Thursday, July 26, 2012

Northwest Passage Ragnar- Ultra Beast Mode Part 1

Little back story before I go into the recap....

Last fall after an excellent blogger meetup that Julia organized here in Nashville, the idea was thrown out for an all blogger relay. I love traveling for races, so I picked up the ball and ran with it sending out emails, making blog posts about it, and not long after we had a pretty full team set up. We picked the Colorado Ragnar Relay as our race of choice since it would be its inaugural year- despite the challenging elevations (some legs upwards of 14,000 ft), we thought it would be beautiful and a great area to sight see afterward.

Shortly into the new year  Ragnar changed the dates from July 27-28 (this upcoming weekend) to Sept 7-8. Due to so many conflicts in people's schedule, over half the girls couldn't do this new date so we temporarily dismantled. Then the awesome Rachelle emailed Ragnar letting them know how she felt (in a nice manner) about changing the dates of a relay without notice and they offered us a free entry to Northwest Passage since it was 1 week earlier than previous Ragnar, hoping that would work for us.

After several emails to the group, looks like the date still didn't work for most, so we decided to just do it ultra style.Even though I was signed up to do my first ultra in may, I hadn't run one yet so technically this was a big step for ALL of us, but we were each up for a new challenge.

I completed my first Ultra relay, Reach the Beach Massachusetts, back in May and learned quite a few things about ultras, so I definitely felt more prepared. I switched my position to be runner 1 vs runner 3 so I could finish earlier (best decision EVER)

Our start time was 9:15am, so we had planned to leave around 7:15 to allow time to drive to Blaine (aka the Canadian border) and check in with enough time to stretch etc before gun time.
Shirt:  we paid a company to make shirts, however they accidently made them for skinny midgits, so we last minute went to walmart, picked up some cheap shirts, then cut out all the lettering on the made shirts and ironed them to our pink or yellow shirts... brilliant
Skirt: Francis over at Active Bands made our skirts for us, a whopping $10. They were sheer so you had to wear spandex underneath, but super adorable with the ruffles and we got TONS of compliments. She can make whatever color combo you're looking for, so I'd HIGHLY recommend her for future races 

Naturally being in the Pacific Northwest, you would expect cooler temps and some rain... boy the weather did not disappoint. When we arrived at Blaine it was FREEZING (50s) and POURING rain with occasional wind. I actually don't mind running in cold or rain, but standing around in it, not so much. 

Trying to have fun in the rain
guess rain doesn't show up on camera

At start line- temporarily took off all our coats and ponchos for quick photo

This was my first time ever being the lead off leg, so I didn't really know what to do other than just stand directly below the arch so I wouldn't get rained on--- 

The Race:
1st leg: 13.1 miles 

The Highlights:
  • Not going to lie, I felt like a bad ass that my first run was a half marathon. I purposely switched to runner 1 so I could have my first run be the longest and each run get progressively shorter. 
  • Despite the downpour the E-N-T-I-R-E  run, I loved this route because it was relatively flat and the temps were easy on my lungs, thus allowing me to go faster than I intended. 
  • Mile 1 I just kept focus on not trying to mimic someone else's pace, run my own so I don't die. 
  • Mile 2-4 I thought I was going to shit my pants... yup true story. As soon as my watch beeped I was done with the first mile I got KILLER cramps. There were 3 of us who were all late on getting our periods (its a team of ladies, its bound to happen) so that is exactly the type of cramps I was getting... only it was making up for lost time. (sure enough after the race, I had a red visitor, AWESOME) 
  • Due to the fact that I had such a long run, I decided to just "run it out" vs. stopping. Apparently it worked because once mile 5 hit, they were gone. 
  • Right about that time I was closing in on  mr. red shoes who I had been running 50 ft behind the entire race. He was getting support from his van and he shouted to them he thought I was going to pass him. I wanted to let him know I was doing an ultra so I wasn't in a rush to pick up my speed-- good thing I didn't say that because within 30 sec he was in my dust (after a "good job" congratulated to him of course) 
  • My vanmates were still back at the start line trying to decorate as much as they could, despite the rain, so it was shortly after I passed red shoes that they pulled over---- in a normal race I would be dying without water for over 5 miles... with the weather we were currently experiencing, it was PERFECT. 
  • I told them to stop a little before the first exchange that I had to run through so I could wash down my gu and that I would be good to go for a few miles
  • Ran through the first exchange, told them I was "ultra" when they were calling out our number, and reveled in the "holy craps" and cheers I got from surrounding teams. Totally re-energizing. 
  • Not a lot happened on the back half of my run. I passed a LOT of people, one guy tried to hang with me once I caught him and said good job.... since he was running on heavy feet and the sound was annoying, I sped up so I wouldn't have to hear him. 
  • Saw my van once more around mile 11ish, got some water and told them I would see them at the exchange. 
  • With 1 mile left I had my eye on 2 guys. Guy in blue seriously looked back about every min or so to check the distance b/n us, how annoying. The 2nd guy was wearing a orange dragon tail. I passed dragon tail RIGHT as I handed off to Ashley- guy in blue got away. 
  • 2 great compliments happened when I finished: 
    • Red shoes came up to me and laughed saying I forgot to stop at the last exchange and how he thought it was badass when he saw me keep running
    • blue shirt guy said I motivated him to pick it up in the last mile because he didn't want to get passed by a girl in a skirt. Then after that his teammates told him I was ultra and he shouted to them "way to make me feel even worse about myself"- classic
  • Overall I was pleased with the run- aside from the digestive issue (which would be a problem throughout the day--- you've been warned) I thought it went pretty well. 
13.1 miles in 1:44:08; 7:56 pace. Since my first leg was exactly a half marathon, I'm counting it toward my 50 state quest... BOOM I just save $600 by making that decision :)

Mile 1: 7:35
Mile 2: 7:39
Mile 3: 7:49
Mile 4: 7:55
Mile 5: 7:54
Mile 6: 8:06
Mile 7: 7:51
Mile 8: 8:07
Mile 9: 8:04
Mile 10: 7:58
Mile 11: 7:58
Mile 12: 8:14
Mile 13: 8:23 (yikes, losing my steam)
Mile .1 : 7:47

After the run, as you guessed it, I made a beeline for the bathroom where I was greeted by my 'visitor'. Due to cold temps my legs felt great, and the only soreness I had was in my shoulders and arms- that's a first. 

Everyone's first run went great. Julia had the Killer leg-- 18 freakin miles... thats more miles that what some people do the entire ragnar relay. 

Also for everyone's first run we maybe stopped twice during the run- we all were pretty low maintenance and spent the majority of the time stalking Chuck Bass at the exchanges. So maybe it was just myself and Katy that was a little obsessed with this guy who looked JUST LIKE Chuck Bass. 
Apparently Katy heard him speak and he wasn't British, so we ruled out the notion that it would actually be the real deal. When watching the show I don't even think he's that good looking-- however "our" Ed Westwick, screamed sex appeal (maybe it was the tattoos??) Another bonus was that apparently all the good looking guys decided to run Ragnar Northwest Passage--- there was eye candy everywhere which made the standing around much more enjoyable. 

Next up- "night run" 11.7 miles... 


  1. Wait, you're not coming back to run Washington? Ok, I support your decision. Great half marathon in the stinking rain.

    Your outfits are awesome. Did you get a flight out of Utah yet?

  2. Great recap of your first leg! I love that you guys were so bad ass and ultrad it!

  3. It made me smile when you said it was freezing in the 50's. Sounds just right to me:) Welcome to the NW:) You totally rocked the 1st leg! Sorry about your visitor and the upset tummy:( Can't wait to read the rest!

  4. Good to know on those skirts... they are adorable, and you really can't beat $10. congrats!

  5. girl! you made that half marathon look completely badass... there is no way in hell that doesn't count toward your 50 states! had so much fun this past weekend, so glad it all worked out for us to run NWP!

  6. Wow, what an amazing 13.1 miles, especially knowing you had all thse issues going on Congrats!!

  7. How did the rest of the race go? We are running Northwest Passage as an Ultra this summer. Would love to hear about the rest of your experience. How hard is it to get back to seattle from the finish line?