I don’t even know where to begin. I’m terrible at recaps, so I don’t really write anything up. This will probably be very brief. I will probably skip a lot of details. But I will try to summarize my experience of my very first Ragnar Relay Race.
I had read about Ragnar events probably about a year or two ago. A 12 person relay event. Or 6, if you are freakin’ crazy. I don’t know 12 people that would want to be stuck in a van with me for 24+ hours, let alone run with me! I hoped one day I would find some people crazy enough to do it.
I became a Nuun ambassador this year. I love the product, so we so excited to represent them. (If you haven’t heard of Nuun, head to their website here and definitely try them out!) The emailed all the ambassadors the opportunity to run in a team for the Ragnar Relay event in February. I was nervous to even apply. If I got in I would have to fly to San Diego, meet a whole bunch of people, and run a crazy race. But I thought I should try. I wanted to experience everything I could while being an ambassador. A few weeks later I got an email saying I was accepted to be part of the 12 person team! Aaaah! I was so excited, and definitely nervous.
Fast forward to the Wednesday before the race and I was flying on a red-eye flight to San Diego. I was doubting myself. I thought I had made a terrible decision. Why do I keep putting myself into these positions? I always seem to be getting jobs as a ‘people’ person, or doing ‘outgoing’ activities, when really I am the biggest introvert and just like staying at home with the husband and the dog Netflixing it up. If I hadn’t paid for the flights I would have just turned around and gone back home. But, that would have been a terrible mistake.
The team arrived at our hotel throughout the day, one by one, and slowly we all got to meet each other. Our first job was to decorate our rental vans. This is huge in the world of Ragnar. You need to go out there. It definitely fits into the ‘Go big or go home’ category. It was also a great icebreaker to meet everyone and get to know the team. Especially as the two vans will separate and you hardly get to spend time with the people in the other van. For this reason Nuun decided we get to San Diego the day before the race, chill out, decorate the vans, and have dinner so we get to feel like a complete team.
We woke up the next morning, grabbed some coffee. Then before we knew it, Van #1 headed off to the starting line at Huntington Beach, while Van #2 got to take a cruisey ride up the coast. I was in Van #2, and since we had a few Ironman Triathletes in the van, we went to Oceanside were Ironman 70.3 was taking place on Saturday. The expo was awesome. Now I want to be an Ironman, especially since some of my team mates were, and they are so hardcore and inspiring. We found a great little cafe for lunch. What is it with California and their sandwiches? Seriously, California, you know how to do it right!
After lunch, we headed to the first major exchange point, where we would check in and have our safety meeting. It is also where we would meet Van #1 and cheer in runner 6, and cheer out runner 7. It was a fantastic reunion, except only 11 of us can reunite at one time. I was slowly getting more and more nervous about running. I was (I think) the slowest on our team. My team mates were throwing date 6 – 7 minute/mile paces, and one even into the 5 minute/mile range! I shouldn’t have worried. My team was so supportive and motivating. Ragnar gives us a list of what times they think we should be hitting based on our 10k time we gave them earlier in the month. Each of us just needed to hit our pace, and that was all that mattered. It didn’t matter if I ran a 9 minute/mile and Nick ran a 5 minute/mile. We were all in it together, and as long as each of us did our best, that was all anyone cared about.
I was runner 12, the last in our van, so I had a long time to wait for my first leg. I still was so nervous at the start! I was just going to try my best. It start at about 9:45pm, and I barely remember the start. It was mostly downhill through residential areas of Dana Point. The best part was heading through the Lantern District – super pretty at night! I even got one ‘kill’ – which I was happy about. What are kills? It’s the nice way of saying how many people you overtake on your run! Our official start time was at 1pm, behind most of the other teams, and it was very quiet with kills until later in the game, so I was happy to get one!
After I finished we had time to get some food and head to the next major exchange point.
We didn’t have too much time, as Van #1 all had pretty short legs, so we knew we had to be running in a few hours. We met Van #1 very briefly, but had to race runner 7 to his finish, so we got moving. Running through the early morning was quite a blur! My second leg was also a lot of downhill areas, through what I think was a light industrial area. There was one uphill portion that almost killed me, but I had the easy course! Other runners had major hills that would have been so tough. I came into the finish to meet both the vans and send runner 1 on her way.
We decided to head straight to the next major exchange to try and get some sleep. We didn’t get much sleep. 6 of us in a smelly van. Maybe 1 hour, if we were lucky, and it wasn’t very restful. However, when we woke, we had the most incredible views of La Jolla.
We briefly met up with Van #1 again and sent out runner 7 on his way. Then to find Starbucks to properly wake up! Luckily, there was a Starbucks on the route of our runner, so we were able to stop and cheer for him as he ran passed. Just cheering for your team mates along the way is so much fun. As is driving a crazy colorful van and cheering and runners from other teams.
My last run was the final. I just had to run 7.5 miles at a 10 minute mile pace. I knew I could do that, but I wanted to try for a little faster. I went out way too fast, I was so excited by all of my team mates, and had crazy positive splits. However, my average pace came to 9:15min/mile, and we came in right on our target! My teammates were there right before the finish line to cross over with me. It was an amazing experience. It comes right up alongside finishing my first marathon.
These perfect strangers that I had only met two days before had now become friends that I inspired to be like. They are the most motivating people I have met. I am so grateful that I was able to be part of such an incredible event, and I was able to represent a truly wonderful company.
My Stats: (according to my watch)
Leg 1: 1 kill. 4 miles. (7:40, 8:10, 8:14, 7:46) Average pace: 7:57min/mile
Leg 2: 29 kills. 4.5 miles. (7:49, 8:19, 8:26, 7:59, 8:39) Average pace: 8:o7 min/mile*
Leg 3: 17 kills. 7.5 miles. (8:40, 8:53, 8:54, 9:18, 9:33, 9:45, 9:41, 9:08) Average Pace: 9:14min/mile
Total: 47 kills. 16 miles. Average pace: 8:37min/mile.
*My leg two was over by half a mile. This seems kind of high to be a GPS error, so I am not sure… If it was 4 miles and my watch is completely wrong I would have run just over a 9min/mile – and I felt like I was definitely going faster than that!