course. He took no water, so we set off to support him up a mountain. None of us had any idea how epic in size this freakin leg was going to be. The elevation chart didnt do it justice at all. 

At the top of the first big hill, we stopped to give Ben some water

A few of the team waiting for Ben at the top of the first LARGE hill
A few of the team waiting for Ben at the top of the first LARGE hill, picture courtesy of Gail
Ben goin up a hill
Ben, in the green shirt, goin up the hill. To give you an idea of the hill…

but this monster incline didnt stop there. It dipped for a minute and then went around a corner and up a dirt road. ALL of the vans needed to go up this dirt road too, making it REALLY dusty.  (Aside: legs 3-7 were on dirt roads). We stopped a few more times to give Ben water before meeting him at the end of his leg — he finished the 8 miles from hell in 73 minutes, passing off to Gail who went off to run 4 miles (give or take). 

While Gail was running, we proceeded to make our way to the next exchange point… we took an alternative route to the exchange point… a route that was overgrown and kinda like a rollercoaster…. yeeeeaaaa it was the wrong route to take, but it was an adventure, we survived and we didnt pop a tire! hehe we met Gail at her exchange point with Jenn and proceeded onward. We stopped to cheer Jenn on a few times and proceeded to the exchange with Leah. All of these legs were on dirty dusty roads with steep inclines. Leah requested van support, so we stopped to give her water a few times.

Me, giving Leah water
Me, giving Leah water

Meanwhile, our second van was checking in and going through safety briefings. 

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

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