This weekend I joined my sisters, Laraine, Mariah and Vanessa and cousins Crystal and Mickell and became a RAGNAR runner! YAY.
A RAGNAR is a 200 mile relay race where 12 people teams (or 6 people “Ultra” teams) run different legs of 3-10 miles each until you hit your destination. They have RAGNAR races in several states and this one was in Washington, DC. We ran from Cumberland, MD to the National Harbor south of DC.
|The "Last Supper"|
I have been running for nearly 11 years and have been in different levels of shape over those years. I would say I was in my best shape from 2004-2008. This last few years training has often taken second place to many other things so when my good friend, Jen, asked if I wanted to join a team with her friends, I was excite to run my first “real” race. I knew I needed to train more and for the last two months I have run home from work—about 5 miles—with my backpack full of my books and clothes. It was rough. My backpack weighed between 20 and 25 pounds a day. The steep hills I had to climb daily were a challenge but I figured it was worth it…
The day for the race came. Our team of 12 people were diverse. We had a large age range and an eclectic group of running skills. I estimated that I was somewhere in the middle. RAGNAR does really well estimating your runs based on your “minute per mile” and the level of intensity of each leg. I ended up running 19 total miles on one “hard”, one “moderate” (that should have been hard because it was straight up and then straight now in the pitch dark. You can say, “sure it was that bad, but there were even cars overheating up the hill!), and one “very hard” leg.
Each team has a team name and they decorate their vans and some even wear costumes to run in. There are some intense runners out there! The entire race—no matter what time it was—had cowbells, yells and horns to greet runners.
It was so much fun to meet our team. I didn’t know anyone before the race other than Jen, but after spending 33 hours with them you learn to know them well. You eat, cheer, run, laugh and sleep in the same place during that entire time. As each leg was finished it was so much fun to hear the stories of the runner who had just finished. Some of my favorites were hearing Lisa tell how she wanted to grab the bells vans were waving in her face as she ran and fling it into the bushes. Or how she tried to open her energy goo and it squirted all over her map she was carrying so she just licked it off as she ran! Haha. We all had stories of the “hard” spots and the easy places along our runs.
|Runners #1 and #2 trying to sike themselves up for their run at 0430H|
|Off Pam goes! We are officially started!|
|Our Van "home" for the next 33 hours|
As you run you either pass people, or you are passed. In the running world they call those “kills.” Some vans tallied the kills for the team on the windows as a badge of honor. I can say that I had 13 kills—but I was killed plenty of times too. I went and took a photo of one of the vans and the guy standing there looked at me weird. I explained that I wanted to have a photo because I was sure that I was one of those tally marks! We both started laughing and he explained that it “was not personal.”
|Is he seriously smiling???|
Most of the runs were beautiful. We were in the autumn mountains of western Maryland. The only bad part was all the dust from the road. My first run I think I ate ten pounds of dirt! HAHA. Along the run you have signs that mark the path and keep you on the direction. My favorite part was seeing the sign that reads “One mile to go.” It is completely energizing. However, one time I passed the sign and was stoked so I started running faster, around the next corner that energy was dashed to pieces when I saw the HUGE hill I have to climb. There was another runner standing forlornly at the bottom taking photos of it with her phone. HAHA. I felt bad for her, she must have been as tired as I was.As I ran up the steep hills I was so thankful for that heavy backpack I ran with the last few months because running without it made me realize I can do it!
On the hills up I would tell myself inspiration things like, “I think I can, I think I can.” Or “I am almost to the summit!” The most often though was hearing Coach K, the cross country coach at BYUH, say “each step is one step farther from the end and one step closer to the finish.” On the downhill parts I had to find the balance of not letting gravity take me tumbling away and using it to propel me forward. I could hear President Kimball saying, “lengthen your stride.”
|I used more porta-potties this weekend then I have my entire LIFE added together|
|Right before we realized we were at the WRONG exchange!|
The last day I had my longest run--9 miles. We were all exhausted and sore. All of the other runners had 4 mile runs or less…mine was the lone long run. (they all had long runs the day before) Off I went at noontime and again was SO happy to see the finish line!
I made some amazing friends along the journey. First was my teammates. They are great people. We were all ready to cheer and push on to our best and that is all that matters. Nothing solidifies people more than triumphing over a common challenge. They were so much fun. I enjoyed getting to know them and laughing with them. I made friends with other teams as we stood to await our runners at the exchanges, it was fun as I came in for my last run those teams were yelling my name along with my own team! The local people that live in the rural areas we ran through also were friendly. Some of the most memorable were a bunch of teenagers that were dressed in wife beaters and tie died cloths and had mullets and mohawks. They spoke with a deep twang and one of them said, “Like a boss,” every other second. We laughed about later and our van started saying, “like a boss!” The rest of the race as our team meme.
|Waiting for me to come in|
|The other teams that I made friends with welcoming me in|
|My lone battle wound|
So when our last two runners crossed the finish line at National Harbor in the blistering afternoon heat we all ran with him and finished “LIKE A BOSS!”
I am a bit sore today but nothing major. My bruised toe is the only battle wound I can tout. I guess that and the fact that Lady Hiva said I slept for 15 hours! HAHA