Monday, November 7, 2011

Trunk Monkey TN Ragnar Recap

Tennessee Ragnar Relay Nov 4-5 2011 

Another successful Ragnar complete. This marks my 3rd Ragnar total, and the second time racing the Tennessee Ragnar.

This race was much different (not bad, just different) from the other two Ragnars I ran for various reasons:

  • first off the last 2 I had pretty much the same people in my van and this go round was with fellow co-workers from different departments. 
  • lack of competitive spirit. Because there was so many different types of runners on my teams (seasoned, coming off injuries, brand new runners, and runner / walkers) it was more about having fun- which we did, vs. keeping a certain pace. 
  • Music- we either didn't listen to any, or it was more 'mellow' music you want to chill to. 
  • age variety- I was the youngest person on my team. We had an inside joke in van 2. I made a comment about the music not being very motivating- David Gray (whom I love, but it does ZERO in the 'pumping me up to run' category)- to humor me they put on some 80s and after a few songs that I had NEVER heard of, I finally said "I'm still in my twenties guys"- everyone else was 34 or older. It was hilarious how many times it was referenced that I was still in my 20s throughout the trip. 
  • Our van DIDN'T smell- it was amazing to be able to open up the doors and not want to hold my nose at the stench ( i think this was largely due to the fact that there were 4 girls and 2 guys in the van) 
  • We were organized- Jill brought this shelf her husband made and we used it in the back of the van to make for better storage- much easier to find things this time around.
  • Our van itself was HUGE. We got a 15 passenger van so it was nice to spread out. Both other Ragnars it was a normal mini van, ie. not a lot of room to move around. 
  • Support- our van was good about this, but apparently the other van didn't cheer for their teammates while running and instead just drove ahead to the next exchange--- that wouldn't fly for me if I were in van 1. 
Prep Time:
Once we arrive in Jasper, TN - we may have about an hour to quickly decorate our van before Rick leaves for his first leg up Monteagle- its the "Ragnar leg" aka hardest leg of the entire race. 5.5 miles STRAIGHT UP the mountain. 
As exciting as photos of us putting together a van may sound, I'll just share with you the finished product (and for the most part, our vans were identical) 

Minus the 5 ft tall giant inflatable monkey, Jill supplied all the decorations- complete with stencils to draw on monkeys with markers! 

Kristi, Mike, Me, Jill, Suzanne- waiting for Rick to finish his first leg. 

Although there was running, we still had some fun too. It was Kristi's 40th birthday on Friday, so we had a little surprise for her: 
Holding up the "caution 40 yrs old" tape for her to cross during the exchange

running through

Photo after the finish
Everyone at the exchange randomly broke out into song singing her happy birthday- how awesome is that?

Some of us with our monkey masks- Rick decided that a mask was unnecessary 

Also During Kristi's last run (final leg) we had some time to kill on 2nd avenue and Chris had tons of fun wearing the monkey mask- just had to share. Photos compliment of Jill H

 Trunk Monkey hanging around

 Trunk Monkey - performer
Trunk Monkey, beggar

Trunk Monkey trying to keep up with Kristi as we run down 2nd avenue to round out to the finish

Now onto the actual running- my legs (runner 10)
Leg 1- 6.6 Miles. Total Time 51:50- 7:51 pace 
  • I decided to run with a monkey pinned to my torso in honor of our team name- I named him George Jr. and I didn't take him off till my night run. He enjoyed the scenery on the run  and the beer at dinner (I taught him well) 
I only pinned his arms and feet down, so his head was drooping, had to hold it up for the photo opp! 

yup he's still strapped on, enjoying a Bass
  • The weather was not great for standing around, low 40s and windy, but man do I run better when its chilly. I know I told myself that I didn't need to run fast for this relay since the main focus was on just having fun, but I wanted to see if I truly was getting faster, or if it was just a fluke (silly I know, but I never claimed to make a lot of sense) 
  • I ran about 3 miles with my water belt, then threw it to my teammates because that + the monkey was getting heavy. Bad decision as that was the last time I saw them and I was THIRSTY
  • This run was great because all the 'kills' were spread out and forced me to have long term thinking and pacing so I didn't die out. I had been eyeing a guy in the distance with a camel pack and blue shorts. FINALLY 4 miles in I got him... sucker
  • Large part of this run was on the side of the road- about 2 feet wide of running space which included the tire grooves to wake up the drivers if they fall asleep. This made it extremely annoying and when at all possible I would be a rebel and run in the actual road (afternoon traffic was picking up, so I couldn't do it often.)
  • As I said earlier I didn't see my team after 3 miles- I forgot that part of the course veered off to a loose gravel road (for those that ran Vegas--- the 7 mile stretch is similar)- although it sucked being away from anyone cheering, I was appreciative I didn't have to breathe in dust that surely would have been kicked up by vans. 
  • I started to tire by the time there was 1.5 mile left to go, but it was finally all flat (rolling hills throughout course earlier)- so I just decided to push and see how long I could withstand.  Luckily I vividly remember this leg from last year, so once we were out of the gravel path, I knew exactly where I was in terms of the exchange... this helps greatly. 
  • Happy to report I finished strong and had a nice kick and was able to pass 1 more person- total kills for this run-7. 
as a side note- if you live within 200 miles of the race, you are required to supply 3 or 4 volunteers. 2 of our volunteers happened to be working my exchange and were in my work kickball team for the past 2 years. Naturally I gave them both a sweaty hug. I'm pretty sure they appreciated the extra body heat as it was COLD (as you can tell by their dress attire)
Jim, me, Craig

Leg 2 (Night run) 4.2 miles Total Time 31:23 - 7:28 pace
  • There is something about running at night that I just love. As long as I have a bright head lamp and tissues to wipe my nose (when its cold it runs), then I'm good to go. 
  • Mike who I hand off to, asked when he should expect me so he knew how long he had to warm up- I had high hopes of secretly going at a sub 7:30 pace so I told him b/n 30-35 minutes. (mission accomplished!) 
  • Even though I knew I would heat up, I decided to wear a loose, breathable long sleeve + capris to run in- temp was 30s, but just as expected I was sweating bullets when I was done. 
  • This run was kind of lonely, as there weren't a lot of people around. I passed 5 people total during the run, but they were all women who I passed because they were slow, not because I was pushing myself to beat them (not as fun)
  • At one point my van was pulled over but I don't think they were expecting me (Vegas repeat all over again) but I ran over to it and was knocking on the driver side asking for water (didn't use my fuel belt rest of my legs)- took a bit for them to locate some water before I was given any- so I decided I'd make up time by just going faster for a bit after. 
  • Thank goodness I have a gps watch. When it said that I had 1 mile to go, it was more closer to 1.5. The poor suckers that don't run with a watch probably got so excited, only to be let down when they realized "I've been running longer than 1 mile" 
  • The race was anti-climatic- just kept pushing myself to keep going. Since it was cold out, I partly feel that my legs go a little numb. My calves were tight, but it wasn't hindering me like normal. Because the markings were so off, I had no idea when I would reach the exchange. It wasn't until I saw the walkie talkie guy that I decided to kick it in to exchange. 
  • Best part of this leg- when I was done it was just Rick at the exchange and we walked back to the van and Jill and Suzanne were getting out to cheer for me- they looked at me and said something to the effect of "You're seriously already done?!?!" came out of their mouth :) 
Leg 3- 6.45 miles- Total Time - 53:42- 8:19 pace
Getting ready for the final leg! 

such a lovely face- trying to see if that is Jill coming or not

Get the baton from Jill & I'm off

  • I already told my team that I would be going slower on this run since I was tired and the soreness of sitting in a van for hours on end was starting to get to me.  
  • Within the first 400m there were all these people to catch- I didn't think about it at the time, but I thought it was kind of weird considering there weren't all these same people standing around at the exchange with me (come to find out later from Jill that they were cheating)
  • So I pass all the people right away, I'm feeling strong and then just shy of a mile we get stopped at a stop light- seriously?!!? I stopped my watch just so I would have an accurate assessment of my pace (yes I'm one of THOSE people)- the downside was you had to cross the street, then turn right and cross again- got stuck at the turn right and cross. 3 of the people I passed just ran out in front of cars while me and this other guy are just watching and literally said to eachother "wow this isn't fair".
  • Finally after what feels like a solid 2 minutes, we get to cross. Since we had time to chat at the light, we ended up running together. We passed one of the girls back up and she asks us our pace since she didn't have a watch- he shouts back 7:40s and then comments to me how thats too fast for him and if I plan on keeping this pace the whole time....
  • My response- since he's miss chatty Cathy and I normally don't like to talk when I run (unless its a leisurely run) I tell him that if he plans on me having a conversation with him, then no, I can't keep up the pace (i said it laughingly vs. bitchy though) - just then my team passes by in the van and sees us laughing so they assume he's me new "friend" 
  • Once we hit the first mile, 7:20, I knew I was going too fast. He asked me to go ahead of him so we could be single file- after a few minutes I made the decision to slow down. My left side of my body was acting up- tight calf, knee, and IT Band- right side--- just dandy. I deduce its probably from the left side constantly being a little lower due to running on uneven ground on side of road. 
  • About 1.5 mile in we hit some major hills and I tell 'my friend' to go along without me and I was going to slow down. Shortly after I do the unthinkable (something I promised myself I wouldn't do this race)--- I walked. I walked A LOT this leg actually. My team informed me they wouldn't be able to give me water or cheer until mile 3 when the road was wider. I took full advantage and did a run / walk up all the hills--- I felt defeated :(
  • As I was nearing 3 miles, I picked up my pace knowing that I would get some encouragement from my team to carry me through - sure enough, they were right where they said they would be...
  • I would LOVE to report that stopping and talking to them while getting some water helped, but not really. I think the stopping completely made things worse. I was hot, I was sore, and I was getting slower, and my 'friend' was no longer in view anymore. 
  • I kept my self-affirmations up- telling myself I was stronger than I give myself credit for, to ignore the heat, and just push through the pain. It didn't work the greatest, but at least I never walked for very long. 
  • At one point while I was walking, I had a speedy guy pass by me clapping telling me there is no walking in Ragnar. Normally I'd be annoyed, but since I was about 4 miles into my last leg and he was the FIRST person to pass me, I didn't let it phase me. 
  • See my team one more time before the exchange, and this time it did help (thank goodness) to pick up the pace a little and wait to walk. 
  • Once I saw the last mile sign it finally was shady for a bit and there was a break, but it was short lived. I got stuck at another light (during this run I got stuck at 4.... 4!!!) but it was enough break to finally tell myself no more walking and to finish strong. 
kicking it in to the exchange

  • I was tired, hot, and thirsty upon my finish, but I managed to jog over to my 'friend' to see how he did- low 7s pace (hmmm ODD considering he said 7:40 was fast?!?!)
  • Although this leg was much tougher than the others and I walked a ton, I was surprised that my overall time was still good (oh the power of banking time of the beginning)- This gave me the confidence I needed that even if everything doesn't go perfectly (as a lot of my run have been lately) that I am still faster and stronger than I thought. 
Celebratory beer after finished with my legs (so delicious) 

Fast forward to Finish Line

Back row- Jill, Chris M, Suzanne, Kristi, Chris U (the trunk monkey), Cheryl, Mike, Jeremy, Rick, Jason
Front Row- Me, George, Garrett 

 Mike and I earned the Deuce medal since we did Ragnar 2 weeks ago! 

So like I said in the beginning, this race was different, but I learned a lot.  Aside from my body being MUCH MORE sore than normal for the final leg, I was satisfied with my times. It was a weird experience for me because I was the fastest person on my team. I don't mind compliments, but too much sometimes makes me uncomfortable. One of my teammates was talking me up to his buddy at the finish line about all my races and how my times have improved and such. He  could see I was embarrassed and was so sweet and apologized about putting me on a pedestal, but he doesn't know anyone that has done what I done- an average person who works during the day so doesn't have time to put in some serious training, yet still manages to  travel and race all the time on the weekends. Thats when it dawned on me- our running community is truly unique. We get so accustomed to all these accomplishments of our surrounding runners, that we forget that we ourselves are an accomplishment for just following through and finishing our races. It doesn't matter if you're fast, slow, consistent, inconsistent- just the fact that we're out there, trying to be better is truly amazing and truly worth something. 


  1. congrats on another ragner! looks like yall had fun. and I am so impressed with your time improvements. and its true what you said about our community. I forget that we (to outsiders) might look a little crazy/accomplished/over achiever etc. I need to be better about taking the compliment too.

  2. great recap! Relays are one of my favorite things to do! So much fun. There is a Ragnar that goes through Washington in July and I'm trying to jump on a team with some friends. Great job on your legs! Especially your night leg (which, btw, is usually my best leg as well). Sometime you should try Hood to Coast - super fun!

  3. Wow. Amazing time! Enjoyed reading the recap as usual and your ending was so well said. Nice job Lisa!

    When someone compliments me about running (or anything) I tend to down play whatever they're talking about. Why, when I know how much time effort and energy it took?

  4. Looks like so much fun! Am thinking of doing one in the Spring with some friends. Great job being so speedy!

  5. i loved reading this recap and have really enjoyed following your progress since the Vegas Ragnar. you are inspiring to me to keep getting out there and striving to get better! great times! and love your team name, decorations and how much fun you all had!

  6. seriously... this is awesome!! i absolutely love how spirited and in theme everyone was! sometimes it's nice to just worry about the experience and not about the competition side of things. super fun... and way to rock your legs on those TN hills. :) and totally diggin' the celebratory beer at the end haha.

    and i'm the same way about the compliment stuff.. it makes me uncomfortable for sure.. i actually have a post written on that, that i haven't published yet haha

  7. Sounds like a lot of fun, too bad I can't do the Colorado one this year :(

  8. i was in nashville when you all were finishing! great job!!! i was so jealous and really have to sign up for a ragnar now!