Sunday, June 20, 2010

Serious Hardware, for a (somewhat) Serious Race!

So THIS is a Serious Race Medal! It dwarfs all of the others I've received! I LOVE it! But I had to work hard to get it. And yet doing the Ragnar Wasatch Back was one of the most fun races I've ever done! It was awesome! (If you're wondering what Ragnar means, just visit the website and there's an explanation on it.) Now I can't speak for anyone else's Ragnar experince, but here's a little taste of mine.

Friday June 18 5:00am - Up in Logan the first runner of our 12 person team is starting the race with a brisk 8 mile run in the pre-dawn. Five other girls are with her since they will cover legs 1-6 of the race. Meanwhile in Provo at Hillary's house, I wake up at 5:30 am change clothes and kiss my toddler goodbye. Shiloh & I Make a quick stop at Wal-Mart for a few last minute groceries. Pack the cooler, organize the van and take off.

7:00am - Start picking up the four complete strangers who will ride in our van and make up the rest of our team. at 9:00am we stop to top off the gas tank and decorate the van.

This is Shyla and Lydia. Lydia actually rode down with us from Idaho the night before since she's a student at BYU-Idaho. Shyla is a married mother of 4 who lives in SLC.
This is Kari, she's lives in Ogden and she's single and cute. Know any guys in need of a date?
Yeah our van got a little confusing at times. We had Shyla and Shiloh, Cali and Kari, Linda and Lydia. It was tongue-twisterish to say the least!
Somewhere I have pictures of Linda, I'm just not sure where they are. She was our only veteran on the team having run this race four times in the past. This year her 20 year old daughter also competed in it with a different team.

10:15 am - Arrive at Checkpoint six, where we'll check in, pick up our race numbers, attend a mandatory safety meeting, receive last minute instructions from organizers, meet up with our other van and make our first exchange. Kari was runner number seven on our team, so she was the first from our van to run.

11:45 am - We make a clean exchange and we're officially in this race!

12:10pm - Stop on the side of the road to cheer Kari on and offer her any support she might need. We did our first exchange at around 12:25 where Kari handed off to Shiloh.

My sweet sister did great on her first 3.4 miles, despite a headache from the altitude & her asthma flaring up. We got her an over-the-counter inhaler at the next stop and had her drink some Mountain Dew (bet you didn't know it's great for altitude sickness) and she was great.

1:10pm - Shiloh hands off to Shyla...

...And heads straight for the porta potties. (She was feeling just a little sick at this point.)

2:15pm - Waiting at exchange 10 for Lydia to show up & hand off to Linda.

So far everyone is under their projected pace and feeling well.

3:30pm - I'm off and running at last! I was the 12th runner on a 12 person team, so I did a lot of waiting around it seemed. I was glad to finally have my chance! Well glad until I started running up that dumb mountain!
This race was so awesome! Teams were encouranged to have a clever name, pick a theme, wear costume and decorate their vehicles. We saw SMURFS, Ninjas, Pirates, guys in tutus, women in cheerleading outfits and Superheros to name just a few.
Yes, they ran in these outfits, masks and all. Captain America actually passed me during this portion. I don't know how he did it. The sun was blazing down and I was dying! But kudos for their fun spirit and wacky creativity.

4:00pm - The exchange point on top of Snow Basin. If I look dead it's because I just climbed up 850 feet in less than a 5K. I WAS dead!

4:10pm - There was a live band, lots of food and a major party going on at the resort, but we didn't stick around. We were so tired we just wanted to find a quiet place to rest for the next 5 hours or so until we were back on again.
Sidebar: There were so many fun teams, the only guys we really got pictures of were the superheros, but believe me they were far from the only ones having fun with this race. We saw Team Twilight. Their two vans were labeled Team Edward and Team Jacob. Their shirts all said something different like "Wait, I'm confused. I thought Edward was a wizard." or "If I were really a vampire I'd be at the finish line by now," or "I'm team Jacob what am I doing in this van?" And my personal favorite: "This is easier than watching Kristen Stewart try to act!" There was also Team Dunder Mifflin whose members each channeled a character from the office. Team UFO (which stood for Unforgettable Family Outing) that decorated their vehicle like a flying saucer and called it the Mother Ship. Some people were more serious like Team "Mind over Mileage" and the ones that ran for a charity, others were borderline inappropriate. Still everyone really seemed excited to be there whether they were serious runners or the "Geeks in Sneakers." (Yep you guessed it, those were computer guys and gals.) Soooo much creativity, so little time. I really related to vehicles that had sayings on them like "This seemed like a good idea three months ago," or "Can you believe we paid to do this?" and "We Make this Look Hard!" or "This was fun, until we actually started running." Those seemed to capture my sentiments exactly. But even through the tight calves (all those stupid hills!) it was still an amazingly fun experience.

5:00pm - We find a quiet park in Morgan city and since the weather is perfect (mid-seventies, no breeze) we decide to camp here for a while. We have some food and lie down in the shade. Some of the girls actually slept, but I was much too restless, I read and and tried to lay quietly, but sleep just never came.

Apparently we weren't the only Ragnar group who thought that this little park was the perfect place to chill for a few hours. There were little groups of bodies stretched out everywhere.

8:30pm - Figure it's time to get ready to head out toward the next exchange. First though we've got to suit up for our night runs, since it will be cold, most of us changed into warmer clothes. And then of course there's this little Ragnar rule, "Dusk to Dawn reflectors on." From 7:30pm to 6:30am all team members are required to wear reflective vests out of the van, so we donned those as well. Sexy, right?

9:30pm - Try to catch a little sleep in the van on the way to our next exchange. It didn't work though, I was still too wound up.
10:10 pm - Wait at exchange point 18 for our runner to come in. This means we're halfway through the race!!!!! (It looks darker in the pictures than it really was. It didn't get truly deeply dark until nearly 11. It's freaky how late it stays light up here!)

10:15pm - A good clean exchange and we're off!

This was a major exchange point between vans, so many of the groups were camping here for the night. I don't know how they got any rest. It was so loud and chaotic with people coming in and out! Not to mention frigid!!!! Those mountains get COLD and most people were just throwing sleeping bags and blankets on the grass and sleeping under the stars! But at least they had a station which provided coffee & hot chocolate! We had some to warm ourselves up!

10:40pm - Arrive at checkpoint 19 on top of something called the Henefer pass. This was the best exchange point! The guy running it was fun and engaging. He had a loudspeaker set up blaring music and was really getting the crowd pumped. I wish they all could have been this fun!

10:50pm - While Linda and Lydia slept in the van, Shyla and I got Shiloh ready. In addition to their reflective vests, all runners are required to wear a head lamp and a blinking light on their back somewhere. You do kind of feel like a piece of construction equipment, but parts of the course are on back country roads that aren't lit, so the headlamp really does come in handy. It's super dark up there!

10:55pm - Here comes Kari!

Through the night I drove the van while the other ladies took turns running and sleeping. Most of the night legs were longer (7 miles, 9.6 miles, 7.7 miles, 5.5 etc) so we did have some time to sleep in the van at the parking areas in between exchanges. I wish I could have slept, but every time I tried it just didn't work. I was too worried I'd over sleep or be too tired to run my upcoming leg. So I was the one getting out at each stop to prep our upcoming runner and listening to the one who had just finished gush about how awesome running at night is.
12:15am - Shiloh was a superhero! For a girl coming from Sea Level running at above 6000 feet, she killed this 7 miles! She did it in under 80 minutes! And this from a chick who until last weekend hadn't run more than 3 miles since before Maggie was born!

4:00am - Just as I start to get tired enough my body wants to give up, it's time for me to run (finally!) So I take off for a 6.9 mile trek up a long hill in the pitch black, coldest, windiest time of the day: before dawn. On zero minutes of sleep. Surprisingly, I felt awesome. It was easily my best run of the race. I even managed to make good time.

Actually it was an enjoyable run even with the wind and cold and no sleep. It was very peaceful. It was so dark that sometimes the only way I knew I was still on track was the blinking red tail light of a runner far, far in the distance ahead of me.
5:20am - made the exchange with our other van for their last rotation.
6:00am - Arrive at Rocky Mountain Middle School in Heber which will be the final exchange points between vans. See all the people camping out on the cold wet ground and the sidewalk and decide we're glad we had the overnight shift because it was definitely better to run at night than to try and sleep in those conditions.

The Middle School is offering hot showers (for $2 & they provide the soap and towel) and since we're all damp and salty and grimey, we decide that's totally worth it. (It was.) We rinse off, change into dry, (if not completely clean) clothes and rest. I paid another $2 for the privilege of sleeping in the gym on a wrestling mat (also totally worth it.) It was quiet and I managed to get the most refreshing hour of sleep I've ever had in my life. If I'd known how long our other team was going to be out I'd have slept another hour, but we didn't want to miss the exchange so we headed back to the van where Shiloh had been cleaning, reorganizing and hitting everything with Febreeze. (It needed it, that van was stinky!) Over a breakfast of bagels, yogurt & fruit we got word that two of our team members up on the hill had been injured and had walked most of their legs. But they were troopers and made it to all the exchanges, so that was all that mattered.

9:30am - 24 hours in the van together and everyone seems to be doing great and having a fun time!
10:30am - Bree hands off to Kari for our final rotation! It's already warmed up into the 70's, which means that it's going to be a hot one for those of us running! Kari told us when we stopped to offer support that her legs felt like lead. (We'd heard from most people that it doesn't matter who you are, leg 3 is a killer! By the time you've had very little sleep and are running for the third time in less than 24 hours your body starts to feel it!)
11:30am - Shiloh gets her final hand off and starts on a 6.1 mile uphill that will really test her.
12:50pm - Shiloh limps into exchange 32. She's managed to really hurt her knee and had to walk a lot of her leg, but she was a trooper and finished it! (She's still limping today actually.) Shyla then got to tackle the 3 and a half miles of an insane hill! She climbed over 1400 feet!
The views up there were stunning, but I will admit, I'm glad I wasn't the one having to do the climbing!

So were Kari & Linda!
2:50pm - Lydia finishes the climb & hands off to Linda who gets to climb a little and then cruise down the other side of the hill!
2:55pm -We take a moment to applaud Lydia who is truly the Queen of the Mountain! This was up at 9000 feet (it was a little chilly up there actually!) Not for Lydia though who spent four miles going straight up! 1631 feet to be exact! Now that's a climb!

3:45 pm - Arrive at checkpoint, use porta potties one last time and wait patiently for our runner to come off the mountain.

4:01pm - Make the final exchange of the race at Silver King Resort in Park City.

4:55pm - While I'm sweating my guts out, running uphill (again) toward the finish my team is enjoying a gondola ride up the mountain to meet me & the other runners.

5:00pm - meet rest of the team at the finish line so we can cross together! (Yes, that's me in the pink wig! No I didn't run the whole last leg in it, just for the finish!)

5:01pm - Check out the massive postrace party, then search for husband and son. Once they've been located, head home for a real (and much needed) shower and a good night's sleep!
PS - I don't have a picture yet of our full 12 person team, but I think one of the other girls' husbands took one, so I'm going to try and get a copy and I'll post it when I have it.
PPS - We're already planning to run the Ragnar Florida Keys race in January! Interested in joining our team? Email me, or call. But not tonight. It's nearly 9:00pm and I think I'm going to bed soon. I'm sore and tired and a little trashed from the weekend, but I feel awesome and can't wait to do it again!


Heather Rose said...

That is awesome!!!! I am so down with it!!!

Ryan and Skye Lowry said...


Cassi : ) said...

Way to go, Cali!

Stephanie H. said...

WOW What a race!