Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Team Everything is Awesome Rocks Ragnar NWP: Post One

In December 2013 I had the idea of putting together a Ragnar Northwest Passage team for the coming July. Finding teammates was initially a stressful endeavor-- many of the friends I asked were interested, but unavailable. Finally, as the race was selling out, I took a leap of faith and bought a team with only three friends committed. Then an amazing thing happened: the friends I found brought in other friends, and their friends brought in friends and finally the team was full.

On a side note, we didn't lose a single team member along the way, our original 12 were our final 12! 

After lots and lots of discussion, Tara's kids suggested the team name Everything is Awesome (after the song from the Lego movie) and we all loved it. The team ran with a Lego theme, decorating the van with minifig drawings of ourselves and Lego magnets as well as making matching t-shirts with the Ragnar logo made out of Lego!

Everything is Awesome Van 2.

The Teammates in Van Two

Erin, Runner 7

Tara, Runner 8

Ray, Runner 9

Autumn, Runner 10

Me, Runner 11

 Tracy, Runner 12

Being van 2 meant that we didn't start running until Friday mid-afternoon.. It was nice to be able to get a full night's sleep Thursday night, pick up the van Friday morning, and pack things up at a leisurely pace. Tara spent the night at my house so we picked up Ray mid-morning before driving to a park and ride where we met up with Tracy, Erin and Autumn. There we filled the van with food and gear and decorated the windows before heading north to Bellingham! When I picked up the van from the rental place it had 64 miles on it and was in pristine condition. Let's just say it wasn't looking so beautiful when it was returned on Sunday! (One tip: if you are van 2, pick your van up on Friday morning and return it on Sunday morning, saves a lot of $$ over a Thursday-Sunday rental!)

Ray and Tracy's window.

Once we arrived in Bellingham, we checked in, hit up the Ragnar tent to buy gear, relaxed, tagged vans with our magnets, and ate while we waited for Van 1, who had started running at 8:45 am, to arrive. Such a different experience from starting the race in the early morning in Blaine!

Exchange 6.

The back door of our van with our team logo, van sticker, Lego magnets 
and the magnet we tagged other vans with! 

The one major bummer about Ragnar is that even though you are a team of 12, you really end up being a team of 6. We didn't get to spend that much time with Van 1 and the hand-offs at each major exchange were a quick hi and bye because we always had to take off so quickly after the hand off! 

Darren, Runner 6, handing off to Erin, Runner 7. 

The team at exchange 6, minus Erin who was out running!

Once Darren came through the exchange he handed off to Erin and she was off and running! Our Ragnar relay had begun! A big chunk of her first leg didn't follow the route the van drove so we didn't get to cheer her on. Instead we waited for her at the exchange. We took that opportunity to put on our Ragnar tattoos! 

My calf, freshly tattooed.

After Erin came in, she handed off to Tara. Tara took off on her first leg, ready to tackle what she affectionately called "Mt. Doom" as it was a HUGE hill! She rocked it, of course,

Tara passing off to Ray.

After Ray's turn to run it was Autumn's, then mine. 


I went in to my first run not knowing what to expect. How would my foot hold up? Would I feel okay running at about 6:00 pm? What was this leg like? I knew how far I would have to run (6.8 miles) but didn't look at the leg map other than to check if there were any monster hills. No monster hills. Barely any hills at all! I kept getting passed by other runners (or "killed" if you want to be so morbid) which annoyed me. I reminded myself it was my own run, to do my thing and take it easy. I had a lot of miles left to run at Ragnar! My leg was a very boring slog that mostly had me hugging the shoulder of two lane highways. For a while I followed a girl with a plastic butt attached to the outside of her shorts and that completely cracked me up and entertained me for the couple of miles. 

After my run I passed off to Tracy who had 4.1 miles to knock out before we took our first break. 

Passing off to Tracy at exchange 11.

We met Tracy at Burlington High School, exchange 12, which was also where we got to chat with Van 1, briefly, again. Tracy passed off to runner 1, Darlene, and we left to get some gas, food and rest at exchange 18, LaConner High School.

Van 2 didn't have an exact plan for meals, we mostly just had a lot of stuff to snack on, like pretzel chips, potato chips, yogurt, string cheese, bagels, pb&j, trail mix, and a few other things. For me this worked out well as I did up not have a single tummy issue the entire race. I did, however, really miss going out for meals with my teammates, which is something my van did last year. Of course, last year I felt very sick on my second run and I assumed it was due to my huge lunch that day! Next year we will hopefully build one meal out in to our plan.

Once we got to La Conner Tracy, Autumn and Erin elected to stay in the van while Tara, Ray and I headed inside to rest. The three of us laid out our sleeping bags in the gym, took a shower and met in the cafeteria for food. Tara and Ray took advantage of the spaghetti dinner, they both claimed it hit the spot! I had already eaten a ton of snacks in the van and avoided eating again for fear of feeling too stuffed and sick. The three of us laid down around 10:00 pm with our alarms set for 1:00 am. Sleeping on a gym floor, packed in with strangers (it got much more crowded after I took the photo below), is difficult enough under the best circumstances, but it was really tough that night. A curtain separated the cafeteria from where people were sleeping and the cafeteria was SO loud. People were laughing and yelling and having a good time. Which was great, if you weren't trying to sleep within ear shot of them. My earplugs helped a little and I got a teeny bit of restless sleep, getting up just before the 1:00 am alarm went off. 

Sleeping on a gym floor is awesome! Or not. 

When we got to the van the girls who tried to sleep in there reported it was pretty loud and they didn't get much rest, either. Not surprisingly, many of us didn't exactly feel 100% at 1:00 am, but we rallied, and Erin, our first runner, was ready to run her very long middle of the night leg.

We supported Erin as much as we could and then sent Tara out on her second leg. We didn't get to see Tara much on this leg, as she got to run across a bridge across Fidalgo Bay at the end of it. Tara passed off to Ray who had a short run through Anacortes, then it was time for Autumn to go. 

Ray all decked out for the night!

After Autumn it was my turn again. Leg 23 was here, which was the leg I had been thinking about for months-- it was the one that would take me across Deception Pass! I was initially bummed when our start time was announced and I discovered that I wouldn't get to cross Deception Pass during the night. It turned out that running across it just after sunrise was about as perfect as it gets.

Check this out:

The view was incredible, obviously. I have driven across this bridge maybe twice in my life and knew it was very high, and it made me dizzy just thinking about it. I was equally excited and terrified before running across it, but it ended up being really, really cool and not at all scary. I had my phone in my hand in the above picture because I had stopped at the start of the bridge to take a selfie:

Me taking a leisurely water/gu break before hitting the bridge. 

The rain started (or rather, started again. It rained on Friday night, too) around the time I was leaving the Deception Pass bridge. It was kind of nice at first, but then the road opened up in to an unprotected hill and the wind hit me in the face. Suddenly my amazing run turned in to a death march for the last mile. Up the hill, in to the wind and rain. I felt bad for Tracy, she had to run her whole leg in that weather!

Here I am telling Tracy, "yeah, good luck with that!" or something else equally supportive.

You know what is hard? Changing out of drenched, stinky running gear in the back seat of a van. 

The rain washed off our decorations! We had to re-decorate later after the rain stopped.

Tracy passing off to Darlene at exchange 24.

We were definitely ready to pick up Tracy at exchange 24 because that meant it was time for our break. 

Unfortunately, at this point some of us were not feeling so hot . . . were we able to turn it around??? Hmmm, check back later this week to find out in part two of my re-cap . . . 


  1. Love the theme, looks like so much fun, even when it isn't going right.

  2. LOVE all your pictures!! Sooo glad yo took the plunge and registered a team and now are hooked :).

    1. Thanks Lauren! I appreciated your support in my early-on freak-outs. It all worked out!


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