Monday, July 29, 2013

Ragnar Northwest Passage, Post #2

Around 5:00pm or so on Friday evening, in the heat of the day, runner #1, Stephanie, set out on her second Ragnar leg. It was hot, crazy hot, and Stephanie had a very hilly leg to run. She was glad to hand off to Heather, who battled through her almost 4 miles before handing off to me. I prepared for the heat by, well, pretending it wasn't so bad. Heather ran in to the exchange and I was off at about 6:30pm.

Stephanie getting ready to run her 2nd leg.

My second leg was by far the most beautiful, but I felt just awful. I was super excited that my team mates would be able to support me on this leg by stopping to cheer and give me water, so I informed Michael of my semi-complicated hydration requests before I headed out for my run. It quickly became obvious to me that my stomach wasn't my friend and I spent the entire leg praying for a porta potty to magically appear. Ragnar rules state that if you are caught squatting in the bushes out on the course you get thrown out of the race, so I didn't risk it. I am curious how other runners dealt with this, but, well, it was a little brutal to run 6.7 miles when you need to make a pit stop. My team stopped everywhere I asked them to, like the awesome team mates they are, but I ended up not wanting anything to drink or eat during the run.

My second leg.

Besides feeling bad, it was a crazy gorgeous leg. I saw a ton of animals, including horses and cows and alpacas and bees. The shaved alpacas were my favorites, they just watched me as I plodded along the rode. The view was spectacular, with mountains off in the distance. 

Luckily it didn't feel that hot out, despite it being 72*. The sun was low enough that the road was shaded for the most part. The last bit of the leg was up a hill and over a bridge and then I handed off to Michelle.

Handing off to Michelle at the end of my second leg.

15 miles done! The most I had ever run in one day!

The next exchange was at what appeared to be a fruit and vegetable stand, where we sent off Kathleen for her 8 mile leg.

Michelle handing off to Kathleen.

The next exchange was right when the sun had gone down and we sent Michael off to run in the dark. It was hard to cheer for him along his leg, he was on the side of a two lane highway and we couldn't tell when he was coming! At one point Michelle and I were waiting on the side of the road and when we saw someone approach I said "go runner!" and Michelle said "Michael?" and when he answered we knew it was him, otherwise we would have missed him!

Michael all lit up and ready to hit his night leg!

My favorite picture of the entire race: Kathleen, me, Heather and Stephanie 
right after Kathleen finished her second run. She was blissful!

The next big exchange was #18, at La Conner High School. We didn't stay long, just long enough to pick Michael up and see van #2's runner off. It was about 10pm by this point. We had to drive to the next major exchange, at Oak Harbor High School, to sleep. It was a little brutal to have to drive so far when we were tired. We drove over Deception Pass and saw where the race course would wind through that part of Whidbey Island. I couldn't imagine having to run through it in the black of the night! 

When we got to the high school Kathleen, Michael and I headed inside to set up our sleeping bags in the cafeteria. Stephanie, Heather and Michelle stayed in the van to sleep. I jumped at the chance to shower at the high school before crawling in to my sleeping bag. It was a pretty awful shower, extremely hot water that only stayed on when you held in the button. But it cleaned me off, then I hit the floor of the cafeteria just after midnight. 

At 1:30am the lights in part of the cafeteria came on, which didn't help the already tenuous sleep situation. Runners were coming in and out all night, and while everyone was as quiet as they could be, it's still a lot of noise and commotion. Our wake-up call was around 3:30am. I was amazed how many people were packed in to the room when we got up considering how empty the room was when we laid down!  

We headed outside and Stephanie was completely pumped and ready to run, it was amazing, I had no idea where she gathered the energy! Runner #12 came running in, I am guessing around 4:30am or so, then Stephanie was off in to the dark. We stopped to quietly cheer a couple a couple of times while she hammered out her 3 mile leg. She passed off to Heather for her 3 mile leg, then it was time for me to bust out 2.4 miles. The sun had come up by the time I ran and I thought it would be a super speedy run . . . but it was so hilly! I ran my booty off and finished with a sub-9:00 min/mile pace, which was amazing considering I had to walk up some of the hills.

My third leg (hardee har har). 


Heather was done!

I handed off to Michelle who had a very hard and very hilly 8 miles to do. It was a gorgeous and overcast morning and some of the final stretches of van #1's runs were along the water.

Kathleen and I hanging out on Whidbey Island waiting for Michelle to run by!

I was so impressed with Michelle that morning, she finished her leg strong! We said goodbye to her at that point because her family was there to whisk her away for the rest of the weekend. Kathleen took off for her last leg, and then she passed off to Michael, who I had a bit of a competition with, as his last leg was also 2.4 miles. We finished our legs less than 10 seconds apart!

I don't know what team this was with a futon attached to their van 
at exchange 30, but it cracked me up!

We passed off for the last time to van #2 at Coupeville High School and then drove down to Langley to find some breakfast. Luckily the Braeburn in Langely had immediate seating out on their patio. 

I inhaled the "Ragnar Hash". Healthy, filling, and delicious!

After breakfast we drove over to the Island County Fairgrounds, which was where the finish line was! I don't recall exactly when we got over there, my guess is around 11:00-ish. I remember thinking we had three hours to wait for our runner to come in, but he ended up arriving ahead of schedule, at around 1:30. With our free time we wandered around a bit, ate a little, and Michael and I set up our sleeping bags inside a soccer goal near our van and tried to sleep.

Stephanie showing off her checked boxes at the finish line!

Michael showing off his checked boxes at the finish line.

When it was almost time for our runner to come in when stood out on the sidewalk ahead of the finish line cheering everyone in and watching for our runner. When he came up the sidewalk we all ran up along side and crossed under the Ragnar arch! It was an amazing feeling to be done!

Team Sinister Muffin People!

After the finish we got our bottle opener medals, two free pizzas, and our picture take as a team (minus Michelle, sadly). We made our way back to van #2's van to enjoy our beer and pizza (the bottle openers came in handy immediately!) and then got ready to head home. We had to drop Stephanie off to meet her family before driving down to the ferry to get back to the mainland. Luckily the wait in the ferry line wasn't as long as we thought it would be, and the ride across to Mukilteo was short and gorgeous . . . and full of other Ragnar runners!

The bottle opener medal.

Matt and the girls decided to spend the weekend in Yakima while I was gone, so they weren't home when I got home, and didn't get back until the next evening. It was nice to have some time to lay around and reminisce, but I missed them!

I can not wait to run Ragnar again next year and already have lots of ideas on how to build on this year's experience. I would definitely love to run with this team again, but as I was brought in at the last minute when a regular runner dropped out . . . I'm not sure there would be room for me next year! So many friends have expressed interest in running I am seriously considering setting up a team for 2014. Let me know if you're up for it!


  1. Well boo you didn't feel well on your second run but weren't all those animals fun! I ran through there at night so didn't see as much but I did notice the shaved alpacas and sleeping cows :). It was a great road to run on because there were barely any cars besides Ragnar vans. Congrats on a strong finish for the last leg...those hills in the neighborhood were no joke!

    1. I think your last two legs were probably brutal. I am glad I didn't run that 8 mile leg after my 2.4!

  2. As long as I didn't need to do any driving I would SOOO be in for next year with you :)

    1. I didn't have to drive at all this time, so that wouldn't be an issue :)

  3. I loved reading these posts!! I'm so glad you went for it and had such a great time!! I can imagine how good that breakfast tasted. :)


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