Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ragnar Del Sol- Race Recap

Since I've raced in all the states half marathon style, why not start crossing more Ragnars off my list? 1 month prior to Ragnar Del Sol, one of my colleagues reached out to me on a whim to see if I wanted to join their Ragnar team. "My boss made me do it" was compromised of all work colleagues who would be in town (Chandler, AZ) to go over processes with our customer service office and decided to stay in the area to do the Ragnar.   Considering I joined Bourbon Chase this year a week prior to the race, whats 1 month? As an added bonus it would be some serious bonding time with the other account managers I don't traditionally interact with on a day-to-day basis.

This would be my first relay team in a couple of years that would be non competitive in any way shape or form.  Majority of the team members are not runners, they just wanted a fun 'team building' experience and I was just along for the ride. Although I joined the team, we were still 1 man short of the traditional 12, our team captain, Anne, said she would run 2 legs (ultra style for her) to make up for the difference. She was slated to run 42 miles and I felt bad with just my 17, so I told her I would give her my legs and take her hardest legs, bringing my total to 23 and hers down to 34.

This was my 8th Relay to date- 5 Ragnars, 1 Ragnar Trail, 1 Reach the Beach (although Ragnar is partnering with them this year, they still have not acquired the Massachusetts one I did 2 years ago), 1 Bourbon Chase. I've got this relay thing down so I'll just go over the "new to me" experiences:

What was different:

  • Since we were a 'non competitive team', we had a bright and early start time of 7am... and our hotel was 1+ hr from the start line (and lets not forget you're supposed to be there 1 hour before race time to check in and safety check)  We literally arrived 15 min prior to our start time. We managed to get checked in, skipped safety check (ssshhh) and were racing around to find batteries for Anne's headlamp bc apparently safety gear has to be worn until 9am. For those that aren't familiar with Ragnars... most standard 'night time hours' end at 7am. I've never felt so rushed to start and was just very thankful I was runner 3.

Quick Van selfie before Anne takes off 

John, Katie (the boss), Anne, Kim, Me
  • I wasn't waiting at the handoff exchange for my first run. Originally runner 2, Kim, informed us she would be running 9:30/ 9:45 pace for her 5.5 mile run. We calculated when she would get in, so we all panicked when I'm just sitting in the van and our teammate John comes running up from the bathroom stating their shouting our team number. I felt so bad because that is the worst feeling when you're busting your butt and your team isn't even there to receive the baton- not to mention this is her first run in her first relay and being the veteran I'm setting a bad example. 
  • Our van 1 was significantly faster than van 2. Combine that with van 2's first round comprising of running 42 miles and we had almost 8 hours of downtime.... 8 hours! Normally I'd be giddy at the opportunity to sleep that long, however this was after our first run so it was at 1pm and sleep deprivation hadn't set in yet. Had we known we would have been off for that long, I'm sure we'd plan some type of activity, but instead we just had fun along the course. 
Kickin with Mr. Ron Jeremy

Climbing on random objects and doing some planks and push ups

Imitating the weird cactuses
  • This was the most "care free" I've ever felt in the race. Because I knew we weren't going for time, I took all my runs easy, walked if I wanted, and didn't stress if others were running past their 'predicted time'. Due to taking it easy, I was never sore! I was really nervous going into the race knowing that my last run was my longest, 9 miles, but when it came time to run, I felt fabulous! 
  • I actually had quality sleep. This has only happened ONCE before and that was during our ladies Ragnar Ultra Beast Mode in Pacific Northwest- we had designated sleeping times, driving times, and seats to be used for sleeping so everyone did great rotating and catching some shut eye. I never once felt sleep deprived. 
  • Because of the aforementioned large amounts of time between legs, we had real meals. We stopped for lunch (which is typical after first run), but I also had a real breakfast before my last run, and another lunch the following day (and shower) before heading to this finish line. This is huge guys, HUGE. Normally you're snacking on granola bars, cheez its, trail mix, and gummy bears. Because of the real food intake, I didn't have any digestive issues like normal. For those that are relay veterans, I know you can appreciate this. (and so did my bottom) 
  • No significance to this, but there seemed to be quite a large # of high school teams- nothing like getting hawked by two 12 year olds on your last run to make you feel old and out of shape 
Quick Highlights of my legs:

First Run- 7.1 miles; 7:45 pace. 
 As mentioned before I was late to the exchange.  For some reason I felt compelled to "make up time" that was lost with Kim just standing there waiting for me.  (the worst feeling when you come through the exchange and your teammates are not there) After 1 mile "killing it", the dry heat and sun got to me and I realized there is no rush, I can just enjoy the run- such a fresh change of pace from my normal relay experience. 
Hamming it up for my teammates

Unfortunately I only had support from the team once on the run and it was far too hot / dry to go that long without water that I had to ask for another van for some assistance. Afterward I let them know 1 stop for 7 miles isn't enough and to make sure we ask every runner if they need anything before heading to next exchange--- worked well rest of relay 

I survived the first run in the desert! 

2nd Run- 7 miles; 8:25 pace.
 I was actually looking forward to the night run and to test out my new brighter head lamp. The first mile was quick and easy and then suddenly we were being routed on a sand trail. Although I could see, my ankles kept buckling in the sand to the point it was painful. I'm not ashamed to admit that I almost cried because I didn't want to spend the next 6 miles going at a snails pace and watching every step so carefully worrying about rolling my ankles. Luckily the pity party of 1 last 1.5 miles and we were back on the pavement and we were good to go. Unfortunately my teammate that I handed off to also had trails on her run (unbeknownst to her) and it was a little over 3 miles. Her headlamp went out and she called us crying because she felt like she was on the Blair Witch Project and couldn't see- it was scary and comical at the same time.

3rd Run 9 miles; 8:46 pace
After my 5 miles straight down a mountain in this year's Ragnar Tn and having difficulty walking afterward, I was pretty darn nervous for my final leg since it looked similar, but 7 downhill vs. 5.
I met a girl while waiting in line for starbucks who ran this leg last year and she let me know it was the same road the entire time and you can see the exchange from 4 miles out- awesome. 

First 2 miles were straight up hill and I may have walked a ton slightly. Now I'm not sure where these "downhills" were, but I can vouch that the rest of the run once we conquered the uphill was flat. If there was a downhill it was so marginally small you couldn't even tell- needless to say I was slightly disappointed. My van passed by and cheered about 5.5 miles in (they got gas and beer for hotel later) but since I was smart this go round and wore my fuel belt I didnt' need anything from them. It was a pretty uneventful run- I got passed by 3 dudes (2 of which were tweens) and I caught up to a few, the end. 

Once our van finished up we wished the other van good luck, chowed down on some burgers and beer, showered and made our way to the finish line. 

The finish was along the waterfront in downtown Tempe- it was gorgeous and the sun setting actually made it that much more serene. I was kind of jealous the last runner got to go across this beauty of a bridge

  Overall this relay was a much needed break from watching the clock and worrying about performance. It was unique to be able to share in the excitement of "new ness" with all the team members who had never experienced a relay before, priceless to watch their celebration at the finish line and listen to all their stories.I'm also glad Ragnar finally changed the look of their medals this year, bye bye pewter, hello orange!

And as an added bonus, they got rid of the boring plain ribbons and actually created a unique ribbon that has landscapes from all their different locations- cactus for del sol, 'batman building' for Nashville, Golden Gate for Napa Valley, long bridge for Keys etc- what a nifty idea

Another successful relay in the books! Exactly 1 month from today I'll be joining an all girl Nuun team for Ragnar Trail Atlanta, and the following month (just committed LAST NIGHT) Cape Cod. I love relays so much more than traditional races with all the adventures, stories, bonding, sight seeing, ridiculous etc!!! 

Have you done a Relay before?

If you have, what is your favorite?
I'm slowly adding more to my belt- I think the experience depends on your teammates, but I have to say Ragnar Northwest Passage holds a special place in my heart 


  1. I agree about the van support. 2/3 runs on my Ragnar I didn't see my van and I had to get support from another runner as well.

    Relays are so fun, maybe I'll have to do another one.

  2. Cape Cod is shaping up to be my most favorite race time ever!!! So excited you're on board!!!

  3. I've done Ragnar NWP twice and am signed have signed up to tackle it a third time this summer. I love running Ragnar and look forward to it each year. It's such a fun time, I wish everyone would do one just so they could understand what it's like. Random question for you, where did you get those colorful shorts? They are awesome!

    1. One of the few Ragnar's I'd happily do again. The shorts are from bskinz... website is easy to remember they even let you design so you can have 2 different patterns on each leg. so comfortable!

  4. I like the idea of the trail relay. Not riding in a van all day. But, what do I know. Cape Cod sounds wonderful!
    (But, are you coming to scenic Arkansas in April with me?)

  5. I like the idea of running all ragnar races or maybe even make it a relay race in each state!

  6. glad it was a fun race for you....i'm already freaking out about the trail, dark, ankle rolling stuff. BUT, we will have so much fun!!