I have been wanting to write about Ragnar already for a while but I have been waiting for our “photographer” to finally upload the pictures. Since he seems to be a very “slow” guy, they are still not available. But who knows how long it is still going to take. So, I decided to write about it anyway and will for now just add a few pics from Facebook.
Ragnar was freaking awesome! For everyone who hasn’t read the last posts: Ragnar is a 200-mile relay race that is done by a team of 6 – 12 people and two vans within around 36 hours. Ragnar has a whole series, but the one I attended was the Ragnar SoCal. So, we ran in a team of 12 from Huntington Beach, CA to San Diego, CA and it took us exactly 29.34 hours. The way it works is as follows. Van 1 starts with runner 1, who runs his/her first leg (a runner’s assigned distance), everybody else is in the van (total 6 people) and they can cheer up the runner on his/her way to the first exchange point. Van 1 gets to the exchange point, drops of runner 2 who receives the baton from runner 1 and starts running his/her leg. Runner 1 goes back into the van and that whole thing continues until runner 6 finishes his/ her leg and forwards the baton to runner 7 (who is runner 1 from van 2). And so on and so on.
On Thursday night, 04/18, we all drove up to Huntington and stayed there at a motel. The people from van 1 had to be at the start line at 8am, our start time of 9am. We all had to give them our average run pace so they were able to determine our start time. Anyway, since van 2 was gonna meet van 1 at the first major exchange, we had time. 🙂 Sophie and I were runners 9 and 10 btw. That meant, we were able to all enjoy a nice cold beer in the bar next to the motel. Our runs would start somewhere around lunch time.
The next day, we left the motel around 10.30 and drove towards the first major exchange in Yorba Linda. There we had to check in, present all our safety gear and sign all kinds of liability papers. At that point we were all pretty excited but also kind of anxious because we were going even further east towards the desert and it was already pretty hot in Yorba Linda at that time. Well, our runner 1 had a good start. Unfortunately he had the first leg for our part of the team and we had no clue how to do a few things yet, like waiting at some point to cheer and reach water. So, poor Bernhard had to run his whole 8 miles without support. We figured that whole thing out pretty quickly, though.
The further the day continued, the hotter it got. It was baaad. When it was time for Sophies run, and I was the next, it was already 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) in Corona, CA. I was really excited but also nervous, when I was waiting for Sophie at the exchange to wait for my first leg. I actually had this whole excitement feeling in my tummy. 🙂 I was looking forward to it.
OK, she came, she was pretty fast, I grabbed the baton (slap bracelet) and started running. Holy shit…it was sooooo hot! I was breathing twice through my mouth and it was already dry. I brought my fuel belt with 2 little bottles of water, since my leg was mostly a no-van-support leg, which means my team wasn’t allowed to support me. Also, because it was partially on trails. I knew I was gonna run out of water pretty soon. I was pretty good, though. I kept running fast and past a whole bunch of people. Until there was this sign that said left. In the briefing that we received, they explained to us, that they positioned the signs in a way that we could practically touch them and then do what it says. So, if it said “Turn Left” you would turn left right at that sign. So, there was this left turn sign and since I knew that we would end up somewhere on a trail I followed that sign on a little path that didn’t really turn into anything. A lot of other runners did the same. We were all confused and decided to turn around and keep going straight. Eventually we got back on the right way. Thank God! 🙂
Then the very hilly and trail part of my run started. I have to say, they considered my leg a “hard” (they had easy, moderate, hard and very hard legs). All runners on this one agreed, they should have called that a very hard one. It went up and down, and it was sooo hot and there was absolutely no breeze. The total distance of this leg was just 5.6 miles. I had run 16 miles in once piece the weekend before and that was much easier. Crazy how much the heat influences your stamina. I was fine until mile 4.5 I would say. Then I started to feel really dizzy and almost nauseous, so I walked. I tried a few times to pick up on running again but i just couldn’t. I kept getting dizzy and I thought if I push it too far now, they can scratch me from the ground. 🙂
Around mile 5 my van was allowed to support me again. So, they caught up with me and finally gave me a bottle of sooo needed water. They all tried to cheer me up and kept shouting: “Go, Tina”, “You can do it!”. I really wanted it but I was done. I kept walking. But at least I’m a really good walker. So, even though I was walking I still past around 10 other people. Guess what, I was not the only one walking. I actually think, nobody else was running anymore. I could see the pain in everybody’s face. Well, for the last 200 yards I collected all the power I had left and ran to the exchange point. When I finally got there, I threw myself on the ground and my awesome teammates showered me with cold water. I was soooo dizzy at that point, when I got up I kept losing my balance. And to be honest, still around 20 later. I was so mad at myself that it went like that and that I didn’t run the entire distance. I was so disappointed. I didn’t wanna be the part of the team that slows everything down. 🙁 But all my teammates assured me that I shouldn’t worry and that I did the right thing by walking and not pushing it further than necessary. That was really nice of them to say and I was grateful for that, but it didn’t really change the fact that I was disappointed in myself. Honestly it still kind of bothers me. 😐
Anyway, my second leg would be a nice cool night run and also a very short and easy one. So, I was gonna run like a crazy and catch up. That was my plan! 🙂
The next major exchange was at Lake Elsinore. There we met van 1 and they started there next batch of legs. We were done with our first round. We decided to go somewhere for dinner. So, we went to Ihop for dinner. Hehe… yeah, we had breakfast for dinner! 🙂 Well, I gotta say omelettes and pancakes taste even better in the evening.
After our good and absolutely necessary dinner, we decided to drive to the next major exchange already and try to at least a little bit of sleep. This exchange was in, let me think, I believe in Escondido at a hotel. It was really funny to see a big crowd of people trying to sleep wherever they could with their sleeping bags. I mean between the parking lots, every single green spot was taken. We found a much cooler spot to lay down – a golf course! 🙂 Hehe… yeah, we slept, or at least we tried to sleep on a golf course under the sky. It was pretty cold, so I think all we did was dozing off every once in a while. And in total we were just able to stay there for about an hour. Then our next runner had to get ready for his first night leg.
It was all so fun. Running in the night is really great. Everyone enjoyed their night run. And then it was my turn. 🙂 As I said, I was prepared to run like a crazy. And that’s what I did. As soon as I got the baton from Sophie, I turned on the Foo Fighters on my phone and RAN!! I passed sooo many people, it was like I was flying. It was so much fun. I kept looking to the side though to all the vans that passed us and I kept thinking: Where are they?? My people just didn’t come. I really thought I’m gonna be at the exchange before them. And I almost was. They made it there 30 seconds before me. Hihi… Yeah, I felt better again. At least, now I proved that I can run!
After all of our runners were done, we went to the last major exchange, which was already in San Diego. It was at the Glider Port in La Jolla. Soo cool…there we slept under the stars, overlooking the ocean. Again, sleeping is probably a little exaggerated. We rested there for an hour. But it was great! When we lay down it was still dark and an hour later when I opened my eyes, the sun just came up behind me and I saw the ocean right in front of me. Really a beautiful way to wake up! 🙂
OK, so after breakfast van 1 arrived at the Glider Port and with that they were done already. We got on our way for all of our last legs through our city! 🙂 My last leg was a distance that I have run in part before. So, it felt like training at home… it was a good run. I had a lot of fun!
After we send our last runner, who also was our team captain off to his last run, we should have driven to the finish line. It was planned that we would all wait 100 yards before the finish line until our last runner comes and then all run together through the finish. Well, the people in our team decided that we should stop in the middle of the course and support our runner with water and cheering. But it was just a five mile run and he is fast, so I suggested we should just go. It would be tough to get to the finish and find parking and all that until he would arrive there. Well, nobody wanted to listen to me, so we even supported our runner twice! And what happened? Traffic was a bitch and we did not make it in time!!! Yes, exactly… when we got there our team had already finished the race. Man, was I disappointed. I had just been awake for almost 30 hours, ran from LA to San Diego and then I didn’t even get to finish the race. I think they should have waited for us, especially since we weren’t that much too late and we’ve been communicating with the others.
So when I was all disappointed like a little child (and I have to admit now I feel stupid about it), one runner from van 1 was so nice to ask, if we could run through the finish line together once more as the full team. And they let us do it! 🙂 I know, it wasn’t real, but I thought it was really nice that he asked for that and especially that I got to experience the moment I was so looking forward to: Finishing a 195-mile race after 29 hours and 34 minutes!! 🙂