Saturday, January 10, 2015

Haulin' Booty

In April 2014, one of my co-workers, Ali, asked if I'd be interested in joining her Ragnar team! I was pretty surprised that she asked me, because I'm not a fast runner at all!! But I was psyched for the opportunity!

At that point, there was only about two and half months until the race. Luckily, I was runner seven, which meant I had the easiest legs! My longest leg was less than five miles, so I figured I'd be okay! I kept to my normal running schedule, with a goal to be up to five miles at least two weeks before the race.

The thing is though, it's hard to really train for a Ragnar race until you've actually done it! I had no way of knowing what it would be like to run my legs, since I had never done it before. About six weeks before the race, I decided to get some new running shoes. I went with Altras because I have heard good things about "barefoot" and "zero drop" running. But after about two weeks of bad runs, I decided they weren't for me and switched them out for a pair of Brooks.

I was nervous at that point because I had lost two weeks of training. And I didn't dare try to break in a new pair of shoes, so I stuck with my old ones. Finally, only a few days before the race, I ran five miles non-stop! I was so excited that I kneeled right down on the grass and thanked the Lord for helping me reach my goal!

Race day came and I was super nervous! I was worried about letting my team down and being too slow! I was worried about the exchange points and recognizing the guys I was supposed to take the baton from! And I was worried about running at night!

I met up with my half of the team, van two, and we drove to Eden, Utah for the first exchange. I had never been to Eden before, but it is a beautiful place! The drive up was super rainy and I was worried about running in a downpour, but when we got to the exchange point, the rain stopped and the sun started to come out.

We checked in, went through the "safety class" and then had time to walk around to some of the vendors. We also had plenty of time to enjoy gawking at some of the other teams that showed up. Some teams had crazy costumes (ex- Lego people, unicorns, troll dolls) and others went all out on their vehicles... Imagine a giant (and I mean giant) inflatable monster on top of a Suburban......

Finally, it was time for us to make our way of to the exchange point!  I stood in the corral and watched as my teammate ran toward me with the baton (a sweet orange slap bracelet).

We made the exchange and I took off! I had my phone with me and had planned to use Pandora for my music. Well, I wasn't really thinking about the fact that I was going to be in the middle of nowhere, going through mountain ranges, so I didn't have an internet connection.
I started to panic! How in the world was I going to run four miles with absolutely no music! I started out trying to sing songs in my head... but that didn't last very long! I had the thought to check my iTunes app, and thankfully, somehow, about five songs had made it on to my phone! I listened to the same five songs, over and over, for pretty much all three legs! What a huge blessing it was to have them on my phone though!! Let just say, every time I hear the Neon Tree sing "Everybody Talks" I will always think of Ragnar!!

I was about halfway through my run, going through "downtown" Eden, when I spotted my mom and my grandparents standing on the side of the road cheering me on!! How awesome that they made the drive all the way up there to support me!!

As I came up to to exchange point, I was greeted by my team. They had met up with the other van and picked up our huge pirate flag! Our team name was "Haulin' Booty", so it was very fitting! My mom and grandparents had also made their way to the exchange point, so I got to give them all a hug before connecting with my team!

Once my first leg was over, I got a twelve hour break! I drank a ridiculous amount of water in a really short time and then cheered the rest of my teammates on! Our first major exchange was at the Snowbasin resort (which is beautiful, by the way).

Runner eleven was out, so we parked and decided to grab a couple things to snack on. Unfortunately, I started to feel sick. I think I had drank too much water, way to fast! I made my first (yes first) stop at the first-aid tent! Thank goodness for those people!!

After our last two runners were done, we drove to the next major exchange point, a high school in Morgan, to clean up and take a break!! It was about 7:00 p.m. so we had to break out our reflective gear and wear it anytime we were outside! The school had a nice big field so we were able to take our pillows and blankets and spread out. I had brought a sleeping bag with me, but I didn't want to worry about rolling it back up later, so I just took a blanket with me. Mistake! It got pretty chilly and I wished, more than once, that I would have just brought the sleeping bag with me! I was, however, smart enough to grab my sleep mask and ear plugs!!

After a few hours of laying around (no real sleep on my part), we loaded back in the car and headed to the exchange point. As we got closer, traffic got really really bad! We kept watching the time and trying to contact van one to find out what time runner six had started his leg! I was getting really worried that I was going to have to get out a run with runner six to the exchange point and then keep going on my leg!! Thankfully, we beat him there!!

I grabbed the slap bracelet from him and took off on my night run, reflective vest, head lamp, tail light and all!! My leg started off with a pretty big hill.... I was going up and over part of a mountain. Sadly, I had to do a lot of walking up that dang hill!! When I finally made it to the top, I was rewarded with a nice long downhill!!

I had been so worried about my night run, but I actually really loved it! It was pretty peaceful running in the dark! I was in the middle of the mountains, so I got to see all of the millions of stars that you don't normally see in the valley! Plus, the air was nice and cool, which always helps!

Unfortunately, after my downhill, it was nothing but up..... and more up! Steep up!! There were more than a few times I wanted to sit down on the side of the road and take a break!! Thank goodness for kind fellow runners who would jog by, saying nice and encouraging things!! I was SO happy by the time I saw the exchange point! I was definitely ready to be done with the hills!!

I was actually pretty lucky because my night run started at about 11:30 p.m.! I would much rather start then than at 4:00 a.m.!! My plan was to finish my night run and then sleep for a few hours in the car. No such luck! It was hard to get comfortable, and it got really cold... plus, we were constantly letting runners in and out of the car. Finally, I ended up the back of the Suburban and was able to sleep for about an hour!

After all of our night runs, we went to the rest point at a high school in Summit county. This school was awesome because you could use their bathrooms and showers for free!! It was SO fantastic to use a flushing toilet after 24 hours of using a Honey Bucket!! We tried to sleep a little more, but I still wasn't feeling that great, so I mostly just sat around and relaxed. It was also the second time I visited the first-aid tent. This time it was for my feet because I was starting to get some blisters. Again, I was grateful, this time for the mole skin!!

My last run started in the late afternoon on Saturday. It was going to be a pretty flat run and was less than five miles, so I was pretty sure I had it in the bag. Boy was I wrong! This is the part that's hard to explain if you haven't run Ragnar! You think you're feeling great..... but you realize that the last day and a half have caught up with you! The fact that you haven't slept much kicks in and energy is running low!
I started off okay.... but pretty quickly had to start walking. This was a big disappointment to me!! But my spirits were quickly lifted when all the sudden two cars drove by, honking and cheering for me! My parents and my grandparents drove up to help me along the course!! I was SO happy to see them! They brought me water, my mom walked some of the course with me and they cheered me on! I LOVED having them there!!
At one point, I was running through a neighborhood and a little girl was standing on the side of the road with a hose. As I got closer she asked "Would you like me to spray you"? It was SO hot at that point so I gladly welcomed it!! Not far down the road was another group standing on the road doing the same thing!! I thought it was so cool that bystanders along the course got involved!

After what felt like and eternity, I finally saw this sign!!

And I was even more grateful to cross my final finish line! My team was there cheering me on, but so was my family!!! It was THE best moment!!!

After that I got to enjoy the rest of my time in the Suburban, cheering on my teammates! They were all rock stars, especially Aliza and Ali, who conquered Ragnar hill!! Along the way, I visited the first aid tent for the third and final time!! I had some pretty ridiculous blisters on both feet. At that point, they were pretty bad and there wasn't much they could do! They wrapped them a little, but I had to hobble around for the rest of the day!!

The finish line was in Park City. We got there pretty early so we had time to meet up with the other half of our team! We waited at the finish line together as runner twelve finished his leg. As he came to the end of the course, we joined him and crossed the finish line together! It was so amazing!!

Waiting for us were our medals! How cool are they!!

We took some team pictures and congratulated each other on a great race!!

My parents were also waiting for me at the finish line, and my mom had made a really cool Haulin' Booty pirate flag for me! Their support meant so much to me!!

On the way home, we stopped so I could get my first real meal in 24 hours..... a Wendy's hamburger and a Dr. Pepper! Delicious!! We got home around 10:00 p.m. and I ended up sleeping until 1:00 p.m. the next bed!! I was super excited to wake up to a Village Baker lemon bar from Kaylee!!

The next Monday, Ali asked me if I was ready to sign up for Ragnar 2015! At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it again!! It was a pretty crazy experience!! But after a few days, I finally committed!! I'm determined to fully run all three of my legs this year! And not to get sick!!

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