Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ragnar Relay Tennessee

So last weekend I completed a Ragnar Relay in Tennessee. A ragnar is a 200 mileish relay race. It takes place over 2 days and 1 night. You have a team of 12 people (in two vans), and someone from the team is always running. Every runner has 3 different runs (ours were about 12 hours apart).

I don't know when I first heard about the Ragnar relay, maybe a year ago? But it was one of those things that filed itself away in my brain, as something I might want to do one day. And a few months ago, I decided to just go for it. 

But here is the catch, I didn't know anyone who would be willing to do this race with me. And I can be incredibly shy and socially anxious at times. So it was with much trepidation, I asked on a facebook group to join a team. And before I knew it, I was on a team with 11 runners I didn't  know called Run Hit Wonder
I was super excited, and then as it got closer I was super scared. I had so many fears. What if  I didn't get along with the people on my team? What if they were such better runners than me, that I was a disappointment?

So many insecurities.

Wednesday night I stayed up late packing, which was no easy chore. I had never attended an event like this before. I needed several different pairs of running clothes, lounge clothes, snacks, and all the other stuff that comes with running.

Link (he is such a good traveler), Adam, and I left for Chattanooga when I finished work on Thursday night. Since Thursday is my late day anyway (and we were traveling into the Eastern time zone) , we did not get to the hotel till about 11:30. I needed to be up at 3:30, I was finally drifting off to sleep around midnight, when I heard a screeching noise.

It was the fire alarm. 

Which led to me standing outside in the COLD for 45 minutes, while fire fighters swept the whole building. Which led me to not falling asleep till 1:30, so I got  two full hours of sleep before starting my big, stressful adventure, which was not optimal. 

Around 4:45a.m, Adam dropped me off, and I met up with the folks in Van 1, I was super shy at first, but according to them I hid it well. The people in Van 1 were Darryl, Bill, Maggie, Terrie, and Jeremy (Bill isn't pictured, and we borrowed Flora from Van 2 for a while). 

The start line was super pretty. We watched the cheesiest safety video, and we got ready to start. Bill was up first, so when the race started, he hit the road. We passed him and headed to the first exchange. I was runner 2, and super nervous! But when Bill rounded the corner, I was ready to go. 

It was pitch dark when I started, so I was required to run in safety gear (vest, head lamp, and tail lights). My first leg was 3 miles and marked "easy" by Ragnar. Bill told me he was runner 2 last year, and the first half of the run was completely up hill and not easy. Where I run, is fairly flat, so hills are totally not my thing.

And he was right it was certainly uphill, and not the easiest run of my life. But I kept truckin. At one point, I had to stop and wait for a raccoon to cross the street front of me, I was praying it wasn't rabid. 

The sun slowly started to rise, and I had a beautiful view of the Tennessee river. I also crossed back into the central time zone during my leg. 

I finished my leg, and passed the slap bracelet/baton to Terrie, runner 3. I got to put a check mark in my first box by my name on the van.

The exchange I was at after my run was very pretty, so I got to stop and take a quick selfie, before changing into lounge clothes in a porta potty (the only drawback of a ragnar, so many porta potties).

After all the runners in Van 6 had ran,  Van 2 of our team started their legs, we had about 6 hours of down time. Priority number one was getting some real food, so we grabbed some lunch at an Italian restaurant in some little town. We then headed to the next exchange point where we had a couple of hours to kill. I cat napped a little (but not much), but spent a good deal of time just chatting with my team. I really got to know the girls, and it was just so much fun. 

Time seemed to fly by and before we knew it it was Van 1's turn to run again. Again I put on my night gear, and I ended up running during sunset. My run was through Winchester, TN, which I was somewhat familiar with from a past half marathon. The run was nerve wracking at times, because it was on a highway during the dark. There wasn't much of a shoulder, and sometimes the corners would be blind, so I worried about getting ran over frogger style. But I survived my 5.0 mile leg, which ragnar deemed "moderate". I still think my first leg was harder. 

After our van finished our night runs, we went to the exchange point, and had another 4-5 hours of downtime. I managed to spread out in the van seat and sleep for about two hours. Some of my vanmates spread out on lawn in sleeping bags. There were birds that were super loud and annoyed at our presence and chirped all night long. We deemed them asshole birds. Ha.

Van 2 had some pace issues during the night, so by the time Van 1 was to head out, we were a little bit behind our projected pace. Race officials said they would just have the vans run the legs they were supposed to, but instead of waiting for our van to finish, we would be running concurrently, and we would meet up with them at finish line. 

My 3rd and final leg was 6.1 miles, deemed "hard", and it was during the sunrise. I loved that I literally had ran during the last two sunrises and one sundown. The run was hard, but just felt like the last few miles of a long race since I was so sore. 

The relief I had at being done with all my legs and having performed at the pace I wanted was indescribable. I could just relax the next few hours and not worry about a thing.

We finished the race about 2:30 in the afternoon in Nashville. When our last runner, Anna Lisa, got near the finish line, we all ran together. It was a wonderful moment.

Our medals are puzzle pieces that when joined together as a team make a quote.

I was so happy to finally head home to get some real sleep and take a shower. That shower was the most glorious shower of my life. After 60 plus hours, and three sweaty runs, with noting but baby wipes and deodorant to clean up with, how could it not feel amazing?

Pushing myself not only physically but mentally (having to be social) was such a rewarding experience. And I'm already planning my next Ragnar in August.

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